Can horses tell if their rider is inexperienced? How to reach/behave in such situatio - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 19 Old 09-29-2015, 10:45 AM
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They do. I had a 17.2hh dressage school master.

He tested the experienced riders. I mean kicking out, trying to star gaze, or get nappy.

I had a disabled (mentally and physical) adult rider who had experience of theraputic riding in the UK, and when he came over to visit his parents, he'd always come to the stables to see Doey.

He kept indicating with his hands that he wanted to ride, and of course I was wary. I'm only 5ft7, and if things went wrong there was no way I could support, or help him down (he was at least 85kg). I spoke to his parents in length, who were no beginners when it came to their son wanting to ride. I tired Doey out, and with the help of my father, managed to get this guy up in the saddle. I walked him around on a lunge by his side for a few rounds. That darned horse chilled out and just mooched. I took the lunge off, the the guy managed to get him to do a wonderful, relaxed slow trot. Every time Barry became unbalanced, Doey stopped dead to let him sort himself out and off they pootled round and round.

That horse had kids on him whose feet didn't even reach past the saddle flaps, complete beginners who, again, he stopped for as soon as they lost a stirrup, a rein, or their balance.

But my trainer, myself, or anyone else who had an inkling of what he could do, he tested until he had respect for you and then worked like a dream.

I miss that horse so much.
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post #12 of 19 Old 09-29-2015, 10:48 AM
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Every rider and horse must develop a means of communicating with each other. This is similar to when two people meet for the first time.

The more experienced each party is in dealing with different languages, dialects, and accents, the quicker they should be able to establish a means of communicating.

In the case of a human and a horse, the human must be able to dominate the conversation in such a way that he directs the actions of the horse. A horse will usually be happy to relinquish the responsibilities of leadership, but only if he perceives the human knows how to lead. The horse may test the leadership ability of the rider in a way similar to how he might test the leadership qualities of a newly introduced horse.

How this leadership is tested and how it is established may vary with the individuals involved. Some people are aggressive in establishing leadership just as are some horses. Others are able to establish leadership in less aggressive ways by how they carry themselves and how they react in the presence of the horse.

Horses are very good at reading body language. Small details can make significant differences. Trainers who work with horses in freedom write of how they have learned to better read a horse's subtle body language and communicate with it in similar subtle ways. With experience, a rider who is sensitive and makes an effort to establish better communication with a horse can similarly develop subtle ways to communicate through body language. Whereas the trainer doing freedom work primarily conveys his message through visual body language, the rider must depend primarily on balance and pressure.

As he gains experience, a sensitive individual may be able to develop subtle ways of communication which can quickly be understood by horses he has never handled before. This is true whether the individual is on the ground or on the horse's back.

Training riders and horses to work in harmony.
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post #13 of 19 Old 09-29-2015, 11:38 AM
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Every horse will take advantage of an inexperienced rider. That is why it is so important to buy a horse with good training and safe habits. You want your horse to take over like my mare did when I let a non horsey friend rider her. My good mare walked over to the gate of training area, pushed the gate open with her nose, veered left, walked through the (open) gate and stopped at her tie spot. She said, "I'm done here," and didn't hurt anyone.
A green horse probably will run full tilt bucking and racing back home, perhaps knocking the rider off under the ceiling of the barn aisle opening.
BIG difference.
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post #14 of 19 Old 09-29-2015, 11:42 AM
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Another one!

I had a cob by 14.2 pony, Try, he had a wicked sense of humour and would assess a rider before they got within yards of him.

We were having work done on the stables and Jonah, a bricklayer and motorbike fanatic was keen to have a go at riding.

First off when I said he could have a go, he drove up the road to the pub. When he returned he said that he didn't think that riding a horse would be much different to riding a motorbike.

He got on. He then pulled out a packet of Malborough cigarettes and said he wanted to look the part! (Older ones will remember the Malborough adverts with the cowboy!)

Try was ambling around the arena.

"Well. First gear isn't so bad - can I try second?"

At this point one of my young liveries arrived, she had been on holiday and had brought me a present back which was a lollipop the size of a dinner plate. Nothing but pure sugar and not to my taste at all but she was insistent I had some of it.

So, there I was with a young girl by my side whilst I was licking a lolly and telling Try to terrrrroooottt.
Try started to trot and Jonah was bumping around on his back.

"Well, this is a bit bumpy, can we go into third?"

Try cantered to my voice command and was cantering around the arena. Jonah was bouncing a bit, nothing terrible and all in all his balance wasn't to bad.

Try had been around a couple of times and was looking at me and I knew what he was thinking, he knew I knew what he was thinking. Jonah wanted to slow down and called out "Whoa, whoa horse."

As I hadn't corrected Try when he gave me his eye he obeyed and whoaed in half a stride. Jonah went straight over his head and was sat on the ground - his cigarette was still in his mouth but broken in half.

"Well," he remarked, "there isn't a motorbike that can stop that quick!"

