Just because you long to be the next Mary King, it doesn't mean your horse will jump clear around a cross-country course.

Like you, your horse has activities he enjoys more than others and that come more naturally.

Appealing to his strengths rather than trying to endlessly hammer out the weaknesses will let your horse perform better and make riding more enjoyable.

Take time out to make a list of what you want from your riding, and what moments you love best. Is it the adrenaline rush of flying a massive ditch? Or hacking out on a bright, winter morning? Are you a thrill-seeker, a perfectionist, or laid-back? And what about your horse?

Write down a few notes on his temperament too, then try to compare your lists. If you find there are very few similarities and you're truly miserable, it may be time to consider selling your horse and replacing him with one that will suit your personality and needs better.

However, by just changing the focus of your riding, you may make both you and your horse much happier – and more successful.

THIS FEATURE FIRST APPEARED IN HORSE MAGAZINE'S NOVEMBER 2012 ISSUE