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McKenzie Morgan’s best horse “H2” was her most difficult to train. They share a very close bond, which has helped H2 blossom into a winner under McKenzie’s guidance. Photo by Lyndsey Ogle Photography

The Greater the Challenge, the Greater the Reward

Trying to figure out a tough horse can discourage even the most confident riders. However, the final product is worth the challenge.

By McKenzie Morgan, age 16, originally published in the September 2018 issue of Barrel Horse News

In my August 2018 article, we talked about horses that are very challenging. My best horse, H2, was the hardest horse to get to do anything. He would run down the wall, cream the second barrel or wouldn’t go in the gate. We dealt with this for more than a year, and we finally thought we had it figured out. Then, he wouldn’t turn the first barrel or the third barrel. He finally came back around and started winning a few smaller shows.

Then, I experienced one of the best days of my life—the 2012 National Barrel Horse Association Open World Finals. After a very challenging first and second go, H2 placed second in the short round, leaving us the 2012 Reserve Open World Champions. I was really excited for our upcoming shows, thinking I had him figured out. Little did I know, right after that we only had two or three clean runs in six months and right back in the slump we went. I was at my wit’s end with him. We finally got it all together, and he’s taken me to so many places I wouldn’t have gone without him.

McKenzie Morgan’s best horse “H2” was her most difficult to train. They share a very close bond, which has helped H2 blossom into a winner under McKenzie’s guidance. Photo by Lyndsey Ogle Photography

Figuring him out was extremely challenging, and I can’t explain how many times I wanted to throw my sucker in the dirt and quit. We still spend hours in the practice pen figuring things out. I’m so thankful I didn’t give up on him like everyone else. It takes hard work, dedication and a lot of grit to make a winner out of something everyone said wasn’t going to make anything. But it’s possible; so don’t ever give up on a hardheaded horse, because in my experience, they can make a better horse in the long run.

Never give up on your own self-confidence, either. I know firsthand those hardheaded horses that make you feel like you’re getting nowhere ruin your confidence. Always stay confident with your horse, too, because why should you expect it to work perfectly if you don’t believe in its capability? All horses have the ability to perform at 100 percent of their potential—it just takes a jockey who believes in them. With the right jockey, any horse can be phenomenal. But in the wrong hands, a good horse can become a bad one.

Horses are amazing animals, but a horse isn’t going to try as hard for someone who doesn’t love or share a bond with them. That strong-willed horse that makes you want to cry on a daily basis loves you more than you know. So treat these guys with love and respect, and you’ll get way more out of a tough horse than someone who doesn’t treat them fairly. I want to encourage everyone to love and cherish every horse they ride and always believe in yourself and your natural talent. Not everyone can do what we do, so I’m proud of each and every one of you who choose to throw a leg over a 1,000-pound animal and make a winner out of it. Be proud of yourself and your horse every time you enter and leave the arena, because you are awesome for getting out there in the first place.