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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi - It's me again.

I have another request for feedback and advice. About a month ago, at the encouraging of one of the younger riders at my barn, I asked about trying a "more advanced" horse. I guess i wasn't ready mentally for a horse with more "attitude" than I was used to.

As part of my lessons, I'm expected to groom, tack-up, un tack, and regroom the horse I use for my lesson. This particular horse was recommended by one of the other riders for me to try, because of his size and more animated spirit. Trouble is, I hadn't dealt with a horse who was "stall possessive" and a bully before. He made me nervous when I first went into his stall, as I am 100% positive he was aiming to kick me. He was mad at a previous rider.

During my untacking, he was relentless in trying to crowd me while I had him on the cross ties. I shouldn't have been left alone with him.

When I mentioned to the head trainer that I was thinking I needed more help/supervision in dealing with him, I think it was interpreted that I was afraid and didn't want to try challenges. Since then, they've kept me with a great, albeit very gentle horse. The younger riders in the barn hint a lot that its interpreted that I'm afraid to challenge myself with "hard" horses. The trainers insisit that's not the case - that its best I get 100% comfortable with techniques and care before I deal with more challenges. One of them hinted that they thought the "spirited" horse really wasn't suitable for me, but I feel like a failure and wimp. BUT, I felt I had to ask for help and not keep quiet.

I guess I'm worried now that I'm being "babied." Only been riding for 4 1/2 months. I'm a 45 year old male. Should I ask them to push me more, or be more patient with myself? Earlier they told me they wanted me riding different horses all the time. Confussed.

thx

Also - while they are very nice and helpful, the younger assistants I don't think appreciate that new, older students might need more supervision and guidance in dealing with ornery horses that need control and discipline. I think they take what they do for granted. Confidence of an older newbie doens't come as fast. It's also harder for us as 40 year olds to ask 17 year olds for help ;-)
 

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I'd say take your time. I started at 50 by buying an Arabian mare who was "perfect for a beginner". More knowledgeable folks will see that almost as a contradiction in terms. In any case, a few months later she bolted (not for the first time). I got her stopped, tried to dismount, and she spun, half-reared and bolted in mid-dismount. I went flying, and my right lower back landed on a rock. Four years later, it still swells visibly at times after a run or a ride.

The mare & I are still together. She has taught me an enormous amount about horses and riding, but not all the lessons are good. I would be a better rider if I rode less defensively, but some of how I ride is based on riding a horse who can be a handful.

I'm very fond of Mia, but there are times I wish I didn't own her. Riding should be fun, and when it is too much like work, it isn't fun.

BTW - a more advanced horse is NOT a horse with more attitude. There is nothing advanced about a horse with attitude. Mia doesn't have attitude, in the sense that her fears are very real to her - but there isn't a malicious bone in her body. Mia is and always will be more challenging than a lot of other horses, but that doesn't make her 'advanced', and it doesn't make me a 'good rider' because I try to deal with her.

Riding for 5 months isn't the basis for handling, on your own, a challenging horse. It would be OK ONLY if the instructor is willing to watch and teach you. There are things you can do to minimize risk and to help the horse behave in a more productive manner, but there is no way anyone with 5 months of riding should be expected to know that without specific instruction. And learning by getting hurt is unacceptable.

And yes, as someone who started at an older age, one of my pet peeves is a young instructor who assumes you know something because he/she grew up around horses and knows it. There is a huge difference between being good with horses, and being a good instructor.
 

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WHAT BSMS SAID X10!

Take your time and enjoy just learning to ride, for now. A more advanced horse in a lesson situation for beginners should be a horse with more training, more buttons to teach you the multiple ways you can ask for things and will teach you just which things work and which don't. A bully horse, or dominant horse, is not necessarily an advanced horse.

Find an instructor you click with really well and ask to take lessons only from that instructor for now, too many can be confusing. Let that instructor know that in addition to improving your riding skills, you want some instruction on improving your horsemanship skills. Too many riding programs concentrate on only the riding and not on teaching the care and handling skills necessary for actually managing a horse.
 

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First of all, welcome to riding!

