Friday, May. 24, 2024

Everyone Needs A Horse To Believe In Their Dream

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Like all horse owners, every professional trainer has a dream horse. He’s rarely our most fancy horse or even the one who brings us the most awards. Instead, he’s the horse that shows us our dreams really could be reality.

When we start out, if we are fortunate, we have people around us who think we are good enough to make it in the challenging world of horses. We have a support system that tells us we can achieve our dreams. But truth be told, we don’t fully believe them until that dream horse shows up.

This horse, despite our lack of experience, performs anyway. He shows up in the ring every day, despite our battles with impostor syndrome. This horse does the most amazing thing: He makes us feel competent.

A Morgan stallion named Statesmans Eclipse was the dream horse who helped Ange Bean realize her dressage goals could become reality. Photo Courtesy Of Catharine Parnell

Professional riders appear as pictures of cool confidence. But particularly early in our careers, before we have learned to trust our techniques, we’re terrified that if we don’t ride well enough, we can’t pay our bills.

The dream horse will cut through all that emotional noise. He tells us we are good enough. He clearly shows us the results of our hard work. He heads into the ring and performs for the judges, despite our lack of experience.

Usually, this is not the most winning horse that we have. Often this horse is challenging. 

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He may challenge our training toolbox, causing us to look for and learn new techniques. Then he’ll reward us for expanding our knowledge.

Or he may challenge us emotionally. He may require us to be more mindful of our goals and the emotions that surround those goals. He may teach us to write our goals in pencil. 

However he challenges us, he helps us grow up professionally. He helps us make the jump from a hopeful amateur to a more polished professional. We work harder and learn to be a better rider because this horse deserves it. This horse knows we can do it, even when we doubt ourselves. He’s 100% on our side.

Eclipse waits patiently while Ange Bean reviews their dressage test. Photo Courtesy Of Ange Bean

Our dream horse paves the way for all of the horses to come after him. He gives us the education we need to confidently ride and train in the future. Without this horse, the subsequent horse that kicks butt in the show ring—the one most people think is our dream horse—would never be possible. I know my professional friends have had this horse. So have I.

My dream horse happened to be a charming black Morgan stallion. Statemans Eclipse (Caduceus Montour—Statemans Manzanita) came into my life as a 10-year-old, former combined driving horse in the first year of my business. I arrogantly told his owner that I would take him to FEI. At that point in my career, FEI might as well have been Mars because I had only seen it from a distance.

“Eclipse” heard me, ignored my doubts, and went to FEI. He was not my best-scoring Prix St. Georges horse, but he was my first. Along the way, he gave me my first victory gallop. He took me around Dressage at Devon and was the highest-placed non-warmblood in the stallion class. When I wrote my story about him, it became my first article picked up in multiple national magazines. He and I became the poster for the American Morgan Horse Association’s annual convention. Occasionally he and I still show up in magazines as an example of the versatility of the Morgan horse.

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I still remember the first ride on him: His owner had brought him to a clinic I was teaching with the goal of finding the left lead canter. When I got on him, I felt a hot, tight mess of nerves vibrating under me for about 10 minutes. Then I felt him relax and melt into my seat. And I was in love.

“Every dream needs someone to believe in it,” writes blogger Ange Bean.Photo Courtesy Of Catharine Parnell

I did not own Eclipse. His owner and I joked that she was his wife and I was his mistress. At the end of his competition career, roughly seven years after we met, he returned to his owner’s Ensign’s Grace Farm to continue his breeding career. Cancer shortened that career, and Cushing’s Syndrome won in the end. 

I went to see him one last time, to say a rather tear-soaked goodbye and a huge thank you. My heart was full of gratitude to the prancy boy who made my dreams come true. Because every dream needs someone to believe in it. 


Ange Bean trains from her Straight Forward Dressage in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and travels throughout the U.S. as a clinician. She is the founding trainer for Straight Forward Dressage Trainer Talks, a web-based discussion on the highs and lows of dressage horse training, and she maintains a personal blog. Her credentials include USEF ‘r’ dressage judge, ARIA Level 3 certified in Dressage and Stable Management, USDF bronze, silver and gold medal, and USDF bronze and silver freestyle bars.

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