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  1. #1
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    Default Spinoff: when are you experienced enough for a green horse?

    Would be interested to read what all the COTH eventing board experts think is "experienced enough" to start and make a green horse. This is an exciting and compelling topic to me!

    There's been a ton of personal experiences people have posted about getting wild greenies at tender ages and surviving....miracle matches with crazy horses off the track and dead beginners who Vulcan mind-meld, and get on the Olympic team....etc. While I am sure a lot of these stories are true -- some may not be, and worse, the reality may be very different from what we are reading online -- which leads people to believe that the impossible is ordinary.

    What's the reality? What exact skills do you think someone needs to start a green horse?

    For example:
    I think, just for initial safety, a rider needs to have an independent seat and hand, and be able to hold a two-point strongly enough (in balance) to ride out a buck or two. I'd consider that a MUST. Right there, I think I'm talking about a pretty solid intermediate level rider -- do you?
    I also think beyond just riding level, the stable management skills need to be present as well. What kind of skills -- let's blueprint this out.

    I'll be checking back and asking followup questions so keep checking the thread -- I'm going to pick your brains and try and put together a document with everyone's lists of skills. I'm not necessarily looking for a recounting personal horse stories, but more like your thoughts on what it takes to train your own green horse -- skills you needed, stuff you learned.

    Please include your thoughts in detail!
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
    www.eventhorse.wordpress.com



  2. #2
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    The #1 thing I have seen in mismatches for a green horse are ability to adjust to the horse.


    Green owner who shouldn't have the horse she does: "My horse sets back all the time when I tie him. I'll keep tying him and hope he doesn't break this halter while I walk away and chat with other people." The same lack of understanding that the owner needs to adjust behavior for the horse can lead to some of the most dangerous riding (and falls) I have seen.


    Something you may want to clarify - what are you considering green? I've seen a couple threads recently where some posters refer to green as a horse who doesn't have solid w/t/c while others refer to a green horse as one who may be completely dead broke, but is green to the discipline.
    Last edited by netg; Jul. 5, 2010 at 11:09 AM.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  3. #3
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    Depends on the horse too. A really quiet horse with a good mind can learn along with the rider, providing there is competent instruction.

    A number of years ago I saw a beginner rider take a horse off the track and it was a match made in Heaven. Not typical, but still. . .
    RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

    "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."



  4. #4
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    For a true green horse - one without a solid w/t/c (I add horses directly off the track to this because they lack the concept of leg).

    The rider needs patience. Some people can ride for 20 years, have a great independent seat, great hands, but if you lack the patience required to teach, then you should never own a green horse. This is separate than someone learning patience/teaching skills. Some people just do not, nor will ever, have the patience for teaching/training.

    Independent seat is very important. This includes core and leg strength sufficient enough to hold a two point or be able to sit deep as the need arises.

    Quiet hands.

    A certain courage - as in not getting easily spooked if the horse bucks or rears or does something silly.

    Basically, a solid intermediate rider.

    I agree that a certain ability to adjust to the horse is important also.



  5. #5
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    I think two of the most important things when teaching a young horse are timing and feel.

    If a green horse goes UP or sideways for instance, and the rider doesn't have the timing (not to mention experience, quick reflexes and balance) then chances are the rider can pull on the mouth or get in the wrong spot in the saddle and make the situation worse.

    Feel is something I'm sure some people just have, but a majority of people with limited miles in the saddle don't have the feel needed to understand contact and the release of pressure to be able to teach a young or green horse....for that matter this is a difficult concept for some even with years of saddle time. I thought I understood contact a long time ago, until I reached my current level of understanding.

    Knowing when to get out of the way when teaching a youngster to jump, limited interference while still giving them the support needed is related to timing and feel...

    Feel and instinct enough to know when a horse is trying, how to reward that, and knowing enough to tell what the horse is doing with all four legs, and in his head. How many people practice trotting or cantering over poles on a circle and knowing what the horses legs are doing....

    I think it also takes the right amount of patience and discipline, plus a hundred other skills (and perhaps a hundred other horses), but to me feel and timing are pretty important.

    A decent rider with proper help and willingness can train a green horse, but to do it really well is an acquired skill I think.