I'm one of those younger instructors, at 21 I often feel funny pushing my adult riders because I feel I'll be over stepping my boundaries to order around someone older and often much wiser in life then I. For me, I bring in some humor and remind them that riding is fun and to not be hard on themselves. I've noticed in nearly every new rider I teach over the age of 20 that they become very hard on themselves and cannot settle for small successes in the saddle or on the ground when really that's what this sport is sometimes all about.

If you were my student, I would step in and tell you that no, you probably do not need more supervision, you're adult and have the power to tackle the challenge of an animal who isn't a deadhead. Your problem here seems to be though that you have already talked yourself into not being able to handle this horse and he probably knows it. If it made you more comfortable I would come watch you catch the horse but (and this is strictly based off my experience with lesson horses at my barn and the surrounding area) would expect you to enter the pen and catch it yourself. A typical lesson horse, while feeling faster or moving their head more or is rumored to be a little on edge then the first horse you rode, is not a horse that a beginner cannot handle. Lesson horses are typically a bit saint like, but within schools can get bad reputations from the young girls who like to over exaggerate their poor experiences.

Here's where I get a little Caesar Milan/Zen like. You have to know, in your head and body, that you know how to talk to a horse and approach them with confidence. Horses can be very in tune to your body language and attitude and even some of the saint like lesson horses can come across as difficult if you fall asleep at the wheel so to speak and they feel like they've lost the leader you're supposed to be to them. The harsh reality is that a lack of confidence can actually hurt you faster then finding your inner power and stepping up to the situation. I've seen a handful of students get stepped on, pushed or have a pony decide to take them to the nearest grass patch because they're afraid to show the horse who's boss. Keep thinking, you're the boss! It's hard to truly offend a horse.


That was a long way to get to this point lol. Yes, you need to tell your trainer you want to be pushed harder. You also may have to open yourself up to be told to loosen up and put big boy pants on. Never mind that its hard to ask the 17 year old (sure that's how young she is? I look that young too at the barn....) for help because she's young, it's her job and she should be more then happy to help you get over this hurdle. Do not expect her to hold your hand though, I wouldn't, it wouldn't help you with horses in the long run. Failure happens in riding everyday, the best riders learn from it and move forward to the next experience.
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ETA- Oh great, I get to look like the insensitive young trainer!! Ill clarify that I do not believe you should have to learn through injury and by telling you to catch your own horse I don't expect to send you into a dangerous horse's pen and fend for yourself. I'm also questioning the ornery nature of this lesson horse, did he actually strike at you? In such a case of course ask the trainer for help, but I already said that. It's our job to help you and we enjoy doing so but you need to be honest about when you need genuine help, when you're afraid and when you are too intimidated to learn/do something. We may push you but we never intend to get you hurt.
 

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I loved Zeke's post, coming from the perspective of the young trainer. she obviously is a very "wise" young trainer, and probably a good one!

It is very true that horses are masters at reading your body language and will find the weak link in your "armor" so fast you'll be humbled quite quickly.
however, the way to act around an aggresive or ornery horse isn't something we are born knowing. Nordicman may have all that he needs to put this horse in his place, but he just doesnt' know how much to use.

A lot of people new to horses don't use the power they have because they aren't sure it's ok to be that strong. They don't want to hurt the horse and have a conception of it as a dog or cat, so they would never be as strong and firm about discipline as may be required.

I would ask someone knowledgeable to demonstrate to NMan how to make the hrose smarten up and behave. How firm he can and must be to get a proper reaction from this horse, how to interpret what is bluff from the horse and what is a real, dangerous threat. He can then learn to imitate this person, until it becomes natural. Imitation is the first form of learning. You can't learn in a vacuum, out of thin air.
 

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...If you were my student, I would step in and tell you that no, you probably do not need more supervision, you're adult and have the power to tackle the challenge of an animal who isn't a deadhead....

Here's where I get a little Caesar Milan/Zen like. You have to know, in your head and body, that you know how to talk to a horse and approach them with confidence. Horses can be very in tune to your body language and attitude and even some of the saint like lesson horses can come across as difficult if you fall asleep at the wheel so to speak...
Great. So he is supposed to know how to communicate with a horse because...what? He watched a western once?

There is nothing 'natural' about communicating with a horse unless you grew up with them.

