What’s the alternative? The other one, the third one? Huh?

A friend was saying this recently, she had been told at a business conference, think of the alternatives, choice A and choice B….  And then, think of another, choice C.  Very often, option C is it.

As you stand by the kettle in the morning, would you like Tea or Coffee?  Hmmm, maybe hot water with ginger, lemon and cayenne pepper, that is a good alternative.  It’s my day off today, shall I stay in and work, or go out and have a tourist day? Actually, the weather is awful, how about I stay in with a cat and a good book, perfect (purrrr-fect even…)

Option A

Option B

Option C

I’m often asked, do I prefer bandages or boots? Definitely, I prefer option C here, nothing at all!
I’m often asked, do I prefer bandages or boots? Definitely, I prefer option C here, nothing at all!

So, why am I thinking about that now?  Recently a long-term client was chatting to me about her horse.  The horse has been showing some behavioural issues, and although he is happy to hack out through the lanes and countryside, he is becoming increasingly difficult inside the arena.  The farrier says his feet are great, the bridle and saddle fit well, his overall condition is good.  The vet found a very slight niggle, but, not really enough to cause the issues and the behaviour didn’t really resolve when they nerve blocked the area, so relieving a pain problem.  Well, it could possibly be that, or it could be that the horse is training sour for some reason.  The vet has offered two choices – the horse is retired as a paddock ornament or is put down.  The owner isn’t especially keen to do either but doesn’t want to cause the horse any more pain, if it is an issue.  So, what to do?  Well, I suggested, what is the third alternative?  She looked at me blankly?  The horse is happy to hack out?  Definitely, she replied, he marches out in front with his ears pricked.  They don’t know if it’s the trotting and cantering on turns and circles that is causing the issue.  So, the third option, and what I think is by far the most sensible, is, find someone who will take him into livery as a hack for 6 months.  Let the horse happily go out every day, in straight lines, either on his own or in groups, for pleasure or with the guides on a trail.  See if the behaviour appears (which it will if it’s medical and gets worse) and, if not, bring the horse home.  If the horse is purely training sour, the behaviour may well have disappeared as the horse has had some fun.  (The horse has now gone to his hacking home, we’ll see in a few months…)  Option A – retirement.  Option B – Put down.  Option C – try to hack…

My saddle doesn’t fit – the saddler can’t find the right one – does he have time out, or do I ride him in a badly fitted saddle?  How about, you spend a month doing alternative work with him – in hand, on the lunge or long-rein, lead him out and about in hand, ride bareback for a while.  The in-hand and long rein work could be exactly what is needed to help strengthen his back so make it easier to fit the saddle…  Option C wins again.

Do I buy a horse, or do I carry on riding on riding school horses?  How about you lease a horse, or you have a go at sharing with another owner, to get to grips with what horse ownership is all about.  Do you really have the time and money for a horse?  Do you know enough?  Sharing a horse with his owner can be a great option.

People often ask – what type of bit / saddle / bridle / rug I like to use?  What do I recommend?  I’ve even been asked to be a brand ambassador and “sell” or at least advertise a product.  Well, No.  Why not?  Because, a horse hasn’t read the same books we have.   Just because I like bit A, or bit B, doesn’t mean that he will.  With bits and saddles, its often not even bit C that works, they’ll have you looking at options until you hit option S.



For the record – if you’re asking me what kind of bit to start with, these are my two go to starter bits…

What issue are you having with your horse, and what are options C, D, E and F?

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