Nobody on this board really knows exactly what your trainer means, and you may not even know it. If you don't want anyone else riding your horse, that is entirely your business.
However, you may want to talk to your trainer frankly about what she thinks YOU need and your horse needs, to get you to the next level. I think this is a much more useful idea than asking people on an internet forum what you should do. If having other people school your horse is part of that, you should understand that and be able to make an informed decision at that point. Riding other horses is incredibly useful, so doing that may help you out a lot, too.
It is all relative, and you need to be able to make decisions about your horse from rational standpoints- in my opinion and experience the bond thing is not relevant, here. I am careful about who rides my older guy because he is super-sensitive and I don't like having to put him back together after someone else gets on and makes him anxious. My other boy is 4.5 and quite green, so he is obviously off-limits to all but a small handful of advanced riders.
Does your trainer want this woman to ride your horse when you are unavailable, or in lieu of you riding?
Originally Posted by sammicat
If I had an almost professionally skilled rider to ride my horse while I'm away/sick/busy whatever, I'd be on that like white on rice. If, however, the plan was for her to hack him every Tuesday and take a lesson on Saturday, or otherwise take saddle time away from me...that would be an entirely different situation.
Wow, I had no idea that my question would generate such a response. Thank you everyone for your input. I want to respond to a couple of questions and comments ...
Originally Posted by Lucassb
* As far as my trainers intent with the suggestion - I do not think she feels like she is doing anything "wrong". She is a horse person who genuinely cares for them, but she sees horses as a commodity that should be used. To her way of thinking, if I am not on his back then there is no reason someone else shouldn't be. She does not want to wear him out, but she does not want to see him not used. At the moment, he is the most comfortable horse to jump in the barn.
*As far as the horse and I not being a good fit - Everyone, including my trainer, agrees that we are great together. With his previous owner, he was a 2nd level dressage horse under a professional dressage trainer with for a number of years. He was good at it, but now he hates dressage and is terrified of crops. When I bought him last year, with the help of my trainer, we bought him to jump. He has done great and has come a long way. At the moment, with me, we jump about 2'6". However, he is clearly scopey enough to jump higher, and some of the more experienced riders may be able to do that. I am definitely working on jumping higher, but am not there yet.
* There is no financial arrangements/compensation for letting someone else ride my horse. If he is used in a lesson, I would receive a small fee.
* At the moment, I pay my trainer to school him once a week. My intent was to limit the riders to me, my trainer, and maybe one other person who rides similarly to me. The issue is that my trainer has been pushing me to let four other people ride the horse, aside from her. She knows I am reluctant, but, to her it doesn't make sense not to.
* I don't want to sound cheap, but, when I was growing up and riding, I had to either work my a$$ off as a groom or barn help in order to earn a ride, or I had to lease a horse. I don't really understand why someone would expect me to finance someone else's riding.
* Early on, just after I purchased him, I let one of the other people ride him for a couple of days in a row when I could not get out to the barn. When I got on him again, he would not, no matter what, pick up his right lead at the canter. This was strange because it had not been an issue before she rode him. I hinted at this, and my trainer said she would watch when the girl rode him again, but I was never able to get an explanation. I was just left paying for my trainer to resolve the problem. That said, maybe the problem was there all along ... who knows.
* Because I know his history and have been riding him since he learned to jump, I know what things NOT to do. Specifically, do not carry a dressage whip and if you are use a crop make sure you mean it. There is no tap to get his attention. If you tap him you will get a huge response, so make sure you know what you are asking for. Also, no matter how easy I make it look when we are jumping, he needs to be ridden all the way to the jump or he will run out. I've told these things to the people when my rider let someone else ride my horse, but I don't think they pay attention. Everyone always seems to think they know better and I've watched as people have learned about both of these things the hard way.
Anyway, with all that said, thank you everyone. You've given me alot to think about. I think I would feel different about "sharing" my horse if I had multiples or something, but since he is my only horse and I'm really not planning on selling him, I feel a little protective and am looking for some kind of justification. I don't think there is any objective reason not to let someone else ride him, just the fact that I don't want to.
My mare is off limits to anyone but me! When I first bought her I half leased her too my instructor to use as a lesson horse, and while it didn't affect our bond at the time, it did make her a more difficult ride because things I wouldn't let her do the kids that were riding her would let her get away with, and they handled her differently than I did, so she got some bad habits.
I actually found she was much more relaxed and consistent after I stopped the lease and began riding her full time myself, and our relationship has become a lot stronger.
I'd never lease her out again! She's too special to me now.
If you don't want to have others ride your horse, say no. It's your choice. I wouldn't be happy with a trainer pressuring me.