  6. #6
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    I think it's about the match more than the skill set. The rider needs to have abilities in the same area the horse has weaknesses. I've been riding for decades and as an amateur started a dozen or so green horses, mostly TBs or TBXs. Yet with every new project I am fully aware that if it's not a match there is a real possibility it won't be a great success. I've had it happen once. The very day I realized I was creating the problem because of my own unique issues I made arrangements to send the horse to a trainer to be sold. Nothing wrong with the horse--he's gone on to a successful career--it just wasn't a match.

    Obviously the more skills you have the higher the likelihood of success but no amount a skill insures it. Short of an independent seat, most everything else is a crap shoot.



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucyjane View Post
    I think two of the most important things when teaching a young horse are timing and feel.

    If a green horse goes UP or sideways for instance, and the rider doesn't have the timing (not to mention experience, quick reflexes and balance) then chances are the rider can pull on the mouth or get in the wrong spot in the saddle and make the situation worse.

    Feel is something I'm sure some people just have, but a majority of people with limited miles in the saddle don't have the feel needed to understand contact and the release of pressure to be able to teach a young or green horse....for that matter this is a difficult concept for some even with years of saddle time. I thought I understood contact a long time ago, until I reached my current level of understanding.

    Knowing when to get out of the way when teaching a youngster to jump, limited interference while still giving them the support needed is related to timing and feel...

    Feel and instinct enough to know when a horse is trying, how to reward that, and knowing enough to tell what the horse is doing with all four legs, and in his head. How many people practice trotting or cantering over poles on a circle and knowing what the horses legs are doing....

    I think it also takes the right amount of patience and discipline, plus a hundred other skills (and perhaps a hundred other horses), but to me feel and timing are pretty important.

    A decent rider with proper help and willingness can train a green horse, but to do it really well is an acquired skill I think.
    COMPLETELY agree with this; great post, and "spot on" insights.
    "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

    "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")



  8. #8
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    I think along with the skill and the management knowledge (and all the other tangible skills), you need to still be willing to learn. A rider's first baby is often a humbling experience (at least it was for me), and rather than decide he was the one that needed all the teaching, I was also open to the fact that this was new for me and I had plenty to learn. I had to change a lot about my riding to make things easier for him, in some ways very drastic changes that werent always permanent but necessary none the less. And thankfully he is a very forgiving guy with a good work ethic and a great sense of humour. Of course the green horse taught me more about timing, feel, patience and adaptability than any of the other horses I have ever ridden.



  9. #9
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    Beyond all those logisticals:

    A committed understanding that every moment is a learning moment.

    A keen "mental ear" to create a conversation, not a monologue.

    No arbitrary timelines and deadlines.

    A good sense of humour.
    No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle.
    -- Winston Churchill



  10. #10
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    Questions: (told you I would ask)

    Bobthehorse:
    What specific things did you end up changing about your riding for the green horse? Don't have to list them all but whatever you can think of.

    Lucyjane:
    How much does experience have to do with creating or honing timing and feel?

    Subk:
    Match -- if a rider doesn't have an independent seat -- say they are a beginner -- then the "match" for them would be an old quiet well trained schoolie, right? Elaborate on matches for green horses -- if your rider has a good seat and strong leg but tends to be rough with her hands, what sort of green horse is going to fit that rider? More detail please.

    Netg:
    If by adjusting, you mean "learning" -- being smart enough to be a student of horse behavior a little? What qualities should a rider have to bring out "adjusting" skills?

    Thanks! I am on a brainpicking mission here but LOVE the replies so far!
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
    www.eventhorse.wordpress.com



  11. #11
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    I'm going to go out on a limb and say "it depends"....

    One of the WBs I have has the sweetest personality EVER. When he was four, with 60 days training, he carted a 12 year old around walk-trot and crossrails for a year. (I bought him after she lost interest and he sat in a field for 5 years).

    I've see good-minded TBs do the same thing.

    But perhaps they are the exception? I agree with the independent seat/hands...but I also think the horse's personality/temperament are huge.
    --Becky in TX
    Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
    She who throws dirt is losing ground.



  12. #12
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    i am defining "green" as inexperienced at whatever you are trying to do with said horse...