A student doesn't pay you to tell them to "Feel the Force". If you aren't willing to TEACH them how to communicate with the horse, you are not a good instructor. Something as small as how you walk up to a horse, put a halter on and lead it away will tell the horse if he should consider trusting you or not. But how is a beginner supposed to learn that, if no one teaches him?

I don't pay my instructors for zen. I pay them to teach me. "Oh great, I get to look like the insensitive young trainer!" If I had hired you to teach me, you'd look like the former young trainer, because I'd drop you in a heartbeat.
 

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First off, Welcome to the great world of riding.

I read your other post and I think it is awesome that you are chasing after your life long dream.

You have only been riding for 5 months. That is not long at all! You need to be on a comfortable packer for a while. You have to learn and strengthen a lot. You just need to focus on you right now and not worry about the horse. When you do that your trainer will tell you when you should move up to a more challenging mount. And I agree with the above a ornery pushy headstrong horse is not a more challenging mount, that is just pure rude on the horse's part. A more advanced horse is NOT a horse with more attitude!

Keep going on the way you're going now! :)
 

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I would just like to point out that, like other animals, horses live in the moment. The horse was not mad at a previous rider. It had learned through prior experiences that if it acted like a bully, it could scare off nervous handlers. You gave off signals to the horse that you were nervous and it wanted to take advantage of that to get whatever reward it thought would result, ie no work, more food etc. If you had stepped up, squared your shoulders, took a firm grip on the lead rope or what have you, as long as there are no underlying issues with the horse, he probably would've smartened up quick. If a horse shoves its shoulder or hip into me in a stall or crossties, it gets pushed back, but my pushing is pointy and localized in the correct spot to get a reaction of moving away. If they don't move to that response they get taken out somewhere with some room to move and get worked until they do respond.

If the horse is being pushy in the stall and a more confident attitude does not help, then you as a beginner should not be handling that horse, at least not alone. That horse has some underlying training or pain issues that need to be dealt with by someone with more experience.
 

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BSMS Is totally right - riding and caring for our horses should be fun (I will disregard the freezing fingers and toes thing and dripping with sweat/eaten by bugs in the summer)
I'm sure that Zeke is very capable but I would have nothing to do with a trainer who had such little empathy and understanding of people who take up riding in adult life - though I've had many nervous young riders too on the whole when you are young you just dont see the dangers the way you do as you get older - which is why I did so many dumb and stupid things with ponies as a child.
OP I feel that you were unfairly put from one extreme to another and way out of your comfort zone to be safe - that is not the way to build up confidence.
I have been with horses all my life and now as an older rider - do I want a seriously challenging horse? No I dont. I want to enjoy myself. Let the youngsters have the risky stuff, I've been there and done all of that Thank you. No shame in staying within what you feel to be right for you
Horse smell fear!!!
 

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Thank you Tiny!! I completely agree with your post as well.


There should be an example to go off of, I got ahead of myself on that one. I think it goes along with asking for help when you do feel you're in danger, and observing how your trainer handles it. You can/should even ask questions before and after you watch the situation be dealt with so you understand why force was used and when. Is your trainer open to spending a lesson on groundwork? It's sometimes hard for us to give up a riding lesson for work from the ground but it can be beneficial to your confidence.
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Let me give an example of miscommunication. When I first got some horses, I was told to walk up to them with confidence. Well, how do humans do that? You walk directly to the head, look em in the eye, and use a firm grip ans you pull them into a walk. And one of my horses, a 2 year old who now is a lesson horse for the trainer I gave her to, resented it. Acted up and got pushy.

Back then Statelinetack had free videos. Chris Irwin told me to walk in a relaxed way to the shoulder, keeping my belly button pointed anywhere BUT the head. Put your hand slightly forward, and give the horse a chance to sniff. Put on the halter. Now step off at a slight angle so the horse's first step is a slight turn.

I followed his advice, and guess what? My 2 year old became cooperative.

When you go to pick feet - do you grab at the hoof? Do you square up the horse first? Are you sensitive to pain as you clean? Do you drop the hoof or let it go to the ground gently? None of that is 'natural' to a human. But if you do it right, even a lesson horse will start to act more willing before you ever get on his back. It is better to take an extra 2 minutes on the ground doing things in the way a horse understands and appreciates - which is NOT something we are born knowing - because (in my limited experience) even a lesson horse starts to respond to a sympathetic and considerate rider. And they start to respond BEFORE your rump hits the saddle. If someone will show you the right way...
 