Well, after reading your latest response it sounds like you need to just tell your trainer no and leave it at that- I wouldn't let my horses be used in lessons, either.
As for the idea of a bond- I think it is only important if the horse itself has *serious* trust issues and needs a single rider to allow the horse to establish that trust. Otherwise, it is just us humans anthropomorphizing our horses to suit our own emotional need for a special bond. I'm not saying that sort of bond doesn't exist- I believe I have one myself with my two boys- but for the vast majority of horses having another rider on their back is not going to violate some sort of sacred trust with their owner. That is silly.
The more important thing is whether or not the other riders will undo training or give the horse bad habits, or make it fearful and reactive. My young horse knows and trusts me, but he is certainly not going to go *less* well for me if other people ride him competently. He doesn't care who is in the saddle as long as that person is giving him clear instructions and is a sympathetic rider. My older horse is much more sensitive and after letting a nervous, handsy person flat him for 30 minutes once it took me three rides to work him back away from being defensive. I did not worry that this somehow affected our bond- he knows and trusts me- but I did feel very responsible for putting someone on his back who made him feel anxious, and have been that much more protective of him since then.
With the additional detail, no you DEFINITELY should not let other people ride him! At least not four other people and I would absolutely never let anyone other than me or a trainer jump my horse if he was having confidence issues/stopping/running out at jumps! That is just asking for him to be ruined.
It is not easy to fix a quitter. He sounds like he is already on his way to being a quitter.
It also sounds to me like I would not like your trainer and her ideas about horses and their uses. She seems to be of the belief that someone should be using this horse up all the time. I could never train with someone like that. She probably rifles through client horses pretty quickly if that is how she thinks...and that is probably part of her plan. The quicker one is used up, the quicker you need to buy a new one...that she can use up...you see where I'm going with this?
I think if you had given that sort of information from the beginning you would have gotten different responses. Probably the responses you were looking for, rather than the ones you got.
I would say that IN MY EXPERIENCE with a trainer who is TRUSTED TO HAVE MY HORSE'S BEST INTERESTS IN MIND, that the sort of suggestion your trainer made could be completely reasonable. Apparently not with your trainer, though.
I think you should have a heart to heart with your trainer, though, because I feel like CBoylen may have hit on something. If my trainer was constantly encouraging my to ride other horses and asking to have other riders ride my horse, I would winder if perhap she is trying to accomplish something without hurting my feelings.
But if your trainer can't be trusted with your horse, then maybe it really is just what it looks like at first glance and shes trying to get $$ for nothing.
Best of luck with your boy. If nothing else, doesn't it feel nice to have a horse that everyone wants to ride? :)
Thanks again, all. And I've decided I'm going to have a sit down with my trainer and explain that I really only want to have her and I ride him. The good news is that the weather is pretty miserable right now so I'm going to phrase it in such a way as to make it part of our planning for next season. If she persists, well, I'll cross that bridge when I get there.
As far as getting the responses I was looking for ... What I wanted to hear was that there was scientific evidence that says horses must have one rider to succeed. Of course, I know, that is just silly and a childhood fantasy, so I really was, and still am, interested in people's point of view. Hence, I'm not arguing with anyone. My feeling is that these message boards are best for things like this ... but I could be wrong.
No. She has plans for 4 people other than her and you to ride him? That makes 6 people. So you each get one ride a week? And he is your horse? You pay all his bills? No way.
I would tell her no and be done with it.
I'm writing this as a trainer. You will always have your bond with your horse so you don't have to worry about that but it does sound like your trainer needs a more advanced horse for her students. If you do decide to let your horse be used then you should be getting something off of either your board or your lessons. If I use a boarders horse then they get a certian amount per lesson of board or lessons depending on agreement. Also if you let your horse be shown by other people you should get the horse use fee for the show. Don't let your trainer pressure you into something you aren't comfortable with. I learned that the hard way as a jr/am.
Based on your description today, I amend my earlier post. Tell the trainer no and no, immediately and without hesitation. Don't wait to cross the bridge. When you do that with people they think there is hope they can still get their way, and that is no good. She really sounds like she wants to use you for your horse, and it sounds like he is not the right horse for that kind of job.
Originally Posted by sammicat
As it relates to your childhood fantasy, I don't have any scientific proof but I do think some horses/people click better than others based on riding style and horsenality, and if the horse/rider click the horse is more likely to obey its rider and therefore to perform better. I personally think that is really the heart of the "bond" with a horse - understanding your horse and being able to clearly ask for something from him and receive it (fairly) willingly. The rest is a horse's acknowledgement of us as a strange talking/wiggly creature that feeds them, grooms them, sometimes entertains them, asks them to do work, and is ultimately very familiar to them and therefore often part of their "herd." :)
If you don't want anyone to ride your horse, that's your decision and it doesn't matter why you feel that way. As many others have said, your horse - your decision.