    1. YOU need a level head and to be able to control your emotions and reactions both physically and emotionally.
    if horse bucks, you sit back, ride it forward, make the correction and laugh about it, if horse bucks you off and you are not seriously injured, you get back on immediately without tears, screaming, calling your therapist or drama in general and make the correction. if horse balks, spooks, reels sideways, backwards, does airs above the ground, rears, etc. you have enough horse experience to predict that these sorts of things may very well happen with a green horse, will probably FEEL it coming and have the thought process to handle it or even correct it. for example, the first time you ride a 4yo horse on a trail ride in company you think to yourself, "the big black trashcan with the flapping liner coming up on the side of this trail could look really scary to this youngster in contrast to this natural setting", and you are proactive by being calm with your body language, continuing to breathe and most of all watching his body language as you approach the scary monster trash can. if you've ever watched someone ride and thought to yourself- "that horse is thinking about bucking her off", then he does, and rider gets up screaming, "oh my god, what just happened, that came out of nowhere!- stupid horse!" that is a rider not ready for a green horse.

    2. you are fluent in horse.
    body language, expressions, reactions etc.- you know what they mean, you know when they most often occur and how they feel when you are riding. you can make a horse feel confident in your knowledge of this.

    3. you are confident and secure in your riding.
    if you lose a stirrup- its not something you are concerned over, if your reins break, you are capable of stopping, if you get jumped out of the tack, you can recover and stay on most always. you can still be effective and communicative to your horse if something unexpected occurs.

    4. you WANT to be riding that horse at that time.
    riding a horse you are frightened of, especially a green one, is never a good idea. making yourself ride a green horse just to have that experience is unfair to the animal. there a lots of horses- ride a different one.

    5. you are willing to teach the horse, and also learn from the horse.
    green horses can have tons to teach us and are so very moldable- its a mutually beneficial relationship if you have that mindset.
    Jazz- 4.9.01 OTTB, loved since 12.6.09
    Skip- 3.3.91 APHA, i miss you buddy


    1 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
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    When I was a young teenager, I was sitting on very recently backed 3 year old quarter horses bareback with a halter. At about the same time, I was riding sensible off the track TBs, but all were in my trainers barn and I rode them infrequently compared. I did my first prelim on an OTTB that no one but I ever competed.

    But all the greenies I have sat on have been different. Some are easy to jump, but tougher on the flat. Some are easier to move on with, but spooky or "hot" I had one OTTB who was fairly lazy most of the time, super easy to jump, but would periodically bolt.

    I think what is important is that you (or your trainer) have a good sense of your skills and what is and isn't a good match. I've bought a bunch of horses sight unseen and enjoyed them to varying degrees.

    I also think this applies to trained horses more than people might realize. My trainer has two horses (of many), one an Irish horse and one an OTTB. The Irish horse is considered a packer (has done several prelims) is quiet, easy, etc. The OTTB is considered "a bit tough" a nice horses, but hard on the flat and quite sensitive, is going prelim/intermediate. I can't ride the Irish horse to save my life, while I am perfectly happy on the TB.
    OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!



  14. #14
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    The things that come to my mind (and I posted this on the other thread) aren't as "skill oriented"

    *I think you have to be committed to work with an experienced trainer and really put in the time. Not just a monthly lesson. Work on ground manors, loading into the trailer, etc. I know people can "do it themselves" and have been very successful but that's the exception not the rule.

    *When the rider knows their own limits.
    The rider needs to know what they are capable of (realistically) and know when to ask for help or back down. After I started jumping Juice x-country as the jumps got bigger he got a bit sticky and I got a bit yanking. I asked my trainer to take him schooling because I know she can ride horses really forward and not get in their faces. The next time I took him we both had more confidence.

    I also know when to say "no, that jump is too high for us right now" or "I think I'm going to take a break from showing this month"

    *When the rider knows the horse's limits
    This is the mistake I made with Jay. I was too green to tell "pain" from "piggy green OTTB" . My trainer at the time didn't see it either so I don't fault myself too much but it's an important skill to have. Just because you're having fun x-country schooling with your friends doesn't mean your green QH can jump for 5 hours and maybe DON"T do 5 shows a month because your green Appy is getting overwhilmed with the show atmosphere.



