10-30-2010, 04:53 PM
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Good for you thinking hard about this decision! As to the experience, we have a young girl who rides with us and has been riding about 3-4 years now - 3 of those years with us alone. My friend gave her a young pony, and although the pony is amazing for a youngster, the girl had a couple of mild accidents that scared the bejeebers out of her. We put too much trust in the pony, the girl was only 13 and the pony was 3 (she'd been riding for a year with us at this point). We had to work hard to help her overcome her fear and work with her and the pony.
She's now 15 and the pony is 5 and they're a good team. Ashley knows as much as you, and has been in a couple falls now (one involved being run over after falling off at the gallop, another was just coming off for a dirty spook). Her confidence is strong enough, neither fall bothered her. She rides the pony bareback constantly and is a really good little rider with virtually no fear.
That being said, there is no CHANCE I would EVER let her on a 4 year old 16hh Thoroughbred - I don't care how docile it was advertised as. I'm 99% sure as confident as she is, SHE wouldn't get on it either unless someone was leading her around to get a feel for it. She almost got hurt on a docile as they come 3 year old 14hh pony because of us foolishly thinking the pony could do no wrong. Horses will be horses, and at 4 years old it is IMPOSSIBLE to tell what they may spook at next - you simply can't bombproof a horse except with age and experience.
I have a 3 year old filly right now I could sell in an INSTANT as a kid's horse to an unsuspecting family. She's more laid back, docile and easy going then my 11 year old Arab, and even our dependable 12 year old mare who IS a kid's horse. I took her to her first show this past weekend, and she got buddy sour enough she pulled a bucking fit on me in the warm up ring - almost dumped me to I was so unprepared for it! And this is why I would NEVER let a kid on her - she's an angel but she's THREE and it is impossible to predict what is still scary to her. I rode her at night, down a "haunted" trail, with bubbling cauldrons, lit up jack o' lanterns, cackling witches and kids running every where - she didn't bat an eyelash. If a deer jumps out of the bush? She will 360 and BOLT.
Sorry for the novel, it just REALLY is best to be looking at an older (8+) more dependable trail type horse - those horses have been there, done that, aren't likely to violently spook at random things and can EASILY be re-schooled for a specific discipline. I am trail riding the bejeebers out of my 3 year old right now because it's easy as pie to turn a trail horse into a show horse, it's a LOT harder to turn a show horse into a trail horse!
Best of luck!