With my last OTTB, I did let my trainer use him in lessons. He was safe and solid and he knew his job (after I had him for a while, anyway.) We had a good relationship and I think he was always a little bit better for me than for anyone else. We continued to compete successfully the whole time, so I don't think letting others ride him was a problem and he ended up being sold to one of those lesson riders.
My new horse is a different story, and no one but me or my trainer will be riding her for a long time. She is more sensitive, more likely to try naughty things, and at a totally different point in her training. It just wouldn't be productive for her right now, to have other riders. So she doesn't. No need to explain or justify to others - my horse, my decision.
I think it depends on WHO is riding your horse and what the trainer has them doing. If they're equivalent to your skill or better, and it gets him exercised when you can't, I don't see any harm or anyway this is going to mess him up, or your bond. Heck, maybe you can have an agreement to decrease your board in exchange for use of your horse? Would that make you feel better about it?
Now, if the trainer wants to use him as a schoolie for green riders and wants to jump him all week long, then no, heck no. Additional wear and tear (both mentally or physically) on your horse is going to cost you frustration and vet bills.
On the other hand, I do think it would be an excellent opportunity for you to ride as many different horses as you can.
The mare I have right now is largely due in part to a rider/horse disconnect. They just never clicked. I completely click with the mare.
Originally Posted by twelvebelles
That said, I once knew a horse who either loved a person or hated them. Skill seemed to have nothing to do with it and he was like that his entire life. If he liked you, he tolerated all sorts of nonsense in the saddle. If he didn't like you, it didn't matter how great a rider you were, he would do whatever he could to get rid of you. :-/ BUT if he liked you, you'd be in the ribbons...crazy horse.
Yes, I agree, so do remember that he is your horse and he is for you to ride, learn and enjoy. He is not a lesson horse...just say no thank you to her offer!
Originally Posted by lcw579
All of the above is good advice.
You just need to decide what you are comfortable with after considering all the variables. I have one horse that I let almost anyone ride.
But I have learned the hard way about turning people loose with one of my horses. Now I make sure I know them, and personally know how they ride, and that I know the horse too. I probably would be very wary about letting another trainer make these decisions.
My mare is 110% *MY* mare. My geldings like me, and I'm hoping to get a great new bond with the one I just bought - but as for now, I try to treat them as commodities as much as possible.
Here's the thing, for me. I've owned my mare for over ten years. We just won a world championship. She is family and she is not going anywhere. I have a fund set up just for her in the event something were to happen. She would go live with my dad and be happily retired the rest of her life.
The problem is - no one else can ride her. Seriously. I didn't let other people ride her for 7-8 years. When I finally had a trainer who tried, it was such a disaster that my slightly-nervous-slightly-offended-slightly-inthemoodforafight mare ended up in a full body sweat because she just could. not. deal.
I do not want that to happen to any of my other horses.
Aside from her, I need to have horses that - yes - work well with me, but that are also completely broke to anyone who needs to get on them and ride. If anything happened and I either needed or wanted to sell them, having a repeat of my mare would just simply be a disaster.
It's really beneficial, in my eyes, for horses to be ridden by others and learn to tolerate other styles of riding, other sized riders, mistakes, etc.
However, I also get having "your" horse. I think the OP has it right by letting the trainer get some rides in, and then maybe a second rider every now and again.
There has to be balance to really have a solid horse underneath of you. A big part of that is knowing your horse inside and out and forming a partnership. But another piece is having a horse that is, indeed, well trained and well rounded.
I can see both sides to the argument, but each in moderation. OP - I think you know the right answer, hopefully everyone here has given you the backing that "no" is a completely acceptable response in this situation.
First, Arelle ... super big congrats!
Originally Posted by Arelle
Second, thanks for your input. I think the conversation with my trainer may be a little stressful, but I feel better knowing that there are two sides of the equation, each of them valid, and I'm not being a neurotic mess by saying "no". In the end, I will end up with a happy medium ... me, her, and one other person on occasion. No lessons and definitely not if it takes away from my riding time.
Thank you! It was definitely a dream come true. :)
But seriously, I do think that there are two sides to every story and I'm glad that you seem to have realistic expectations and can appreciate that not everything is black and white.
My answer holds true for you and anyone else reading this thread. While we do need a good bond with our personal horses, we also need to ensure that they are good equine ambassadors -- and part of that means that other people can ride them.
Good luck talking to your trainer, OP!