Do safe horses for novice riders exist at all? - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 46 Old 03-20-2016, 06:20 AM
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I'm lucky that I grew up in horse country, but they definitely do exist!

I started riding when I was 3 (lessons of course) and rode a lovely palomino that always took great care of me.

I don't think there's a ton of them, but don't lose faith!
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post #32 of 46 Old 03-20-2016, 07:29 AM
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I am lucky enough to own one who I part lease out to beginners. He is literally worth his weight in gold. Anyone can ride him. No buck or rear in the 15 years I've owned him. He is not a dead head so more advanced riders have fun on him too. I would not trade him for anything.
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post #33 of 46 Old 03-20-2016, 08:16 AM
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Dear Horsef,

I hope that sharing my experience will be encouraging to you. I have been riding almost 3 years and still feel like a beginner a lot of the time. I wouldn't consider my daughter's gelding beginner safe, but I guess he is since I started on him and he's the only horse I've ridden. He was very well trained and sensitive 14 yr old when we bought him (I certainly didn't realize what we had at the time).

He can be incredibly frustrating to ride. His "signature move" on nervous beginners is to start backing up. I knew I was getting better when I could get him to move forward.

He drops his shoulder and dives into circles and fake collects. He spooks out on the trail when the rider is tense. If I am not actively riding, he will decide where we go and what we do. But he never tries to get me off.

And when I finally relax or understand (often with lessons) what I've been doing wrong, he rewards me with perfect behavior. I guess he is like WillowNightwind's horse in that way.

And though it's been challenging, he's taught me more than I ever thought possible. (When we bought him I thought "there's no way I'll ever ride this horse").
I am very grateful to have him; he is worth his weight in gold.
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post #34 of 46 Old 03-20-2016, 09:38 AM
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They absolutely exist. Both my current mare and previous lease were/are beginner safe horses and the reason that I chose them. My current mare is a babysitter for children. She knows when a child is on her back and will stay walking at your shoulder if one is mounted unless directed otherwise.

I came from a previous barn that used spooky, unsafe horses as "lesson" horses. I had no idea that it wasn't "normal" to ace every horse before riding and tack up in a standing martingale. Now that I know, I am appalled that anyone would take that kind of risk with beginner riders.

My current trainer/BO puts potential new lesson horses through a series of tests. They get 3 strikes before they're out. They have to prove themselves safe and calm before she would dare put a student on them. She purchased a TB mare boasted as being a fantastic lesson horse. She is far from it and is now listed for sale and being half leased by a more experienced rider. Everyone at the barn calls her the nutcase because she will spook and overreact at almost anything without warning. The fact that she was advertised as a lesson horse is almost mind boggling, as you have to be ready for almost anything with this horse.
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"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."
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post #35 of 46 Old 03-20-2016, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by gypsygirl View Post
...Anyone can ride him. No buck or rear in the 15 years I've owned him. He is not a dead head so more advanced riders have fun on him too...
Some years back, I took about 4 months of lessons. The instructor has a horse she used for all initial lessons, and for beginners who needed help. That horse was beautiful with a total beginner. But put a better rider on him, and he'd move fast and hard - if asked. But a beginner couldn't get him to do it. He would refuse.

Trooper was like that with my youngest. The first time she was going to canter, he refused. She gave the right cues, and he would NOT canter. Afterward, she admitted she was afraid of cantering.

A year later, we came back from a trail ride and she asked Trooper to canter. He did so. Immediately. He never refused to canter with her again. He was just waiting until SHE was ready, and Trooper's judgment was better than mine!

Last fall, a guy came out who had never been on a horse. At 6'5", he was WAY too tall for 13.0 hand Cowboy, and he looked pretty ridiculous on 14.3 hand Trooper. Our 16" western saddle was too small for him as a rider, too. But after 5 minutes of advice, he went out for a ride with another friend and my youngest (who was on Cowboy). They rode for 2.5 hours, did walking, trotting and cantering. They picked their way across the desert for a while. Come back with everyone safe & happy. The horses were fine, although I'm pretty sure Trooper was tired. We gave him the next week off, although he didn't act sore. But the new rider had no fear, so Trooper had no problems cantering with him - on the guy's first ride.

There may be a big difference between personal horses (which I own) and lesson horses. Maybe an even bigger difference between personal horses ridden on trails and lesson horses in an arena. A horse who has been ridden consistently by one person for the last 40 rides will pretty much behave the same for anyone on ride 41. At least, that is what I've seen. Horses who carry 15-20 different riders every week may have a very different attitude.
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post #36 of 46 Old 03-20-2016, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Avna View Post
When I was a kid (in the 1970's) about 90% of the horses I rode were kid safe, beginner safe. That's what everybody had. These were often fairly coldblooded animals. Now that did not mean that they did not have bad habits but none involved bucking or rearing or biting. They were calm steady animals to begin with or became that way. They were ridden a lot, but only by one or two people. Most of their miles were trail miles, which horses generally find a natural and relaxing way to move, unlike being endlessly ridden in circles by different inexperienced persons. Frankly I would get pretty sour myself in that situation.

