The Handsome Herald – Do You Have A Worrier?

Handsome Photo by Kimberly Hopper

Handsome is just that (and more). Handsome. I wish I could take credit for his name, but I cannot. The farm that bred him gave him that moniker and they were so right on! He’s big, blond, finely muscled, and extremely charismatic.

I’ve had the pleasure of owning this boy for nine years. I bought him as a three year old, only fifteen days under saddle. My trainer and I had gone out to California to look at an equally impressive buckskin, but the trainer of the farm brought Handsome out first. I wasn’t sure why, I guess he was just showing me what was available. He had one of his assistant trainers work Handsome in the round pen for a few minutes and then they put him back in the stall. We spent a long time looking at the buckskin and talking about him, but Handsome made an impression on me and I made an offer.

And I have never once regretted the decision! Handsome has turned out to be one of those “all around” horses. We have competed in Western Pleasure, Western Trail, Hunter, Sport Horse Under Saddle, Cross-rails and Dressage and he has a number of prestigious awards under his girth! He is the star of my little herd and one of my best pals. I guess you could say Handsome and I have grown up together. It’s been such a pleasure to bring a horse along from a young age into emotional and physical maturity, while at the same time maturing as a better horsewoman myself. But, it hasn’t been without our challenges!

Most people who meet Handsome and even those who have known him for a while see a calm, seasoned, self-assured, mature horse. And most of the time, he is all those things. But deep down inside, Handsome is a worrier. He considers himself the head of the herd – it doesn’t matter if it’s his own herd or the horse he just got stalled next to at a show. He is the caretaker. The pleaser. The mom. I often joke that Handsome is a mare in a gelding’s body. If another horse is distressed or if Handsome thinks they are distressed, he paces, he calls, he frets.

The first two days at a show are tough on Handsome. I help him by working on his diet before a show, give him calming supplements (all legal of course) take him out of his stall often, and work him on the ground to help burn that mental energy. Once he realizes that all of his new equine friends are not being impaled through the heart with a spear and that he may indeed survive this show, he settles down and becomes the Handsome we all know and love.

I would love to sit here writing this blog and tell you that all of my horses are perfect, well adjusted, calm and obedient at all times, but that just wouldn’t be true. They all have their little personality quirks, fears and vices, just like people. We owe it to them to try to understand what makes their minds work and then work with them, not at them.

Do you have a worrier? A kicker? A nervous Nelly? If so, please share with us your horse’s idiosyncrasies and how you help them deal with those issues. I look forward to your comments!