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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My boss has a 5 year old son who's dream is to ride a horse. And since I have horses she asked if, come Spring, I would be willing to give him a ride.

Without thinking I agreed.

So now I have to figure out who to use. Yes, I'm very early on figuring this out, but I have nothing better to do so... :D

Out of the three horses at my barn, I have to pick between two. Sonny and Nick.

Hopefully you can help me decide.

So here we go.

Sonny
- 18 years old
- 15.3 hh
- Gelding
- Quarter horse
- Healthy
- I know him
- 95% of the time he's an angel
- 5% of the time he's a squirrel
- I know how to settle him down and get him to work
- He lunges well
- Probably a 4 on the temperament scale
- I trust him 100%
- He leads like a dream
- Barrel horse
- I know every possibility of how he'll react to everything
- Have owned him for 4 years

Nick
- 7 years old
- 16 hh
- Gelding
- Quarter horse
- He's our rescue that is getting up to weight. He's just in need of muscle currently
- I have it on good authority that he is a sweetheart
- He's very friendly
- He has yet to be misbehave
- Probably a 2 on the temperament scale
- I don't have a basis of trust yet as I haven't worked with him much
- He also leads like a dream
- Western Pleasure horse
- He was a 8 year old's show horse in the past and is a perfect beginner horse (so they say)
- Have owned him for 4 months

Which would you use?

My concern with Sonny is what if he decides to be a butt while the kid is on him? I will be leading him around the pasture but I don't want him to decide to have a Sonny moment.

My concern with Nick is that I don't know him very well and what if he's not actually as sweet as they say.

Naturally we're going to see how they are come Spring, but if you had to pick right now which horse to use for this ride, which would you use?

We have a saddle for someone his size so there's no issue with that. I also will probably work whoever I choose for a few minutes before throwing the kid up on him.

Which would you use? If you had to pick today.
 

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I would pick Sonny. When I'm teaching a small child, I always pick a horse that I know VERY well, and who I know how to deal with. It is also generally preferable to pick an older horse who would be less inclined to react if something scares him. How exactly does he act that 5% of the time?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
How exactly does he act that 5% of the time?
He prances, neighs, tosses his head, and likes to spin in circles (an effect of his barrel training?) but it usually only lasts 3-5 minutes and then he settles down.

He usually only spins if I'm in the saddle. He doesn't spin if we're just doing groundwork. Then he only tosses his head and prances in place and neighs. He never rears or bucks or bites or anything. He also only neighs when he's alone in the pasture and the other two are in the barn.

It's nothing major, but not what I want to deal with when I have a first time rider on his back and the kid's parents right there.

He's probably more flighty than Nick but he's only afraid of cows and we'll just be in the pasture where there are no cows so I don't anticipate him spooking at anything.
 

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Well just lead the kid or lunge him.
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Any time my parents cart friends' children to my barn to receive a complimentary "pony" ride I just lead them around. If they seem more confident I'll put them on a small lunge, and if anything sketchy happens, he's short so I can reach up and scoop them off.

Going off that and your provided knowledge, I say go with sunny (horse #1) as well.
 
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He prances, neighs, tosses his head, and likes to spin in circles (an effect of his barrel training?) but it usually only lasts 3-5 minutes and then he settles down.

He usually only spins if I'm in the saddle. He doesn't spin if we're just doing groundwork. Then he only tosses his head and prances in place and neighs. He never rears or bucks or bites or anything. He also only neighs when he's alone in the pasture and the other two are in the barn.

It's nothing major, but not what I want to deal with when I have a first time rider on his back and the kid's parents right there.

He's probably more flighty than Nick but he's only afraid of cows and we'll just be in the pasture where there are no cows so I don't anticipate him spooking at anything.
I think you should be fine. The only thing I would worry about is the prancing, but I find that's usually resolved if a horse is ridden before the child gets on. As for the rest, explain to the child that he/she is on a live animal, and that said animal will move/itch itself/talk to it's friends/etc, just as the child does.

Make sure your horse is OK around children though, and do everything just as you would if you are doing groundwork. Don't make it into a whole big thing for the horse. However, make sure you can control him if he does decide to be silly.
 

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I'd go with Sonny too. He's just a smidge shorter and you know him well. I would ride him beforehand just to get the bugs out, so to speak.

Some horses will really take care of inexperienced young riders. Sonny sounds like a good match.
 

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Sonny seems like the best choice but for your own protection, make the child wear a helmet (even if it's only a bicycle helmet) and only lead him around on a "pony" ride. The liability is huge and you didn't promise a full blown riding experience!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sonny seems like the best choice but for your own protection, make the child wear a helmet (even if it's only a bicycle helmet) and only lead him around on a "pony" ride. The liability is huge and you didn't promise a full blown riding experience!
Oh he'll be wearing a helmet for sure. And I'll only be walking around part of our pasture. If we had a round pen I'd use that but we don't. I also am going to stress the need to be aware that the horses are living and they do feel things so he has to be nice. Otherwise if he hurts my boy he'll be off him so fast he won't even know what hit him haha.
 

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Well just lead the kid or lunge him.
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that's been the OP's plan from the start. Leading a horse won't stop him from misbehaving which is why she needs to figure out which horse would be best.
 

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#1 Get a Release of Liability signed by the parents
#2 Helmet (which you've already said you'll use, just putting on the list)
#3 I'd use Sunny but I'd lunge him for at least 30 mins and ride him for 30 more before putting the kid up. I'd also ride with the kid in front of me so I could hold on to him for a little while. Then I'd get down and lead for bit (so he feels like he can do it all by himself).

If, in the meantime, Nick gains enough weight and you can ride him enough to gain confidence in him and he is TRULY a beginner's horse, then you can switch at the last minute.
 
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