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claireauriga 08-28-2008 07:23 PM

Riding lots of horses is good!
I have decided that I very much like the variety of horses my instructors have been putting me on lately. Aside from the fact that they're tailoring the horse to what I specifically need to work on (and they're very good at that), riding a variety of horses is teaching me more about my skills, and what I like and what I don't in a horse!

Today I rode Fifi, who was the most responsive horse I've met yet. Get it wrong and she goes wrong. Get it right and she does it right, which is a great feeling - you really feel like you've achieved something. I like that because the horse rewards me for improving and tells me off for messing up. She's a much more intense ride than the cobs I've been having lessons on - Charlie Brown and Mr Darcy - but she's much softer-mouthed and more responsive to pressure on her sides than Maddie is. When you take up a strong contact she doesn't harden against it. But riding all these different horses is really teaching me what different traits feel like. Those can be described to you but it's so much different when you actually experience them. And it's helping my riding sooo much.

I'm not good at keeping a firm contact, particularly in turns and transitions. That sharpened up so much today because you have to be clear with both reins and both legs on Fifi or she will do what you are asking of her like a good girl ... only it's not what you meant to ask her! My serpentines were squiggles xD

Those of you who own horses, do you get the chance to ride different ones often? Those of you who take lessons, do you switch around a lot? When you started out, did you try lots of different horses and find out the kind you liked the best?

Riding a variety of horses really is fun ^^

PoptartShop 08-28-2008 07:36 PM

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I agree 100%. :D My trainer always says, "you'll never become a better rider if you stay on one horse". ;)
I LOVE trying 'difficult' horses. Theres's this mare at my barn- she needs some training & stuff, but I feel so confident when I ride her. A lot of people can't. It's a big confidence booster if you ride different horses. Plus, it gives you variety! :D

ponyboy 08-28-2008 07:41 PM

Re: Riding lots of horses is good!

Originally Posted by claireauriga
Those of you who take lessons, do you switch around a lot?

Yes. The first barn I rode at we got a different horse each week. At the second we got the same horse for eight weeks but that was only because scheduling for a 200 student, 42 horse facility takes a while! I have ridden about 60 horses. I think it's a good thing not just to find out what you like but also because different people ride different types of horses better. If I ever get the chance to buy a horse I'll know exactly what I should get.

NorthernMama 08-28-2008 09:34 PM

I totally agree. That's one negative about owning your own horses -- you are limited to what's in your own barn. In the past 3 years I've ridden only one horse that wasn't mine. I didn't enjoy the ride, but I did learn something from it and to me, that's what it's about. Hmm... my girlfriend is laid up due to a fall and implied that I should ride her horse that she's been training.. I wonder... maybe...

o0hawaiigirl0o 08-29-2008 12:12 AM

I agree with you 100%! At my barn, I kind of "graduated" from one group of horses to another as I got to be a better rider. Now that I own Miss Take I SO miss riding different horses. Tomorrow for my lesson I'm going to be riding someone else though! :D I'm so excited. Don't get me wrong, I love my horse so much, but it's easy for me to develop bad habits by riding only her all the time. So yeah, as a horse owner, I jump at the chance to ride a different horse.

claireauriga 08-29-2008 06:12 AM

:) If you've got the chance to ride another horse, it's probably a good idea to take it - a different horse can really point out your bad habits.

I like the way my stables arranges horses for group lessons - at the start, the instructor lists the horses that are available to work that slot, and everyone picks who they want to ride. So you can give yourself an extra challenge for that lesson, or make things a bit easier for yourself, and still switch around.

I definitely know what sort of horse I don't want to ride - something from a trekking centre! They're hard-mouthed, full of bad habits and ignore their riders completely, just because even the ones that are given to riders are so used to sloppy work without being corrected for the faults. They know that most of the time they can get away with anything, and then when you toughen up on them they become really unpredictable - a gentle tap from a crop startled the pony I was riding into running down a hill ...

