Do safe horses for novice riders exist at all? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 46 Old 03-18-2016, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
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Do safe horses for novice riders exist at all?

I would like to know if horses who can be safely ridden by novice riders exist at all?

I keep reading this and other forums, and I'm hoping that we only get the negative selection here (No one is going to make a thread "My horse doesn't buck")? Whenever someone asks for advice, most often the answer is that the OP is not riding well enough and that's why x happens.

Also, I keep getting bucked off, run off with, reared with...

I'm getting seriously discouraged about riding, even though I love it. My riding is regressing badly into a defensive seat and I get a feeling my riding was better last year. I now have permanent anxiety because as soon as I get confident something else happens to scare me again.

In a nutshell, I would like to hear from novice riders who ride safe horses (who don't need a professional tune up every couple of days to keep them safe either) - just to get my hopes up again. I really hope such creatures exist because I'm just about to chuck it in.
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post #2 of 46 Old 03-18-2016, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Horsef View Post
I would like to know if horses who can be safely ridden by novice riders exist at all?

I keep reading this and other forums, and I'm hoping that we only get the negative selection here (No one is going to make a thread "My horse doesn't buck")? Whenever someone asks for advice, most often the answer is that the OP is not riding well enough and that's why x happens.

Also, I keep getting bucked off, run off with, reared with...

I'm getting seriously discouraged about riding, even though I love it. My riding is regressing badly into a defensive seat and I get a feeling my riding was better last year. I now have permanent anxiety because as soon as I get confident something else happens to scare me again.

In a nutshell, I would like to hear from novice riders who ride safe horses (who don't need a professional tune up every couple of days to keep them safe either) - just to get my hopes up again. I really hope such creatures exist because I'm just about to chuck it in.
Yes, they do exist, though it can be hard to find a good one as a beginner because either horses who are only ridden by beginners tend to develop bad habits, or because people who own good horses can be reluctant to let beginners ride for fear of their horse developing bad habits. (Not to mention, horses can sense inexperience and anxiety and may take advantage of that by acting up more than they normally would with a more seasoned rider.)

Try not to get discouraged, and try to find an older, calmer horse that you can ride to get your confidence back. No horse is bomb proof but if you're constantly having problems with the one(s) you're riding, then you need to make a change somewhere. Either a different mount or lessons/practice on how to prevent/deal with the bad behavior. Good luck, and stay safe!
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post #3 of 46 Old 03-18-2016, 02:35 PM
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Hi Horsef,

I hear you on this. I'm happy to tell you that I do have a very safe horse to ride, and that is my instructor's horse on whom I take lessons. I've been riding this horse for quite a few months and have been riding him only while I have been searching for a horse to replace the nervous Diva that I sold recently. I am happy to tell you that this horse is helping me get my confidence back in a very big way. So, yes, there are good horses out there.

I'm sure everyone will post to remind us that no horse is ever 100% safe. That's the price we pay for this journey we are on. However, if you are really struggling with confidence, as I was, I'd recommend searching around for a good, solid, lesson horse and a trainer who can help you learn to get the most from him.

I'm finally back to making real improvements in my riding and losing the defensive posture you spoke of. This horse is making a real difference and I'm so glad I have him in my life. I hope you will find one like this to help you with your confidence. It makes a huge difference.
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post #4 of 46 Old 03-18-2016, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Surrealle View Post
Yes, they do exist, though it can be hard to find a good one as a beginner because either horses who are only ridden by beginners tend to develop bad habits, or because people who own good horses can be reluctant to let beginners ride for fear of their horse developing bad habits.

Try not to get discouraged, and try to find an older, calmer horse that you can ride to get your confidence back. No horse is bomb proof but if you're constantly having problems with the one(s) you're riding, then you need to make a change somewhere. Either a different mount or lessons/practice on how to prevent/deal with the bad behavior. Good luck, and stay safe!
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Thanks, I thought so. I live in a non-horsey country so not that much choice, unfortunately. I tried every riding school that looked half-decent... They don't even pretend to be surprised when someone gets bucked off or something else like that happens.

It seems like every single lesson is a lesson in preventing/dealing with bad behavior. 4 times a week - I'm sick of it. I really don't mind light spooking, small bucks, gentle napping, it's the dangerous behavior that scares me.
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post #5 of 46 Old 03-18-2016, 02:41 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by elle1959 View Post
Hi Horsef,

I hear you on this. I'm happy to tell you that I do have a very safe horse to ride, and that is my instructor's horse on whom I take lessons. I've been riding this horse for quite a few months and have been riding him only while I have been searching for a horse to replace the nervous Diva that I sold recently. I am happy to tell you that this horse is helping me get my confidence back in a very big way. So, yes, there are good horses out there.

I'm sure everyone will post to remind us that no horse is ever 100% safe. That's the price we pay for this journey we are on. However, if you are really struggling with confidence, as I was, I'd recommend searching around for a good, solid, lesson horse and a trainer who can help you learn to get the most from him.