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NM, I took jumping lessons on lesson horses last year (to learn myself before working with my own horse on jumping). And in spite of owning 2 rather spirited horses I did enjoy to deal with the gentle, quiet lesson horse (although not as fluid, trained, and responsive as mine). Because I didn't have to think about doing something wrong or spending extra energy on correcting the horse's behavior (if it decides to bully me or bite or whatever else). I could just concentrate on a lesson.

In your situation, do you really want to spend your time on dealing with the bad behaving horse? I mean, some people (especially teenagers :p ) love such challenges of course, but to me it doesn't worth it really. IF you want to learn how to correct it, I'd suggest to ask someone experienced to work with you and the horse. And frankly, I don't see that trainer is babysitting you.
 
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I'm sure that Zeke is very capable but I would have nothing to do with a trainer who had such little empathy and understanding of people who take up riding in adult life - though I've had many nervous young riders too on the whole when you are young you just dont see the dangers the way you do as you get older - which is why I did so many dumb and stupid things with ponies as a child.

I have been with horses all my life and now as an older rider - do I want a seriously challenging horse? No I dont. I want to enjoy myself. Let the youngsters have the risky stuff, I've been there and done all of that Thank you. No shame in staying within what you feel to be right for you
Horse smell fear!!!
I have empathy that this is a difficult thing to take up as an older rider, I understand that falling and getting hurt in general is something avoided more as we age. Dealing with horses as a whole is dangerous, I understand that very well. I stand in the camp however that letting yourself walk away from something you truly want to do because of fear is not a very rewarding way to live. This does not mean I expect people to take unnecessary risks, but I do want them to push through the potentially scary situations with help of an instructor.

Catching a lesson horse should not be considered risky, to me if the horse is known to kick out and be rude in the cross ties etc this is a horse who the trainers should be watching and assisting students more with or reconsidering it's suitability to be in the program. However, Nordic himself said he was urged by another younger rider to take on the "more advanced, spirited" horse. Knowing the young girls in my school who I continually remind to stop pushing other students past comfort levels or spreading rumors about a horse's behavior I question if the spirit Nordic has heard about is painting this horse in a bad light and making this situation worse.



Great. So he is supposed to know how to communicate with a horse because...what? He watched a western once?

There is nothing 'natural' about communicating with a horse unless you grew up with them.

A student doesn't pay you to tell them to "Feel the Force". If you aren't willing to TEACH them how to communicate with the horse, you are not a good instructor. Something as small as how you walk up to a horse, put a halter on and lead it away will tell the horse if he should consider trusting you or not. But how is a beginner supposed to learn that, if no one teaches him?

I don't pay my instructors for zen. I pay them to teach me. "Oh great, I get to look like the insensitive young trainer!" If I had hired you to teach me, you'd look like the former young trainer, because I'd drop you in a heartbeat.
OP stated that part of his lesson is to groom, tack up his lesson horse etc before and after riding. To me this means he should have been taught how to properly approach a horse previous to writing this thread.

I'm not a Jedi, I do not preach tapping into an unseen force to magically be able to deal with horses. I am advising Nordic to feel confident in himself and hopefully approach this horse, and all that he meets in the future, without too much fear since it is not beneficial to the situation.

If Nordic was my student and came to me saying the horse he was trying to catch tried to kick him, I would go help him. I cannot give step by step instructions as to how to deal with the horse over the internet however because I cannot see what the horse is doing. I can give advice as to Nordic's attitude when approaching a situation in general, which is what I did. I also advised him to ask for help from the trainer or assistant, not watch a western...he's there to learn but if he cannot ask questions of his teachers, he cannot learn.
 

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"I am advising Nordic to feel confident in himself"

OK. Now, how does a person express confidence around someone else? If you haven't lived with horses, and no one has shown you how to be confident without being a bully, what will you do when told to "act confident"?

