Memoirs of a Horse Owner
Horsemanship ....... it is an art, a science, a tradition and a lifelong journey!
The articles written for www.Horseownertoday.com are a collection of my personal memoirs as a horse owner. They are about my experiences and about my understanding of horsemanship. They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of www.Horseownertodaycom.com and in some cases, they do not reflect the opinion of the majority of horse owners today. They are about my journey toward understanding a horse.
The term "ditch horse" came up the other day. I've never heard of a "ditch horse". I have heard of a "ditch pig". And that isn't a real good thing to call someone unless you are looking for a fight. But the term "ditch horse" ... now that was new to me. So I asked what it meant.
I was told that a ditch horse is a horse that is rode in the ditch or perhaps along the side of the field near the ditch or down a trail. Apparently a ditch horse isn't worth a lot of money. It generally comes from unregistered stock and therefore it is unregisterable and consequently, it is of limited value. A ditch horse doesn't have a lot of training neither. It is not capable of performing advanced maneuvers and it's competency in performing even the basic skills would be questionable.
This analogy was made in comparison to a show horse. Now I am familiar with the term "show horse". I didn't need a lot of prompting to visualize a well turned out horse demonstrating its skill in the show ring. But the implied prejudice between the job performed by a ditch horse and the job performed by a show horse left me feeling a little dismayed.
I understand that a registered horse would likely sell for more money than an unregistered horse. But then there are times when an unregistered horse is worth a good dollar depending upon how well it can do a job.
The thought of riding down a trail on a horse that doesn't have a lot of training left me feeling down right scared. I would have thought that a ditch horse ought to be fairly well trained. You might need it to respond in a safe and willing manner if you were to find yourself face to face with a big old grizzly bear while you were on the trail.
And then a really upsetting thought crossed my mind .... my horses might be ditch horses. I don't show any more. I ride through fields and along trails. I don't necessarily buy expensive horses and not all of my horses have papers to prove their worth. They are good riding horses but nonetheless, based on the definition, they might be considered ditch horses.
I couldn't help but wonder, what do you call a horse that is rode along a trail and across a stream and in the mountains and has never seen a show ring yet it is professionally trained, pretty good at arena work, registered and out of imported and syndicated lines and was purchased for a good dollar? I have one like that. I have been calling him my pleasure horse.
Or what do you call a horse that is rode along a trail and in riding lessons and clinics and pony club. She has chased cows, been roped off of, and can run a barrel pattern but she has never competed in show. She is not registered and I didn't pay a whole lot for her. I have one like that as well. I refer to her as the family horse.
The term ditch horse just doesn't sit right with me. It seems too negative, too prejudicial. Horses offer us so many different ways in which we can enjoy them. I doubt that any one way of being with a horse is better than another. I have a lot of respect for a champion show horse but I also have a lot of respect for a horse that can take a rider safely down the trail. Both horses are doing their job and doing it well.
For the record, I am sticking to words like "trail" and "pleasure" and "family" to describe my horses. That's the respectful thing to do.
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