Try was stood stock still by his side not al all perturbed that he had dropped his rider after all, hadn't he just whoaed to command?

I walked over to help Jonah up, of course I was shaking with laughter! I took Try's reins in the hand that was holding the lollipop and put the other out to pull Jonah to his feet, Try just reached around and took the lollipop eating it all including the stick.

I gave him extra feed that night!

I will say that pony was one of the best with Riding for the Disabled, never putting a foot wrong or taking advantage.

He just knew his job.

Last edited by Foxhunter; 09-29-2015 at 11:49 AM.
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post #15 of 19 Old 09-30-2015, 07:52 PM
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They know almost from the instant they lay eyes on you, whether or not you know what you are doing and how "horsey" you are.

The ones prone to test out whether or not they are correct in their assessment, may be slow to step off when leading, or resist ever so slightly when you move them back of over. They might try ignoring a cue when mounted.

IF you fail those...then they will mark you as easy, and behave worse and worse, until you may end up with a horse you can do nothing with.

And they are not locked into "I run the show you mere mortal" either.

A horse that you can't get to do anything, and that you are scared by, will behave like a perfectly trained horse for someone that knows horses and is projecting they aren't going to be trampled on.

For instance. Went to clean out stalls, first day there, hadn't even seen the horses before that day, went to clean one of the cutting mare's stall. Big one, plenty of room, she was in front corner eating hay. I went in, shut gate and went to mucking, wasn't even looking at her but "felt" her thinking...glanced back, she had ears forward still, munching away but here she came backwards for a doublebarrel...met that gray butt with the flat of the plastic muck fork and growled at her.. she went back up front and went to eating. Never had any more trouble with her. She was the only one that did test me, just her nature.

Had I ducked out of her way, or let her scare me, have no doubt she would have made my time there miserable.

They pick up on the way you walk, the voice you use, the movements you make, and the inner core of you.
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post #16 of 19 Old 10-02-2015, 12:14 AM
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ANY horse can discern between "confident rider" and "nervous rider". Horses with training and miles can take it farther and know the difference between "idiot who can be safely ignored" and "phooey, I might as well listen".

There are many riders who discover, despite their confidence, they fall into the "idiot" category. (This is where many mistakes are made by humans, but horses are never wrong on this).
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post #17 of 19 Old 10-05-2015, 06:34 PM
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Exclamation They know.

Oh, they know all right. When I first got on my horse, Duke, I was just a beginner and he took that chance to try to 'be the boss' as my dad says. I was always told that your horse can sense your fear, and my horse will take advantage of it. Even today, with me being an experienced rider, Duke will try to test me, but about three circles later he gets over it and realizes I'm the boss. You just have to believe that you are the boss, and they have to listen to you.
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post #18 of 19 Old 10-05-2015, 09:55 PM
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In many cases, I don't think the horse is "taking advantage" of things. Maybe lesson horses who see hundreds of riders and who can be a bit bitter about humans. But if you put a new rider on Trooper, he'll try to help the rider...that is part of how he got the name "Trooper". He's "just a little trooper", an old expression for someone who just gets the job done.

He will make more decisions with a new rider, because he realizes the new rider isn't qualified and trustworthy. But he isn't testing the rider to see what he can get away with. He's just assuming more responsibility because that is what he needs to do to get the job done.

Our little mustang Cowboy has had 6 owners and has been a lesson horse. He will test. He will try to get away with things. The last time I rode him, he tried to refuse to move. When that didn't work out for him, he tried bucking. It is hard to take a 13 hand mustang bucking seriously - at least, when you weigh 160 lbs! When that didn't work out, he decided a trail ride looked like a good option - and he gave me everything I could ask for during the next 2 hours. But I think that comes from the bad riding and bad training he got as a lesson horse.

I think many times, if the horse has had good riders and been ridden cooperatively instead of forcefully, he'll try to help a new rider. Mia could be a very dominant mare, but my son's two rides on a horse were both on her. And he tried to ride well (although he couldn't). Her ears were pinned a lot during those rides, but she did her best to keep him on her back and didn't act up even a little. She would not have tolerated that level of riding from me, but she figured out he was trying and she was "rewarding the try" - as we say of horses. She could be a demanding horse, but there was no meanness in her.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #19 of 19 Old 10-05-2015, 10:05 PM
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Just to add on the remarkable ability of horses to assess us. My girl Sidney is about a 2 on a 10 scale of spookiness. In the event that she does spook, it's more of a "WHAT THE?! Oh..."

My brother was here a couple weeks ago to visit and came to the barn with me even though he's TERRIFIED of horses. He stayed with us the entire time, but his nervousness was very evident and Sid could sense it, but didn't know SHE was the reason. The entire time she was uneasy because he was uneasy. She kept darting her eyes around and huffing waiting for the big monster to jump out that was making my brother so nervous. I finally had to tell him to "Go over there, cause you're making my horse nervous!" lol
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