View Full Version : Can an adult re-rider with confidence issues adopt a rescue horse?

Jan. 5, 2010, 04:30 PM
Here's my story - adult re-rider with some confidence issues. Was doing great when I first started 3 years ago and then about a year and a half ago proceeded to fall off more than I stayed on. Since then, have had confidence issues off and on. But... I have gotten the bug and am thinking about buying a forever friend before I'm too old to do it! I only jump 2 - 2'3" and my loft ambitions are to jump 2'6" eventually.

Do I dare try and adopt a rescue horse or would my confidence issues pose too much of a problem. Thought I would ask all you experts what you think on this issue. I would just love to save one of these lovely creatures but I also need to be realistic about my abilities.

Jan. 5, 2010, 04:33 PM
It depends on the horse. I've rescued horses that have had nothing wrong but a stupid owner who let it starve in a field. These horses were broke to death and wouldn't put a foot wrong. They weren't intereted in going terribly fast, but weren't old horses either.

I've also seen rescue horses buck harder then a rodeo horse, trample people, and kick people repeatedly.

With your issues I would seek out a horse that has already been rescued and put into training. New Vocations helps transition OTTBs and the put mileage on them and do a good job of matching horses to riders plus they have a "return" policy.

Jan. 5, 2010, 04:34 PM
I would think it would depend on what the rescue horse in question's issues are. I have one rescued horse that can only be caught quickly on a good day. I have another rescued horse that is perfect in every way imaginable and has never so much as stepped on my toes. A lot of it depends on the horse!

Jan. 5, 2010, 04:40 PM
My darling boy is a rescue and his biggest thing is that he was left to starve. He would give you the world and he is a great teacher. He takes a kid around plodding like a western horse, but when I get on him and ask him for things he gives them to me with a swish of the tail.


I bought him through the person that rescued him. I am not confident enough in my horse buying to see a diamond in the rough anymore. I have serious confidence issues and it has gotten better with a year of darling boy, and consistent lessons.

Jan. 5, 2010, 04:40 PM
I'm going to say no... unless you are getting an already rehabbed horse from a rescue. Don't rescue one yourself. You have ambitions of riding and jumping- and those are not givens for lots of horses. On top of that, you need a horse of a certain temperment. Lots of horses that are malnourished will appear to have that temperment- until they are feeling better. IMHO, its just a recipe for problems.

Let rescues know what you are looking for, and maybe something will turn up- but don't head out to an auction and rescue your own. Also, make sure you can try the horse a few times in a few different circumstances (out in a field) so you can be sure the horse doesn't intimidate you. Good luck!

Jan. 5, 2010, 04:43 PM
thanks everyone - are there "halfway houses" for horses that have already been rescued and are more of a known quantity? Im in Northern VA if that helps any.

Jan. 5, 2010, 04:53 PM
I would recommend holding off on a rescue horse for now. I've certainly come across wonderful, kind, gentle rescue horses that are bombproof and beginner friendly, but they can be hard to find. The wonderful rescues that I personally know needed a lot of training and help to get to where they are. My favorite rescue horse is an absolute gentleman and a joy to ride, but is still very headshy and skittish, and he can't even go near jumping equipment without melting down.

It sounds like right now in your riding you need a horse that can build your confidence. A lot of rescue horses need a rider with whom they can feel safe, and you can't give confidence to a horse if you are not confident in yourself and your abilities. As others said, you may be able to find a horse that has already been rehabbed but I wouldn't expect to rehab a horse from his "ground zero."

Jan. 5, 2010, 04:59 PM
What was it George Morris once said? Something like, "The best way to learn to ride well is to buy the nicest horse you can afford, and ruin it as quickly as possible." I was shocked the first time I heard it, but have learned the value of it over years of riding. I like fancy hunters, so I've always had OTTBs or baby warmbloods. If I could afford it, I would buy one that suits me finished, but my husband and children really like our house and don't want to live on the streets (it's cold in Michigan).

