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Mismatched Horses and Riders

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  • Horse and rider mismatched

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    02-23-2014, 06:09 PM
  #11
Weanling
I agree and disagree with you bsms. It all depends on the individual. Riders do need to be pushed to excel, but only to a certain extent. A horse that is a bit more difficult to ride than what a rider is used to can certainly advance them. If the horse is too advanced, the rider could very easily end up hurt. It all comes down to knowing your abilities and being realistic. I have not been in the horse industry for long, 16yrs, but I have seen some very poorly matched horses and riders. A few were able to eventually have a successful partnership. Most of them ended up seriously hurt and/or forced to sell the horse. I've seen good horses become ruined and dangerous because of a mismatch. There is a balance and riders must absolutely know what they are capable of and can handle. Trainers need to be able to evaluate this as well. In my experience, not many riders and trainers are capable of making good evaluations. Riders fall victim to their "dream horse," and trainers are chasing dollars, rather than trying to help their clients achieve success. It happens more often that not.
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    02-23-2014, 06:13 PM
  #12
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bagheera    
Riders do need to be pushed to excel, but only to a certain extent. A horse that is a bit more difficult to ride than what a rider is used to can certainly advance them. If the horse is too advanced, the rider could very easily end up hurt.
Absolutely, the whole thing to remember is that riding should be FUN, if you aren't having fun you probably have the wrong horse.
     
    02-23-2014, 06:38 PM
  #13
Started
"Unless you have someone else to do the riding for you possibly for years it is foolish to buy a horse that you are not experienced enough to ride. I am not talking about sitting on the horse when all is quiet and you are not asking for much, after it has already been worked by someone else. I am talking about being able to take your horse by yourself and ride it without the help of someone more experienced."

YES. I used to board at a very nice dressage barn, and there were a couple of ladies that were horse searching during the same time period that I was. I wound up buying the 5 year old QH that I still have and ride independently about 7 or so years later. One lady had a good, solid TB. Great horse, but didn't have the talent that she wanted for dressage. Sold him to a friend of mine and INSISTED that she NEEDED a Friesian. Bought something that was too much horse for her, and the horse got into an accident and had to be put down as a result. If I remember correctly I think he flipped over on her. Remarkably, she was ok but the horse did serious damage to his neck.

Another lady bought a seemingly lovely little mare, but within a month or two she turned out to be demon spawn. Turned into the trainer riding her most of the time and the owner seldom getting on. She ended up selling or putting down the mare (don't know which and didn't ask), and bought a still very talented paint gelding that was MUCH more her speed. To my knowledge she's still having the time of her life with that horse.

Finally, we have the "star" of that barn. She had a very nice and talented TB, but he was getting up there in age so she decided to get a new show/lesson horse and retire the TB to being a weekend husband horse. Spent $35,000 (actual price) on a 5 year old Holsteiner. Super great movement, drop dead gorgeous horse, but needed more dressage training. Being a kid at the time, I thought it was fun that she and I bought bay horses with flashy markings at the same time that were almost exactly the same age. She did not seem amused that this kid was comparing her QH to her super fancy warmblood.

He turned out to be WAY too much for her to handle. It got to the point where she was paying for the trainer to ride him 2-3 days a week, took two lessons a week, 1-2 days off, and either didn't ride or wouldn't do much more than walk around on her horse on the last day. It was like this for the last three years that I was there through high school, and to this day she is probably paying many hundreds of dollars for the trainer to ride a horse that she is too intimidated to ride. But, she LOVES to be the owner of the fancy horse right at the front of the barn. And she LOVES to dote on, obsess over, and complain about every aspect of his care. She can afford it, and I guess it works for her. And, I'm sure she wouldn't get back half of what she paid for him if a prospective buyer came and watched her ride him.

The best part of all this? She threw a birthday party for the horse during the first year she had him. At that point she was still operating on the assumption that once the trainer was through with intensive training that she would become his regular rider. I rolled up to the barn that day to a huge banner that said "Horse's 5th Birthday!" I looked at it, and wondered why it said 5th birthday when the horse should be turning 6. Asked my trainer, and apparently she lied to everyone at the barn and said he was 5 because she didn't want people to give her a hard time for buying a 4 year old warmblood. Apparently she was trying to show off how good her horse was as a 4 year old, but when she began riding him not long after that, things did not go so well...

There's a line between buying a horse that will push you and be something that you can grow with for awhile and something that's too much horse for you.
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    02-23-2014, 08:51 PM
  #14
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by DuckDodgers    
...It got to the point where she was paying for the trainer to ride him 2-3 days a week, took two lessons a week, 1-2 days off, and either didn't ride or wouldn't do much more than walk around on her horse on the last day. It was like this for the last three years...

...There's a line between buying a horse that will push you and be something that you can grow with for awhile and something that's too much horse for you.
True. My point is that where the line should be drawn depends on the rider's personality and goals as much as the horse.

My buying Mia was a classic case of buying the wrong horse, to the point of embarrassing. I had never ridden much. I had not touched a horse in 25 years. I was shopping for a horse who could teach me riding. Mia was advertised as "perfect for a beginner".

Yet they wouldn't let me ride Mia in the open. They insisted I ride her in a round pen that was about 30 feet in diameter. They wouldn't even let me lead her back to her stall on foot! She had been donated to this 'charity', sold, and brought back. There were other warning signs, but I'm sure the folks on HF get the picture.

