Equestrian Life
BLOG: The reality of having horses

Abbie and Karl. © Abbie O'Brien

Abbie and Karl.

© Abbie O'Brien


In sports that require you to be a part of a team there are always going to be elements that are out of your control. The same is true in our equestrian sports.

We are only ever going to be as good as our partner. Apart from having to be our absolute best by being fit and healthy and able to perform, we also have to manage the full time programs of our horses. Their daily care, keeping an eye for any sign of injury or illness, managing their diets and supplements, their exercise program and their overall wellbeing ultimately falls on us. This is a tough reality of having horses that even though we may manage the horse to the best of our ability and put a lot of time, money, love and effort into them, that they still may not get us to our ultimate goal or dream.

As cliché as it sounds it is actually all about the journey and what we learn along the way. Not all horses are meant to win medals at the Olympics, not all horses are meant to compete at Grand Prix. Just like people, horses are totally individuals. Having proven performance bloodlines in a horse certainly increases the chance of a horse having a successful performance career but nothing is ever guaranteed until it actually happens.

I firmly believe that instead of trying to get a horse to Grand Prix no matter what, a rider should instead focus on improving the horse every day and achieving the best for the horse irrelevant of what that may be. Riders are also responsible for realising when a horse has reached its limit or potential. To push a horse beyond what they are capable of will take a physical toll on the horse and most importantly a mental toll. This needs to be a rider’s focus: to improve themselves and learn from every individual horse and be proud and happy once their horse has achieved all that it is meant to.

I am definitely of the opinion that everything happens for a reason.

This year has been a big learning curve for me and an inevitable one if you compete horses in any equestrian sport. I have learnt a big lesson on how to ride the roller coaster that is horses. For the majority of this year I have not had a horse to ride. Rajah has been resting after his surgery to try and repair his tendon injury and Fleur also had surgery on her hock. So, having to nurse two injured horses and not ride them I was reminded that there certainly are other things to life than horses. It was quite amazing how other things came up that filled in my new found time. I exercised other people’s horses, I ran Wagners Saddlery for five months while the owners were away and I got time to consider what the next step would be.


Abbie and Rajah. © Abbie O'Brien

Abbie and Rajah, who is recovering from a tendon injury.

© Abbie O'Brien


Fleur. © Abbie O'Brien

Fleur, who is recovering from surgery on her hock.

© Abbie O'Brien


When you least expect it, opportunities pop up. When this happens you have to be open and confident enough to step further into that opportunity to see where it takes you. We toyed with the idea of potentially purchasing a new horse but it was tricky – did we get another young horse, an older horse that had competed with potential to go further or did we seek a Grand Prix horse to help continue on my education from where Rajah and I had left off. It was very tricky to know what the right step was and there were many limiting factors including budget, time and of course finding one that suits. We were still unclear on what we wanted to do when an opportunity in New Zealand came available. A talented Grand Prix horse that we could afford.

This is when we just picked up the ball and ran with it. The first step was to go and look at the horse and see if anything worked. Grand Prix horses that have been trained by one rider for a majority of their career have very personal buttons – they may work for some riders and not others. This meant we went into the situation knowing very well that I may not be able to find these buttons – especially as I am certainly not experienced at the Grand Prix level. We decided if it didn’t work that we would just put the trip down to experience and it would give us something to compare to.


Magnus Spero (aka Karl). © Abbie O'Brien

Magnus Spero (aka Karl).

© Abbie O'Brien


Luckily for me I found my new dancing partner! I have now had Magnus Spero (aka Karl) for around two months and already I have learnt so much. We are slowly forming a partnership and have already stepped out in competition with success so I am looking forward to what the future holds.

Rajah has just begun a very slow rehabilitation program. We are giving him every opportunity to get better and we are hopeful for a positive outcome. We will always make decisions based on what is best for him. If his rehabilitation is not meant to be he will live a very happy life at our farm in Tasmania. One thing is for certain, he will always be very loved and spoiled!

Fleur has also just begun her introduction back to exercise. We will have her fully fit again in the next few months and ready for her future. I have gone from having no horses in work to having three in some form of exercise… That spare time just got swallowed up very quickly!

Throughout the down time with the horses I was able to appreciate just having them. I have three very special and talented individuals and they all become part of my family. Who knows what the future has in store but good or bad I will keep persevering, learning and enjoying what I do. 



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© copyright. Equestrian Life. Friday, 29 May 2020