A pre-horse question (or 10) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 10-08-2016, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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A pre-horse question (or 10)

Hi,

I need a bit of help. I'm a 61 year old man from Long Island, and planning to retire in a few years. Right now, the target is to move to a few acres in Arizona. I'm thinking I'd like to buy a gaited horse or mule to get me into the back country, since my knees are no longer up to long hikes over rough terrain. I've ridden before with varying degrees of success, and with my dignity mostly intact. I've got considerable experience training dogs, so I know how important it is to correctly read body language with an animal who can do you serious harm. I also understand how easy it is to undo good training with poor handling.

I need lessons. But first, I need lessons on how to tack up, give medicines, what and when to feed, how much water an animal needs when working hard all day, and suchlike. Basically, all the administrative stuff. I figure it would be good to learn how to check a horse's feet without getting stomped to death. At minimum, learning these things will give me a better read on whether I shouldn't maybe take up golf. FYI: I hate golf.

Do riding schools offer a program like this? Lots of horse people around my region; anybody got a local recommendation?
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post #2 of 21 Old 10-08-2016, 01:53 AM
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I can't help you with the local area, as I do not live near you. Some riding barns give lessons in those types of thing, some don't, I think it just depends on the school, who you're learning from, and what level you're at.

Here's a video on picking hooves, with which there's very little chance of "getting stomped to death". A well trained horse should not get in your space, much less kick at you or intentionally stomp on you.

What you feed depends a lot on the exact area, what minerals are in grass if you need it, the individual horse/mule, etc.

Here's a video on saddling (I assume you're going to do Western)

Bridling is pretty universal, just make sure you know what type of bit you're using once you get to that point. That will also depend on the horse.

Medicines will depend on what type of medicine it is. Some can be put into feed, some are injectable, etc.
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post #3 of 21 Old 10-08-2016, 01:56 AM
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Welcome Falling up! You're in luck, we have a member that lives in your area and has a horse so she might be able to direct you to the right place. I'll send her a pm and tell her to be sure to check this thread. It might be a couple of days since it's the weekend and she might be busy.

Hope you have success in finding what you want and need. Good luck!
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post #4 of 21 Old 10-08-2016, 01:57 AM
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I'd recommend finding a barn that emphasizes more than just riding, and specify with your instructor that you're looking for more education than just one in the saddle. This includes ground-work, medical, training, and a basic introduction to nutrition, farriery (and who to call when you need one...) and so much more in addition to the time in the saddle. While you have a good starting foundation in training animals, horses are a different language that are similar to dogs but not quite the same. A good place to start would be to volunteer at a rescue or therapeutic riding center in addition to your lessons as you can learn quite a lot by just being around the barn and willing to put in a helping hand, especially since you want to learn the finer details. Some barns offer clinics that cover basic health care and first aid, these will benefit you greatly. Additionally there are a lot of sources of information online.

On a side note, riding can be incredibly hard on the knees. I speak from experience as a riding injury involving my knees kicked me out of the saddle for quite a long time. If you're serious about the sport I would really recommend googling knee strengthening exercises and doing them. Kneepainexplained.com has a fantastic series of exercises that would be beneficial, regardless of whether you actually get in the saddle.

Finally, it will take time for you to develop as a horseperson. It's not a skill you're going to learn over night, especially since you can't learn everything in a day. It's a journey of learning unlike any other, from developing a seat to learning all the nuances of body position and spacing and everything in between. Try to focus on quality of education rather than speed. Watch out for the people who just throw you on a horse, tell you to 'go' and call you a rider. Whatever barn you choose, research it like anything else you purchase or invest your time in. Look for reviews that aren't just testimonials from people directly affiliated with the barn. Also, you could always ask at a local tack shop for a recommendation of a good lesson barn in the area. They should be able to give you a list or at least a name.

I've found that most things with horses requires actually being there in person and doing the action. We could write a lengthy example of how to lunge a horse, but until you're in the arena, manipulating your body and the horse's actions, you won't really "understand" how to make it work. This is true for most things in their world.

You have much to learn and I hope you enjoy the process!

Good luck!

Last edited by TwoTap; 10-08-2016 at 02:05 AM.
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post #5 of 21 Old 10-08-2016, 01:58 AM
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Hi, my suggestion would be to buy a horse (with help of your instructor and after taking a lot of lessons) at least six months before you actually move and keep it a yard where you have a good support system. Start off as full livery and gradually move to DIY. Ask a lot of questions.

The point of the excersise is two-fold: learn general horse-keeping and get to know your horse.

I got my first horse in March with the same idea. There is no way that, being a novice horse owner, I could have done it without help. I would have given up or got myself hurt after a couple of months.

Also, I'm not sure how things work around where you are, but I'm going to assume that your riding is not that great seeing that you don't know how to pick hoofs. Around here students tack up their own horses before lessons so someone who doesn't know how to pick feet must be a begginer. The reason I'm saying this is that you are planning to trail ride on your own. You should be aware that a LOT of horses take exception to being alone on trails and need a confident, experienced rider to get them to feel safe enough not to throw fits at every blade of grass.