I couldn't say what the 'best' horse I've ridden is, though, because they're all so different. Charlie Brown is an angel and he taught me how to canter but he's not exactly a champion xD I love Mr Darcy, but I also like Fifi ... they're all so different I can't compare them. Fifi has a nicer canter, though, and is easier to do the ... more advanced stuff on. She's more forward, more sensitive, and I actually got a nice trot with lots of impulsion and her head on the vertical :)

o0hawaiigirl0o 08-29-2008 05:45 PM

-nod- Riding other horses makes me appreciate my horse more, too. I mean, she's the only horse I trust to not do anything while I let go the reins, and take off my gloves while heading back to the barn, walk past sprinklers without spooking, etc. I don't know the other horses as well, so we don't have the degree of trust you get from owning a horse.

What is a trekking centre? I'm assuming it's like a place that gives trail rides...

claireauriga 08-29-2008 05:56 PM

Yeah. Britain not having many (any) places on the scale of American scenery, we don't really have long trails or anything. You get 'pony trekking'.

I've been trekking in the Lake District and locally. They cater for riders and non-riders but err on the side of a horse that will follow its path and ignore everything the idiot on its back tries. I've been on a trek that was half an hour through some fields and along a road, one that takes you up onto the fells beneath Coniston Old Man (a hill - lovely views of the lake as you go :)) and to our local place, where you ride along the beach briefly and then through the local (private access) bridlepaths that wind amongst the dunes. At two hours, that was the longest trek I've been on and there are opportunities to canter if you're up to it, but I didn't trust my pony to listen to me enough for me to maintain control ...

Even when I've been given a 'rider horse' they've been unresponsive and unreliable animals I haven't felt safe doing much more than a walk or slow trot on. Most treks, by the way, proceed at a walk for most if not the whole ride. There are better trekking places which cater to better riders with better horses and provide a more exciting ride, but generally they're an opportunity for people who can't ride to sit on a horse and be taken round the route.

I think the biggest difference I've noticed between lesson horses and trekking ponies is how much I trust them. I can get on any horse my instructor gives me and know that I will be safe and that if something goes wrong I'll be able to slow them down and stop. It is amazing how quickly you get a feel for if it's a 'nice' horse or not xD

MyHoneyBee 08-30-2008 09:23 AM

I've been taking riding lessons for about 6 months now. Very new! I ride the same horse every time. Although I started out doing ground work and was able to see many different sides of horses.

I have an issue with riding. I'm always worried if I'm sitting right...if I'm holding the reins there too much slack? Are the reins even? Can I see my toes? I had a couple of weeks off and I wanted to ride, so I went to a trail place. While riding, I relaxed and checked out the things that I think too hard about. I also talked to a good friend...who I am buying Honey from. She told me she was the same way before shows. Her trainer told her to take a shot. Not so to get her drunk, but to relax her. She stressed to me that if I would just relax and ride, things would come naturally and I would have better rides on my lesson horse..she would sense my relaxing. My trainer knows my issues. The next time I had a lesson I took a mental shot, she commented about my seat. What's wrong with it? NOTHING! Holding the reins correctly. I could see my toes. She was impressed! My lesson was great from the start to end.

I've been doing basic stuff on my lesson horse. We walk around barrels and cones. We've done some western patterns. I've had hard times turning. Backing up is okay.

Then I test rode Honey. We were out in the pasture and those wonderful horses had done their duty perfectly. I found 3 piles of droppings lined up like cones. Honey and I went through them with ease and in both directions. She turned on a dime. I was so excited! We found a big weed that was our barrel. Turned around it like it was nothing. I didn't even have to bump her. I went to back her up and kissed my lips, pulled back on the reins and before I even bumped her, she was backing up. And backing up. And backing up more. I couldn't believe how well she backed up and couldn't stop her. I didn't want to...I was impressed with it! My confidence was something else when I got off of Honey. Everything that we did on that ride, I would pat her and tell her how good she was. There was another horse I was going to test ride, but my decision was made when I rode Honey.

There are other horses that I can ride during my lessons, but I'm not there yet with my training.

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