My vote for a rider with a confidence issue, old, young or in the middle, who needs a horse for under 3' is to buy a been-there, done-that horse. A known quantity, who, when you're heading for a jump and feeling a bit leery will say, "hang on mom, I've got this." Those horses are readily available in every price range, and are usually on their way "down," they can't do the 3'6" anymore but will have YEARS of use left at under 3'.

Completely understand your desire to rescue, but the important thing is you'd have a partnership you KNOW will work. And, you're providing a veteran with a home where he can be a superstar.

Jan. 5, 2010, 05:20 PM
Lori, I really think your horse is out there. I would say no to one straight out of the kill pen or straight OTTB, because they aren't a known quantity, and this horse is going to be (hopefully!) your forever horse. A horse like Tag, who was a rescue, now is in training and is more of a known quantity would be the way to go I think. Or Tag with a year more training kind of horse. They ARE out there and I know your future horse will have the best new mom!

Jan. 5, 2010, 06:28 PM
Thanks everyone - I think maybe older might be a smarter idea. I really would love to rescue one but I might wind up ruining both of us!! Michelle - you are such a sweetie - together we'll find me my boy! And if anyone has an older boy (or girl) - feel free to pm me!!

Sing Mia Song
Jan. 5, 2010, 06:33 PM
thanks everyone - are there "halfway houses" for horses that have already been rescued and are more of a known quantity? Im in Northern VA if that helps any.

Try Day's End in Lisbon, MD.


Jan. 5, 2010, 06:33 PM
I have zero experience with owning, so this isn't worth much, but I totally understand the desire to 'rescue' as all the talk from the more experienced about how their pony/horse/donkey/etc. went from starved/abused/neglected/terrified to happy is incredibly wonderful to read and it really makes you want to be a part of it in a more direct, personal way than making a financial contribution to a rescue group. But as a new and not-so-confident rider, I don't think I'd go the adopt/rescue route unless I found a very conscientious group that listened to my needs/wants seriously, and honestly dealt with the fact that I wouldn't be a potential home for the harder-to-place horses, but would really only be interested in horses that are probably the easiest to place - trained, quieter, sound enough for jumping, etc.

On a more practical note, I've done my fantasizing time at the websites of horse rescues, particularly OTTB, and I've noticed that there are sometimes horses who come in after having been placed for several years prior, make a full transition from retrained racehorse to saddle horse, but are returned because the adopter had financial trouble, etc. Something like that could work for OP.

Jan. 5, 2010, 06:51 PM
I have zero experience with owning, so this isn't worth much, but I totally understand the desire to 'rescue' as all the talk from the more experienced about how their pony/horse/donkey/etc. went from starved/abused/neglected/terrified to happy is incredibly wonderful to read and it really makes you want to be a part of it in a more direct, personal way than making a financial contribution to a rescue group. .

I think you hit the nail on the head. I would aspire to have enough confidence to work with one of these horses but the reality is I'm not a strong enough rider with enough confidence. I wish it were different but right now it isn't so I just need to adjut my thinking in that respect.

Jan. 5, 2010, 06:56 PM
Do I dare try and adopt a rescue horse or would my confidence issues pose too much of a problem.

I have been this person, and I can say -- rehabbing a rescue horse is wonderful fun. But you don't really know what you're going to have at the end of the process. I've done it twice, and both times it's been a process of paying for a lot of pro training, expending a lot of patience, and finally deciding the horse was a splendid horse... but not the one I needed.

Don't get me wrong, rehab is a joy and provides no small satisfaction, but if you want a horse for you to ride, not for a pro to ride so that *maybe* you can get up there one day -- get one you can ride right from the beginning, and who gives you a secure feeling.

Jan. 5, 2010, 10:26 PM
Why not try volunteering at a rescue organization? Then you can see what the horses are like and what' involved in rescuing horses. It might give you a sense for whether your confidence issues would pose a safety issue for you or the horse.

