Many of you know that a couple of weeks ago we bought Gatsby, a thoroughbred hunter. He is the most amazing horse ever and we are thrilled with our purchase.
However, in just the 2 weeks that we've had him, he already started to develop a couple of bad habits. It was getting harder to stop him, and he was not wanting to go into a canter nicely, for example. Nothing horrible, but geez, it has only been 2 weeks.
I have a lot of horse experience, as I grew up having horses, but I just did trail riding, fun shows, etc., and not English. So the care, tack, etc. is easy for me, but the fine-tuned riding is not. I am comfortable on a horse and I feel in control, but I have never really learned much about training. My son rides him too. My son is very much a beginner and just started riding last summer. If it weren't for my prior horse experience, there's no WAY we would have bought him a horse this soon. Still, with my experience, I really thought we were ready for a horse on our own (I was wrong).
In my lesson today, my trainer helped me with the stops. The difference after just about 5-10 minutes was amazing to me. Same with the canter--instead of speed-trotting into the canter, he went from a walk to a canter in about 10 minutes of practice. I know I could have read books, etc., but with her there yelling out exactly what to do in reaction to what he did was SO helpful.
We also made the decision to put him into training at the barn (meaning she'll ride him 5 days a week) in addition to our lessons. I don't think this will be a permanent situation, as he will get more trained as we go and I will improve also, but I can't even tell you how relieved I am that this is an option.
I cannot imagine what would have happened if we had bought Gatsby and taken him home. The things we were doing wrong were so subtle, but Gatsby was picking up on them and it was changing his behavior. It happened so fast! I can only imagine how frustrated we would have become over time. He is a very mild mannered, patient horse, too. This would have been intensified with a horse w/ an ornery or stubborn streak. We are so lucky to have the support of our trainer.
Training is a nice luxury that I know we are lucky to have available. However, for new riders, I think lessons on your own horse are incredibly important. Based on this experience, I would NEVER buy a new horse w/out the option of taking at least lessons from a good trainer on your own horse.
Before getting Gatsby, we were looking at buying a horse and keeping it closer to home. I thought that taking lessons on lesson horses and riding at home would be good enough. Now, I've changed my mind on that!
I will admit that Gatsby is young (7) and a better-trained horse may have not fallen into bad habits so quickly. However, I am guessing that any horse, given enough time with a beginning rider, will pick up some bad habits.
So the point of this long story is a PSA for newbies: take lessons on your own horse and never buy a horse w/out support from someone knowledgeable!
Also, a picture of Gatsby, because talking about him this much w/out a picture would be rude: