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What makes a kid safe horse?

This is a discussion on What makes a kid safe horse? within the Natural Horsemanship forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Thow to train a kid safe pony
  • HOW TO MAKE A HORSE KID SAFE

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    03-17-2013, 09:34 AM
  #21
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by Faceman    
I would NEVER advertise a horse as "kid safe"...that is just opening yourself up to a liability lawsuit. I have horses that are very excellent and gentle with kids, but if I were to sell one of them, I would not advertise them as kid safe...
I agree 100%. I would never advertise one as kid safe or "bombproof" - despise that term, gets too many beginners/novices/first time owners in trouble by creating a false sense of security and opens sellers up to big liability issues.

As far as what I look for and expect, I'm after a horse much like smrobs described. Well trained is always number one on my list of requirements, both on the ground and under saddle. Next is disposition and having some brains between their ears, a horse that can tolerate beginner mistakes and be confident in situations that a young/little rider may not be. A horse that needs an active leader to rely on in a potentially unnerving/new/horse eating plastic bag type of situation is not the one you want to toss a rookie kid on. Age is the next criteria though I have met and owned plenty of steady young horses that most would call 'kid safe' in controlled environments. Never would I buy a horse that only had a few years of training/riding time and with young horses that is what you get. I look for one that's had enough years under it's belt that it's had thousands of miles put on it, years of practical experience, been exposed to a lot of different situations and has seen the world a bit. That being said, being a senior aged horse doesn't necessarily make one a kids horse either. I've met and know horses into their late 20s that I'd never even consider putting a kid on. My 20 year old Hano mare is a prime example of that, she's a fantastic horse, very well trained but spent her life as an 'arena diva' and if you take her out of her comfort zone she is a lot of horse to handle. She's the "It's a stick, freak out" horse and needs an extremely confident rider to make up for her large lack of. She's getting better about it but no way would I let any child take her out of the arena.

Also agree with the point made about the particular child the horse is intended for. What I would look at for my daughter is much different than what I would look at for a new to horses family type horse. My daughter is only 7 but has been riding since she could walk and has a firm grasp of what buttons make a horse do what - ie: sidepass, spin, how to ride a spur trained horse, etc and has put it to practical use on a dozen different horses. Just got her a new mare last weekend, 17 yo QH mare that's been shown successfully in many disciplines from WP to reining to being a 19/20 second pole horse. She was not advertised as kid safe/broke because she isn't what most would think of when they hear that. She's not the old plug that will pack a kid around all day, she is sane & solid but still requires a rider not just a passenger. She did test my daughter on their first ride, (she wanted to gawk and see what was going on in the pastures instead of doing her atm job in the arena) with M being an assertive kid rider she got after her once and EZ went to work. Another child that would be afraid to get after her butt about misbehaving wouldn't have gotten anywhere with her.

For the very new beginner/kid/family type horse, I'd be after one like my old sorrel mare. She's the epitome of babysitter. She is one that only does what she thinks the kid on her is capable of. She is great to start them on. M started on her and was frustrated for awhile because Jana absolutely refused to lope for her. Her seat, legs, hands developed and once that happened the old lady didn't hesitate to give her what she asked for. That being said I still wouldn't advertise her as kid safe, even though it's been about 23 years since she bucked or did something stupid under saddle.
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    03-17-2013, 12:32 PM
  #22
Weanling
While I agree that no horse is 100% "kid safe" or "bombproof," I think it's reasonable to expect that a horse that is sold as kid safe would be steady, not have any dangerous vices, and be tolerant of some shenanigans that kids would pull.

Yes, the kids need to be taught how to handle horses properly, but they're going to make mistakes. They need a calm, experienced (and probably older) horse that isn't going to take advantage of their inexperience, and isn't likely to freak out.

This is a tall order, and there are fewer and fewer of these horses around. When I think of my first pony, I'm sure she'd be worth her weight in gold now. She wasn't fancy, but that little Shetland packed me everywhere and never thought about bucking me off (though any adult silly enough to try to ride her immediately ended up in the dirt). She didn't kick, bolt, rear, spook, or anything else, and I'm grateful to have had such a patient little horse to teach me how to ride.

Personally, I don't think a horse that was bucking just a few months ago can be sold as kid safe. I bet they're not revealing that horse's history to the buyers. Concealing that kind of past behaviour in a kid's horse is not only irresponsible, but morally reprehensible. We all know that it's buyer beware when it comes to horses, but it really bothers me that someone would try to sell a horse like that to a child.

I agree that sellers selling "kid safe" horses should prove that horse is kid safe. If I was looking at a kid's horse and I didn't know the sellers, I would ask the sellers to demonstrate that a child could ride the horse in the situations they've outlined. If they balk, something is hinky, I think.
     
    03-18-2013, 10:26 AM
  #23
Weanling
Definitely "horse safe" your kids before buying a supposed "kid safe" horse. Even setting up the sweetest, patient, most forgiving horse with the quietest, most conscientious child can go wrong if that child doesn't know anything about horses. It's not like buying a dog for your kids - horses are and always will be partially unpredictable and revert to instinct in certain situations. (Not to say that dogs won't, but it's less likely)
To the OP, if someone is trying to market a horse that had a bucking problem a few months ago as a 'kid safe' horse, you have every right to try to keep that horse from being sold to unsuspecting owners, especially for a child. No horse can be completely 'fixed' in as short a time frame as that.
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    03-18-2013, 10:11 PM
  #24
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by faiza425    
It's not like buying a dog for your kids - horses are and always will be partially unpredictable and revert to instinct in certain situations. (Not to say that dogs won't, but it's less likely)
Agree with your post except this bit - dogs are smaller so therefore (generally) do far less damage, but I think that dogs & horses are both quite predictable animals - you can virtually rely on them 100% to behave like dogs or horses - and they're both potentially dangerous(& in danger, after they've 'aggressed') when paired with people who have no idea how to treat - or read/understand them. Just look at the dog bite stats... & how many are from 'kid friendly' labradors & such?? Don't blame the horse, or the dog... or the kid for that matter, but...
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