Hunter Mom
Jan. 5, 2010, 11:07 PM
I think you have to ask yourself - do you want to have something that you can ride, enjoy and improve yourself, or do you want a horse you can help have a better life, albeit not one you can enjoy riding?

If you want a horse to ride, definitely go for a slightly older, been-there-done-that one. The joy of knowing your horse will do whatever you ask is worth oh-so-much. Yes, they may require a little maintenance, but that is what you pay for having a teacher. In a way, taking those older horses and giving them a job with the promise of a happy retirement is a rescue before the fact.

If you want to rescue something, you have to go into the situation knowing that you are taking a huge gamble - they may or may not ever be something you enjoy riding or are able to ride at all. As long as you're ok with that, I'm sure many rescues would be happy to load one up for you.

lesson junkie
Jan. 5, 2010, 11:50 PM
Lori-rather than a rescue, what about a retired school horse? While these horses can't pull a full lesson schedule there's no reason they can't be gently ridden by one person. Staying in the right kind of work is just what older healthy horses need. A retired schoolie will be quiet and safe, yet be able to teach you worlds about riding. In return, you repay his years of service by giving him a good life.


Jan. 6, 2010, 12:10 AM
I'm a seriously wimpy adult re-rider and my rescue horse has taught me more than I could of ever imagined possible in a year. Granted he is going to be 17 this year and has been a show horse since he was 3, but there are plenty of older/well-seasoned horses out there in desperate need of home. There are a lot of nice horses out there who might not be capable of the big fences anymore, but are perfect for adult re-rider types.

I wouldn't trade my "rescue" for any horse in the world. He has given me confidence and puts a big old grin on my face every single day.

Good luck on your search!!!

Jan. 6, 2010, 08:49 AM
If the rescue horse is quiet enough that you can walk, trot and canter it comfortably, go for a walk outside the arena, and maybe hop over a raised cavaletti on the first day you meet it, you will be fine.

Plenty of horses straight off the track or right out of the auction are quiet enough for this.

That should be your criteria for any horse, rescue or no.

Jan. 6, 2010, 12:55 PM
Or someone that could help you along? I have "inherited" horses as boarders that were rescued by well meaning people, but with my help have turned out to be great for them! I think the big difference is having someone that can help you with your confidence as well as with any issues that the rescue may have. I would also HIGHLY suggest that you take this person along with you to look at the horse you find.

Remember, some of them are damaged goods and never recover from whatever hey went through, but others are truly grateful for your love and care and return it tenfold!!

Good luck!

Jan. 6, 2010, 02:10 PM
LoriW, I would love to offer you my own experience, because it is a slightly different perspective than some of the advice you may get but it was one of the best things I have ever done.

I'm an adult re-rider for the most part. I had access to horses throughout childhood and college and rode extensively then, but rode saddleseat and had never had instruction over fences. Thanks to life and the penny-pinching we all experience at the beginning of post-college survival, I went without for several years. At some point I was able to afford weekly group lessons at a nice, casual barn in the area where I started to learn the basics of jumping - but I'll emphasize that it was no more than maybe 18 inch crossrails on an old schoolie. If I wanted to stick with any jumping discipline, I still had a LOT of learning to do myself.

When I finally had real resources to start up again, I also really wanted to help a horse in need as opposed to spending $$ on a horse in good hands. I've always been a big thoroughbred racing fan and decided I'd help a horse whose days on the track were numbered. I took my OTTB straight off the track - found him through CANTER.

I knew I was taking a big risk, and I promised myself three things:

1) I would have patience for him to learn his new job, and patience for me to learn with him. I wouldn't expect us go jump a course in two months, or even a year.

2) If at any point he or his re-education became too much for me to handle, I would quickly admit it to myself and use my financial resources (resources I saved by not trying to buy a 'made' horse) to get professional help with him.