Most middle-aged men, at least, will walk directly up and look the other person in the eye. So you enter the stall, and walk briskly up to the horse's face, looking the horse in the eye...and what happens? Well, a lot of lesson horses will tolerate it, although during the months I took lessons, I noticed that even the horses who will tolerate it won't like it. And if the horse is more sensitive, he may shy away or try to avoid your aggressive 'attack'. And since you haven't lived with horses all your life, you assume that means what it means in humans - I don't like you, I don't have to listen to you, I'm upset with the previous rider and not in a mood to deal with you...when what the horse is really saying is "You are acting in a scary or bullying manner".

And if the instructor doesn't take steps to teach the difference, why would the outcome be any different?
 

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Let me give an example of miscommunication. When I first got some horses, I was told to walk up to them with confidence. Well, how do humans do that? You walk directly to the head, look em in the eye, and use a firm grip ans you pull them into a walk. And one of my horses, a 2 year old who now is a lesson horse for the trainer I gave her to, resented it. Acted up and got pushy.

Back then Statelinetack had free videos. Chris Irwin told me to walk in a relaxed way to the shoulder, keeping my belly button pointed anywhere BUT the head. Put your hand slightly forward, and give the horse a chance to sniff. Put on the halter. Now step off at a slight angle so the horse's first step is a slight turn.

I followed his advice, and guess what? My 2 year old became cooperative.

When you go to pick feet - do you grab at the hoof? Do you square up the horse first? Are you sensitive to pain as you clean? Do you drop the hoof or let it go to the ground gently? None of that is 'natural' to a human. But if you do it right, even a lesson horse will start to act more willing before you ever get on his back. It is better to take an extra 2 minutes on the ground doing things in the way a horse understands and appreciates - which is NOT something we are born knowing - because (in my limited experience) even a lesson horse starts to respond to a sympathetic and considerate rider. And they start to respond BEFORE your rump hits the saddle. If someone will show you the right way...
I am not aiming to give him actions to approach a horse with, i have never met Nordic or this horse and don't feel i hae enough of a grasp in this individual situation to do so and I think that's where you and I are having some miscommunication. In this thread when I speak of approaching with confidence I think more just a feeling within the rider. The biggest point I've been trying to make in my posts is to approach the situation of taking lessons with a new attitude towards his trainer despite her age and to learn to ask for help. I know I came across as cold because I would push him to complete the task of catching a horse if there was no real danger, I assumed (what's that saying? Never assume as it makes an a$& of you?) that since he's expected to catch his horse before each lesson that he's been taught the basics to do so. With ALL riders I assist them for the first month or two, at 5 months in while I don't expect someone to be pro but I like to let people have a little space and independence in getting their horse ready. I can really only speak for myself but if a student is uncomfortable with this independence I appreciate letting them me know as there are other students who take offense when I hover. I am always in the grooming area and our horses are all housed within eyesight of the crossties, I'm there to answer questions and provide help, I never want a student to feel they cannot approach a trainer.
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"I am advising Nordic to feel confident in himself"

OK. Now, how does a person express confidence around someone else? If you haven't lived with horses, and no one has shown you how to be confident without being a bully, what will you do when told to "act confident"?

Most middle-aged men, at least, will walk directly up and look the other person in the eye. So you enter the stall, and walk briskly up to the horse's face, looking the horse in the eye...and what happens? Well, a lot of lesson horses will tolerate it, although during the months I took lessons, I noticed that even the horses who will tolerate it won't like it. And if the horse is more sensitive, he may shy away or try to avoid your aggressive 'attack'. And since you haven't lived with horses all your life, you assume that means what it means in humans - I don't like you, I don't have to listen to you, I'm upset with the previous rider and not in a mood to deal with you...when what the horse is really saying is "You are acting in a scary or bullying manner".

And if the instructor doesn't take steps to teach the difference, why would the outcome be any different?
You make excellent points and I completely agree with you, truly I do. You are absolutely right approaching a horse in a face on manner is incorrect and Nordic should absolutely take your advice into consideration. I simply avoid giving advice so step by step over the Internet because I prefer seeing the situation for myself. I was aiming more for moral support.
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Everyone else already said most of what I would say!

That other horse didn't have attitude or spirit or any of that nonsense. It is poorly trained and allowed to carry on like a git for no reason. A spirited horse under saddle does not equate to a pushy horse that tries to kick you!
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I have empathy that this is a difficult thing to take up as an older rider, I understand that falling and getting hurt in general is something avoided more as we age. Dealing with horses as a whole is dangerous, I understand that very well. I stand in the camp however that letting yourself walk away from
something you truly want to do because of fear is not a very rewarding way to live. This does not mean I expect people to take unnecessary risks, but I do want them to push through the potentially scary situations with help of an instructor.


