Riding level - HELP! (long) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 07-06-2009, 05:39 AM Thread Starter
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Riding level - HELP! (long)

Hi there! I've FINALLY embarked on the long (and exhausting) process of searching for my very first horse. Just window shopping for now, but within the next 12 months, I will be seriously saving up my hard earned cash and taking the plunge!
The problem is that - because I'm cold-searching (that is, through Horse Deals, Newmarket Saddlery etc.) there's all this lingo such as novice, beginner, intermediate, experienced, expert for grading the level of rider needed for a specific horse. Now, I've never been to a competition, or graded myself, and my instructor doesn't like to just 'place' us in a grade like saying 'you're a beginner/ntermediate rider,' she says things like 'your canter's looking good' or, 'your legwork needs work.'
No one comes to watch me ride, so a) I have no external feedback and b) NO pictures of me riding!!!
Here's the crunch: I was wondering if any of you could give me at least a vague description of where I am now as a rider, so I can at least kind of picture what I need to be looking for in a horse, AND how to interpret the lingo of horse dealing.

Here goes:

* I am taking lessons at a local riding school (english dicipline)
* The instructor is university educated and accredited
* I have been riding for 1.5 years at this riding school
* I can walk/trot/canter quite well on schoolmasters and although I've had a few falls on the school's advanced (level 3) horses, I am gaining confidence on the school's intermediate (level 2) horses
* I have an independant seat
* I can collect, shoulder in, half pass (not well, and only at walk)
* I am jumping 1.5 feet confidently, and 2 feet not-so-confidently (but still in a strong position)
* I can do walk to canter transitions on certain horses
* I can maintain my seat easily when a horse shies/refuses/runs out on a jump at trot, and regain my balance quite easily doing the same at canter
* I can handle bad-mannered horses in the arena
* I am capable of tacking/floating/lifting feet and applying medication/bandages without help
* I help out the riding school during school holidays with the young riders holiday program
* I can jump small logs and puddles out in the paddock
* I can swim horses quite well through the local creek
* I have been riding a 6 yr/old 16.3hh TB/QH
* I am capable of driving a horse forward out of a buck/rear
* SOMETIMES I can perform a flying change
* I am able to mix feeds, sometimes needed for several horses with special dietary needs
* I have quiet hands, although sometimes turning into piano fingers
* I have solid legs, able to keep my heels down without thinking about it, and keep them quite still without jabbing the horse
* I do tend to lean forward a little bit at the canter, and if I'm nervous, I automatically go into two-point position and have to go back to trot to re-acheive contact with the saddle!
* I am capable of riding on the road both alone and with other horses
* I am able to ride through a horse misbehaving
* I am starting to learn how to ride bareback/without stirrups
* I have NEVER worked on a lunge (not sure if that's bad or good, just letting you know! )

There! Sorry for the novel guys, but I haven't actually ever written down what I've learned in the past year or so. Wow! After coming to the school as a happy (once-a-year) hacker with a LOT of bad habits, to be able to properly collect a horse, well, I'm a teensy bit proud of myself. I've also just worked myself back to riding after a 3 month interlude due to injury (I tore some cartlidge in my medial meniscus on the left knee) Ouch!
I have to watch myself when I'm mounting/dismounting still, and need a block to make sure I don't jar it, but I'm getting there.

So......what am I? Beginner, Novice, Intermediate??? (It's probably beginner, but both my instructor and I feel that I'm outgrowing the schoolmasters out at the riding school and I need to know my status. Again, sorry for the lack of photos, but it is physically impossible for me to capture them at the moment.

The art of keeping a horse between YOU and the GROUND!
DarkEquine is offline  
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post #2 of 12 Old 07-06-2009, 07:37 AM
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DarkEquine I would say getting some photos/video would help a lot, can you borrow a camera? From what you have written I would say you are well past beginner in my book. I would say you are intermediate but not advanced. Having said that I would say you are going to have go look at the horses you are really interested in. The only ones I would stay away from are ones with really high tempermant (most horse websites have 1 calm, 10 very high strung type of rating) As far as rider level I think its going to take talking to the owner/seller. I have a horse I was trying to sell but I have decided to keep for now. I was very honest in my ad saying she needed int to adv rider. I had several calls from people with 12 to 14 year olds looking to buy and I talked to them and concluded my horse was not far along enough for them to ride her safely. She is much better now but still unpredicable. From what you say I would certainly let you try her and see.

