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Advice on novice rider owning young horse

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  • How to school a young horse
  • Young horse for young rider good idea

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    03-11-2011, 01:03 PM
I got my first horse 11 years ago when I was 15.
I had been riding once a week at my riding school, and had spent most of my school breaks at riding camps. For some reason, I thought I knew what I was doing :) so my mom bought me a 4 y.o. Gelding. (No one in my family is a horse person besides me). Him being a Norwegian Fjord, I would say he was probably slower than a TB could be, and not as "bouncy ball" flexible, as a longer legged horse, but I can tell you - these guys are STRONG. He was saddle broke and had been backed, but not trained.
I thought: "I want to be able to grow with my horse - I don't want a horse that is dead quiet and lazy, but one that has a little spunk to him". At first I thought all I would want to do is go on romantic trail rides, and have a great buddy.

Well :)
1. He had never been in a stall before in his entire life, so the first day I got him (and I was oh so proud) he not only stepped on my feet about 7 times, but also ran out of his stall before I was even able to turn around and close the door!

2. It was September, and Fall in Germany usually gets quite rainy and wet! I quickly noticed that this "romantic" idea of only trail riding is not all that pink and fuzzy when the weather is bad and it's freezing.

3. We had a small outdoor riding ring that was super super muddy. I noticed that he wouldn't exactly listen to the aids like all the lesson horses. My dad and I would lunge him, and he would just turn his head out and run... I wasn't amused, but looking back, it was quite funny.

So I figured I needed help. I moved him to a large dressage barn, where I fell in love with dressage and started taking lessons with an amazing dressage trainer. (In Germany being a professional rider, trainer, breeder is usually an actual job. You have to train with a master and take theoretical coursework and then pass riding and theory exams at the national headquarters) - So I knew I was in good hands! Even though we were the odd ones out at my barn, since most people in Germany don't usually own a Fjord when they want to be successful in dressage, we kept up our lessons, and hard work.

It was so important to not only have the facilities to work him, but also the guidance. My trainer being onsite pretty much every day was probably the biggest thing I could have ever, ever asked for. Not only would she give us our lessons, but whenever I was riding, and she was riding one of her horses in training, she would give me advice whenever she saw I needed it. When she saw that my boy was getting through with something I wasn't able to correct, she would get on him and settle it then and there.

I know that I could have progressed much faster if I would have had a schoolmaster - I could have showed more, won more, and probably would have gotten more recognition by other riders at my barn.

However, I got to know my boys character. I had plenty of tears, it took us over a YEAR to come home from a trail ride TOGETHER! I still remember the day - It was super hot, I had just had a great dressage lesson and I knew he was happy but tired. That's when I decided to take him out and go for a ride along the fields. As I picked up a trot and a canter, I remember thinking that this is the best day I have ever had in my life. :) I am smiling just writing this.

Since that time, he has been a "Special Olympics" horse, he moved with me to college and back, he has survived bad colic surgery, I took him from Germany to California when I moved, he has done cattle drives and stood in the Pacific Ocean, we've won plenty of dressage ribbons (will be doing 2nd level this year), and last summer he moved with me to Ontario, Canada.

Even though I know he does not have the body or movement to make it much higher in dressage, he is the perfect horse. People thought I was crazy when I told them I was taking my "Fjord" with me to California, but I know everything there is to know about him, and we've grown together.

My advice to you

1. Find a good trainer and listen to her advice - ask questions and ask for clarification.

2. Don't listen to EVERYBODY's day to day advice - it will drive you crazy. Be open to new knowledge, but like us, every horse is different and may think/function differently.

3. Try to ride as many different horses as you can. Your horse will start to cover up your weaknesses and you will start to take what your horse does for granted. I learn the most when I get on other horses - they show what I do wrong, and make me pay attention.

4. Let your trainer ride your horse. Not only does your horse need to learn precise/correct cues with clear reward, but you also want your horse to mature into a confident mount. A confident rider will be able to give a young horse that guidance.

5. Wear a helmet! No matter how hot it is, or how many people aren't doing it!
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    03-11-2011, 09:26 PM
Thankyou to everyone who gave great advice. I am using a trainer who doesn't advertise. He is my friends dad who rides and helps break in race horses but he also does normal horses too. I was getting professional lessons on a schoolmaster but unfortunately had to stop, but now am starting up again and I will be riding the school horses there.

The horse is being given (at no cost) to me because the owners don't want her because she wont be a racehorse. She has never been trialed or taught how to race so she is a clean slate who has only been taught how to go stop and turn basically :)

I agree with everyone who was saying that green horse and rider can be a little daunting to hear. I was even a little nervous in the beginning but I think because I adore her so much I think I will be able to get through it.

Hope this answers the questions people were asking.

    08-29-2015, 05:46 PM
I am after some advice. I have been to view and try a 4yr old Arab x Welsh pony. I am a novice rider, the pony is offered for full loan and I've also been offered a trial period to see how I get on. I won't be taking it on alone, I will be getting help from trainers. The pony has been ridden by a child and has been taken to pc rallies by the child. She is good in traffic and in open fields, very responsive ride.
I have in the past had older horses that are also much bigger and found them to be too difficult and very set in their ways. I had one knock my confidence for six.

Surprisingly when I tried the 4yr old I felt extremely safe and confident on her which is amazing
Amazing. Do you think I am making a bad decision to take on a youngster. Obviously if it isn't meant to be and doesnt work out, I can send back to owner because it's a loan agreement.

Will appreciate feedback. Thanks.
    08-29-2015, 10:34 PM
Super Moderator
Generally the rule of thumb is green+green and all of that. On the other hand horses are individuals and so are riders. I bought my 9 yo daughter a 2 yo green broke horse. At first my trainer thought I had lost my marbles, but then he saw them work together and changed his mind.

For the past two years she had been training him with a lot of oversight from the trainer and mom and the two of them are a good match. He really is quite the baby sitter.

A few months ago we were trail riding and her horse’s cinch was loose. I heard a squeak and a thump, turned around to see my daughter on the ground under the 4 yo’s feet, saddle hanging under his belly and just looking at her as if to say “what are you doing down there silly human!”. (she now makes sure to check her cinch several times a ride)

I know a lot of much older and more experienced horses that would have been spooked and a half mile away at that point, probably trampling their owner and ruining the saddle on the way out of Dodge. We have had several other youngsters on him (as young as 3) and he has been a perfect gentleman.

A trial period is a good thing, as is working with a trainer, the horse also sounds like it is calm by nature, so you have a great start. Good luck!

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