Have you ever had a horse that you are crazy about, but often wonder why? Well let me introduce you to Hombre’s Chico de Oro. Chico is loved by many but truly handled by only a few. Now don’t get me wrong, he has great ground manners and is solidly broke. He just is not an easy horse to ride. He is athletic, has a lot of motion and wants definite, not half-hearted, cues. Chico is one of those horses that you glance at in the pasture and think, “Yeah, he looks like a nice horse.” But when you see him being ridden your jaw drops and you right then and there decide he is your favorite. He has brio, vibrato, swagger and much much more.
As a Kiger, well, he is a failure; a bay with little-to-no dun markings, not to mention his white star and foot. As a Sorraia he is unacceptable because he has a straight face and lifts his knees way too high. But there is something about Chico that I can’t shake. I have considered selling or re-homing him on several occasions. After all, he is way too much horse for the program, and should I have a horse that I am comfortable on only at a walk or trot? Yes, I am a chicken but am justified by the fact that all of my major injuries have come from riding this horse. He is not a bucker; he can be a bolter and is an expert at what we lovingly call the “Kiger spin.” Let me put a disclaimer here: I am not the world’s greatest rider and I have employed the “Oops, I am scared, so yank on the bit as hard as you can, grip with your legs as you pull back” strategy of getting out of trouble. And we all know how that ends… well, on MY end.
For years we have all held Chico back at the trot, with some success andvery sore shoulders, yet he would always revert back. He would go for months when only one of us would ride him and then someone else would take him and the “spin and the prances like a bullet” Chico would return. He is an oxymoron; some times he is soft and responsive and at other times it takes all that I have to keep his focus. Chico, however, being one of the favorites of my staff, has been rescued from my practical thinking and is still a part of Wild Ones Youth Ranch.
Finally the light bulb came on… I have been approaching this horse all wrong. I have been trying to make him something that God did not make him to be instead of utilizing his gifts. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those “flowers in my hair and dances when there is no music touchy-feely” people. I had put all my energy into controlling his speed when I needed to be controlling the horse. Chico is not a slow “grandma wants a trail ride” horse. He is full of upward motion and has a “yes, ma’am, I did it yesterday” response to cues. I needed to work with his organic makeup and stop forcing him to be a Quarter horse. So after a few months of letting him move out at the trot but only where I put him, I have a more confident Chico. He no longer tries to speed up to gain control. I think he is learning that I still get to decide where we go even at his frantic speed. Now, I won’t say I have solved the problem. Maybe I am the one gaining confidence, yet I see a difference with the few kids that ride him.
I have always said that in the right hands Chico would be a fabulous horse and my horsemanship is not up to his speed. Perhaps I had forgotten that Chico and Jeanie are in the right hands and the Lord is using Chico for His glory.
Chico has taught me a valuable lesson; that we are not all the same and life does not always go the speed I choose but because He is in control it is always going in the right direction. So my advice to you in your horsemanship is this: work with your horse’s strengths and in your life give the control over to the One who can handle it.