Help me debrief and evaluate my first non-arena ride? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 03-27-2016, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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Help me debrief and evaluate my first non-arena ride?

I'm 50+, just started riding a few years ago casually, and after selling one wrong horse, I bought what is seeming to be a very good fit (got her about 2 months ago). She's 12 and has been on hundreds of miles of trails from casual to rigorous. Friday I rode her out for my first time outside of the arenas (indoor and outdoor). I feel like it went well, but I've learned that you experienced horsewomen/men can often 'see' trouble spots where I completely miss them... and sometimes things I think are problematic, you tell me are perfectly normal or give me a quick-fix. I love to hear your insight.

I rode with another woman who was riding a plodding lesson horse, a very laid back steady horse. We kept it simple - rode about 1/4 mile away from the stables with the intent of pasture riding (property with permission), but when we got there we had trouble with the gate, plus there were cattle hanging right at the gate so we decided to forgo that. So then we rode back towards the barn, then turned on another road heading away in a different direction. So, here's a quick description... The good, the bad, the ugly?

- I've been grooming her and tacking indoors all winter. The day was beautiful, so I tied her outside to do it this time. She was pretty interested in everything going on (kids, other horses), and moved around a little more than I like... but a "hey!" made her stop and stand. No big issues, but I guess I'd like a perfect statue ha.

- she stood great for mounting.

- I'm so expecting a horse to be barn or buddy sour (that was my previous horse's main vice), so I was surprised at how eager she was to ride through the gate to the road. We followed the other horse (a horse she's never been around much).

- She was very interested and looking around, but it didn't seem nervous - just kind of excited. If she was a dog, I think her tail would have been wagging...

- she paused at one point when a woman down a side street was wheeling a big trash can... was obscured by bushes... but the moment she saw what it was she kept moving.

- she was walking so fast, that we went ahead and passed the other horse and took the lead. She neck reined and responded to my direction great.

- Her great "whoa" was still operational - but she didn't want to stay standing, and was anxious to keep going.

- when we stopped to ponder the gate, I took her in circles periodically to keep her feet moving... just a neck rein and a little leg was fine. She was a little jiggy when we'd stand for more than a few seconds (nothing that felt dangerous, just 'busy'). There were several horses that ran up to the fence across the street, plus the cows, so she seemed very interested in things.

- there were a number of cars that went by, and at one point an idiot dump truck driver roared past at probably 40mph - we moved off onto the grass shoulder. She didn't even flinch, didn't bother her at all. I could tell she saw and heard them coming, and she never felt tense. They were a non-issue as far as I could tell.

- She never tried to break into a trot or anything above a walk - but she did keep a much faster walk than the other horse... finally that rider suggested we simply pass her and circle around... which we did probably 6 times along a quarter mile stretch of road. She was fine with it but never did slow her walk.

- She didn't walk any faster towards the barn than away, and didn't seem the least bit bothered when we road on past it instead of turning in.

- I wish she'd slowed down a bit, but she never felt nervous to me - just excited. Her head was up from it's 'bored' position, but was never held way high - and she never did any head tossing or arguing... no big eyes. Just some looking around.

So anyway, that was my experience. I was surprised that she wanted to lead! I thought she was more laid-back than that!

Any thoughts? Any red flags? It was fun :) I'm looking forward to future jaunts, I just keep second-guessing things.

Many thanks
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post #2 of 23 Old 03-27-2016, 02:44 PM
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She sounds like a really nice horse, to me. I would far rather have a horse who walks out briskly than a slug.
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post #3 of 23 Old 03-27-2016, 02:46 PM
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Sounds to me like she was just really happy to be doing the job she was trained to do again.
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post #4 of 23 Old 03-27-2016, 03:02 PM
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Sounds like all went well. Congratulations!

I think you pointed out two things that you are already aware to work on. Not big things, but tiny things maybe to work on.

