I always shake my head and smile when I hear people saying that horses shouldn’t be forced to jump. Obviously, there are people who will try to punish a horse into submission (the Big Lick Walkers come to mind), but ultimately, the horse has a vote.
The first horse I owned was a failed school horse. After a few years of carting kids around in circles, Bogie decided that he didn’t want to play that game any more. Instead, he made a bee line for the middle of the ring and refused to move. You could smack him with a crop, but that only made him kick out, not go forward. Once he became my personal horse, he rediscovered his forward gear and we had a lot of fun — doing a job he enjoyed. However, despite my best efforts, he never became an eventer. He would jump anything in a ring, but take him out cross country and he would start to put the breaks on a good thirty feet from any jump that looked suspicious.
Someone I knew had a horse that had been a very successful eventer. He first started displaying his objection to the sport by jumping a few fences, gradually slowing down and refusing to finish the course. Then he decided that he would never again leave the start box. He was happy to school cross country, but at a competition? No way.
Here’s a horse that obviously feels the same way about racing. In his native New Zealand, Chautauqua is a champion sprinter, winning $8,821,935. But the 8-year old gelding has apparently decided he is done. Last word was that he will be retired. I hope he finds another discipline where he enjoys his job.