Lady trying to figure out why I'm constantly trying to turn her into a Donkey
- Begin Scene -
"I'm done. I hate this horse. I'm going to sell her." The rider exclaims, desperately waiting for some sort of unfounded praised to be hurled her way, or agreement that selling her horse is the right thing, so she can feel a bit better about herself.
Her coach sighs heavily and slowly walks away from the immature beginner cutting horse rider who is approaching code red: full blown, immature as hell, melt down status.
The rider continues, whining falling on increasingly deaf ears. "SERIOUSLY, I'm selling her. I'm not good enough to ride her. I can't do this anymore. I'm TRYING SO HARD AND NOTHING IS WORKING."
Her coach, not one to allow any pity parties in his arena, shrugs his shoulder and says, "What do you want me to tell you? You don't trust her, you need to just get better. You need to trust your horse, and ride your horse better."
Code red alarms start ringing and reverberating in the hills, melt down has commenced, immaturity is at all time high. If the rider wasn't on her horse, she'd surely be in the dirt, beating her fists in the ground, crying... like a toddler. A straight up toddler. Instead, she says, "OF COURSE I DON'T TRUST HER, LOOK AT HER, SHE SUCKS, I SUCK, I'M F***ING DONE. I F***ING HATE CUTTING. I'M NOT F***ING GOOD AT IT. I CAN'T DO IT."
- End Scene -
By the way, that above account is a TOTALLY fictional account of a beginner rider having a really embarrassing, super immature, melt down. Never would THIS girl ever have a melt down like that, I mean I preach glitter all day long right? Just to continue the hypothesis, never would that above account happen and then the next day the rider goes to a show, gets her mind right, focuses some of that energy, marks a 71 and picks up a really nice little 2/3 place cheque. Never.
I told you guys, this series is a real talk series, and i'm sure many of you reading this have had a melt down a time or two, and that it's ended with the famous four words: "I'm Selling My Horse." If you don't want to admit to it that's fine but I see you over there, don't think you get to walk on this one. A woman I really respect in the cutting industry told me recently, "We all know that 90% of the time it's the rider, not the horse. It's generally ALWAYS you."
Now, I want to quickly preface this post with a little exclaimer to the 10% of you - the people that have every right to sell their horse. Maybe it just isn't working anymore, maybe it's too much horse, not enough horse, just not the right horse. That happens lots too, and so if you are in the process of selling your horse, you have thought long and hard about it, major key here: you have the assistance of a trainer thats helping you and guiding you, and it's not coming from a place of irrational anger and emotion, then I am 100% behind you in your decision. Cutting is "suppose" to be a fun "hobby" right? So, you need to find a horse that you have fun on.
BUT, for you other 90%... you irrational angry emotional riders scrubbing glitter off your unicorns threatening to sell them because YOUR harpooning them with your spurs, causing them to completely quit their cows because they have absolutely no idea what you're asking of them (me... never... I would never..) this post is for you. So here's a question for you...
What came first?
The Donkey that pushes up the pen and consistently gets a big fat "charging" on it's score card...
or the Monkey that kicks, spurs and sits at all the wrong times and consistently gets in the Donkey's way.
This one is a lot easier than the Chicken and the Egg people, this one is the Monkey, time and time again.
I mean, it shouldn't be that way... the Monkey is a really nice monkey that is trying really hard to get it right. The Monkey spent a lot of money on this really flashy unicorn that glitter erupted from when it even blinked. But... did the Monkey think it through, was the Monkey educated in the world of cutting horses? If you go out and buy a unicorn that is a bit younger, that has always been in training, that has always been ridden and shown by a trainer, and you yank that unicorn out of a program, and you are a rank beginner that really has no concept of WHAT you are doing to that unicorn but you are trying to "D.I.Y." your cutting horse training... that unicorn is going to become a donkey REAL. FAST. It sucks, it really does.
Let's use a fun little example to really illustrate (shove my opinion down your throats) my point... I'll remind you of the rom-com "He's Just Not That Into You", where the women are constantly bombarded with the exceptions to the rule. "Well, Sarah has been with Larry for seventeen years and he finally proposed and they are super happy, so maybe Greg will finally propose to you." Cutting Horses are kind of like that movie, you hear these amazing stories that really draw beginners in. "Felicia bought a horse in a field that was trained as a two year old and hasn't been touched since then, and he's ten now, and she took him to a weekend show and marked a 75 the first time she showed him, and made world finals that same year." Look, there's a reason people say "Bye Felicia", as in - bye Felicia, that doesn't happen in the real world. In the real world, time and time again, beginner's overestimate or underestimate and completely get in the way of their horse power.
