Self-cleaning tack. Jumps that automatically change heights and configurations. A horse wash with sprays, shampoos, buffers and dryers that can take a manure-stained horse and make it gleaming in a jiffy. These ideas are in the realm of fiction, but a barn friend of mine and I had an idea for a horse app that I thought was brilliant. Here’s how it began.
Last year I was finishing grooming my bay Thoroughbred Knight and I bumped into my friend Ana who also has a bay Thoroughbred–his name is Bandit. Ana and I generally go to the barn at different times, so it’s fun to see her and catch up. (I received permission from Ana to write this post about her and her pony!)
Bandit is a good horse who can be a stinker sometimes. He’s really smart. And extremely cute. And athletic. You might know and love a horse kind of similar.
In the course of different conversations, I noticed Ana using words like “evil” to describe her gelding. I’m not sure why, but on this particular day I said something to the effect, “I don’t think he’s evil. When I see you ride him, he looks pretty good. I personally have not witnessed him being bad.”
I stood up for Bandit.
Evil, Bad or Good?
Earlier that day Ana and Knight were in the arena and I think some bikers or people with a loud dog walked on the trail that runs along one side of our arena. I didn’t see any explosions or spooks. She rode Bandit well past the potential terror. He was a good boy.
Months before she had a fall that was gnarly. I can totally relate with how a negative experience can loom in the background even on good rides, when you’ve been in a dangerous situation. (From time to time I still replay my faceplant fall that bequeathed me with a new nose courtesy of reconstructive surgery and my more recent donut fall which was terrifying but did up my blog stats!)
I asked Ana if there was something to self-fulfilling prophecy and we talked for a while about positivity. I said something to the effect of maybe she should record all her rides, lunges, interactions with him and track trends. “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was an app?”
She responded, “Is My Horse Evil? The app.”
I said, “I bet if you gave him a score for each interaction, you’d discover he is a good boy more often than not.”
And because Ana is a scientist in real life, she actually did just that!
Ana created a spreadsheet and tracked her time with Bandit over the course of several weeks and sent me the results. “Most of my horse problems are actually my problems,” she said in her email and even added that after the experience she would give him an A++!
Earlier this spring Ana and Bandit also rode in the Rob Gage clinic that Knight and I rode in. They were awesome. When Rob barked at her, she and Bandit moved like they were a flawless team. I videoed a few of her jumping rounds. Her dark bay looked very willing and I thought acted like an angel.
The truth is that we’re not really developing an app called Is My Horse Evil? or even Is My Horse Bad? because a simple spreadsheet will do. (But the idea sure is fun!)
The Happy Ending
The whole point of our ongoing discussion was about being positive and not letting an aberration whether a fall, a spook, a jump refusal or other “bad” things be the defining moments in our connection with our horses.
I was excited when I read this email, here in excerpt form, from Ana.
“I think it really did help to make the spreadsheet. Sometimes as riders, and really just as humans, we tend to better remember emotional events or scary events better than the commonplace and ordinary. Keeping the sheet made it so I had evidence of my horse being good, even if I was still sorting out my feelings about him from those more frightening events. Once I had the evidence that my horse is not bad, I stopped gathering the data.”
So as fun as the idea was to have an Is My Horse Evil? app, we already know the answer to that question. Therefore there is no need. Instead Ana and I can expend our energy designing self-cleaning tack and horse car washes. And the magical jumps.
Your Turn: Do you track your horse’s behaviors and look for trends? Have you had an event with your horse that sometimes overshadows how good your horse is? Please leave your response in the comments section.
Get on the VIP List
Hey, if you are not on my email list for very important horse lovers, I would love to have you sign up. You’ll get the inside scoop about fun new products and other horsey inspiration via twice-a month emails. To get on the list simply click here.