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missy06 04-19-2008 08:58 PM

Getting back into riding-lease choice and riding critique!
This is a critique part in two questions and my first lengthy post here, so bear with me :)

Part 1: I've been riding since I was a kid (I'm 25 now), but only a year of formal lessons in English from ages 12-13. I have ridden whenever given the chance, trail rides, family friends' horses, etc. I leased a mare about 2 years ago, and that was a blast. I'm confident in my horsemanship knowledge, comfort around horses, etc, and I thought I was somewhere around an advanced beginner rider. Well, reality check today. I went to ride two horses I'm considering leasing, and I am SO rusty. It's been well over a year since I've been on a horse, and it shows. With the first horse, I did just fine at the walk and trot (both sitting and posting), but when we were cantering I completely lost my seat and my feet slipped out of the stirrups both times I cantered. With the second horse, his trot was so bumpy that I lost my stirrups there as well! I'm basically looking for suggestions/exercises that I can do on horseback that will get my basics solid again. I hope to be riding at least 2-3 times a week soon. I think my hands were fine (no pulling on the mouth, good line from bit to elbow, etc) but my seat/legs just feel completely unsettled, which is frustrating.

Part 2: As I mentioned in my only post on the boards, I'm looking at horses to lease to get myself into riding regularly again. I finally got out and saw two today, and wanted some input on which might be a better situation for me. Horse #1-Mare, 25 years old, incredibly well trained, well mannered, a little underweight after the winter, and a wee bit out of shape but nothing serious. She's going to be leased by another girl as well, who's mostly going to be doing trail rides with her. She's located about 30 minutes from my house, but I work almost 50 minutes from where she's boarded, so I could manage only one week day ride and 1-2 weekend rides. Horse #2-Gelding, 5 years old, a little on the pudgy side, hadn't been ridden in 3 months before today, and while his owner dotes on him, she obviously doesn't ever come exercise him. He's been trained to ride in a Parelli hackamore, goes English/Western, responds incredibly well to leg cues and is a big teddy bear. He's very out of shape (he was blowing pretty hard after walking/trotting {minimal trotting} for 10 minutes), so he would need a lot of conditioning to get back in shape. He needs more training, definitely, because she has barely cantered with him at all, period, his trot is very bouncy and all over the map and his owner said he's still a little unbalanced. He's as calm as a cucumber and she has ridden him bareback a lot in the past. I would be his only lessee, it's twice what the mare would cost a month, and he's located about 20 minutes from my work, so before/after work would be much more feasible.

Based on Part 1 of this post, which horse might be better for me? Maybe neither is. I really liked the gelding's disposition, and he's gorgeous. I think we could learn a lot from one another, and I love his un-flappable nature. The bareback riding is very appealing, because I could work on what I feel my huge faults are. The facility there is great too; lots of horse people, they have shows there, etc. The mare is kept on a dairy farm, so there's one riding area and lots of trails. She's great too, because she's very balanced and could help me get my fundamentals back.

This was incredibly long, but any and all feedback (and further questions for clarification) welcomed. THANKS!

SonnyWimps 04-19-2008 10:20 PM

When I first started riding my seat and balance were horrible...I could barely stay on. What I did was I took my feet out of the stirrups and walked the horse around. Once I could walk around the whole length of the arena, with no problems (meaning no leaning back or forth, sliding) I'd tie the reins together and put my arms out and ride without holding on to my arms (at a walk).

Then I'd repeat the steps at a trot.

I'd work with a well broke horse that can not only be a confidence builder, but also increase your riding abilities.

I'd say look for a horse anywhere from 10-18 years of age...well broke, good mannered, and has a good personality

my2geldings 04-20-2008 03:44 PM

Are there any other options than the 2 you saw? I would look around some more. If the 2 horses you posted about the only equine partners available where you are located, I will say that the first horse is probably your best bet. It sounds like that poor horse is going to be worked quite a lot but for your riding experience and because you have been out of the loop for quite a while a good steady partner is what will make riding easier on you.

