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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's a question for all instructors/barn owners/lesson students without your own horses, and for anyone who has some input on this subject!

I know of tons of lesson barns that switch up the horse assignments almost every week, and others that have you on one horse for an extended period of time. I want to know which one everyone thinks is preferable and why. I'm very curious, because I'm really not sure which system I like better.
 

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When I rode lesson horses I was on a different horse every week! Which kinda sucked, but riding so many different horses helps a lot. All the very beginners rode the same horse for a long time :) I liked the system
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At the barn where my daughter and I ride, we ride the same horse primarily for an extended time. The purpose behind it is so that we learn to really connect with the horse. My daughter has been riding the same paint for almost 2 years now, and he knows her, and she knows all of his quirks and is able to prevent some of them from happening because she knows what to expect. She is becoming a better rider because she is not having to get to know a new horse all the time. On occassion she will ride a different horse, but always struggles to figure out the best tricks.

I rode for about 6 lessons a been there, done that QH, then she switched me to a very high level, complicated paint who knows just about everything. It's been a crazy switch, but I'm now (4 lessons later) getting to know him, and his quirks.
 

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When I lived and rode in Germany as a little girl, the lesson program I was a part of (and even the summer riding camp), switched up the horses all of the time. I tend to agree with this philosophy. If you're stuck on one horse for the entire season, you simply aren't learning as much as you would if you had to deal with a different horse every lesson. Different personalities, problems, habits, and so on. Learning how to overcome different problems on different horses is a huge part of becoming a great rider.

That being said, if you're a complete beginner rider, there is something to be said for being put on a schoolmaster who you know and trust.
 

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I never liked being switched around a lot. It's hard enough to learn a new skill such as jumping or a new lateral movement, if you're busy learning a new horse all in a 45 minute time frame. I can see where that would be a good idea for people who already know how to ride, but at the lower levels, why put so many factors into the equation?
 

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I guess it really depends on the level we are talking about here. I appreciated riding a different horse every week when I had already established a seat and *needed* to be handed different problems to continue my learning. I was still a beginner, but that is what progressed me into the intermediate realm.

I don't disagree that in the beginning it's helpful to ride a schoolmaster and focus on your body/movement before adding other additional factors into the mix. I am just not one of those people that believes "riding the same horse your entire life" makes you a good rider alone. I think it's a combination of things, one of those things being the ability to handle different personalities under saddle.
 

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I have ridden at both types of lesson barns. Each has it's own pros and cons.
Riding the same horse for long periods of time is definitely good if you are planning on seriously competing, as you get to work with said horse in every lesson/free ride. However, it happened to me on MANY occasions where I would work with one horse for months and months and then suddenly it would be sold out from under me which really sucked.
I found that riding a different horse every week wasn't very good either - sure it's nice to ride different types of horses and good for you to learn to ride anything, but it ended up being that I wouldn't learn much because every lesson was spent figuring out a new horse. Not to mention, in my case, it ended up that I would be training young ponies for the barn to later use for little kids. So basically I was paying them for me to train their horses... ridiculous.
I ended up going BACK to the first barn I was talking about.
 

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Definitely swapping horses regularly. Being stuck on the same horse for months, or even years, leads a rider to developing bad habits and often leaves them finding it difficult to progress, or they progress slower and slower after a while on that horse.

By swapping horses, you are building up many more problem solving 'tricks' that you can use on other horses. You will encounter a greater range of problems and then when it comes time to buy your own horse you will find that you have more success with it than if you are stuck on the same horse your whole lesson life.

I've had a number of horses now, and still try to ride as many different horses as I possibly can. I will have the odd lesson on a school horse or on my coaches dressage horse, then also give people riding lessons and will get on their horses to demonstrate, I ride other people's horses to help them out with a problem their having, and will also ride other horses for the heck of it.
As a result, I have so many more tricks up my sleeve that I can resort to if I encounter a problem. I've ridden lazy horses, stubborn horses, hot horses, tense horses, forward horses, spooky horses..... and now there's not a hell of a lot that I see that suprises me or I don't have some kind of card to play to 'fix' the behaviour.
Fowl Play above mentioned the exact problem with people riding one horse. You get to know that horse which is great, but then you get thrown on another horse and hate it because you don't know what to do!! As riders, we need to be able to ride a number of horses SUCCESSFULLY!

