“Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done.” – Amelia Earhart

Just because someone says you can’t do something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

A clinician once told me that “you can’t teach a sidepass without a stick” and proceeded to have the other participants in the clinic put their horse’s nose to the arena wall and tap them with the stick “shoulder, hip, shoulder, hip – like a windshield wiper” and chase them sideways down the long side of the arena.

Not only is that a huge amount of unnecessary pressure and no time for the horse to actually understand and learn because they’re just busy reacting, but it’s just plain wrong to say you can’t teach a sidepass without a stick. I’ve been teaching it without one for as long as I can remember, to more horses than I can count.

But … being naturally contrary, I came home and decided to teach a sidepass, not just without a stick, but without a halter, and without any pressure at all. And it was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

There are a lot of unwritten “rules” for the show ring. “You have to razor their faces to be competitive.” “You can’t use breeching in the show ring.” “Show horses have to be on a restricted diet/live in a stall/never eat grass.”

The thing about the show ring is if it’s not actually written down in the show rules, it’s not actually a rule. I’ve shown horses in full whiskers who won halter championships. I’ve driven horses in breeching to championships in the show ring. And my show horses live out in a herd on managed pasture.

Miniature Horses are often underestimated. At my very first CDE a volunteer I was chatting with before the marathon made it quite clear that he didn’t think Miniature Horses belonged at an event like this, that they weren’t capable of keeping up to the big guys. Most satisfyingly, he was also the volunteer at the end of the walk section, and was completely blown away by how quickly Hawk walked a kilometer, and how he was still raring to go after the distance he’d already gone.

As long as you’re putting your horse first, don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t accomplish. Just because someone can’t see your horse’s potential, or the possibilities that you can, doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Whatever dream is in your heart, I know you can accomplish it, and I can’t wait to see it!


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