That famous word is used to describe a horse who’s been around the block and back, trained by a professional, or is going to take care of his rider. It has slowly become a negative term, “She isn’t even that good because her horse is a packer.” Here’s why this is wrong:
Everything about eventing is hard, there’s no way around it. Some horses are more difficult than others, but it’s never easy.
If you’re riding a young horse, he might not have a lot of confidence yet, so he’ll be more willing to listen to you. However, if you’re riding an experienced horse, they tend to have a little bit too much confidence, leading to them constantly taking over. Trust me, I am in no way saying that young horses are easier, all of my horses are young except Wolfie.
I happen to think that on the flat, a packer is a packer. Of course there always are exceptions (cough cough Wolfie who bullies me nonstop), but when you’re doing a novice test on an advanced packer, you really shouldn’t be scoring in the high forties. Maybe that is when you need to take a step back and evaluate yourself.
In jumping, experienced horses tend to take over if you don’t see a distance or they think you’re not making the right choice. Wolfie always tricks me. He’ll be like “ok you go ahead and pick the distance!” Then three strides out he goes “Sike I’m doing this my way!” So you just have to figure your horse out, and how to stay in control without micromanaging. “Packers” are nice because if you get into trouble, they’ll help you unlike young horses who don’t know yet. Which is exactly why we like to have experienced horses take us through the upper levels, because once you get to prelim, you have to start riding and they teach us how.
If anyone criticizes you for riding an experienced horse, don’t listen to them because you know the truth and how difficult it really can be. Also don’t forget all of us on the young horses have it hard too and don’t criticize us. Can’t we all just mind our own business and worry about our own horses?