In which a respected trainer makes me go "Wha-a-a-a-?" and I pose questions
I've been a fan of horse trainer Larry Trocha for quite a while, ever since somebody sent me THIS LINK to a post he wrote to a woman who was clearly overhorsed and undereducated. If you follow the link and read his response to the lady, you can tell that he doesn't mince words. He really does care about horses and about people, and he does his best to make the world a better place for both...especially when they hang out together.
Mr Trocha specializes in competetive cow-type horses, and I daresay he does quite well. His horse-training advice (video, audio, and text) are often available free on his website, and well-worth any time you spend there. However, today I read THIS ENTRY about the need to spend quality money in order to buy a quality horse in order to win.
I read it twice, just in case I had mis-read it the first time.
Both times, reading it gave me a bad case of "Pickle-head."
I grant you that competetive horse showing of any kind that is based on a "look" requires that you show up with a horse who fits the look. After all, if the judges are giving ribbons to this:
|Scottsdale arabian halter prospect|
it would be a waste of everybody's time to bring them a candidate who looks like this:
|Team Sensible head.|
I get that.
However, Mr Trocha states his opinion as if it is a Universal Truth:
"You gotta pay a bunch of money to get a horse who can (not will but can) win."
I respectfully disagree. The sport of endurance is filled with VERY successful horses who were bought cheaply at auction, taken in trade for a bad debt, or adopted free from a friend. These horses aren't the exception that prove the rule. They are horses who were taught a skill, and then allowed to use the skill to the best of their ability.
Endurance is not a sport of appearance. The vets don't give an overweight rodent's rear-end if you have a blue-blooded Arab full-sibling to Valerie Kanavey's best horse, or if you ride in a million-dollar saddle with a gold-inlaid biothane bridle. If your horse is lame, he's lame. And if he's lame, he gets pulled.
Rocks and gopher holes can happen to any horse, no matter how much you paid for it. The value of an endurance horse comes from his (or her) skill on the trail: the ability to move out for long miles and take care of him/herself (and hopefully take care of the rider as well) along the way. Money can buy a horse with good conformation and some training that can aid in success, but only experience and practice with the horse and rider together is going to bring years of success in the sport.
As a rider of one of those "free to a good home" horses, I appreciate a sport where performance is valued above appearance. Sorry, Mr Trocha. (My horse doesn't chase cows, either.)
Enough preaching. I've got questions.
I'm writing some articles about endurance during NaNoWriMo this year, and I want to hear from readers and their friends:
EXPERIENCED ENDURANCE RIDERS:
1. When you started endurance, what part of the sport confused you the most?
2. What do you know now that you wished you'd understood when you first started participating in the sport? If you could go back in time to advise yourself, what would you recommend?
3. When you see people new to the sport, what aspects of the activity do you think is most important that they learn first?
BEGINNING ENDURANCE RIDERS (2 YEARS OR FEWER IN THE SPORT):
1. What is the most scary/intimidating/confusing aspect of the sport?
2. What do you wish you could learn or improve?
NEW ENDURANCE RIDERS OR PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER PARTICIPATED:
1. What skill or knowledge would you like to have before trying out the sport of endurance?
2. What would help you to try out the sport for the first time?
Please, folks: in the comments, identify yourself by your experience level, and give me your opinions. I want to hear from you!