Is it normal for a nervous novice to prefer forward horses - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 07-22-2015, 07:30 AM Thread Starter
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Smile Is it normal for a nervous novice to prefer forward horses

The nervous novice is me. Being a novice, I only got to sit on a forward horse a couple of moths ago after two years of lessons. It was a revelation! The horse in question is an OTTB, and an absolute angel but can nap and is sometimes hard to stop in canter.

I just find it odd that I trust her more than any of the plodders used in various riding schools I attended. And she is only 6! And I am nervous!

It seems that her responsiveness, despite her speed, gives me a sense of being in control.

It's gotten to a point that I get impatient with slower horses and lessons leave me grumpy if I have to constantly work on keeping the slug moving instead on learning something new.

So, my question for you is: should I stick with riding the irritating slugs in order to teach myself patience and good horsemanship for any horse, or should I just chuck them and ride only the enjoyable ones? Just to make it clear, I'm 40 and havo zero ambition other than having fun on trail rides and jumping some smallish logs, both of which I am already very comfortable with.
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post #2 of 11 Old 07-22-2015, 08:32 AM
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If you only started lessons two years ago, my worry would be that you are basing your love of forward horses on one horse. Maybe the two of you just click.

There are different kinds of forward horses and different kinds of "Steady Eddies" (school horses).

At some point, as skills progress, riders do "outgrow" certain horses. If you were only exposed to those "zombie schoolies" - those horses that are truly on auto-pilot despite you giving them any cues, I can understand that two years in, you might be getting bored.

And, yes - you might be a person who likes forward horses. But, imo, I think you might be just feeling the fact that the horse is actually listening to you - and it just happens to be a forward moving horse.

Here's my worry: With two years experience, if you start seeking out only forward horses, the odds are that you will get on one that is too much horse for you. Unfortunately, there are a lot of described "forward" horses out there that are "forward" because they have not been trained properly. That's when an accident will happen - and those of us over 40 don't bounce as well as we used to.

I agree it does sound like you have probably outgrown the basic schoolies....so, I would look for lessons on a more advanced, trained horse - a "schoolmaster", if you will. That way, you will continue to learn about how to become a better rider and, if you then decide you definitely like forward horses, your skills will be better honed to deal with anything that happens at speed.

I know you don't want to show or anything - I'm more concerned about your safety.
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post #3 of 11 Old 07-22-2015, 08:34 AM
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The wider variety of horses you ride, the more you will learn. Each horse has unique characteristics to which you should learn to adjust. Each has a slightly different "language" which you should learn to understand.

At the same time, you should learn how to help each horse understand you. You should get each horse to accept your leadership. However, the method used to achieve this should be tailored to the individual horse. The same energy required to establish leadership with one horse may cause another horse to cower in fear. The second horse would require a gentler approach to develop true trust rather than fearful obedience.

As you get to know each horse and develop a good relationship and understandable communication, you can modify the means of communication to a more standard "language". The more horses you work with in this way, the easier the process will become when you are introduced to a new horse.
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post #4 of 11 Old 07-22-2015, 09:11 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Dapples123 View Post
If you only started lessons two years ago, my worry would be that you are basing your love of forward horses on one horse. Maybe the two of you just click.

There are different kinds of forward horses and different kinds of "Steady Eddies" (school horses).

At some point, as skills progress, riders do "outgrow" certain horses. If you were only exposed to those "zombie schoolies" - those horses that are truly on auto-pilot despite you giving them any cues, I can understand that two years in, you might be getting bored.

And, yes - you might be a person who likes forward horses. But, imo, I think you might be just feeling the fact that the horse is actually listening to you - and it just happens to be a forward moving horse.

Here's my worry: With two years experience, if you start seeking out only forward horses, the odds are that you will get on one that is too much horse for you. Unfortunately, there are a lot of described "forward" horses out there that are "forward" because they have not been trained properly. That's when an accident will happen - and those of us over 40 don't bounce as well as we used to.

I agree it does sound like you have probably outgrown the basic schoolies....so, I would look for lessons on a more advanced, trained horse - a "schoolmaster", if you will. That way, you will continue to learn about how to become a better rider and, if you then decide you definitely like forward horses, your skills will be better honed to deal with anything that happens at speed.

