Published by Eventing Connect

I LOVE mares. This is not how it always was,right enough-but these days I mostly only deal with mares. I used to hate them. Hormonal bags of unpredictable insanity that were nothing but trouble and far too much effort. And then Misty was born. I have mentioned him in precious blogs (Misty is a small,bad tempered but brilliant homebred horse that I evented until his legs crapped out. Misty is short for Mysterious,because he’s so strange……) Misty has tortured me for thirteen long years with his unreasonable demands,sudden dislikes to whatever-the-fuck,massive repeated public humiliation,hospital trips (mine and his),operations (his,so far), refusal to cooperate,sudden excessive enthusiasm for cooperation,excessive aggression and also generally traumatising me and anyone else within a 50 mile radius. He knocked the arrogance of youth right out of me,along with any dreams or ambitions of international brilliance I may have been harbouring……

One day,someone asked me to ride their mare. I thought ‘oh great,more torture’,but this mare was easy. Perhaps it was just her? Another mare came along. Also easy. Weird?? It took a few more repetitions for me to start slowly realising that I could now do this, and it changed my life completely. There is a secret knack to mares,no doubt. You have to know just how to ask,just when to let go,just how they like things done. Every single one is different,but they tell you everything in the first ten minutes if you’re listening right. In no time at all,it’s a harmony and it’s incredible. I have two mares at the moment and they are vastly different. Subject A is obnoxious with a huge ego,whereas Subject B is very diligent with no ego at all. Each one requires a different approach but the basis is the same-‘I love and adore you,let’s do things your way,I just love how you spooked at that hedge,OF COURSE you don’t have to go out in the rain’ etc etc. You have to start off on the right foot. There will be a few ‘conversations’ of course,but once you get the boundaries in place,you’ll have a friend like no other. 

Mares are smart. Things mean something to them. Geldings tend to trip through life doing whatever and existing from minute to minute-I’m wildly generalising here,but you understand what I’m saying. Colts can make great partners,the extra bit of joie de vivre can be really cool to work with but again they tend to exist minute to minute. And you’ll have to ignore the copies of ‘playmare’ stuffed under their mattresses….mares though,they take things to the grave. They forget NOTHING. That growl under your breath about ‘cat food’? Saved on file. That time you got on in a hurry and wanted her to just ‘do it already,for the love of mike’? Yeah now it’s gonna take three hours,so you better get comfy……Mares have a pretty crap reputation,and it’s something that I find frustrating. They are truly a doddle if you know how,and the ‘how’ isn’t rocket science. You just have to LOVE them. Reward every half-attempt that they offer you. Make a huge fuss of them all the time. Be firm but very kind and respect their boundaries too. I absolutely promise you that you will have a horse that will go into the fires of hell for you if you get it right. EVERYTHING means SOMETHING to a mare. Remember that.


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I am a Sports horse producer based in Ireland. That sounds very grand....the reality is that life here is crazy-trying to fit four horses,200 cattle,a baby and a husband into a day results in tales of the insane and a feeling of lurching through life with no clue what's going on. I have a keen interest in everything from planets to bones to quantum mechanics,and am a perpetual asker of the question 'why?'.

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