I'm afraid you have a bad situation of poorly trained and managed riding school horses and no other options. If you want a patient steady well-trained horse mainly you have to borrow somebody's (who knows how to keep their horse that way), or buy one.

I used to ride school and rental horses on occasion and was invariably appalled at how dead-feeling they were. And these were the safe ones!
Agree with this
many riding stables have all kinds of riders riding those horses, plus those horses become arena sour, as how could they not, mostly, if not soleya rena ridden, giving lessons that are repetitive, over and over again, often on the same day
Even under the watchful eyes of a trainer, these horses are ridden by inconsistent cues, between riders of various ability level, and add that to where they are ridden, you have a very bad combo, far as producing, or maintaining an honest beginner horse, or honest horse-period!
The horses I felt confident letting my children learn to ride on, were horses we raised ourselves, that I trained and rode myself for several years, and that I still rode, after my kids were riding them
If you can find a horse that has been ridden lots, by some youth, who has just out grown that horse, or a ranch horse that has been a working horse, ect, buy that horse, then take lessons on the horse, you will have better luck in finding that horse that will help you develop confidence, versus one ridden my many different riding students, doing the same arena exercises over and over again.
Even the best show horse, ridden by an experienced rider, will become sour, if never ridden out
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post #37 of 46 Old 03-20-2016, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
If I recall from previous posts, the OP is in a situation where there are group lessons going on with horses coming from everywhere at once and therefore, is not in a safe environment for groundwork. The OP lives in a non-horse country where lesson barns are rare and therefore, is stuck with what's there and does not have access to this horse in a one-on-one situation. OP, if I'm wrong, please correct me.
Acadianartist, so it would seem. Makes it considerably more difficult for horsef.

Horsef, about the only thing I can suggest from here is to learn to broadcast confidence. Be tough and assertive, and don't take any crap from the horse-of-the-moment. None whatsoever; if they even think about acting up, drag their nose around and make 'em do small circles until they promise to behave. Of course this is way easier to say than it is to do, especially when you're ten feet in the air on the back of a red-eyed monster. But horses pick up our emotions all too accurately, and once one determines that you can be intimidated, you have lost the battle.

Even a beginner-safe horse will do this eventually if consistently ridden by an extremely timid individual, but I expect a seasoned school horse will be running the show, to his advantage, in a matter of seconds.

Even if you are quivering inside; you _must_ project confidence and assertiveness. I've jokingly told riders in a similar situation to have a strong drink or two before getting on, and that just might help if nothing else is working for you.

Best of luck. Steve
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Steve Jernigan KG0MB
Microelectronics Research
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post #38 of 46 Old 03-20-2016, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for sharing your stories, it helps a lot. I really didn't plan on buying a horse anytime soon (or ever) but it seems like the way to go.

This is the breakdown of my week:

- lesson 1: horse decides to spook all over the place, followed by a bucking fit. Since I stopped him the first and second time because he gave me warning, on the third attempt he bucked me off without warning. Going nicely, all of a sudden he puts his head to the ground, drops a shoulder and bucks.

- lesson 2: another horse, nothing exciting, just some mild kicking out at the crop and bucking going into canter. I really don't mind this at all, he wasn't trying to get me off.

- lesson 3: yet another horse. I was waiting for the girl before me to finish the lesson so that I can take over her horse. The horse is going nicely. Someone opens the gate and horse throws himself into a mad gallop for the exit, dumps the little girl onto concrete outside and legs it for the stable. I requested a different horse, the one from the previous lesson, so it's just kicking at the crop and bucking

- lesson 4: I'm riding the kicking and bucking horse, following the horse which galloped in the previous lesson. Again, the other horse makes a mad dash for the door and the little girl falls off, luckily it's sand this time around (different little girl though).

So, all in all, three falls due to misbehaving horses that I witnessed in four lessons. My nerves are shot. I'm either not cut out for this sport or these horses are unsafe. Which ever it is, I'm not having fun any more.

Thank you all again, you have given me hope.
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post #39 of 46 Old 03-20-2016, 03:54 PM
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Horsef, faced with the chaos you describe, even Banjo would bolt for the barn. "Run Away, Run Away . . ."
What you are describing sounds more like survival training than riding lessons; I just can't see how anything like "learning" could occur in that environment. And eventually, you're going to get hurt.
If you can't find a training facility with a bit more sanity and structure, I'd strongly suggest giving up on the horse thing in favor of a safer, more predictable sport. Like Base Jumping, or perhaps Motorcycle Racing ;-)
All joking aside, It's Not Supposed To Be That Way. And I really don't think the blame lies with the poor horses, either.

ByeBye! Steve

Steve Jernigan KG0MB
Microelectronics Research
University of Colorado
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post #40 of 46 Old 03-20-2016, 04:41 PM
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If these horse are ONLY being ridden for lessons, it's likely that they are pretty arena sour. My trainer does half leases on most of her lesson horses, so they get time outside of the arena and some individual pampering. Those that aren't leased, she and her daughters will hack out with them just doing pleasure rides. I've never seen or heard of one of her lesson horses bucking someone off.

"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."
- Maya Angelou
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