Keep us posted :)

my2geldings 04-20-2008 03:45 PM

Just thought of something else because you arent going to be riding a lot, what about the option of taking lessons? Most riding facilities provide a school horse you can ride and you get one on one training to help you get back in the swing of things.

missy06 04-20-2008 05:18 PM

I've definitely considered taking lessons. I think what I was weighing was cost. For $25/lesson, I could ride only once a week and pay the same for what I would pay to full lease a horse for a month and ride as often per week as I wanted. I guess that doesn't matter if I'm riding consistently with the wrong form though...

my2geldings 04-20-2008 05:20 PM

Remember that with leasing there are most costs involved such the feet and vet bills and the liability of caring for an older horse. You have obviously thought out the options

As I said tho, taking a few lessons before leasing might just change your mind :D

missy06 04-20-2008 05:21 PM

And yes, I can keep looking, I obviously don't have to choose between these two horses. I would be able to ride the gelding more (4-5 times a week, which would be ideal) because of his boarding's proximity to my work. The mare I wouldn't be able to because of where she's being boarded.

I'm still keeping my options open. :) I think I was drawn to the gelding because of his uber willing disposition and how often I'd be able to get out and ride and just be around horses. She's also thinking of putting him in a 30 day training program.

missy06 05-01-2008 06:57 AM

Update 5/1/08! I have to be quick about this, because I'm sitting at the computer instead of getting ready for work :D

I went and looked at two more mares last night. Neither owner has decided what the monthly lease price will be yet, which is encouraging.

Mare #1: 8 years old, 16hh QH, they've had her for 3 years, she's had extensive Parelli training with a trainer, and they say its made her a different horse. They've mostly done trail rides with her I think, but she did well in the area. She goes Western but isn't trained to neck rein (which is fine with me). She's uber responsive to all aids, but almost made me fall when I asked for a canter because she did this silly crow hop and stop thing. She hasn't been ridden but twice this winter, so I think she just has some kinks to be worked out. She's got spunk and sass but listens. She's highly trained (they were advertising her lease for someone who wants to show), and incredibly affectionate. The place she's at is this family's house, so there's one small arena and trails in the area.

Mare #2: 8 years old, 15hh Qh/Percheron cross. Gorgeous girl, she's ONLY done trail rides and has no formal training, according to her owner. She's the owner's daughter's horse, who only did walk/trot with her on the trails. She's got a lot of get up and go, and the owner wants to transition her into English and start working with her in Dressage. Right now they have her in a hackamore, but want to get her used to a snaffle. She neck reins as well. The huge downside here is that if they keep her at her current facility, it wouldn't make sense for me. Gas prices are insane! The stable is about 40 minutes from my house.

Thoughts? And I have more questions that arose from last night:
-How much of a difference does riding style make? You all know a little about my background, and I don't know that I have a goal with my riding at this point besides just gaining experience and strengthening my fundamentals. I'm assuming ground exercises are going to be the same no matter what type of saddle you're sitting in.
-With Mare #1, what type of showing might be something I could work toward with her? And, if I decided I wanted to start working with her riding English, how difficult would that transition be?


downthecenterlinetheycome 05-01-2008 06:37 PM

Hmmm. The second horse, the gelding, sounds possibly feasible if you're willing to take it slow and work with a trainer. The first mare sounds like a nice old thing that will pack you around safely but won't take you as far. I'd be a little wary about the third horse's crowhops; did she do it every time? And the last horse's lack of training.

Personally, I'd go for a "made" horse in the low teens, quiet but not a plod, and trained up to whatever you'll want to be doing.

missy06 05-02-2008 04:50 PM

I e-mailed the daughter of the woman who owns her, and she said that Mare #2's antics were just being fully of beans that day, and she only did it once while I was on her. I'm leaning heavily toward her, because I'm really intrigued by the Parelli stuff, she has such nice gaits and her responsiveness and kindness is a big selling point as well. I'm meeting with them again this weekend or next week to talk leasing pricing. Their house is located right near the freeway too, which is great.

I liked Mare #3 and can sense how much her owner wants someone to work with her consistently, but I'm no trainer and can't commit to driving that far 4-5 times a week.

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