Saturday I went for a hack with a buddy of mine. All we really wanted to discuss were live scores from Fair Hill. We were desperate to know who made it around both the CCI two and three star courses. From that conversation came this notion of a once in a lifetime horse; which horses we consider to be in this category, what it takes to become one, if we had ever had one, and if you can have more than one?
Every rider must have his or her own list of criteria for what constitutes as a once in a lifetime horse. Arguably, we do not throw around this phrase lightly, nor we do attach this phrase to every horse that comes into our lives. I wonder how many riders have had, or are riding what they consider to be a once in a lifetime horse? I wonder how many, of all the Advanced riders in the country, consider the horse they are currently sitting on to be a once in a lifetime horse? Or, are they just really exceptional horses that made it to that level? What’s the difference between an exceptional horse, and once in a lifetime horse? How could a horse competing at the advanced level not be a once in a lifetime horse? All advanced riders please cast your vote now!
Now, let’s leave the upper level guys in a corner alone, and focus on the lower level riders and horses. How many amateur riders think they are sitting on a once in a lifetime horse? How many are still looking for, or hoping that someday they will have that incomparable horse? Evidently, a once in a lifetime horse can be competing at any level. An outstanding horse can be found going novice. Some people might chuckle, or roll their eyes, but a great horse is a great horse regardless of the level they are competing.
Of course, comparing what an advanced level horse does to that of a beginner novice horse almost seems absurd in some ways. A beginner novice horse doesn’t enter at “A” in a collected canter. A beginner novice horse doesn’t have to jump an arrowhead, three strides to a massive table, to a roll top into water. But, there is no reason why a beginner novice horse couldn’t be a once in a lifetime horse to countless riders. If we are asking all event riders in the country what they consider to be a once in a lifetime horse, then we would have to clump all the levels together in order to be fair.
Because I am an event rider, and because I have goals of competing beyond training level, I have not personally had a once in a lifetime horse YET. I have sat on, and ridden many amazing horses. Do I consider myself to have extraordinary horses? I believe so. Have my horses and I achieved my personal goals as a team yet? No, we have not…but there’s still time! Do I think I might possibly be sitting on one, or two potential once in a life time horses? I do. If someone asked me to write down 10 adjectives to describe MY OWN version of a once in a lifetime horse it would be as follows:
…now, what would your list of adjectives consist of?