Is this truly dangerous behavior?
I'm a long time reader, first time poster :) I was hoping I might be able to get some advice.
I've been riding for 25 years, and have competed a fair bit, and had excellent trainers when I was in college (where I also rode IHSA). As a kid, I rode anything that would let me get on it. I'm now in my mid-30's and I've gotten less brave--I no longer jump the big stuff, but still ride well enough to ride sensitive or hot horses.
I just moved to a new state for work where I know few people and a colleague recently asked me if I wanted to ride her (large) pony for her a few times a week. She said he had been out of work for a while, and was a bit green, unbalanced, and unfit (despite being 13 and the fact that he was previously used in a lesson program). Of course, I jumped at the chance. The problem is that I think I'm afraid of him, and I'm trying to sort out what I should do.
The first time I rode him, in the very beginning, he spooked badly (at...a shadow?) and tore across the ring with me, bucking and he ran through where another horse was being lunged. He then bucked through 5 canter transitions and later nearly hit a wall (he doesn't steer well, and will grab the bit). He also tried to walk out of the ring through a door into the aisle with me sitting on him. I rode him a second time, and he was better, until he decided to trot aiming at the wall, literally nearly running over his owner who got flung aside by his head and neck. I feel terrible about that, but was totally not expecting it, and then he had no interesting in listening to me once he was on that trajectory. This is a horse you have be vigilant on at all times.
To me, this all strikes me as weird, dangerous behavior, not just run of the mill "the horse needs a tune up"-type stuff. I showed a friend a picture of this round non-flashy pony and she laughed and called me wimpy. But my gut is telling me this behavior is not good; I can't remember the last time I was anxious about flatting a new or green horse. His owner has slightly less difficulty, but she is also somewhat wary of him and perhaps she is not asking him for as much as I naturally do. Am I being reasonable, or have I just been lucky to have not encountered this behavior much in my riding experience?
I'd appreciate any advice/words of wisdom! I'm torn between an opportunity to ride at a lovely barn with a nice colleague, and the gut feeling I have that this might be a recipe for me getting hurt.