Hello again! I have a few more questions - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 02-04-2018, 03:07 AM Thread Starter
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Smile Hello again! I have a few more questions

I've been having a joyous time riding weekly (plus the occasional trail ride) for the last four months. I've also been lurking here, watching CRK training blog videos, and reading a few horse books ("How to Think Like a Horse" and "Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage" by Cherry Hill). Any other good recommendations for a new-ish young adult rider?

Including the "trail" horses, I've now ridden 6 of them. 5 geldings, one mare. Is my sample size just really small, or are geldings more common for beginner riders? I see a lot of discussion here about mares being "mareish", is that really true of most mares?

One of the trail horses was a very sweet gentleman. I was told that he was a quarter horse, but he was HUGE! Can't say how tall, but a wiiiide barrel. I doubt my legs were even halfway down his sides. It's hard to translate photos into what a horse's presence is like in person! I read that there are a couple of "types" of QH. Could he have been the "bulldog" type? He had a very soft mouth (the tiniest wiggle of the rein to get him to turn left or right), which surprised me for a touristy "ride on the beach" type place. He was such a sweet horse, and was happy to receive forehead scratches after the ride.

Had my first fall, which wasn't too bad although the sandy arena was basically soup from the previous night's rain so I got drenched. Bless kind lesson horses that slow down under an unbalanced rider instead of letting them fall off. I now understand the difference that makes.

I noticed that some horses like to look at me with two eyes (and forward ears)- I read that as curiosity. There's another type of "look" that seems to be out of the corner of their eye, kind of a relaxed/indirect look. But there's a third look that I've seen on one horse. She likes to make unblinking STARING eye contact with one eye. I think she doesn't dislike me... she will accept scratches on her neck/shoulder and sniff my hand "hello", but it feels super strange to be stared at like that. What does it mean???

Last question- of behaviors that are "ok" to allow. Some horses like to interact with things with their mouth. I've offered my hand to inspect/lip(?), but is this a behavior to avoid encouraging (teeth and biting being a big risk to fingers and all)? It's just so cute to have a horse be so curious back and very fun to be interacting like that. (Not that I'd do it with an unknown horse!)

Thank you for listening to a newbie's ramblings. My friends all cannot escape my daily excited horse ramblings, and it's nice to have another outlet.
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post #2 of 26 Old 02-04-2018, 07:38 AM
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As a newbie horse owner I understand the excitement! My mare likes to do this wild/excited one eyed-stare thing too directly into my own. It's usually when I'm grooming her or hanging out by her stable door giving a pet. She's usually in a very chill, curious mood when this happens. I'd love to see what other people make of it but I interpret it as she's fully focusing on me out of her own interest instead of me asking :P
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post #3 of 26 Old 02-04-2018, 08:54 AM
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How the horse looks at you may also depend on what else is going on. Horses observe all their environment all the time, so if they are concerned about anything, they'll have their head high and their ears on the swivel. Just observe the entirety of the body language. I know a gelding whose default face has pinned ears, and yet, if I approach him tactfully, he'll sniff my hand, accept a little scratch on the face, and the ears come up and I walk away.

I am pretty lax with my "ok" behaviors. After the ride, when the bridle comes off, I take my mare into a head lock (she puts her nose under my arm) so she can scratch her face. Would she have the strength to throw me across the stable? Sure... After I give her an apple, she also cleans the apple juice off my hands by licking it thoroughly. An accidental bite that may follow from bad aim (getting your finger instead of the cookie) is pretty easy to get out of, as it happens slowly. If the horse does want to get you, it'll get you. So it's all about your familiarity with the horse in front of you and your level of comfort.
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post #4 of 26 Old 02-04-2018, 08:57 AM
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The barn my child is at has more mares than geldings for riders. It is more, I think, about those good ones the instructors find and less about the under carriage. I've known the instructor for 20 years and there have been times there were more geldings and times it has been split 50/50. Every horse has brought something to the arena and teaches the new riders valuable lessons.

The original QH type was "bulldog". Now you find few true bulldogs but see everything from tanks to those that can be mistaken for a TB. There is one here that most mistake for a WB, Just depends on the discipline. Each has its ideal type but the great thing about these horses is that no matter their build many will do well at whatever is asked of them. Oh and the ponies; can't forget the ponies. They even come in small...

Those horses that take care of their riders are special. Not all of them do this.

Sniffing is one thing. Lipping can end very badly very quickly so not something I encourage but I will allow a select few I trust to lick after feeding particularly juicy fruit.