My sweet readers, there's going to be a few big pills to swallow in the next paragraph so maybe just step away for a minute and fix yourself a big 'ol glass of water. Ok, you're back... There are many types of beginners. There's the dangerous to themselves crew: the aforementioned D.I.Y.-er's, who just don't have that many tools in the tool box yet to do it themselves. Look, if the only tool you have is a hammer and you think that you can build an entire house with that hammer alone, everyone knows your wrong. For some reason in the horse world, people who have never ridden a cutting horse seem to think they can jump on one and mark 75's. There's a reason trainers devote their lives to this people! There's the "Deal-Sleuthers" that try to find a cutting horse that should be priced around $30,000 for $3,000 and then are confused when they can't drop their hand in the show pen. Yeah, I know both these camps are reading this post right now and typing up big long replies about how their Cousin Mary did all the above things with her cutting horse - He's Just Not That Into You: Cutting Horse Edition strikes again, that's the exception, not the rule people. But for real Cousin Mary, if you want to be a featured guest post because you're killing the game - email me, we'll set that shit up.
Then there's the more naive crew: there's those sweet, sweet monkeys we talked about earlier. They have pretty nice horses who are patient and have lots of try, but... we need to remind ourselves that our unicorns aren't wind up toys, they are animals with minds and souls and if we are consistently dulling their shine with our riding while we're trying to learn, they can't keep up their unicorn status for long. You hear big time trainers say all the time, "Oh if only I had that horse now", or "That horse was so great despite my abilities back then", so don't get too hard on yourself because everyone started somewhere, and everyone has dulled a horses shine from time to time. Some unicorns are better than others, some can actually keep up their shine for a long, long time of beginner riding. But, ALL cutting horses WILL be better with an experienced rider schooling them, than if a rank beginner is doing it all themselves, that's a fact, that's science. This, I think, is one of the hardest pills to swallow for many beginners in the cutting horse pen. How is it that you can buy this ridiculously expensive horse, that has scored massive scores and won many big things with open and non-professional riders and then you get on them, and you cant seem to ride them, cant get with them? It can have an earth-shattering effect on your confidence, I see this ALL the time.
Don't let it.
Believe in yourself and believe in your damn unicorn!
This is where i'm going to get a little preachy for a minute, i'm sorry, but I have too... people who want to learn, who want to be the best they can absolutely be... they have trainers, mentors and coaches that help them and guide them, with their riding, with the horses they are buying, with just being a part of this cutting horse world that has so many unwritten and written rules. These coaches, they are the real unicorns for putting up with our crazy/meltdown prone/beginner selves. They will help you, whether that be from the sidelines teaching you how to properly ride your unicorn, or perhaps they will school your unicorn for you, or maybe both. What i'm learning more and more these days is having a trainer school your horse is NOT a sign of weakness, like I said earlier, they aren't wind up toys, and they need help staying correct just like we do as riders. These coaches will know your strength and weaknesses as a rider and will work with you and your horse to be the best you can be as a team. They will grow your confidence in yourself by making you a more experienced rider that CAN school your unicorn. Yet, you will likely still fail from time to time, because like i've said all along, cutting is really hard and sometimes you have immature meltdowns and sometimes you just want to sell your horse because of it.
So, in light of that, in light of that pounding my little fists into the arena dirt meltdown I had the other week, I mean... uh... that some fictional person had that i've made up for this post... here is my own horses's for sale ad that I drafted last week...
"For Sale: 13 year old Unicorn. Do you want to ride an incredibly athletic, super well built cutting horse with a massive stop that likes to crawl around when she traps the cow in the middle of the pen, then this horse is for you! This horse has the ability and style to win your class every single time, unless you are her current rider that gets in her way every time she breathes, then it's sixties and tears. If you are calm, confident and can communicate with your horse with your feet then this mare is for you. If you are a nervous wreck who spurs your horse at the wrong time and uses your feet about fifteen moves too late, then this horse will push up the pen on you. This mare requires a trainer to school her, because if you are trying to do it yourself, get frustrated and start pulling and jerking for absolutely no reason, yes, duh, she will fall apart. This will probably gut your confidence, i'm not sure why, it's completely your fault, not hers... so if that's you - please do not apply. Riders who can balance humility with actual focus and commitment to working with their trainer may apply. If you keep thinking your Matt Gaines and yet keep scoring 60's in the 2,000 Limit Rider, I can promise you this mare is not for you."
I know many of you are walking out of weekend shows after a great show - you have big smiles on your faces and lackluster jackpot cutting cheques in your hands that are STILL cheques and i'm SO happy for you because that's the best. I also know that many of you are walking out of your weekend shows dejected, and being super tough on yourselves and maybe even your horses. You're thinking those sneaky, super negative, four words "I'm Selling My Horse." Like I said, if you are saying those sneaky words out of irrational emotion and anger, take a breather, take some time AWAY from either your horse, or from showing, or whatever is causing that irrational emotion. Then go back to the drawing table once you can breathe again - I bet you, you don't end up writing the for sale ad, and I bet you, you admit that it's you, but it doesn't feel so earth-shatteringly confidence breaking as you thought. Like I said, you can do this - believe in yourself, believe in your unicorn and focus on the goals ahead of you. Failure is a big part of success, nobody marks 75's every single time they go to the show pen, but your 75 is coming, I know it!