If Nordic was my student and came to me saying the horse he was trying to catch tried to kick him, I would go help him. I cannot give step by step instructions as to how to deal with the horse over the internet however because I cannot see what the horse is doing. I can give advice as to Nordic's attitude when approaching a situation in general, which is what I did. I also advised him to ask for help from the trainer or assistant, not watch a western...he's there to learn but if he cannot ask questions of his teachers, he cannot learn.

I do see the point your trying to make but I think the emphasis here is in the 'something you truly want to do' or are doing because, especially as a man, you are being made to feel like the coward because you've been taunted or pressured into it.
Yes learning to catch and handle a horse is the ideal thing and I desperately wish more people would take the chance to do this before they launch themselves into ownership - would save them & the horse so much grief but there are horses and there are other horses.
I think of it this way - if the OP or any other new to horses person were to be going out to buy their life horse (which when you're older thats likely to be what you're looking for) would you be even considering the one that tries to kick or bite or crowd you? I really hope not so why even bother learning how to deal with one with a bad attitude? Most adult novices have no aspirations other than to relax and enjoy themselves in a new sport
None of my 5 horses are anything close to being novice rides but 4 of them would never dream of challenging anyone - even the most nervous person - or trying to kick,bite etc. It isnt all down to training its down to excellent temperaments. Horse number 5 would scare the crap out of anyone who didnt know her better but its all a big con, a joke to her. I ignore her pinned ears because she would never bite me or anyone else, she is a total sweetheart. Would I have bought her if I'd been a beginner - absolutely not and I would never ask a beginner to deal with her because she would soon pick up on their fear or lack of confidence and then become a problem. If I were to go in with them she would behave perfectly but as soon as I was out of the picture she would be casting that doubt in them again.
I can enjoy gentle cross country skiing (new to it as we dont get snow as such in the UK) Do I want to progress to hurling myself off sheer banks or whizzing down steep slopes? hell no, I'm too old and wise for that now and woe betide anyone who dares to call me 'chicken' for not wanting to 'push myself'
 

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Welcome to the forum NordicMan. I think there has been some stimulating discussion here and excellent points brought out (especially from bsms).

The little I have to add here is this: It takes as long as it needs to take to learn something and be comfortable with it. You're doing this for your own personal enjoyment so don't be pushed into something through the recommendations and remarks made by the other riders until you feel you're ready to up your game. And just as you want a good foundation when training a horse to be a good useful mount for you so do you want a good foundation on yourself to be a good useful rider to your horse-- you will get that through a combination of study, instruction, practise and discussion so don't be afraid to keep those questions coming either through here, at the forum, or with your instructor. Good luck.
 

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A badly behaved horse isn't an advanced horse. It's a poorly trained horse or a horse with a bad attitude - either way it is a potentially dangerous horse. There is no reason you should push yourself after 5 months to try to deal with this horse's problems. It needs a trainer, not a fairly green student. An advanced horse is a horse that has had more training, more in-depth training, and knows how to do more skills, which usually means a BETTER, not worse horse.

It sounds like your lessons are set up to teach you horsemanship and care, not just riding, which is excellent. I would recommend that you take all the time you need to feel really confident and secure with all aspects of handling the well-behaved horses. Then you can start to ask for guidance in how to handle badly-behaved horses properly and safely. It's good to know, because even a great horse can have a bad day, and then you need to be able to handle it so it knows that it can't get away with that again and nip it in the bud.

I've been around horses for 39 years. I know how to handle a horse like the one you're describing. I still don't like to though, and I certainly wouldn't want be around a horse like that unless it were my own and I had to deal with it. I would certainly never put a green student in with one unsupervised and without guidance.

This is you dream you get to live. This is your money you're spending. Disregard what the young riders hint about. Do what feels right in your gut so you can enjoy the journey. If you don't want to go in with a nasty horse - don't. If youo want to be taught to deal with nasty-horse, tell them. You're paying the instructors - communicate what you need to them.
 
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