Is it counter-intuitive for me to boldly state that a horse dubbed “bombproof” scares me a little?
See, hearing that term always brings a hint of skepticism to my mind. I know horses exist who can walk through a live minefield and have no reaction, but usually they aren’t something most folks would be particularly excited to ride, and people for whom this is a pre-requisite might be a tough fit for most of the horses in the world (and the situations they may face).
Now, I’m not trying to kill anyone’s sale. I do understand it’s a blanket term and should be taken as meaning that a horse is VERY gentle. I get it, but I hear so many people these days state they need a horse that’s basically bombproof. It’s a tough fit, one that may even come with a little backlash in the future, should said horse ever spook. I’m comfortable with stating when something is safe to ride, but bombproof? Who wants to run into someone years later, with a busted lip and gimp in their step from a fall-off, shaking their fingers at you, saying “You sold him to me as bombproof!”
To be honest, I don’t think that shopping for a bombproof horse is a very easy task, or a very realistic one. As sellers, we understand the term is sacred and should not be diluted. It’s reserved for the 2% of horses that really have been through the ringer, seen it all, done it all and boldly march into the circus ring without flicking an ear. Most of us love selling horses that are safe, sound and sane, but when I get buyers who say “bombproof,” I usually tell them I don’t think I have what they are looking for. Even my most gentle horses and ponies might react to something I cannot anticipate. In fact, my personal feeling is it’s preferable to have something with a little self-preservation, most days. I once had a pony that was gentler than a drugged tortoise, but when Luke would fire up his welder, he would startle. I’ve seen old, worldly geldings tied to trailers in my driveway try to rip the ring off the side of their Featherlites when they see my old pet pig stroll by. Even if they leave my place with my brand, as gentle as a person could want them to be, who can guarantee it will carry throughout every experience of their lifetime?
I buy horses, too, and I would never have the expectation of “bombproof” from a seller. The biggest thing about a potentially gentle mount is their disposition, temperament and broke-ness. Sure, a horse is gentle and seasoned, but if we encounter something unexpected or startling on the trail, does he have the right buttons and pieces to make sure my kid, mother-in-law, etc. can still stay safe?
Please know this is not an absolute truth. Some horses really do fit the bill. Good people sell bombproof horses and they are, indeed, the safest thing on four legs. There are plenty out there and I applaud the folks who make them and the ones who seek them out. Most people who use the term carelessly to describe something that may spook sometimes are probably not trying to be malicious or deceptive – that’s just been their experience with the mare or gelding. I’m just calling to attention the fact that the word “bombproof” is something to really think about before putting it in a description, whether we are buying or selling.
Now, tell me about something that doesn’t whirl at an emu, snort at a llama, or set back at a pig passing by, and you’ve got yourself a sale, my friend.