Trust the Process

It takes the time it takes for a horse to find its new home.

One of the most challenging aspects about reschooling a horse is trusting the process. 

What process?  
  • Picking a quality horse as a prospective candidate.
  • Addressing the horse’s needs from a body, spirit, and mind perspective.
  • Figuring out what the horse enjoys doing.  
  • Finding the person seeking a horse with those apptitudes and horsenality.
  • Hoping that you will get back some, all, or more of the money you have invested in the horse’s care, treatments, and training to be able to afford to repeat the process.
Which takes us back to the question of how long it takes to reschool a horse. The long answer is a lifetime. Horses never quit learning. In the wild their survival depends on it. In the domesticated world, their status does. Herd hierarchy is established by a combination of intelligence, reflexes, and moxy. The same is true when one of the herd members has only two legs. Horses are either being trained or training us. We are in for a rough ride, figuratively and literally, if we forget that. We often do, however. That’s why for most people, it takes several lifetimes to become a horseman.

The short answer is: It depends. What learning does the horse bring to the MMSC? How does it respond to when exposed to new things? How long will it stay with us? Many horses have departed without completing the entire Horse Centered Reschooling Program. That is because there are many experienced trainers, owners, and riders, each with their own valid ways of reschooling an off-track Thoroughbred. Thank goodness! So many OTTBs out there need new jobs and homes! The key word here is “experienced.” At the MMSC, the amount of reschooling any one of our horses has or does not have must be balanced at the time of adoption by the expertise of the rider, and if not that, than the expertise of the rider/trainer team. “Green on green makes  black and blue,” the saying goes. The idea of adopters getting hurt is not savory, but the reality of MMSC horses incurring physical, mental or emotional damage because of a lack of faith in the process on my part is totally unacceptable. Thoroughbreds have been commodities since the moment they were conceived. Those that come into MMSC care get to choose their preferred career path as well as their future partners.

Misunderstood on the track,
Astro found his perfect match!
The pat answer is: 45 days on average. Better to have 60. Best to have 90. Generally speaking, with the average Thoroughbred and the average adopter, the average time it takes to expose a horse to the rudimentary basics of our program, all five phases of it, is 45 days. This does not mean that the horse has mastered the skills we have taught it any more than I would be fluent in Mandarin after six weeks of study. What it does mean is the horse has a foundation on which a new career can be built. It means that it has begun showing us its aptitudes. It means that we have a good idea of who the ideal partner might be for this horse.

All of which brings me back to where we started: the greatest challenge to reschooling a horse is to trust the process, no matter how long or short it takes. I have adopted horses out in as little as 24 hours. Others have been with me for over a year. The longer a horse stays, the more expenses it accrues, the more eyebrows are raised about the initial selection of the horse, the way it has been trained, the adopters I may have turned down because the fit wasn’t right. At such times it is so tempting to become a horse trader. Money for feed, horse shoes, or the water bill. Large numbers of horses adopted per month impresses our board and our donors. Why not let people find out on their own that the horse has vices, a lack of manners, or a hole in its knowledge? Why not keep our mouths shut when we see that the rider’s riding style or personality is going to cause relationship problems down the road? Why open ourselves to the very real dangers of liability by letting people ride our horses at all? Other adoption organizations don’t.

My best defense to all of this, is to trust the process. Each horse has needs that must be addressed. Each adopter does too. We are not dealing in commodities. We are dealing in souls, two and four legged. Our job here at the MMSC is to be of service to both, no matter what the temptations to cave in to money shortages or the status of high adoption rates. It has been my experience, that all will work out as it should be, in the time that it takes, if we have faith in the process.

Cheery bye,
Susanna

It you trust the process, things always end up exactly as they should!