My first post and a couple of questions - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 12:55 AM Thread Starter
Foal
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
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Red face My first post and a couple of questions

Hello! I've been lurking here for some weeks, reading as many of the threads as I can as well as taking weekly lessons for the last four months. I had no idea how much I didn't know!

Anyways, I've got a couple of questions that I haven't found an answer to here to elsewhere if you helpful folks wouldn't mind answering.

1. The horse I usually ride is a real big guy, and his back is quite muscular (he's also such a good boy!). However there have been two other horses I rode that had prominent spines behind their shoulders. By comparison to "big guy" it seems like riding a bony-er horse would hurt their back. Does it? And/or is improving the bony spine area to be more muscular what people mean when you all say "build up the topline"? They were a little on the thin side to my very untrained eye (best guess a 4 on the "Henneke" scale, since their ribs weren't visible).

2. Riding crops. I uh, don't like them. I really don't want to use them at all, because as I've improved and my communication gets more clear to the horse it's becoming more apparent that "lazy" behavior is more my fault than the horse's. Eg, now that I can feel them slow down, a squeeze and a cluck before they change gates is so much more effective than nagging at them after. (btw not knocking my trainer here, she's the one who helped me realize that). When do you get to understanding when use of a crop appropriate vs it's "user error" and you need to fix yourself instead?

3. Looking around at different places to ride. This weekend was the first time I ventured out to another riding place. I was glad that I did, and it made me appreciate how nice of a barn and trainer I lucked into by having a knowledgeable friend refer me. It's not that I want to ride someplace else, but I have an urge to just see what else is around. There are half a dozen places to try out within a 45 minute drive of where I live, but I'm feeling guilty about being "disloyal" to my barn. (I'm looking for some reassurance with this one)

4. Barn etiquette. I have a fear of accidentally making the other barn humans mad. Is there some in depth checklist that I can read to make sure I'm not messing up? I read all the signs that are posted around, but still fear the "unwritten" rules. Is it OK to say "hi" to the other horses (offer them my hand to sniff, scratch their forehead if they're friendly)? I know I shouldn't feed them, but if a horse is looking interested in me, I just can't resist saying "hi" back. I also feel bad keeping the tack out while I'm grooming/putting away my horse, but I also don't want to leave it in the tack room uncleaned in case someone thinks some air head didn't clean up after themselves. But I also don't want to make my horse stand out there alone by cleaning tack first. Ahhh! Overthinking!

5. Kind of a joking-not-joking question here. How can I cure myself of this horse crazy bug??? I feel like I'm going to drive all my non-horse friends nuts because it's all I want to talk about

6. (edited in! forgot this one!) When people talk about injuries from a fall, how bad are they? I've never fallen off a horse, but I HAVE taken many an other tumble (flying over the handlebars of a dirt bike without a scratch, broke an arm with those darn wheeley shoes when I was a kid, and my least favorite, high speed ice skating crashes that result in nasty purple bruises and problems sitting for weeks). What's the range for "beginner" level spills from a chill lesson horse?

Thank you for listening to me ramble and being patient with a beginner!

Last edited by elzilrac; 12-18-2017 at 01:07 AM. Reason: forgot a question!
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post #2 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 01:09 AM
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Hi there @elzilrac ! I'd love to answer some of these questions, and welcome to HF! Keep an open mind and you'll learn a lot from people here!

1) Topline is the muscle from the withers to the croup on the horse. It is their core, the equivelant of our abdominals for us (though the back is not their "abs," they do have abdominals as well, but their core is their back and topline). A horse with the spinal processes may have weight issues, and yes usually a horse with a weak topline struggles to maintain strength in their back and it is easier for them to become sore. But genetically, some horses will never have the topline a quarter horse has. Arabs and Thoroughbreds tend to have A frame backs, and you can get the topline better but the back will never be flat for 51% of these horses. The solution to a horse with a weak topline is to ride them back to front, your instructor can tell you more of what that is, to engage the topline muscles and target-train them.

2) Crops are tools. They are not evil. You are actually doing more damage to a horse by kicking and nagging than using a crop. Horses like "one and done" method of training, so one smack with a crop when they aren't accepting the leg is all they will need, ideally, for the entire ride. I ride in spurs and a dressage whip, and I frequently use the whip to remind my mare to go off my natural aids, not my artificial (crop) aids. Do not discount crops, for kicking and squeezing and getting nothing is far, far more harmful than using an artificial aid to help instill respect to the aids in your horse. Used correctly and without the intention to cause pain, they are harmless.

3) You don't need to feel bad about shopping for barns. First, you need to find a place that aligns with your values and goals in riding. Not every barn is for every person. If the trainer gets mad at you for trying other barns, that tells me they are insecure about their training abilities, and that's a red flag.