Of course, as a total beginner being put on the same old schoolmaster for the first couple of months (depending on regularity of lessons and progression of the rider) is going to be beneficial to assist them in getting their balance and learning the very basics of stop go and turn. But once they're reasonably confident and competent, I am all for throwing them on different horses.

Absolutely definitely 100% I am with swapping horses around. It is the BEST thing for you as a rider, the added experience it gives you is just fantastic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the posts everyone! I really enjoyed hearing about all your different experiences and opinions. Especially Kayty, you gave a very detailed, helpful description!

I think right now, I'm thinking that, as everyone agreed to, as a very beginner, riding the same schoolmaster is great while you're learning the basics. After that, I think what would be the best in my opinion, after reading all these posts, is for students to be on one horse for two or three weeks, then switch. It gets a little disruptive to switch horses every week, but it seems like a good idea to switch every few weeks.
 

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Yeah look it depends on how much you are having lessons? I'm guessing you're riding once a week? If so, then maybe while you're still classed as a beginner it will be good for you to ride a horse for 2 or 3 lessons in a row, but as you gain experience, I really do think that riding a different horse almost every week will really help you. People have said here that they don't like changing horses regularly because they have to figure out a new horse. Well thats the point ;) You will have achieved much more by being put on a new horse and having to learn how to 'push it's buttons' rather than being put on the same horse week in week out.
Of course if you're too the point where you may be offered a chance to compete one of the lesson horses, then you're going to need to be riding it more often, but if you're only riding once a week that's not going to make a stack of difference. Plus the best thing for your riding is to be riding other horses in between riding the horse you'll get to compete. Because believe it or not you'll find that riding other horses will hugely assist you in getting better work from 'your own' horse.

I find that all the time, I'll have a problem with my own horse that I'm struggling to find a solution for. Then by chance end up having a few rides on someone elses horse that may be greener than my own horse, but a lightbulb will click and I will use the same methods I used on the green horse, on my own horse, and sure enough I've got my collected trot. I guess thats a bit more of an advanced usage of riding other horses, but I hounestly cannot stress enough just how beneficial riding a variety of horses will be to your riding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Oh, I was just wondering what everyone's opinion on the subject is :) I currently full-lease a horse, and I ride her 5-6 days a week, one of them being a lesson, and I will be competing a few times this summer on her. But I also take 1-2 lessons on lesson horses during the week, and I try to ride as many horses as I can outside of my own horse and the lessons, I find it REALLY helps!
 

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Before I became owned by my horses, I did weekly lessons at a local barn. I started out on one or two horses for around two months, both old hands and steady eddies. As I progressed, my instructor moved me to more challenging horses, like her youth WP pony on half lease, her young guy, her smallest pony when she needed put through her paces, and some of the "milder" boarders' horses who needed a tune up (with the owner's permission, of course). It's not so much better or worse to be riding one or many horses in and of itself, but being saddled with an appropriate challenge for your riding level, or even for that day.

That being said, there does come a point when one is capable of successfully riding a wide range of quirks, and getting as many of those under one's belt as possible is an excellent idea. :wink:
 

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I can see Pros and Cons to both.

Differant Horses- You get to learn how to deal with differant situation and differant horses, and you learn to deal with differant quirks. It teaches you that not every horse is psycho and spooky, but not every horse is gonna be a push-button, flat broke and dead-side old mare. They can be everything in between. Some horses may be dead sided, some may have a hard mouth, some may need a little more encouragement to pick up a differant gait, some may not like tarps and some may run back to the gait. You get to learn to deal with all these things that will probably show up when you get your own horse.

Same horse - You get to be very comfortable with the horse and you get to learn in an environment in which you aren't nervous because you know what the horse can and can't do, and you get a bond that helps you through the challenges of horsemanship.

