Riding an equine that hasn't been ridden in a while? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 04-28-2016, 06:12 PM Thread Starter
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Question Riding an equine that hasn't been ridden in a while?

Hypothetically, why would happen if someone tried to ride a pony, horse or mule that hasn't been ridden in a while? The equine would have been used to farm work (pulling carts, plowing), so it's used to harnesses (or whatever you call that... I'm not a horse person).
The character in question (since this is for a story I'm writing) buys the equine off a farmer because he has to leave quickly. Would it be different for mules, ponies or horses?
The character hasn't ridden in quite some time either. On a scale from 1-10, how much disaster would this be?

On a similar note, what would the effects be for the rider? If he does manage to ride the horse, will he experience back pains or leg pains or butt pains or anything else by the end of the day?

Last edited by berrypippin; 04-28-2016 at 06:18 PM. Reason: forgot to ask
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post #2 of 16 Old 04-28-2016, 06:19 PM
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If the horse has been trained to be ridden then depending on how long it has been it should be able to come right back to it - when my horse was kept two hours away from me I went I think at least a month without ever riding him and when I got back to it he was perfectly fine.

For a rider it would likely be similar - you would remember how to do it (like riding a bike) but you would be very sore after a short time.
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post #3 of 16 Old 04-28-2016, 06:28 PM
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I'd the horse was half decently broke undersaddle and has been worked consistently under harness, it shouldn't be too big of a leap that they would be easy to ride. The trouble usually comes when a horse has been sitting in a field on vacation for many years or was never broke in the first place. Plus, horses that are used for farm work under harness generally have a quieter temperament and go with the flow.

Rider would be sore. Even if they are otherwise fit, riding takes very different muscles.

Mules would not be as easy as horses. They are generally too smart for their own good. Donkies can be like that too, but not as bad afwik.
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post #4 of 16 Old 04-28-2016, 06:33 PM
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I'll give you my own example: I have one horse who was at pasture for a year and a half recuperating from an injury, got on him for an easy walk, he rode just fine. A bit rusty but no problems. He had contact with people every day throughout his convalescence.

My first horse was used as a brood mare and not ridden for 8 years with only sporatic human contact; I had not ridden in a year because I had my fifth child. Total disaster...head tossing etc, ending with a bucking fit.

A third horse (an old cow ranch horse) I had not ridden in 6 months, got on bareback with a rope halter, he rode like he would have if I had ridden him every day for those 6 months.

IMO it depends on the demeanor of the horse, how much prior training, and what kind of prior training (a horse trained to a harness is not necessarily broke to a rider on their back).

“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 16 Old 04-28-2016, 07:07 PM
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It depends on the individual horse. Some would be crazy to ride after a week or two off and others can take a year or two off and come back ok.

The rider would be sore, painful sitz (sp?) bones, legs etc.
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post #6 of 16 Old 04-28-2016, 08:44 PM
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The horse - it totally depends. But are we talking just walking or do you envision this character galloping a full speed? Because that's entirely different and would most likely end in disaster. Just quiet walking might be fine.

And yes, rider would be very, very sore. When I went for a long time without riding, the worst was the inside of my thighs. I wouldn't ride for a year, then would go on a 2-4 hour trail ride which included walk, job and some galloping and I could barely walk after. My inside thighs felt bruised for days. Knees might hurt, if your knees are not great to start with (like mine). Butt would be somewhat numb, but not the worst. Another thing to consider is whether your character is male or female. We are built differently so different body parts might be sore.
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post #7 of 16 Old 04-28-2016, 08:47 PM
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Depending on what they are doing the horse may be sore (or worse) too assuming it's out of shape.
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post #8 of 16 Old 04-29-2016, 04:57 AM
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If the horse had been broken well then probably nothing.

I have had horses that have been off all work for a long time - brood mares in particular, just saddled them up, mounts and ridden off as I would if they had been ridden every day.

With horses there are two things that when starting them, might cause them to buck. The first is having a girth put on and tightened as it is restricting to them, the second is not the weight,mint is the person sitting upright so they can see a shadow above them, it is rarely ever the weight in their back.
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post #9 of 16 Old 04-29-2016, 07:35 AM
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Ditto everyone else that it depends on the horse and also the level of confidence of the rider.

I have broke to death trail horses. They are 21 & 22

One still has a lot of good years of riding in him, IF I could still ride. I haven't been on him in 4-1/2 years and have no doubt I could get on him and ride out the driveway.

I would have to re-acclimate him to things horses spook at but there would not be any worries about him refusing to go or acting like a bronc because he had t been ridden for several years. He is also in 20 acres which gives him plenty of acreage to blow off steam, and I play/work/handle both horses for a couple hours every day.

If you are writing a story, your job is to figure out which scenario the horse was exposed to, in terms of human hands before he was bought, then what experience the new owner has to help the horse along.

Owing a horse is not near as black and white as owning a dog, and there's nothing black & white about dogs either:)

With no horse experience on your part, you may be in over your head to write a horse story from this angle.:)
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post #10 of 16 Old 04-29-2016, 08:16 AM
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It will be dependent of the amount of time off, How well the horse was trained to be begin with and the horse in question because every horse is different. Some horses do OK with time off but others don’t maintain their training as well. I start and re-train a lot of horses. Any horse that is brought to me regardless of the past training goes through a pre-flight check list of sorts. I tack them up and do a little ground work to see how they carry the saddle at walk, trot & canter. I will flex them & back them up to see how they respond to the bit, Then I slap the saddle & shake the stirrp leathers, then I will step in and out of the stirrup a few times before getting into the saddle. All the time I am watching the horse very closely during each step for any signs that more work should be done before attempting to ride them. A little precaution has kept me safe for the past 40 years of riding.

If you are not a confident and accomplished rider I would not attempt riding a horse that has had a lot of time off. Get some assistance from someone with more experience or a hire a trainer to evaluate the horse and or tune them with a week or two or riding.

Best of luck,
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