Does this sound in any way like a good horse for a beginner to buy?

Well, I did. On the spot. They agreed to deliver her. They arrived 3 hours late with a horse who was almost blind with fear. Is it sounding any better?

Any slightly sane person would have refused delivery, even if they had been stupid enough to buy her in the first place.

Yet while she was a horrible choice, she was also a great choice. She is the horse that got me hooked on riding. I'm sure a "Steady Eddie" would have been better for me, but unending challenges have played a huge role in making me love horses.

5 1/2 years later. I rode her yesterday in our little arena. My daughter was riding Trooper, and there was a lot of cantering.

After a few brief canters, Mia began to get competitive with Trooper. And I had moved her back into a snaffle, which is a bit she considers to be used for giving advice, not commands. By the end of the ride, my back was exhausted. I had cussed repeatedly in front of my daughter. I had dismounted once and cantered her in 20 foot circles both directions around me, and then mounted and tried again. I began to plot how to Google 'slaughterhouse + Mexico' and wonder how much the trip would cost me.

And at the end of the ride, Mia had the audacity to give me her, "That was fun! Was it as good for you as it was for me?" look...

For a rider of my skill set, she is still too difficult a horse. But even as a potential rider, I needed a challenge. I needed a horse who needed me. I needed a horse as stubborn, opinionated and dominant as I am. Mia was a horrible choice, and the perfect choice.

She has calmed down greatly in the last 14 months since I switched her to a curb bit. But I doubt she will ever be a very safe trail horse. I think there are a few wires missing in her brain. Looking forward, maybe I still need to 'up my game' as a rider. And maybe I need to understand that riding her will never be entirely safe. As a rider, she has taught me that staying on is better than looking good. That it is better to sacrifice my pride than my back, and looking stupid grabbing a horn is better than falling off like a pro. She has taught me to anticipate, and to think about minimizing risk instead of eliminating it. Her ability to melt down over absolutely nothing on a trail has taught me that a good trail horse can be as much about breeding as a good dressage horse is. She has certainly taught me that a good trail horse can be admired for exactly that - being a good trail horse!

If I were any less stubborn, dominant or even less stupid, Mia might have gone away, and maybe ended up on a one-way trip to Mexico. But if one looks at a match between horse and rider, that match needs to take into account the rider. Not just the skill set, but the personality.

When a horse and rider are not matched, I think the main problem isn't "X doesn't canter well" or "Y cannot do a flying change". Those things can be taught to a horse if needed. The main mismatch comes in personality.

Mia, for all her faults, doesn't have a mean bone in her body. If she did, I'd have put her down long ago. I honestly think she would prefer to be hurt herself than hurt me, although I understand she could break me in two without meaning to do so. If she was a sneaky horse, or a lazy horse, or one who would buck to get out of work, I'd dump her in a heartbeat. If she had a bad attitude, I'd get rid of her. Instead, she just has a few screws loose...so we are not such a bad match, after all....

And after 5 1/2 years, I still need to become a better rider. For her sake. And mine.
     
    02-23-2014, 09:06 PM
  #15
Started
Bsms, sometimes it works out in a way that isn't damaging to horse or rider. No need to justify your purchase decision to me I'm glad that has been the case for you. I've seen plenty of poorly thought out impulse buy cases that have worked out well, and I'm always happy when they do. More often than not, though, things go south and result in injury for either horse or rider, horse being sold/killed, or one or both parties being unhappy. I admire people that are able to admit when this has happened and go through the necessary steps to commit to a suitable training program (for BOTH horse and rider) or rehome the horse if necessary, but the problem would be eliminated if more people knew what to look for in the right horse.
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    02-25-2014, 05:28 PM
  #16
Weanling
I have the opposite problem. While I am not a stellar rider, by any means, I am way under-horsed with my Percheron, Ahab. I love lessons, I love riding, I love having horses, and I even love Ahab, but it seems ridiculous to even try with him. A trainer? What for? Lessons? That would be ludicrous. I keep trying to change my attitude, but facts are facts, and my boy is a plow horse, through and through.

I did re-home him to an ideal situation; he was a plow horse on a cow farm, with lots of room to roam and very little asked of him, but after two years they decided not to keep him, and he was going to auction. Here, that means heading up to Canada to wind up in a dog food can. I have a two stall barn, but Ahab is so mean to other horses that I can't really have another horse around him, or they get beaten up, and I don't have enough land for separate paddocks.

Meanwhile, a neighboring horse farm has six beautiful horses for sale, including a two year old filly that I have been drooling over since she was born... and if they don't sell by mid-March, all six are being shipped out west to another location to try their luck there. I am so frustrated!
     
    02-28-2014, 02:45 PM
  #17
Weanling
I agree and also disagree with the article. I rode everything as a kid, I married had babies and didn't ride for years. Then when my kids were old enough to not need mom at home every Saturday I took up riding again. I trail ride.

As a younger rider I wanted excitement and adventure as an older adult I want a solid steady trail horse that I can trust. I want to enjoy my horse and enjoy being in the woods. Hubby bought a horse that is exciting to ride but you have to stay on your toes... he enjoyed him a few years then decided he also wanted something that he can have a more relaxed trail ride on.

A lot of the time you have to match the horse to what you want... not just your ability.

Rhonda
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