(“. . . now I just rolled my eyes . . .”)
I was recently informed by a potential student with a young mare that she has never permitted a male to get on any of her horses. Years ago I would’ve been mightily offended. Now I just rolled my eyes and thought “how shortsighted of you.”
I do understand wanting to be protective of your horse, but gender per se seems like a poor delineator to choose a rider. Truth be told, there are some trainers I would not want on any of my horses either— some are men, some are women. The deciding factors have more to do with their patience and empathy then with physical strength.
The availability of strength has little to do with how much and when it is applied. A wise rider, whether male or female, should always be looking for the opportunity to use smaller, lighter aids if they work. And an important goal is to ride in a way to ensure that they will work!
If I’m riding a horse for someone, I want first of all to make it correct, and second make it rideable for its owner. This might even include riding some of the time with my stirrups of the length that matches those of the eventual rider.
Unless it’s a totally unsuitable horse in the first place, if I train the horse so that it works for me but not for the person paying the bill, it misses the point.