Just out of curiousity, what are your opinion on them? What kinds have you experienced? I'm talking about the stables that take you out on a string of dead-heads on the trails for an hour or so, and I'm also talking about pony riding operations that use ponies to walk in the metal circles like a carnival ride.
I experienced two of them for the first time this week, which is what made me wonder. Being an avid rider and very into knowing what I can about tack, nutrition, hooves, etc- I suppose I was probably much more critical than your average person, so I want to compare. For the sake of the place though, I will not add where I went. They did not, in my opinion, neglect their animals, persay.
They had probably about 16 horses in a 2 acre pen that was divided for ponies and horses, and the horses that we would be riding (six of them) had been hitched up and were ready for us. They were all rather scrawny- not skinny really, but definitely MAJORLY lacking in the muscle department and they all could of used a good 25-40 pounds IMO. I could see ribs on one or two. I was relieved to see that some of them were wearing O ring snaffles but that feeling dissapated when I realized that the wranglers had threaded the animal's reins under the breastcollar through the snaffle and up to their hands to make a lever action/martingale type bit. Seemed a bit harsh.
I was given a little red dun mare named Blondie who appeared to be wearing a tomb thumb, unfortunately. I mounted up though and we headed out. They had told me to direct rein her, but she was being very sluggish and was gaping her mouth at the tiniest cue (I can't blame her. I hate TT bits with a passion) so I decided to see if she knew how to neck rein. She immediately dropped her head and relaxed, and although she was obviously rusty at neck reining, she had been taught to do it at one point and by the end of the ride she was neck reining like a pro. The wrangler was shocked . Apparently she wasn't a huge fan of other horses being up her butt though, and half way through the ride another wrangler came up behind her and she tried to double barrel his horse in the chest. Luckily I've dealt with that before so before she had so much as started to lift her rear I had her spinning in a circle and she was left wondering how she was suddenly facing the other direction XD I found it rather unprofessional though, that they hadn't told me (or the rider behind me) that she kicked, or put me in the back. I was right up front. As soon as I had corrected her the wrangler just looked at me, said 'wow, good thing we put someone that knew how to ride on her! (they didnt know I could ride before this) and proceeded to tell me of the many times that she had almost tossed a kid or had nailed another horse...
The heeling wrangler was rather full of himself too. He had a young horse in a TT bit and was constantly cantering around us and exciting Blondie. He was rather unprofessional IMO, spinning his animal around and playing cowboy the entire time.
Once we got back I dismounted, handed over my reins, and patted Blondie. She wasn't quite the deadhead that I expected to be on a trail ride for beginners, but she had tried hard and once I corrected her she was a perfect lady the rest of the trip.
By then it was time for them to put up the ponies that were doing pony rides in one of those little metal circles and I offered to help because they were short handed. They let me help them, suprisingly. I went over to the little guys and found that even though the ponies (there were 3 of them) hadnt been giving rides in quite a while, they were still walking in circles all by themselves! The wrangler told me that they just did that all day 'for fun' and to just grab one by the halter and they'd all stop. They did. I unhooked one, untacked him (poor guy had a saddle far too big for him on) and took him to his pen. They obviously didnt switch the directions that the ponies usually walked much though, because I found that his left side had a lot of muscle while the other was weak, so he was walking rather sideways when I led him back. I turned him out and went to get another- same thing. When I brought that one back, the first one was in its little pen by the round bale, plodding in circles while half asleep by himself. He went around and around and around until he finally just laid down. I found that rather odd and more than a little sad... poor little guy didn't even realize that he was off of the wheel I guess.
I realize none of this was abuse whatsoever, but it did get me to wondering about other stables like this and how they're run. I suppose its better than starving in a field, but I felt more than a little sympathy for them!
What about you guys? Did you have a better experience? I hope so, because I swear that I wanted to just grab all of those ponies and the wranglers horse up and take them home with me. I don't think Sour would be impressed though XD in her world, she's the queen. Anything less than that is unacceptable.