I'm finally back to making real improvements in my riding and losing the defensive posture you spoke of. This horse is making a real difference and I'm so glad I have him in my life. I hope you will find one like this to help you with your confidence. It makes a huge difference.
Thank you, that means a lot to me.
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post #6 of 46 Old 03-18-2016, 02:54 PM
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A horse that rears, bucks and runs off with its rider is not even broke, let alone safe. There is no excuse for a riding school to to be using such dangerous horses. In the litigious US, a school like that would be sued out of existence.
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post #7 of 46 Old 03-18-2016, 03:00 PM
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I live in cowboy country, so maybe it's more common to see truly beginner-safe horses around here.

Yes, you'll have the odd horse that is labeled as beginner-safe, but isn't. On top of that, any horse can have an off day, even the safest, gentlest, most dependable ones.

The thing you've got to remember is that most people who have a truly beginner-safe horse aren't going to readily get rid of it. Especially if your area isn't very "horsey" to begin with.

My best friend's mare is what I'd call "beginner safe." She is super sweet and calm with a beginner in the saddle. I have anxiety when going to mount. She stood patiently lined up to an overturned bucket for almost five minutes while I stood up there and talked myself into mounting. Once on her, she walked very cautiously until she felt me start to relax. Once I relaxed, she moved out well. At one point, I asked her to trot. She has a MUCH bouncier trot than I'm used to (my gelding's trot is so smooth, I've had people ask if he's gaited), so my seat started to falter. As soon as she realized I was less than secure up there, she broke back down to a walk without having to be asked.

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post #8 of 46 Old 03-18-2016, 03:00 PM
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All horses (like all people) have their quirks. There's no such thing as a perfect horse, but there is such thing as a beginner safe* horse. The key is to find a horse with quirks that you can live with. Some horses are too lazy: these are often pretty safe. The two horses I owned as a kid/teen weren't lazy, but they wouldn't buck me off.

Horse #1 wasn't really a kid-safe horse, but she liked me, so we got along well. She would not buck. No matter what. I promise, I gave her plenty of reasons to want to buck! She did run off a few times (usually with other people -- that's how she tested new riders -- once she trusted you, she wouldn't bolt), but she kept her head and had beautifully smooth gaits. Just waiting her out wasn't that bad. I was a fearless kid, and I knew she wouldn't run into anything. That mare definitely had her quirks, but I could deal with them.

Horse #2 really was a better kid horse. She was well behaved for any rider. If she got mad, she would buck, but her hooves didn't get more than an inch off the ground. They were the most pathetic bucks I've ever seen. Her quirk was that she hated crossing moving water. I'm talking about a trickle that she could have stepped over without wetting her toes. Fortunately, our trail only had the one water crossing, so it wasn't that big a problem. I could deal with her quirks, too.

All that being said, I would not deal with a horse that reared, seriously bucked, or wildly bolted. Safe* horses are out there. I'd rather find one whose biggest problem is rolling in the mud too much.


*As we all know, safe is a relative term with horses. Use common sense.
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post #9 of 46 Old 03-18-2016, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Horsef View Post
Thanks, I thought so. I live in a non-horsey country so not that much choice, unfortunately. I tried every riding school that looked half-decent... They don't even pretend to be surprised when someone gets bucked off or something else like that happens.

It seems like every single lesson is a lesson in preventing/dealing with bad behavior. 4 times a week - I'm sick of it. I really don't mind light spooking, small bucks, gentle napping, it's the dangerous behavior that scares me.
That's a shame, and to be honest, not that surprising unfortunately. It's not the way it should be, but it often is that way anyways.

Have you tried finding a privately owned horse to lease, or exchange work for riding, or even just paying to ride? I don't have much personal experience with lesson horses but I've found that privately owned horses are generally better behaved than ones rented or used by lots of people. I'd still use caution and bring someone with you when trying a new horse for the first time, of course, but you may get lucky and find a good horse that someone just needs help exercising. My barn owner has a mare he's always hinting that I can ride because she needs the exercise. He says she's a steady girl who will take care of you and though I haven't ridden her yet, I'm inclined to take him at his word there.

I hope you can find the right horse for you soon. And for what it's worth, you're not alone--most people don't enjoy the really dangerous stuff, esp as they get older. (I love spunky horses, but definitely not the crazy ones)
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Last edited by Surrealle; 03-18-2016 at 03:08 PM.
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post #10 of 46 Old 03-18-2016, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Joel Reiter View Post
A horse that rears, bucks and runs off with its rider is not even broke, let alone safe. There is no excuse for a riding school to to be using such dangerous horses. In the litigious US, a school like that would be sued out of existence.
You'd think, but no. Most, if not all, horse businesses have liability releases you have to sign in order to ride. Otherwise, no one would be able to stay in business the first time someone gets hurt there.
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