As for the unblinking stare I'd say you have to be aware of the rest of the face and the horse's overall stance. It could be a challenge. It could be Nervous and expecting something to happen. It could be you're the love of my life.
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post #5 of 26 Old 02-04-2018, 09:05 AM
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First off let me say, WELCOME to the forum!!!
I will answer some of your questions right in your post so hopefully it makes better sense...

Quote:
Originally Posted by elzilrac View Post
I've been having a joyous time riding weekly (plus the occasional trail ride) for the last four months. I've also been lurking here, watching CRK training blog videos, and reading a few horse books ("How to Think Like a Horse" and "Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage" by Cherry Hill). Any other good recommendations for a new-ish young adult rider?

Including the "trail" horses, I've now ridden 6 of them. 5 geldings, one mare. Is my sample size just really small, or are geldings more common for beginner riders? I see a lot of discussion here about mares being "mareish", is that really true of most mares?
I find there are more geldings on trail ride barn and lesson strings than mares.
Geldings by nature of having been castrated do not have hormones running through their body as much as a mare.
I have found in my own personal experience, that mares are more sensitive, do much better with one dedicated rider to "read" than have many riders...they bond to their rider differently is about as descriptive/accurate a phrase as I can think of.
Some mares are absolute monsters, most are just more sensitive and they are governed by monthly hormones too.
Each horse, male or female needs to be judged as a individual... I have had days where my placid nature gelding is a beast and impossible and days where my mare could not do wrong and was given ample opportunity and reason to be horrid...


One of the trail horses was a very sweet gentleman. I was told that he was a quarter horse, but he was HUGE! Can't say how tall, but a wiiiide barrel. I doubt my legs were even halfway down his sides. It's hard to translate photos into what a horse's presence is like in person! I read that there are a couple of "types" of QH. Could he have been the "bulldog" type? He had a very soft mouth (the tiniest wiggle of the rein to get him to turn left or right), which surprised me for a touristy "ride on the beach" type place. He was such a sweet horse, and was happy to receive forehead scratches after the ride.
Horses have breed traits but that does not mean there are not exceptions to the rule same as anything in life.
Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, Appaloosa, Mustang, Arabians all can range in size from small and petite a build to a large build and personality to match.
I personally have ridden the barely 14 hand to the 17 plus hand Quarter, Thoroughbreds and a huge list of other horse breeds not mentioned.
Today there are many bloodlines that "specialize" and show promise for horses who excel in athletic ability, speed, out-smarting that cow, having a build {conformation} extraordinaire and more...
As for a soft mouth...either the horse you rode has been carefully used and rider chosen, a new addition to the string of trail rental horses. Over time, some but not all horses if used on a hack line trail ride situation lose some of that tender mouth when riders over-use the reins and abuse the mouth in innocence, ignorance or just being mean.

Had my first fall, which wasn't too bad although the sandy arena was basically soup from the previous night's rain so I got drenched. Bless kind lesson horses that slow down under an unbalanced rider instead of letting them fall off. I now understand the difference that makes.
Soft landings are a blessing when you take a fall...wet or not you learned a valuable lesson.
If you continue to ride this won't be your only fall nor your last.
It is part of riding...the secret is to create as little damage to your body upon impact as possible.
To me there is no shame in falling off...you learn something from it or should so it not become habit.
I've been riding for more years than I suspect you are alive and still come off on occasion...difference is now it will take me longer to get off the ground with more moans & groans...

I noticed that some horses like to look at me with two eyes (and forward ears)- I read that as curiosity. There's another type of "look" that seems to be out of the corner of their eye, kind of a relaxed/indirect look. But there's a third look that I've seen on one horse. She likes to make unblinking STARING eye contact with one eye. I think she doesn't dislike me... she will accept scratches on her neck/shoulder and sniff my hand "hello", but it feels super strange to be stared at like that. What does it mean???
Most horses are inquisitive by nature. They learn "you" by smell and touch I am convinced.
They do have different eye contact of soft, watchful, emotion showing of say irritable or bad mood, and a "what 'cha doing?" look....
Depending upon which eye my horses watch me with tells me much about their personality that day too.
Left eye watch, right eye watch or full face on....all do mean different things to each animal.

