Isn’t it interesting how some of the best rope horses in the world can be a little hard to be around? Some are a little quirky on the ground while others might try to buck you off when it’s even a little chilly. Others still are just terrible to ride anywhere that is not the roping pen. Though there are some high level horses that are as gentle as kids horses, a large majority have certain quirks about them.
I think this is a disjunction in our horsemanship community and maybe our world as well. We expect high level performers to be excellent at everything in life and this is just not always the case. I think some high quality horses get left behind because they have little quirks. There are multiple examples from Jackyl to Jewel to Ice Cube of horses that were almost outlaws in their younger years. These horses went on to do great things but could have simply been broncs without the correct guys finding them at the right time.
Have you ever noticed that many high performing athletes tend to struggle in their personal lives? It seems that the fire that works so well in the field tends to not translate to home life very well. There are many athletes that have marital problems along with problems with addictions of all kinds. I think this can often just be part of the game unfortunately. It’s hard to have a horse or a person that has that level of fire and competitiveness to just shut off and be a kids horse.
There is a certain fire that once ignited can be difficult to fully control but is almost unstoppable when correctly applied. Certain guys like Tom Brady are described as quiet and kind when off the field, turn into the truest form of competitor when the lights come on. Brady is a force to be reckoned with when he turns on that fire of competition. Some athletes such as Michael Jordan or Kobe Byrant have such an intensity to them that other things in their life tend to fall by the way side. Jordan’s bedside manner was not exactly kind to say the least and would stop at nothing to get to the goals that he had.
I think high achievers of all kinds struggle to find a release. The same thing that makes them so good can also be their downfall or maybe just short coming. If you were a coach, would you cut Jordan just because he tended to have a gambling problem? In the same way if I told you, you could ride Jackyl but you had to really watch your self when saddling him, would you care? I think not in both examples. When people or horses are firing at that high of a level, we can look past their short comings. But the catch is, they have to perform, or it rapidly becomes not worth the hassle.
I relate athletes to horses for two reasons. One is to not give up on the wild ones too soon. Sometimes they just need time to get over their quirks or have someone that has the patience to overlook the quirks so that they can have a chance to be great. And sometimes they are just so good that it just doesn’t matter how odd they are to be around.
The second reason is that there are some really talented horses that are self-destructive to both themselves and their riders. Just because a horse has talent does not mean that they are going to be great. Guys like Johnny Manzeil and Josh Gordan of the NFL come to mind in recent sports years. They has so much talent but just could never put it together mentally and in their personal lives, and that was ultimately their downfall.
I have seen several horses that just needed some time to calm down out of their little quirks. Some of the greats like Jackyl were plum wild until they found someone that was patient enough to deal with their odd quirks. If you think a horse has the talent and the X-factor, maybe just give them a second andsee what happens. Who knows maybe you have a Jordan in your barn and you just have to figure out how to control them.
On the other hand there are those horses who are just self-destructive. Whether it is through them actually being dangerous to people or could be that they are just never able to handle the pressure of competing at a high level. Though it is important to give them time, if certain fragile horses have been given sufficient time and are still either being dangerous or costing you money, it’s time for them to go live somewhere else. It’s important to cut those horses loose as soon as you realize you might have a Josh Gordan on your hands. As always I hope this was helpful. Have fun on the wild ones, stay safe and God Bless.