I think the most important thing is balance and being able to be safe when horse acts up. Other than that if you have a competent trainer you should be able to take a fairly green horse along. You might want to practice lunging on a older more trained horse before getting your own as that can often come in handy.

I would also suggest you have your trainer help with your search for your horse. They will be able to tell you if the horse is a match for you.

Good luck and try to post some pics or vids.
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post #3 of 12 Old 07-06-2009, 11:23 AM
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I agree with lovemyponies. It sounds like you're about at an intermediate level. But you might be able to go with a greener horse if you have the right support and if he/she is calm enough. It also depends on what you want to achieve with this purchase. Do you want to immediately enter a showring and jump a 2 foot course? Do you want to eventually go higher? Are you happy just working in an arena? Do you just want a buddy that you can go play on the trails with? These are important for you to decide, as it will change the level of horse. If you're happy just staying in the arena and you want a challenge, you might want to go int./adv. but if you want to get a horse and leave the next day for a show jumping competition (an exaggeration, of course), you should be looking at beg./nov. type of horse. I know some people won't agree with me on this point, but you sound pretty good, and with the support of a good trainer, you should be fine with a more advanced horse if that's what you want. My best teacher was a fresh 4 y/o OTTB (as in, my trainer got him and said, "you want to learn to train, right? hop on" before she did. Stupid, yes. But I still learned a lot) after years of riding old schooling horses.

Sorry for the rambling...I hope that made sense...


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post #4 of 12 Old 07-06-2009, 11:53 AM
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Just to reinforce what's already been said, keep in mind that everyone has different definitions of riding level. It's all relative. At my barn, specifically in the riding school, you would be considered intermediate. However, I am impressed by your knowledge of horse care (too many schools ignore that nowadays). As already stated, you can't really tell until you speak with the owner and physically go out to look at and try a horse. Look for a horse that will challenge you, but won't make you lose confidence. I've seen several people on my barn who buy or lease a horse that's too much for them and end up falling apart as riders. You sound like a very practical and thorough person, though, so best of luck.
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post #5 of 12 Old 07-06-2009, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by chevaliernr View Post
Just to reinforce what's already been said, keep in mind that everyone has different definitions of riding level. It's all relative. At my barn, specifically in the riding school, you would be considered intermediate. However, I am impressed by your knowledge of horse care (too many schools ignore that nowadays). As already stated, you can't really tell until you speak with the owner and physically go out to look at and try a horse. Look for a horse that will challenge you, but won't make you lose confidence. I've seen several people on my barn who buy or lease a horse that's too much for them and end up falling apart as riders. You sound like a very practical and thorough person, though, so best of luck.
Yep, it happened to me. Try to get a horse that they will let you do a trial lease on first. Its not worth it to get the horse and then find out, a month or so later, that they are a complete nut-job. That happened to me with my first horse, though I wasnt much of a rider then, haha. And my last lease horse was a crazy TB that really messed me up. She threw me off while mounting her and now I have to have someone hold the horse while im mounting. Luckly I forced myself to get on my old guy Junior yesterday, by my self. :)
Sorry about the rambling, just give examples.
Good luck, and I would consider you an intermediate rider, though like the others said, we wont know for sure until we seen some pictures or videos :]
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post #6 of 12 Old 07-06-2009, 01:11 PM
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I know lots of folks don't like to do trial leases but I think its a really good idea and as long as they know you are providing competent care shouldn't be a big issue. (I know there are horror stories thouh) If you can't do a lease first then I would suggest going back to see the horse multiple times, different times of day, different types of weather, etc. I would also suggest having a couple of different people riding the horse, you, your trainer and maybe someone from your barn who is about the same level as you. It helps to see how a horse reacts to different people.

Keep us updated on your search.
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post #7 of 12 Old 07-06-2009, 01:40 PM
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I really think that you should focus on looking at the horses that say things about being beginner friendly, not because I think you're a beginner but because a horse that's beginner safe is going to be a lot safer and more fun for you in the long run.
A horse that's marketed towards intermediates might also be be fine especially if the horse is ok with beginners but would do better with an intermediate rider.
I'm just saying this because owning your own horse is way way way different than riding a school horse and you make a lot of mistakes in the beginning. A greener or more advanced horse is not going to be as forgiving of those mistakes that will happen, no way around them, as a beginner friendly horse would be. Especially with a green horse, it could seriously hinder said horse to make some of the mistakes that you can and will make.