A lot of them never get over it even with an experienced rider. So much so that adverts often point it out if the horse is capable of going out on their own. Please take note of this when judging you ability to own and ride a horse on your own. It really is one thing to own a horse at a livery and take lessons and completely different owning and riding on trails on your own. Especially for oldish novice riders like me and you. Best of luck.
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post #6 of 21 Old 10-08-2016, 02:09 AM
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you will be right at home here. we have plenty of adult beginners, so you should feel comfortable asking basic questions. you can't know unless you ask!

there's a member here sort of doing the same thing. he's got a journal, "Starting Again". in the journals area. he's in Nevada, though.
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post #7 of 21 Old 10-08-2016, 02:17 AM
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Hello!! I live on Long Island as well! I may be able to point you in the right direction if you'd like to PM me.

You're going to run into some challenges being from Long Island. One of them being there are not a lot of gaited horses out here. Riding a "normal" horse vs riding a gaited horse is different. Different cues, different gaits.

There are no places that I know who offer these services inparticular, but I'm sure someone out there would be willing to give you some lessons.

Feel free to private message me so we can talk in more detail.
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post #8 of 21 Old 10-08-2016, 03:00 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoTap View Post
On a side note, riding can be incredibly hard on the knees. I speak from experience as a riding injury involving my knees kicked me out of the saddle for quite a long time. If you're serious about the sport I would really recommend googling knee strengthening exercises and doing them
I'm looking at getting replacement joints over the next year. Right now, I couldn't manage getting on an off a horse. But yeah, I know riding is a physically demanding activity.
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post #9 of 21 Old 10-08-2016, 03:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horsef View Post

Also, I'm not sure how things work around where you are, but I'm going to assume that your riding is not that great seeing that you don't know how to pick hoofs. Around here students tack up their own horses before lessons so someone who doesn't know how to pick feet must be a begginer. The reason I'm saying this is that you are planning to trail ride on your own. You should be aware that a LOT of horses take exception to being alone on trails and need a confident, experienced rider to get them to feel safe enough not to throw fits at every blade of grass.

A lot of them never get over it even with an experienced rider. So much so that adverts often point it out if the horse is capable of going out on their own. Please take note of this when judging you ability to own and ride a horse on your own. It really is one thing to own a horse at a livery and take lessons and completely different owning and riding on trails on your own. Especially for oldish novice riders like me and you. Best of luck.
I think it's completely realistic to expect a horse to go out on it's own on the trails! I did that with my first horse and my second and my third, etc. The only horses I had that wouldn't ride out alone was a pair of horses I bought together. They were so buddy sour that they would rear and have fits if you tried to ride them away from their buddy. I chalked that up to a learning experience........I sold those horses at a loss and learned an important lesson about trying horses out alone BEFORE you buy them. But really, if a horse won't ride out alone, they are not well trained as they aren't listening to their rider. They are getting their confidence from the other horses. Maybe that works for some folks if they have no desire to go out alone anyway, but for me that's a deal breaker. I won't buy a horse that won't ride by himself.

But other than that one bad purchase, every horse I have ever owned is expected to ride out alone and does it quite well. You just have to be very careful to buy the right horse. But don't settle for a horse that will only go out with another horse, what fun is that? What if you have no one to ride with that day? Gee, I can't go riding because my horse won't go out alone?

I would venture to guess the majority of horses sold as trail horses will ride alone. My very first horse was an Arabian and I was as green as grass (I never had a single lesson, my only experience was riding rental string horses) and we both rode out alone from basically day one. Not to say there wasn't a learning curve. It look me about a year to really feel comfortable with my first horse. But we still rode out alone.
I don't know if you necessarily have to buy the horse before you move and then bring it with you. There are plenty of horses and horsemen in Arizona. So I would just go with whatever works out best for you.

By the way, gaited horses and mules are very popular with our local trail riders. Most are retirees. I am a bit younger but I still love the gaited horses. And a couple of our riders also have lovely mules. Both are a good choice. But I wouldn't even limit yourself to either a gaited horse or a mule. That might be your ideal choice going in, but you might find the perfect horse for you that is another breed. So keep an open mind.

I don't know what kind of riding you would like to do, but for me, I mostly walk out on the trail and enjoy the scenery. I ride for relaxation and to see the wildlife. So even though I might trot or gait a bit, 95% of my ride is at a walk. So you wouldn't necessarily have to have a gaited horse to enjoy the trails unless you really plan on doing a lot of gaiting. And even then, depending on where you live, a lot of the terrain might keep you walking more than any other speed.

Just some food for thought. Best of luck!
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post #10 of 21 Old 10-08-2016, 03:11 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horsef View Post
Hi, my suggestion would be to buy a horse (with help of your instructor and after taking a lot of lessons) at least six months before you actually move and keep it a yard where you have a good support system. Start off as full livery and gradually move to DIY. Ask a lot of questions.
My plan would to buy when I get out west and keep the animal in a full-board situation, until I'm ready to take him home. If ever. It may just suit my needs to stay with a full service stable. I'd need to know a lot more than I do to to make that choice.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Horsef View Post
You should be aware that a LOT of horses take exception to being alone on trails and need a confident, experienced rider to get them to feel safe enough not to throw fits at every blade of grass.

A lot of them never get over it even with an experienced rider. So much so that adverts often point it out if the horse is capable of going out on their own. Please take note of this when judging you ability to own and ride a horse on your own. It really is one thing to own a horse at a livery and take lessons and completely different owning and riding on trails on your own. Especially for oldish novice riders like me and you. Best of luck.
The research I've do so far has shown me that. It's kind of daunting when you first start learning about something to find out how much you don't know, that you need to know. I'm still in the "learning how much I don't know" phase. I do know I need an older animal with a bomb-proof temperament.
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