4) It's perfectly fine to pet all the horses, just don't feed them. The reason is not because you are breaching any etiquette, but there may be horses with nutritional sensitivities and you don't know how much "sugar" could create a reaction. It is for the safety of the horse, and has nothing to do with trying to control you. Myself, I don't mind if my mare is fed treats, but we have a highly sugar sensitive horse and they are not allowed treats at all, as one treat could set off a laminitic episode.

Be nice, be courteous, and (because I am assuming you are young) most of all, don't be a know-it-all. Do not give critique where critique is not asked, do not gossip about riders/horses, don't accuse people of "abuse" just because they do something you do not approve of. I have made all of these mistakes as a youngster, and I want to pass on my experiences to new riders. Always use the tack appropriate for the horse. If you are concerned about anything the horse wears (bit, saddle, etc) bring it up to your instructor respectfully. Most of all, have fun. Horse people are very nice as long as you respect their ways of riding, but the minute you get critical or judgy they will judge you back twice as badly. Horse people are HUGE gossips, so stay out of that chain of conversation and stay away of being a topic!

Good luck, and have fun! I hope you stay on HF. I've been to many forums but this is the most welcoming, kindest, and most open-minded bunch of people i've found online. They are so understanding of all styles of riding.
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post #3 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 01:17 AM
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As far as falls and injuries, it really depends on the type of fall and how tall the horse is. My first fall was when I was 15 years old of a 13hh pony, and I remember sitting in the middle of the arena SOBBING (i had been riding for 8 years). I was more in shock than hurt. Don't worry too much about falling off, but ALWAYS look for a soft spot and prepare your body for impact. Once you've fallen and know what it's like, the next fall won't be as scary. You may slip off at the canter if your horse stops suddenly into a trot and you lose your balance. The worst I can see from a lesson horse is a bruised ego, emotional shock (you will cry, be prepared), and maybe a scraped elbow. Remember to get on IMMEDIATELY after. Don't let the shock set in because fear will follow, and soon you won't want to ride again. It happened to me, and only recently have I conquered my fears. I still get nervous from riding sometimes, but i realize my incident was isolated and couldn't be replicated. I was physically unable to get back on, and that led to me not riding my horse for three months.
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post #4 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 01:20 AM
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There's no cure for the horse crazy bug! There are distractions, of course, a la boys. Boys may > horses when you get a bit older, but hopefully you come back to them when you find out boys are not that great, @elzilrac ! xD
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post #5 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 01:39 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your words @thecolorcoal ! I was just reading your thread about "Loving the lame horse" very cool to get to see your multi-year learning journey. We're also in the same area of the world :) I'm a career gal in my late 20's, but probably have the anxiety of a pre-teen haaaa.
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post #6 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 01:40 AM
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Late twenties??? I'm mid twenties myself. OMG! And same area? As in CA or geographic location? Or town??? Super neat, we've gotta stay in contact! I will follow your progress on this forum with interest ^_^.

You're going to love horses. They truly can see into the soul.
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post #7 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 01:54 AM Thread Starter
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I suspect we're quite close, since I'm also in the bay area and there's only so many places to ride around here. I'm in the half of the bay with the most stables. You mentioning trails to Monterrey and SF tipped me off to the similarity.

Seriously thank you about the fall stuff... I feel a lot better now. I was terrified that since no one was mentioning what the "after" part of a spill was that it was really bad. I'll just try to have my first one in the arena hahaa get it over with so it's not so scary.
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post #8 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 01:59 AM
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@elzilrac, Oh bay area! Then we are close! I'm in the portola valley/los altos hills area. (now I can be stalked!) so if you're around there I can guess where you ride?

Last edited by jaydee; 12-24-2017 at 12:07 PM.
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post #9 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 02:01 AM
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Sorry, friend. But, after 8 lessons if you still love horses, then you are a hopeless case. there is no cure for this bug, and your best bet is to come here for daily fixes of 'horse talk'

Don't make the mistake I've made, many times, where I start to think that I could , possibly, just maybe, . . share some super exciting detail of my horsey life with my mother, or hubby.

when my mom says, "Horses scare me, and they're so stupid" , I know I was stupid to think it was right to say anything to her.
Funny how I never learn that one.

in any case, as to carrying a crop, you don't always have to use it. sometimes just carrying it makes the horse more 'yes ma'am' and so you don't have to leg him so much.

and, as to greeting other boarder's horses , play it by ear. I think many people are pleased if you ask , "may I pet him?". Just don't ever feed a treat to someone else's horse. That is one that WILL get you in trouble. But, you can always ask.

If the saddle fits reasonably well, the horse being boney should not be an issue unless they are REALLY boney. it's all relative.
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post #10 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 02:16 AM Thread Starter
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@thecolorcoal I guess there's even more options than I realized! I hadn't even added those to my "list" of stables (since they're a little further south than I was looking). I'm a bit more north than you, but not yet quite to the city. SVE.

@tinyliny oh no! I was afraid of that answer :) it's a pretty swell place here though, so I suppose that's a good compromise
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