Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
I've learned that safety is much more important than money in the horse world. A few times I have bought young horses because they are cheaper and easier to come by, but in the long run its not worth getting a cheap horse just because its cheap. I think its worth spending thousands if you have to so you can buy a quiet, safer horse.
Second thing I have learned is that people don't let other people ride their good horses. Some people may have different experiences but in my experience if someone offers to let you ride their horse just for the sake of it, or because you want to ride, there is something not great about the horse. If it was a good horse then someone would already be riding it, or it would be sold. I have ridden a handful of horses when I didn't have my own, or I couldn't ride my own, that were described as fine, good etc and every single one of them had something wrong with it. They may have been their owners prize horse, or whatever, but you don't really get things for free in the horse world.
Third thing I learned - always wear gloves while lunging.
As far as attention goes you should, while actively riding, always pay attention. But I think that ideally all horses should be quiet and safe enough that you can sit on their backs, while talking to someone, adjusting something, etc. safely and without worrying that your horse will do something. I think that comes down to training, and there are many times in riding where you can't give a horse the full attention. Like opening a gate from horseback, or mounted games, or even just adjusting stirrups.