Eh, either way works for me. I will act as a substitute Coach for Toni's ids who are just learning the basics (Ages five to ten, experienced horses only) I would love to be able to teach higher levels some day, but I don't trust myself with that yet. I still have lots to learn :)
 

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At our barn, we have six lesson horses and ride a new one every week or two. I've gotten to know all the horses and have learned to change gears to work with each. We have the lazy one, the clever, testing one, the hyper one, the moody one, one that's dumb as a rock and green as grass, and the fussy one.

This system seems to be a bit of the best of both worlds. Many horses to master, but, after a few weeks, you know and can handle them all. Usually. :D
 

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I like both methods. I have a very small lesson program, I have my steady guy that will go in circles all day if you don't know what you are doing, and then when they are ready they can step up to one of the more complicated horses that actually require some communication rather than just a passenger. I am a fan of riding different horses and have been riding different horses my whole life.

Interestingly enough, my most difficult horse to ride is my personal horse. It sounds bad when I put it that way, as this horse is capable of doing things that people drool over and has competed in so many disciplines that I am surprised he can still function so well. However, we have been together so long that his weaknesses are my weaknesses. Its kind of funny, I can get on horses all day and get results that really impress people, the horses fall right into my seat and hand and are more than willing to work with me when the day before they were tossing people off. Then I get home and my own horse just tells me "crap, you still can't ride". He sets the standards, requires me to find my weaknesses and improve them, but to be able to put what he teaches me to use on other horses is the real reward.
 

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I'm getting back into english riding after a serious of several very scary falls and for me I feel that riding 'Poneh', a nice little school master is the best thing for me. At this point in time, its more important that I find my balance again and confidence.

I think that riding different horses has a place in every horse rider's life because it opens so many doors and gives you so much experience. However, I don't think it should be forced upon beginner riders because whats important at that stage is trust and confidence.
 

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A little bit of both. Our barn has about 15 school horses with differing levels of difficulty. When someone starts off in a group w/t/c lesson I put them on the easiest most robotic horse we have. I would say we have about 3 or 4 horses that are great for the most rank beginner. I won't switch them every week but I might switch around every few weeks. Once they get a little more secure in the saddle I start putting them on something more challenging. Once they're about ready to start jumping they should be able to ride the most difficult flat horses. So they might ride the same horses for a while (especially if I know they really like that horse) but they will switch it up a bit, especially as they progress. Once they start jumping they might switch around a bit until I find a good match and then they'll usually keep to that one horse for a while. Especially if they're going to be showing, I want them to be as knowledgable about that horse as possible. On occasion though I will switch things up a bit just because you learn SO MUCH from riding different kids of horses!
 

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Swapping horses, definitely. For my first several years of riding when I didn't own my own horse I was on a different horse almost every week, even as a raw beginner. If you have a set of good, capable lesson horses I don't see a problem with switching even the beginners around weekly. I think the only reason I'm a capable, good rider is because I rode about 15 different horses in my first two years of riding, not only that but they were all different sizes and breeds, so I learned that I'm capable of handling any horse, no matter the size. Granted, if a rider is very nervy and very, very unsure, I can understand keeping them on one horse, but I still feel that swapping out is the best option even for beginners. In my opinion, it helps build confidence moreso than keeping them on one horse.
 

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I am neutral on this subject, as both can be beneficial, it just depends on how you work as a rider and how you feel.

I've had a taste of both, and yes, it is nice to have a horse you ride most of the time and get to know them well and you become in tune with them. But the problem sets in when you have to get onto another horse that is completely different and then you struggle to become accustomed to the horse and you end up spending most of the lesson trying to figure out the horse and not learning anything from the actual lesson.

The place I am at is excellent, because although I full lease Night Heat and I am completely responsible for her, I get to ride the other school horses there and train with them too.
 

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I rode at one barn where we switched every week and another where we had the same horse for two months. I'm in favor of switching. If you figure the average lesson barn has 25 horses, that's only 5-6 horses appropriate for each level of rider. Switching between six horses is not too much to ask, and I think you learn more that way.
 
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