Last question- of behaviors that are "ok" to allow. Some horses like to interact with things with their mouth. I've offered my hand to inspect/lip(?), but is this a behavior to avoid encouraging (teeth and biting being a big risk to fingers and all)? It's just so cute to have a horse be so curious back and very fun to be interacting like that. (Not that I'd do it with an unknown horse!)
Personally, do not hand feed any horse as it is a invitation to get bit.
These are not your horses, you do not know them and keeping your fingers safe is a good idea.
Extend your hand, fingers flat and downward turned away from those teeth for the horse to investigate but do not play or invite the horse to lip or play with your hand or feed treats by hand as you do not know how this horse responds to hand-feeding...some horses get food aggressive and bite quickly.
Sorry, with your limited number of times you mention riding several horses you do not know these animals, their mannerisms or quirks.
Your fingers and you are safest to stay away from what you think of as innocent lips and playing with them...
My own horses if hand-fed get mouthy fast, and will bite as my instructor has proof of and she did not feed but she got bit by my horse when she had no treat and he wanted one... so no hand-feeding of mine take place, period!


Thank you for listening to a newbie's ramblings. My friends all cannot escape my daily excited horse ramblings, and it's nice to have another outlet.
The wonder of horses is something if you not partake of the horse craze is hard to explain what the animal does for the insides of us or the peace it gives our soul...
You came to the right place to share your love as if nothing else this forum is a huge blend of those who truly love, enjoy and breathe horse...

Enjoy the discovery many of us have been allowed for many years already.

...
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The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #6 of 26 Old 02-04-2018, 12:08 PM
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A beach ride! How cool.

Welcome to the forum! I am still a beginner myself and learning about horse body language and brains (vs dogs). They do share some common traits (being prey animals) but are also particular individuals and you can get to know what each one likes or not. At my batn, Toby likes a good ear scratch and face brushing, but Nugget is not so much a fan. By contrast, Nugget doesn't mind having his belly touched while Toby has to know you first.

I think lots of people seem to think geldings are more chill as a rule, rather like people think of neutered male cats. I am not sure that's true, entirely. Some people I know prefer mares, some geldings, some indifferent. I don't have enough experience to have formed an opinion, other than discussing individuals with my instructor. I think as long as the horse is a good fit, physically and personality and experience wise, it doesn't really matter what sex they are. I have only ridden geldings thus far but have no personal objections to riding a mare.
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post #7 of 26 Old 02-04-2018, 10:34 PM
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Welcome to the forum! Nothing to add about other stuff, that others haven't already said, but I'd actually been into horses for many years before I even heard about 'typical mare' behaviour/attitude. Sure, some horses are more full of attitude than others - I only remember a couple of geldings with that rep at a big trail co I worked at as a teen. And sure, hormones can have some... interesting effects. I think it was about 60/40 geldings to mares where I worked, and there was one mare who was known to be 'crabby' when she was in season - probably had endometriosis or such in hindsight. Since those days, I've trained and worked with many horses & again, I can remember only one mare that stands out as a squealy, kicky thing & she was also really crabby with other horses. Never found out whether she had a hormone or some painful prob tho.
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post #8 of 26 Old 02-05-2018, 10:01 PM
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Some mares have a better personality than geldings and some geldings have better personality than mares. I have always known the geldings to be better for beginners though.
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post #9 of 26 Old 02-12-2018, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the replies. I think posting on here makes me feel a bit shy, so I'm sorry that I seemed to "vanish". I'm still around lurking quietly :)
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post #10 of 26 Old 02-12-2018, 02:44 PM
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Horses really are mouth focussed animals. Their upper lip can be thought of similarly to how an elephant uses his trunk; to feel, smell, and manipulate things. it's like a 5th prehensile limb. I don't think people realize that .

I find that most horses seem stimulated by moving their mouths /lips around, and they find enjoyment there. I can interact with them by petting or tickling their muzzles and observing whether this is irritating or pleasant for them, and if they take that as a signal to bite, I immediately stop. Some horse love to have the upper gum rubbed. I don't recomment this to a beginner, but going under the upper lip and rubbing the gum above their upper teeth will put some of them in 7th heaven.
Some like the little 'moustache' on the outside of the upper lip scratched.

in any case, a lot can be observed about a hrose by watching how they use that upper lip, how tight they keep the lips closed, and if they appear to 'clench' their jaws, or cross them back and forth.

most people at your stage are utterly oblivious to all of this. What you are seeing now is rather remarkable for such a beginner. Even if later you find your observations and conclusions were flawed or anthropomorphized, the fact that you ARE seeing things is really quite something.
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