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Jackie Bee Happy 01-21-2008 01:58 PM

Reformed Arena Horse???
Hi. I have owned my horse, Jackie, for about a year and a half. When I got her, she had been an arena therapy riding horse for 12 of her 15 years. She was getting sour of being ridden by so many riders though, and was getting a little bullheaded and spooky, but it wasn't too bad. My trainer, though, was kind of getting out of the horse business so he gave her to me. When I got her, I first rode her in a makeshift arena in a hay field on our dairy farm. She did okay with that, but she needed to be ridden in a fairly small square or circle. When I attempted to ride her on a "trail ride" she spooked and became too much for a beginner rider like me to handle. I started mostly working on my riding skills by riding bareback in her pasture, which is surrounded on three sides by huge cow barns. Now that I am a fairly decent basic rider, I want to start trail riding. Since Jackie was an arena horse for so long, though, she kind of flips out when she gets into an open area. To get from her pasture to her stall, though, we need to cross a big grass field and she's even started spooking in that. Now she's getting more and more spooky around other things. I don't have much time to work with her with me being in school and it getting cold and dark so early (I live in western Ohio) and truthfully, she scares the crap out of me when she gets freaked out. I really want to keep her though, because if she wasn't so spooky, she would make a good trail horse. She is very well schooled (she moves off the legs like a dream) and she has enough spunk to her to keep things interesting. She's also pretty good at riding bareback and even jumping. On a good day, I can ride her totally bareback and brideless, even at a canter, but only in her pasture. I'm just not sure if I'm up to trying to train her to be a trail horse, or if it would even be worth it. What if I go through all the work and she isn't happy being a trail horse? Or what if I get hurt while training her? I have a few friends who live near me that can help me, but no one on our farm is into horses and they aren't really a big help. Jackie really calms down around other horses, and I actually rode her on a trail ride with horses the first time she'd seen another horse in a year. The problem is, there is no chance of getting another horse till next fall. Should I cut my losses and sell her? I really like her though, and I would be really worried about finding a good buyer, because she isn't exactly the most useful horse in the world. Or should I buy another trail horse I can enjoy all summer? If you think I should keep Jackie, what are some ideas to start trail training her? Thank you so much for your help, and for reading this whole thing!

Sara 01-21-2008 02:51 PM

If you are a short on time and don't have the option of riding with another horse, I'd suggest splitting your time between arena riding and ground work to reinforce her focus (getting her to focus her attention on you and what you are asking her to do). Also, take her for trail walks; I know someone mentioned this in another thread and it is a good idea, especially if you don't have another horse to ride with.

Years ago, I had a short stint with a lesson dressage instructor was having me ride a lot of different horses at the time. Needless to say, that horse and I DID NOT get along...he bucked me off three times in the first lesson and was always very spooky around me:P However, when his owner would get on him, he was completely focused on her, very calm and obedient. I was watching her ride one day and a bird actually fell out of the rafters and landed on his neck. He was so in to the work, he didn't bat an eyelash.

Jackie Bee Happy 01-21-2008 02:56 PM

The trail walks are a good idea. She is still really spooky when I'm leading her, but there's a better chance of her escaping if I fall off than if I'm leading her! I'll try working on a lot of groundwork. Those were very good suggestions. Thank you! And it sounds like the horse you rode was a very one person kind of horse!

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