It's a very regular occurrence for us to come across posts online where people are asking for help and advice because they have reached a point with their horse where they feel like they aren't progressing. We have lost track of the times that we have responded to said posts, always with very similar advice - seek a professional's guidance.
So what is it that stops people seeking this help? In our experience there are only a small number of people in the horse world who actually believe they don't need it; and if they didn't think they needed help, they wouldn't be on a forum asking for advice from relative strangers. Although there are a number of people who like to say 'I've produced this horse from scratch all by myself', and feel a sense of achievement, no-one really produces a horse all by themselves. There is a team of people behind every horse (farrier, vet, physio, dentist, etc) and you wouldn't think to exclude these people if your horse needed it.
The most common reason seems to be that people don't want to believe they are failing, or backing down from the task in hand but that perspective is hard to understand since everyone needs help sometimes. If you couldn't fix your washing machine, would you risk making the problem worse, or get someone to fix it for you? If you find yourself in difficulty with your horse, get help! There are other people who've been training for years so that they can help you with your problem.
Another reason is money. This one we can definitely relate to, and so can most people out there, especially horse-riders! We constantly juggle money, if we have the farrier or physio out one week, we may have to skip a training session, or even a competition. However, the way we look at it is: if we don't put enough training in then the competition becomes pointless, the same way that if our horses weren't well and fit they wouldn't be going. If your horse has repeatedly not gone well in competition, save yourself money, time, and effort (and potentially danger) and find someone to help out.
So when do you need to seek help?
When your horse is putting you in danger. If you've hit the deck a couple of times, or if you are starting to feel scared to get on your horse, get some one else to ride them (after getting all the relevant pain checks done)! Most professionals will have ridden many horses with the same problems as yours and will have plenty of tricks up their sleeves to deal with them.
If your performance has completely stalemated. Get an instructor on side! Whether or not they ride your horse, they will help you to analyse where things are going wrong and give you the tools to improve. Remember, even the best riders have constant training, you wouldn't catch William Fox-Pitt missing training sessions!
REMEMBER Always get references before sending your horse away to a professional! The majority of professionals are perfectly trustworthy, but there are always one or two people out there who will happily take your money without treating your horse well.
If you need help finding a professional in your area or have any questions, feel free to comment or message us, either on here or on the Hesteyri Horses Facebook page, we are always happy to help and advise for free!