3) If it ultimately turned out to be a bad idea, I would be willing to rehome him, however long that took to do properly and at whatever 'financial loss' it might be - and it would be worth it for me to know I was a key intermediary in his life, even if he wasn't a horse well-suited for me.

The first year I had him, the most he was ever asked to pick both front hooves up over was a crossrail, partially because of my own timidity. :) But three years later, and we're showing regularly at 2'6". He was division champion at our local circuit this year and I have several blue ribbons and championship ribbons from rated shows hanging in my house. He has taught me as much as I've taught him and I wouldn't trade him for the most expensive schoolmaster you can find on 4 legs.

I think those three things are key. You have to be willing to accept those stipulations before you jump in. So many things in life are a risk of some sort. If you are willing to properly handle what the worst case scenarios could be, why not? I feel like I won the great horse lotto every day I ride my horse - but also I strongly believe that he's not the exception to the rule. There are so many more like him out there waiting for their own gambler.

Jan. 6, 2010, 02:34 PM
I definitely wouldn't take rescue horses off the table! There are plenty of horses I've met who've been really kind souls and just had the misfortune of being bought by the wrong people.

If you can have Ishi help you spread the word, you may even be able to find a horse in a tough spot before he ends up at auction/rescue. I have known quite a few people who picked up horses this way and have met lots of horses themselves in this spot.

One in particular is a 15 year old TB gelding purchased for $250. He was thin and bit up, but not in terrible condition. I don't know what I expected when I first sat on him two days after he arrived but he blew me away. He is a broke hunter DELUXE. He was someone's show horse at some point and knows his transitions, changes and courses by heart. We named him Autopilot.. it describes him to a T :D
(you or Ishi are welcome to PM if you want more info, he was granted long-term temporary reprieve from the sales but it's not indefinite)

Days End is also a fabulous place to start your search. Don't know the type of horses they have currently, but I found them to be honest and easy to work with.

Jan. 6, 2010, 02:52 PM
I think the restarted CANTER horses is a place to start. If you feel comfortable WTC, AND if you have friends and trainers available to help you past humps, you can make it work.

Keep in mind, it takes forever sometimes. I bought a fairly green OTTB mare, and it has taken 2 years to get really comfy jumping her, but it has been fun. Niki has turned out to be incredibly quiet and kind. Note- you want the one described as quiet, kind, slow, lazy, sweet. Step away from the "athletic" prospects...

I think the key is the right horse and support when you need it. I'd be NOWHERE without my trainer and several good friends who helped me work through issues.

Jan. 6, 2010, 02:53 PM
I feel like I won the great horse lotto every day I ride my horse -

Me Too!

Jan. 6, 2010, 10:37 PM
My gelding wasn't a "rescue" as he'd always had good care, but he was very much love- and attention-starved. His owner had purchased him years before and due to his moodiness, had lost her confidence in him and subsequently, just turned him out to pasture. I'm a CHAMPION weenie so it wasn't necessarily the easiest partnership at first, but about the time he really learned that he was loved and I wasn't going to walk away when he was a little bad, his whole attitude changed. He's the four-legged love of my life and it's very evident that he has some affection for me as well.

As an re-rider who understands confidence problems better than most (can we say 3 trips through PT, broken bones, falling upwards of 7 times per lesson!!!!), please feel free to PM me if you want to chat outside this thread. I'll be glad to listen and share if you'd like. (((HUGS))) and I do wish you the best as you start looking around for your new partner.

Jan. 7, 2010, 02:07 PM
Just saw this on Craigslist and wanted to pass it along: http://raleigh.craigslist.org/grd/1541742481.html

She's not that far from me so if you want someone local to go take a peak for you, just let me know.

Jan. 7, 2010, 02:21 PM
It's probably a good idea for you to sit down with your trainer and have a frank discussion on what you'd like to pursue (and how her program works).