One was the jigging (a little bit of that when you were saddling up too). Ideally, a horse should stand patiently, even when they are excited to get moving. What has worked for me space allowing is when they get antsy and start jigging, back 'em up (or turn them in a tight circle) and then let them stand. If they start jigging again, back them up again. Eventually they figure out that you would like them to stand still or they are going to be moved in a way that wasn't exactly what they had in mind.

The second is being able to rate your speed, you should be able to slow her down or speed her up slightly to keep pace with the other riders. That is something you will learn how to do with time.

Other than those little things, seems like you have found yourself a good horse. Again, congratulations!

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer

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post #5 of 23 Old 03-27-2016, 03:03 PM
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yeah, can I have your horse?
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post #6 of 23 Old 03-27-2016, 06:24 PM
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Wow, sounds like you had a lovely ride! Harley is much more nervous on the trail rides and that's something I really want to work on this summer.

It sounds like you're second-guessing - which is understandable, given your previous horse, but really, you weren't nervous, she wasn't nervous, what's not to like!
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post #7 of 23 Old 03-27-2016, 07:39 PM
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Nothing is coming up as a red flag to me, she sounds like she handled everything well, and you did as well.

The speed of her walk, well that kind of depends, if she was doing a nice steady walk and the other horse was REALLY slow, then you need a better partner, it would be a shame to have to slow her right down if she is not the issue!
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post #8 of 23 Old 03-27-2016, 08:18 PM
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I'd say that you both did well for your first time out of an arena and she certainly seems to be a well broke sensible horse. I would not be too concerned about her not standing as well for tacking up outside. She may know better but it was different from the routine that you have established with her and you did correct her. The fast paced walk may just be enthusiasm on her part or it may just have appeared fast because the other horse was slow
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post #9 of 23 Old 03-27-2016, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all - you've been very encouraging! - I wanted to think it went well, but I do tend to over analyze things. I just didn't want to be naive and mistake disobedience or nerves for enthusiasm and eagerness. Didn't seem like she was nervous (just 'up'), but I don't trust my horse mind-reading skills...

I'm moving her to my friend's home in a few weeks - we ride on 70 acres of pastures and woods behind her home, and there are cattle and some broodmares. I've ridden on an older almost unflappable horse who had to be retired (thus the reason we decided I needed my own horse). I'm anxious to start riding there again, because I was never able to do so with my previous horse. That horse definitely was not as well trained as Kota, but we did think she was going to be a good trail horse - but she proved to be very balky and barn sour. So, my confidence was shaken. I am very on-guard against missing or encouraging a bad behavior.

Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
yeah, can I have your horse?
lol nope :) not if she continues to be as solid as she seems! I'm really quite smitten with her, but am almost afraid of jinxing it... so am afraid to really relax and just enjoy her. I'm not letting myself commit emotionally until I check off certain things... and riding her out on the road was one of my boxes. She's not a robot obviously and I think she'd take advantage if I do things really wrong... but that does make me know I'm learning. So far she seems quite forgiving, and responsive to pretty minimal correction. I had to get so much stronger with correction and diversions on my other horse, that I know I have a lot further that I'm capable of going than I've needed with this one so far.

Reiningcatsanddogs: I think backing her up when she jigs is a great idea and I bet it will do the trick (she does that from time to time even when not outdoors). - so, should I tack her untied? If she's tied, I can't see how I'd do a quick enough correction...
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post #10 of 23 Old 03-27-2016, 10:08 PM
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IMO, if it isn't a constant habit and just happens once in a while, like when she is so raring to go she can't contain herself, then no, I wouldn't tie her out like to a patience post and just correct it when she does it (I don't use cross ties ever). As for tacking up, tie her, but give her a little room so you can back her up a couple of steps if you need to. Eventually, a "NO Mam!" might do the trick but I would start with the backing up a few steps. No major issues that I can see, just some little things like that to work on, but that is part of the fun of it.
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“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer

Last edited by Reiningcatsanddogs; 03-27-2016 at 10:20 PM.
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