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Jolly Badger 04-24-2012 04:43 AM

Babysitting Rides - Where Do You Draw the Line
Trail riding is one of the best ways to introduce "new" people to horses, and I think that's great. The world looks much prettier from the back of a good horse, and a lot of people who otherwise know nothing about horses or riding will still go out on a guided trail ride as part of a vacation. I think that's a good thing. People of all ages can enjoy it when on a safe, dependable horse.

I'm all in favor of helping a new or novice rider, but there are some people who are just plain scary to ride with. Not because of their inexperience, either. Novice riders who want to learn and improve, I'm happy to help them and keep an eye on them during the ride.

The scary ones are the ones who think that just owning a horse makes them a "good rider," they know nothing of trail etiquette, they don't pay attention to what's going on around them, they don't steer or stop or control their horse in any way, and they're basically a danger to themselves and others.

To me, that's not a fun ride. That's a babysitting ride.

At what point do you tell someone you just won't ride with them?

Just asking, because I recently had to distance myself from a long-time riding buddy who insisted on us always being accompanied by a "scary" rider. They're friends, and I understand and respect that, but going on trail rides with them just left me feeling edgy.

The scary rider is also a very nervous rider. If she's getting ready to mount up and someone else swings a leg over their horse and takes a couple of steps forward, and her horse sees that and takes even a side-step, the rider freaks out and tells everyone to "stop upsetting" the horse.:?

After a half-dozen attempts at trying to ride with them, I've decided it's just not worth it. I was coming back from those rides mentally exhausted from "walking on eggshells" the whole time. I've even seen changes in my friend's horse - the horse has always been kind of sensitive, but now he's like a nervous wreck because everyone is always so tense. Yet they're both trying to make me feel like I'm in the wrong for not wanting to join them anymore.

Sorry. . .but I trail ride because trail riding is fun. It's relaxing. It's quality time for me to spend with my horse, enjoying the scenery and getting away from busy life for a while.

I get out of bed and go to work so that I can afford to continue trail riding.

What they do out on the trail, that's not fun.

So, where do you draw the line when it comes to "babysitting" a novice rider?

Skyseternalangel 04-24-2012 05:18 AM

730 Attachment(s)
You go girl, for sticking up for yourself.

There are too many accidents with horses and riders that soak up 'nervousness' or 'tenseness' or any negative emotion of fear.

Now it's funny because I'm the one that usually needs a babysitter due to my inexperience and my horse's inexperience. Though I never not tell someone.. I'm always invited and it always end up very well. So I will give you the other perspective, at least in my case.

Now I love trail riding as much as anybody else, but I'll admit I am a nervous rider and I have a green horse who tends to be nervous by default. I always make sure to tell everyone (especially those that ask me on a trail ride) about my tendencies.

The difference is I don't freak out if my horse freaks out. I control my emotions and therefore trails help us both to relax. I have trail ediquette. If someone's horse is misbehaving or refuses to go forward or they're too slow, I make sure to stop my horse and wait on them. I give my horse a nice loose rein, and when I get nervous I let everybody know. I'm very observant and I'm not jumpy, but if I feel like me being a part of the trail ride will create problems, I decline. I communicate with my group, and we always have a lot of fun. In fact people love going on trail rides with me, which is a great thing :wink:

Now all five times I've been out with my horse, he starts out a little jumpy but we both settle down and act better than most experienced pairs. He lets me open gates, we can go up and down hills, we can travel down roads, through water, around dogs (wow!) and he stops when I ask him to. He doesn't balk, and I'm not a train wreck.

Eventually we won't need a babysitter as we both get more experience, but it's my responsibility to let those people know because there is a high probability that someone will get hurt. And it's all dandy andy until a horse bolts or rears or balks or someone takes off and the other horses are in a frenzy.

I do my part, as the one in need of babysitting, to ensure everyone has fun and everyone is safe. I wish others would do theirs!

mildot 04-24-2012 05:23 AM

JB I don't disagree at all with you.

This is supposed to be fun. People who just bring drama along for the ride, for whatever the reason, are not fun. So distancing yourself from them is the way to go.