I personally took on my first horse rather recently (I don't actually factually own her yet but in all other aspects she is mine) and she is a rather green (24 year old!) and rather hot horse. I took her on because it was either me or an auction and I couldn't let that happen because I'm a softy. >.< She was marketed towards an advanced rider and my riding instructor felt I was there. Well yknow what? It's a major test of my love for horses to work with her. Since she is pretty green I never know what to expect when I ride, some days she's sweetness and light and it's super easy to work with her, other days she bucks and rears and it basically makes me want to cry. Basically I spend over half the time I ever spend with her doing groundwork, getting her focused on me without any riding at all. I don't even canter her all that often because she's not ready for that yet. I have learned a ton working with her and she loves me completely (people are always asking me "how on earth did you get her that calm?" and "she adores you doesn't she?") but we only got there after a year of intensive training AND I've successfully retrained other horses before so I already had some successful training techniques to use on Lacey.

I'm just saying, please just get a horse that is going to be tolerant of your mistakes (we all make them!) and that you are going to want to be around instead of feeling like you should go work with them. Please don't get a horse because it's marketed to intermediates and hey, you're an intermediate! Please, get a horse that you love and that will take you safely through your mistakes.

Good luck in your search! I know your perfect horse is out there somewhere! =)

Sorry, this was kinda off topic but I felt it should be said. =/

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 07-06-2009 at 01:43 PM.
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post #8 of 12 Old 07-06-2009, 01:50 PM
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Wallaby well said! I agree you have to be really careful, you can see many stories on here about horses that just don't work out. Tempermant is key. def nothing wrong with a horse that can handle beginners. good luck and let us know what you are looking at. :)
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post #9 of 12 Old 07-06-2009, 03:19 PM
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Tempermant is definitely the key to the whole equation. You sound like you can handle most situations that any "new" horse will throw at a rider during the get aquainted period. Luckily for you the economy has provided you with a ton of good horses to consider. You don't seem like you have any breed preference, so that opens it up even more. I got my first horse at age 40. Everybody said, don't get a young horse, don't get a green horse, TB's are crazy, blah blah blah. I'm thick in the head, so I got a 5 year old OTTB. A trainer had already been working with him for 4 months before I got him, so he already had a solid foundation started. He is the exact opposite of what I was warned to stay away from. He is the kindest, sanest horse I've have ever ridden. His conformation isn't great, his teeth are horrible, but I bought him for his mind and cannot tell you how glad I am that I did it for that reason. My point is, just look around and find a horse that you feel comfortable with. A great looking horse is useless if he's a nut job. Have fun in your search.
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post #10 of 12 Old 07-06-2009, 04:03 PM
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If I were you, I'd look for horses that have the phrases "confidence builder" or "packer" in their descriptions. Don't nessesarily find a push button horse because it sounds like you can ride, but you don't seem to be a "cowboyer" type rider either. (I know some people who are pretty inexperienced riders- but fearless- so riding hotter things doesn't rip apart their confidence) Last year I was around where you are right now, and I found the most amazing confidence builder horse who was listed as beginner safe but could take a more advanced rider to the next level due to her temperment. When I had enough confidence to actually push myself to higher levels of riding, my mare stayed right with me until a few months ago when my vet recommended that she find a new owner because she couldn't keep moving up for jumping- but I don't regret buying her because our time together was worth it! So my point is, find a horse that you're going to have fun on. Especially because you haven't been riding for very long, I would try to find an all-arounder in case you decided in six months that you wanted to change your disipline focus- or maybe that riding isn't your thing all together.

And if you contact owners and talk about your riding to them, I would describe you being a sensible intermediate rider. Sensible relating to catious, careful, etc. I like to use those words when describing my riding because while I have a good amount of experience, I'm not a pushy rider and I take my time getting a horse going when I get on it for the first time. At the same time, if I know a horse I'll push its buttons if it needs it. Sorry if that's nothing like how you ride, but from what you described you just remind me of myself!

You should also take into consideration that your presentation for your experience level will be different from horse to horse. For example, I'm pretty fearless when it comes to ponies, (which is what I'm looking for right now) so when I talk to people I imply that I can handle more... difficult or friskier prospects. If I were looking for a horse I would NOT advertise that I was looking for a potential nut case.

I hope that helped!

- Jules
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