Beginners Breaking a Horse?
A couple friends of ours (my family's) are owners of a 3YO filly/mare. They're a pretty young couple, and between them they have probably less experience than I do, and that's saying something. The guy's parents have horses, but his family is more into just throwing a saddle on the horse and take it for a spin around the pasture than riding them and teaching them something productive. There are several proudly displayed pictures of him riding bucking horses, wearing running shoes and sitting on a saddle too far back with a curb bit in the horse's mouth and riding amongst the herd of other horses with a couple of the guy's friends gawking in the background, probably cheering him on. So yeah, I guess you could say he does have "riding" experience. He knows how to stay on a horse, but anything more complex than pulling the reins right to go right, left to go left and back to stop is out of his ball park. The extent of the girl's experience goes to maybe two or three deadbroke old trail horses she's dared to sit on over the years.
The filly has been nothing but a sweetheart for them. They ask little of her and she willingly obliges. The couple works and is busy with their social life most of the time, so every few weeks they just show up, no work or handling done with her and get on her back. Just this past weekend, it was her third "ride", and the guy is up on her bareback with a piece of binder twine tied to one side of her halter. The girl is still too cautious to be "breaking" her-she has always been nervous around the filly, though she is determined not to show it. The filly has bolted a couple times, during which the rider has of course fallen, but besides that she's never put in a wrong step. She just wanders around, stopping to eat grass occasionally and looking like she's having a grand old time while the rider pretends that he's in control. Both of them are so amazed at "look how quiet she is! She's such a good girl!" and I don't bother telling them that it's because they haven't asked her to do anything yet. Yes, it is impressive that she's taking everything so quietly, but all they're doing is pretty much sitting on her and letting her go where she wants. I've seen the filly pitch a fit, rear and the like, when taken out of the field and made to work and actually listen by an experienced handler.
It's frustrating because both of them think they are some amazing horsepeople. Because the guy sat on a few horses growing up, the girl thinks he is a great rider and that she's cool by referring to the horse to her friends as: "The filly me and ___ are breaking". My dad and I aren't the most knowledgable people when it comes to horses, but we have more experience than they do under our belts, and we have to just sit back and bite our lips and watch a wreck unfold because they are fairly hostile to any advice.
My parents like to order the 'Farm & Ranch' magazines, and I always like reading about the old stories of how young kids took unbroke horses and learned to ride on them and turned them into 'Ole Reliable'. I always wondered why people could effectively do it back then and why you hear so many disaster stories now. For their sakes, I really hope this is one of those success stories, but when you think about it, the reason they could do it back then was because the horses were worked hard and consistently, and were probably pulling a plow when they weren't hauling kids around. The horses back then had a good work ethic and were kept well exercised. Sooner or later, they're going to have to ask this filly to actually do something, and when she goes to throw a tantrum they are either going to give in so that they don't have to fight her (the more likely outcome), or they're going to get hurt if they actually do try to win.
The filly is such a character and you just know that with a bit of the right training, she'd be a spectacular horse. We KNOW a very good trainer who would put a great foundation on her, but there's not even any use reccommending it because they don't have the money to send her there anyways. It's frustrating watching the potential of such a sweet filly get pounded into dust. I don't know if there's anything anybody can do about it. Any way you look at it, she's going to become a monster of a horse nobody can ride and her owners are going to get hurt, and when they do they'll both become afraid of her and sour to riding, and she'll either sit in the field rotting until she dies or they'll ship her to the auction.
Does anyone have any advice, or success stories? Is this situation doomed to fail? It's not my horse, I know, but I can't help but feel like I have to do something.