Nothing to feel guilty about.

Depending on how much you like these people, you can be brutally honest about why you won't ride with them. Or not. It's your call since you know them.

iridehorses 04-24-2012 06:39 AM

I don't mind babysitting a novice rider once in a while. Once it stops being fun or I dread the thought of riding, then it's time to stop riding with them. Horses are my passion and have been for my whole life. They give me comfort and peace - if I hate to ride because of a novice rider, then that infringes on my time.

Once in a while, OK. Every time - just isn't going to happen.

I'm not concerned if they don't understand it.

mildot 04-24-2012 08:01 AM

IMO there is a difference between an agreed-to ride with some novices to help them along and a person like this: "ones who think that just owning a horse makes them a "good rider," they know nothing of trail etiquette, they don't pay attention to what's going on around them, they don't steer or stop or control their horse in any way, and they're basically a danger to themselves and others"

Read more:

phantomhorse13 04-24-2012 08:02 AM

JB, you have already been way more tolerant than I would have been.

Between upsetting your horse and yourself, sounds like a miserable experience all around. Why keep repeating it?

To me, 'babysitting' is helping a novice rider/horse learn; NOT being tortured by someone who thinks they know it all. I am happy to help someone who wants to improve.

I would not be going out with those people again.

Darrin 04-24-2012 09:15 AM

Once riding with someone becomes a chore, it's time to change things up. Go ahead and talk it over with your friend, if he's smitten it probably wont change things but at least then he knows why you wont ride with him anymore.

phoenix 04-24-2012 09:54 AM

I unfortunately have to agree with you, i wouldn't want to ride with someone who needs baby sitting. The folk at my barn obviously think the same thing as apparently i am that person and have been ditched when it comes to trail riding.

I'm a fairly good rider but my horse is Mr. issues. The last ride out we took my horse acted like a fool on the hills, he bucked, he reared and was generally just a pain, hell even i don't want to ride with him.

I say if the horse/rider combo you're out with is constantly upsetting your rides, ditch them. If the rider was considerate they would get help from a trainer, which is what i'm going to do, and not go out with other trail riders until they were better prepared.

This person and her friend can go out and ride together and have a spooky time, you go out and have fun with your horse.

RhondaLynn 04-24-2012 10:17 AM

I use to babysit and I also use to let others ride my horse. Now I refuse to let anyone but myself, hubby and daughter ride our horses. I also don't like to ride with anyone who cannot take care of themselves.. I don't mind helping but refuse to babysit anymore!

At least untill grandchildren need babysitting.. then I will be happy to do it!! Looking forward to it in fact!!!

JB-I agree with everything you wrote!


Jolly Badger 04-24-2012 10:21 AM

Thanks for the responses!

Skys - I think you're the kind of "beginner rider" that I'd have no problem riding with.:wink: Everyone (and every horse) starts somewhere, and it sounds like you've found a good group of understanding riders who have kind of taken you "under their wing" to give you a safe and fun way to build up some confidence. There's a lot to learn, and most of it you just have to learn-by-doing. It can't be picked up by reading a book or watching a video or even practicing in an arena. The confidence comes from succeeding at something you're not sure you could do.:-)

As far as my friend, he will actually turn down offers to go on rides with other people unless the "scary rider" is coming. And, of course, if she comes along she brings the drama with her. Actually, I think he's a bit smitten with her, which sounds cute and romantic and all except that in this case it's just not fun and even the horses end up stressed.

A couple of weeks ago, he was out of town and he allowed a mutual friend to borrow his horse for a trail ride. The mutual friend has ridden that horse many times before and done well with him, but she said the horse is "totally changed" now. . .he's like a rubber band that is stretched thin and feels ready to *snap* at any given moment.

And now I'm getting word that there have been some "incidents" on their trail rides that could have turned into a serious situation if someone had been injured. So, you have the more-experienced rider on a wound-up mental mess of a horse, and an inexperienced rider on a younger horse that knows just enough to know how to intimidate her rider and get away with naughty behavior.


You see where I'm going with this, right?:-|

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