I know you don't want to show or anything - I'm more concerned about your safety.
That's why I was worried but couldn't quite articulate it. I will try to move up, it might be a bit difficult as I live in a very non-horsey country. Around here people usually buy their own if they want to advance and I don't think I'm quite there yet. I actually passed on buying the OTTB even though I can afford her easily - I do have some sense :)

Thank you for your answer.
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post #5 of 11 Old 07-22-2015, 09:15 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TXhorseman View Post
The wider variety of horses you ride, the more you will learn. Each horse has unique characteristics to which you should learn to adjust. Each has a slightly different "language" which you should learn to understand.

At the same time, you should learn how to help each horse understand you. You should get each horse to accept your leadership. However, the method used to achieve this should be tailored to the individual horse. The same energy required to establish leadership with one horse may cause another horse to cower in fear. The second horse would require a gentler approach to develop true trust rather than fearful obedience.

As you get to know each horse and develop a good relationship and understandable communication, you can modify the means of communication to a more standard "language". The more horses you work with in this way, the easier the process will become when you are introduced to a new horse.

I understand exactly what you are saying. For that very reason I go to two different riding schools. My dilemma at the moment is: do I need and want to know how to talk to a stubborn school horse. One of my trainers even said to me that I'm expecting to much from that particular horse when I tried to get him to ride on one rein.
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post #6 of 11 Old 07-22-2015, 11:14 AM
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I appreciate the fact that although you have no goal of showing, you are still working on improving your riding. I understand your feeling because it is difficult to concentrate on your form when you are working hard to get the horse to respond. I have noticed that novices very often fall into two categories. Those that can get the dull horses to move and those that can keep the forward horses calm and under control, and there is nothing wrong with being in either one. This is why it is important to ride a variety of horses, there is something to be learned from all of them, but you should also keep in mind that no one is going to get a great performance out of some of the beginner school horses. To make your lessons more rewarding I suggest that you set up a challenge for yourself. When you are riding one of the duller horses make it your goal to get the best performance from that horse that you can. I also suggest having a talk with your instructor about this so he/she knows what you are feeling
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post #7 of 11 Old 07-22-2015, 12:59 PM
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"My dilemma at the moment is: do I need and want to know how to talk to a stubborn school horse."

Yes! With a school horse, you won't be able to retrain him. However, some school horses are dull because they are used to having riders who don't respond to them. With one like that, learning to communicate WILL cause the horse to become more responsive. When I took lessons, most of the lesson horses were like that. They would ride much better if their rider made it clear he knew they were alive and capable of thought.

OTOH, there was one lesson horse who had totally shut off from riders. He could be ridden lightly, but ONLY if you had a crop and whacked him at least one time hard to show you meant it. Otherwise, he would ignore almost any cue.

If you own a horse, you can work on getting the horse's trust and teaching the horse to respond. Riding a horse 1-2 times a week when lots of others ride him makes that tough to do. But if you are expecting too much of a horse, you need to learn to accept where the horse is at and ask for things that might stretch his ability, but not exceed them. That is a critical skill with all horses.
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post #8 of 11 Old 07-22-2015, 02:47 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
[CENTER]"[I] But if you are expecting too much of a horse, you need to learn to accept where the horse is at and ask for things that might stretch his ability, but not exceed them. That is a critical skill with all horses.
That is excellent! I will go into lessons with that being the new skill I'm trying to learn, how to recognize horse's limits and I guess the signs of reaching a maximum are similar in all horses, be it a piaffe or a decent trot. You have helped me a lot, thank you.
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post #9 of 11 Old 07-22-2015, 03:51 PM
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A person has a greater chance of being hurt with the horse that plods along than the forward alert horse. These horses are already scanning ahead and the rider gets plenty of warning. The brain dead ones are the ones that by paying little to no attention usually react the greatest at something new.



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post #10 of 11 Old 07-22-2015, 10:36 PM
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I am a very new adult rider myself (less experience than you!) -- it sounds to me like you and this horse just communicate very well. It happens! Savor it, but don't assume this means you prefer 'forward' just yet. (You might! There's just not enough evidence to say.)

I would say it's a strong suggestion to try --assuming this is possible -- a different 'forward' but well trained horse in lesson and see if the fun is still there. That will tell you much.

Having said that, it's a no-brainer that using a lesson productively to progress and focus on getting things right versus "just keeping sluggo going" is OBVIOUSLY a better use of your time/money. For that reason *alone* I'd say aim for those horses.

Have fun!
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