Riding green ponies...
I've agreed to help out a friend with her ill mannered ponies so her children can be safe riding them. She needs someone lightweight and as I'm only 7 1/2 stone I'm quite ideal.
There's two ponies, a tiny 5 year old 11hh ish grey gelding that's really fat, and a 12hh ish bay mare that's 4 in January.
I started on the mare. I took her out with another horse for a little 10/15 minute hack. She was quite good, spooked once but nothing major. Then I took her in the sand school. We followed the other horse (Eddie) for a little while, then she decided she did NOT like me, and charged across the long diagonal putting in huge bucks! I have no idea how but I stayed on!! The girl riding Eddie was like "Well sat, I would have been holding onto the saddle and still fallen off!" Apparently my butt didn't even leave the saddle! (It's a bit of a blur to me now haha). I just remember the owner Lisa shouting "Do whatever you need to do to get her going where you want! Pull her mouth out, I don't care!!" Obviously she needs to learn some manners because Lisa wants her kids to ride her solo. She does good on the lead rein, just not by herself! After she got that out of her system she wasn't too bad, I was running on pure adrenaline though! She was going quite well by the end of it, I only done trot work because she is really green.
Took her back and then got the little grey out. Took him for a 10 minute ride around the block and he was really full of beans! Just wanted to trot. Apparently his problem is not moving, or pulling his head down. So when he pulls his head down I really have to yank it up to teach him not to do it! He only put his head down once or twice, then realised he wasn't allowed to do it. Took him in the school and started doing trot work behind Eddie like I was doing with the mare. He was really different, he just wouldn't work! I had to kick, smack, and growl so many times! Lisa told me to try trot around on my own for a while, so I was going round a few times and she was telling me "smack smack, keep doing it, keep going" and I said "you want me to canter don't you?!" Because he had put in a couple of canter strides on the last lap round. So we got into the corner and I went to get him cantering (He is also very green, he's just been sat on and lead reined really), and he put in a little buck and just stopped dead! Because there wasn't really any head/neck in front of me I found myself hugging his neck!!! I was like "ohh ok", swung my leg over and landed on my feet! We were all wetting ourselves laughing! I couldn't believe I stayed on Pepsi's huge bucks and fell off Alfie with his little bunny hop!
I got back on him and did some more trot work but no canter attempts again. :p
Both are very different, I don't feel in much danger on them because they're so diddy!
Does anyone have advice for me to keep safe with these two? I wear a helmet and body protector.
I admittedly had my feet shoved in the "home" position in the stirrups after the mare had her bucking fit, but Lisa said she didn't mind my equitation, as long as her ponies learn some manners...
Am I crazy? Or should I see this as a useful learning experience?
Has any ground work been done with either of these horses? My initial thought is to start them both back to basics and slowly work from there.. lots and lots of round pen work before you get back in the saddle. If they are going to be beginner children's ponies, I would want to make sure everything is done right from front to back, top to bottom.
"Pull her mouth out, I don't care!!"
Really???? People education before horse education - PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm not talking leading. I'm talking good, honest round pen work where you work on solid verbal cues (walk, trot, canter, whoa, etc.), visual cues, and establish a bond with that horse that establishes respect for you from the horse, and allows you to better communicate with each other both in and out of the saddle.
Ground work in a round pen is an important foundation, especially if you plan on putting a child on a horse. Riding out their bucks isn't going to teach those ponies anything that will turn them into safe children's mounts.
Also I think she's doing a lot of the ground work bits, she's just asked me to come and ride them once a week for her as she's too big.
I don't have to time do any groundwork myself with them, I think she plans on having us lunge them on some weeks. If they were my ponies I'd do what you suggest, groundwork and verbal cues first and then building up a foundation.
But as they're not mine I can't really say "oh well I think it should be done this way"
I'm just trying to help out a friend because nobody else strong enough yet light enough can ride them at the moment :(
I got worried as soon as you said "then she decided she did not like me,..."
Goodness, the pony really doesn't have opinion on how likeable you are. The pony simply didn't want to do anything you wanted it to anymore.
These may be a bit beyond your abilities.
I think your friend is expecting too much too soon from these ponies. It will be a long time before kids will be riding them, unless the kids are really experienced.
They probably need more groundwork, as everyone has suggested. I don't have a round pen either, but I can do most of the same stuff on a long lead rope or lunge line. But it doesn't sound like you have much input.
I'm the last person to ever suggest doing things that would spoil a horse. But there's a difference between a spoiled horse and a nervous (possibly scared) greenbroke horse. I mean, you can have a spoiled, green horse, but think carefully about what's up with these horses anytime you're riding them. They'll tell you what's going on if you listen closely.
And really, a spoiled horse is just a horse that doesn't have good human leadership.
I was at a really good colt starting clinic last spring, and the instructor said most problems can be broken down to either an unwillingness to yield to pressure, or not wanting to accept something (ex. saddle, bit, something flapping around scaring horse, rider on horse's back). I think this makes a lot of sense. And remember, it's the human's responsibility to help the horse get over that.
Patience is a good thing, especially when you're teaching something new. Don't let the horse do something you don't want it to be doing for too long - direct it into something else (ex. if it won't stand still - backing up, sidepassing, disengaging the hip, etc... Eventually it'll learn that it's nice to take a break and stand still).
Good timing is important. Horses don't learn from the pressure you apply, but from the release you reward them with. So if you're teaching them to back, for example, as soon as they shift their weight back, release pressure on the bit and/or legs. Soon they'll be backing up quickly to get that release. Do that with every cue, and you'll have a light, responsive horse.
I understood that she was not happy about what I was asking her to do, so was tanking off and bucking as a way out of it
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