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Peacefuldweller 05-06-2009 04:41 PM

Beginner Horse Owner Questions
Hi there everyone! I'm a beginner horse owner---my husband and I have always dreamed of owning horses and after having moved in and renovating a home on 5 acres of land, we though it was high time to fulfill that dream.

We spent some time researching and looking for two horses (as we each wanted to learn to ride them for pleasure, on trails, etc.) and knew we'd want them with easy-going temperments that would be good for beginners.

We found two horses that seemed absolutely perfect for what we were looking for. We went to the farm where they were located, watched them interact with the other horses, spoke with the owners for a couple of hours and asked a ton of questions, and rode the horses ourselves. They each seemed very laid-back and affectionate. We went ahead and purchased them and had them brought out to our home approximately three days ago.

Since then, we've been having a bit of a problem out of one of our horses...

Sarge is a 9 yr. old gelding quarterhorse. He had been with the family we had purchased him from for just a little over a month but apparently had formed a strong bond with their family. He was originally intended to be the horse for their 7 year old daughter (who we watched ride with ease!) and of the two we purchased, we were most comfortable with him.

After being here, however, we have had a few problems out of him. When in the pasture he is absolutely fine. We can each go up to him without him retreating, kicking, or bucking and pat him down, groom him, or feed him a treat. He also is very submissive to the lead rope when walking him inside the enclosure. We don't have to tug on his harness to get him to turn and he usually follows on command.

However, when trying to tack him up, he gets agitated when waiting. More importantly, he has bucked both my husband and my brother-in-law off of him as soon as he is saddled up and they try to ride him. As a result, we now feel very intimidated by the horse and I'm sure he's picking up on the fact that we're beginners.

The previous owners are due to come out and observe him and our interactions with him, but we are feeling a bit discouraged and apprehensive now.

Meanwhile, our second horse (a 3 yr. old gelding Tennessee Walker) has done phenomenally well, is very affectionate towards us and we have ridden him with no problems whatsoever. However, he was not with the previous owners for a long period of time and didn't form the bond with them that Sarge did. I have a feeling that this could be the major problem---that he is still very uncomfortable in a new environment and we shoudl not have tried to ask too much of him at once.

My questions are: what can we do to begin laying a groundwork for developing a bond with this horse? I don't want him to think he has the dominant role in our relationship, but I also want to find a safe way to go about correcting his unease towards us (without us getting bucked off and thrown from the saddle again!) :D

Any help you can offer will be much appreciated. Thanks so much in advance!

Vidaloco 05-06-2009 05:03 PM

First off congratulations on entering the world of horses. My husband and I are very much like you, bought some land and thought having horses would be fun. Myself having horses as a kid, my husband not having any horse experience at all, would certainly be classified as beginners. That was 7 years and 3 horses each ago. It took awhile to find the right horses for each of us and for what we wanted to do with them (trail ride).
We decided after purchasing our first horse that one of us needed to take some riding lessons. My husband went and shared the knowledge with me. I suggest you do the same. Find someone you are comfortable with and who teaches the way you want to ride. If your just wanting to trail ride, don't get into lessons with a dressage teacher. We were fortunate to find a couple who trained for cowboy mounted shooting. That made it very fun and interesting for my husband! :lol: Although we don't shoot, the lessons were geared toward basic commands and staying in the saddle. I highly suggest taking your own horse for the lessons.
If you can't afford a trainer or there isn't one in your area. Look into some of the DVD trainers. There are tons of them out there and they are all pretty good. I like Clinton Anderson and Frank Bell.
Next if one of your horses isn't working out don't hesitate to trade him back and start looking for another one. There are tons of great horses out there. I went through 3 before I found my dream horse. Unless you are willing and able to take on the training yourself or pay someone else to train out the horses bad habits. Sometimes its just easier and safer to get another horse.
Next, plan on riding a lot. If your going to have horses you have to plan on riding them as often as possible. Weather permitting we ride at least 3-4 times a week. A horse needs ridden. You can't take them out one weekend, have a great ride, come back 2-3 weeks later and expect the horse to be the same great ride. The more you ride them the better they are is the general rule of riding.
Finally, make sure your tack is fitting your horse. Many times when a horse bucks you off or is a general pain in the butt, its because their saddle is a pain in their butt :lol: The only time I have gotten a sort a buck out of my mare was when her saddle pad was bunching up and hurting her.
Hope this helps you even a little bit. Main thing is to stay safe and have fun.

