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Winning on a made horse

training your horse
Written by Andrea Parker

After a brilliant ride on Nonie yesterday afternoon I once again found myself musing an oft expressed sentiment in the horse world, ‘Winning on a made horse will never be as good as winning on a horse you’ve trained yourself’. I have to say this one really rubs me up the wrong way.

Firstly, I am not totally sure I understand what a ‘made’ horse is. There are so many stages involved in producing a horse from selecting the mare and stallion, caring from the mare during pregnancy, the birth of healthy foal and that’s all before the formal aspects of training can even commence. Then there is the question of a horse being broken to saddle and nursed through those early days as a green horse. There are then some significant milestones as the horse embarks on its competitive carer, from its first outing, to progressing through the ranks to become a Grand Prix horse. Considering all of the stages that go into producing a horse for competition the argument could be made that if you pick up at any point along the way, you are indeed riding a made horse!

However, lets assume that what people mean is that winning on a horse you trained is much harder and requires a greater degree of skill and therefore is more rewarding than winning on a schoolmaster. I would argue that one is not better than the other, they are merely different.

I have had the great fortune to ride two horses who were highly trained, one to Grand Prix and one to medium advanced, I can honestly say that school masters are not easy rides. While school masters may know the higher level work, unless you aids and timing are exactly correct you will not be rewarded.

In contrast, I have had my current horse Nonie since she was a 5yo who could barely trot a 20m circle. We ahve now progressed together through having our first medium start. Hopefully, we will continue much further into the future. Yes, there is a certain buzz that comes with success in this type of partnership, but I doubt that it’s better than the feeling you get when you succeed on a schoolmaster. It’s just different.

In this saying that ‘winning on a made horse will never be as good as winning on a made horse’ I feel an edge of jealousy and nastiness which can unfortunately surface in the equestrian community. I also suspect that there is an element of needing to bring others down in order to resolve our own insecurities.



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About the author


Andrea Parker

Andrea is an Adult Amateur dressage rider who competes at medium level on her 13-year-old mare Mon Ami. Andrea shares her journey through the equestrian world on her blog The Sand Arena Ballerina and is working on an equestrian podcast called Equestrian Pulse.


  • I have competed both schoolmaster horses and horses I have trained myself, and I can tell you this – I am never less happy to succeed with a schoolmaster than succeeding with a horse I have worked hard on. Success is success, and that is what matters to me!