LeahKathleen 05-06-2009 05:04 PM

I don't know how long you've had him with you, but a lot of horses need a week or two to settle in before riding.

You said he gets impatient while bing tacked up. Have you checked the saddle fit? Are you using a different saddle than the previous owners were? That would make sense to me, since he getting upset while being tacked up, and immediately bucking and being agressive while undersaddle. Especially since he is affectionate and calm on the ground. It could very well be a pain issue.

Hope that is helpful. Good luck!

Jubilee Rose 05-06-2009 05:06 PM

No matter how much you read on the internet or in books, it never substitutes for real training from an instructor. I agree with Vidaloco and highly recommend finding a suitable trainer that can work with you both. He/she can take you step by step through the basics of riding and help you with some groundwork.

Good luck! :wink:

Peacefuldweller 05-06-2009 06:11 PM

Thanks everyone for the helpful advice.

Yes, the saddle is different from the previous owners' and we may be making an error in how we are putting it on that would cause him pain. The previous owners are coming out tomorrow to observe us with him so hopefully it will shed some light on some things and solve some issues.

Vidaloco 05-06-2009 06:14 PM

That very well may be your problem. I posted a photo of saddle placement here awhile back I'll see if I can find it.

Spirithorse 05-06-2009 06:15 PM

Definitely make sure your tack fits. That could be your problem.

You might want to look into doing Parelli with your horses. The very first ground work exercises you do are all about safety. It builds trust and respect at the same time and is a fantastic way to build a bond with a horse. I follow it and am a total believer in it.

Vidaloco 05-06-2009 06:20 PM

Here is the photo. Its from How to position the saddle on your horse: Proper Placement The whole article is worth a look.
On most saddles, the front screw or concho is the front of the tree. Use it to line up the saddle.
I'm terrible at getting the saddle in the right place so I keep this photo in the back of my mind when tacking up

Calamity Jane 05-07-2009 02:46 AM

Cool idea to post this pic, Vidaloco.:D

I think it can very well be ill-fitting saddle.

The obvious sign is if the horse bucks right after being mounted. Or as the rider is climbing aboard. Or the moment the rider asks the horse to go forward.


It can be TEETH.

If the rider picks up the reins and the horse bucks right then...especially if the rider gathers the reins and rides with no slack or not enough slack....and this is when the horse bucks....the teeth might be an issue.....if the teeth have not been done in over a year there can be sharp points or other teeth issues and if the bit hits em or causes the tongue to scrape against the sharp points = buck.

I'd be sure to check all tack, tack fitting and teeth....was the horse given the thumbs up by a vet? A vet check is always a great idea before money exchanges hands.

If there is no pain involved, then you're on the right track with ground work. I would suggest...if possible, to get a trusted trainer to give you a real evaluation so you know exactly what you are getting into training wise. Some horses require someone with plenty of confidence, others are more "forgiving".... I'm by no means trying to discourage you at all. On the contrary...I think getting a trainer's evaluation can give you an idea as to just exactly what this horse knows and what he really doesn't know (if that is the case...sometimes, horses seem to work out great in their environment...then seem to change at the new place....but a little too dramamtic...because they really are more green than previously thought).

As Spirithorse mentioned, the Parelli 7 Games is a good way to start. Also, Clinton Anderson has a complete selection of DVDs that are step by step and easy to figure. There's also John Lyons Ground Work Manual, The Riding manual.

Good luck and please post what happens when the prev owners come over to check things out.

ChingazMyBoy 05-07-2009 06:06 AM


Well this is my oppinion if the horse was with the old owners for quite a while the horse may have become attached to them, so then when they shipped the horse off to a new home with new people giving the horse food and shelter the horse is going to wonder whats happened. Also the horse is in a new enviroment. What was the old enviroment like? When you get the old owners there if the horse behaves then it may be he misses them, so I suggest just give the horse time. The horse may be home sick.

Just my oppinion and good luck:)

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