  15. #15
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    Patience, independent hand and seat, good balance and "stickability", bravery, and education in training, not just riding, horses.
    Just because you have ridden a trained horse to a certain level, say Preliminary, absolutely does not mean you are qualified to start a young horse. There is an additional skill set necessary to train horses to that level and to start young horses. Professional riders have both of these skill sets.
    I know people who compete their horses at the Preliminary and Intermediate levels who I would certainly not send a young horse to for training. Actually, they would probably be to scared to even consider the idea!
    I also know individuals who have never competed above novice so instead consider themselves young horse trainers. I would not send a horse to them either.
    What I would look for is an upper level rider (Intermediate or Advanced) who has also been educated in starting young horses, and either trains with an experienced professional, or is an experienced professional.
    That said, I would not necessarily rule out someone based on their qualifications on paper, I would want to see horses they have produced, and see that they have a well organized system in place.
    To train horses, you need to have experience dealing with horseS, emphasis on the plural! Hunt horses, dressage horses, jumper horses, western horses, crazy horses, stupid horses, super high quality horses, well trained horses, horses in need of retraining, race horses, warmbloods, quarter horses, arabians, etc. Learning how to deal with the different situations each mount will provide you with is key in developing as a trainer. You have to give each horse the ride it needs while adhering as closely as possible to the standard to which it must be trained.



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by retreadeventer View Post
    Questions: (told you I would ask)

    Bobthehorse:
    What specific things did you end up changing about your riding for the green horse? Don't have to list them all but whatever you can think of.
    Timing: he had a much slower, rounder jump than my previous horses and jumped everything huge, rather than my ever so efficient experienced horses. Plus he is more agile, so every small little thing he did I needed to nip in the bud right away or in another stride or two he would be totally off track.

    Position: I found out after some rocky jumping that this horse HATES me anywhere near his neck over a jump, and he wants me wayyy back like everything is a giant open ditch, and slipping my reins. Its less extreme now, but apparently for him to learn how to jump well he needed me out of his way in a big way.

    Hand: in front of a fence he could only jump with no hand for awhile, or he said he couldnt stretch over the fence at all. My previous horse of 10 years jumped best with a bit of a hold on his mouth. This took me a long time to get the hang of.

    My own boldness: my old horse had all the boldness in the world, so I never had to be much more than committed to a fence. This one (until recently) got all his confidence from me, and if I was wishy washy he would get scared, and if I was aggressive he would trust me and be brave. He needed a really aggressive ride for awhile or he would doubt himself. Now since riding that way he has found his own confidence and can draw it from himself rather than me all the time. He is actually pretty damn cocky now.

    So far nothing has ever been longterm. I had to ride a certain way to get through a certain phase of his learning, and then had to change again as he learned and changed himself. I think thats what so hard, that he is always changing as he grows up and develops his own way. My more trained horses were kind of one way, and while I worked hard to fix issues, it was basically the same horse. This horse went through times where he was a new horse every couple of months, and it was tricky keeping up with his learning curve.



  17. #17
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    Also, there are a lot of flavors of green and the answer may not be the same for each.

    In some ways, most horses are green in that they still have more to learn for their discipline.

    There are "green" eventers who have just done a couple novices.
    Or horses that are considered "broke" in another discipline but not jumped or gone x-c.
    OTTBs being resold with a month's training.
    OTTBs at the track.
    Unbroke/unbacked babies.
    Totally unhandled babies.

    I think the idea that riding is not simply equitation, and that with each ride you are training your horse (intentionally or not, for better or for worse . . .) is important for even the greenest riders to grasp.

    Training a familiar horse in a new discipline, too, I think can work even when neither the rider nor the horse have much eventing background (say, an endurance pair wanting to event or something).

    For the really green and often more challenging (the OTTBs, the completely unstarted horses), in addition to the riding skills mentioned by others (balance, timing, stickability, independent seat), I think you need to understand the process--what you are starting with, what you are trying to achieve, what is reasonable to ask of the horse at any given time, how to make corrections. (For example, correcting disobediences forward instead of backward is a key one, and a place where a lot of greener riders make mistakes). You need a plan for every ride, and the ability to modify it as circumstances dictate. For me, this is the hardest part. Staying on during the tantrum is the easy part, but systematically, consistently, unwaveringly training the proper response to aids takes a lot of focus, not just in the moment, but over days and months.

    There is a first time for anything, so everyone has to at some point have their first OTTB or first unbacked horse.



  18. #18
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    A rider who has a reasonably secure seat, quiet hands, and ability to steer accurately can start a green horse that is sensible, balanced, and physically/mentally suited/intended for a career as a Novice ammy horse.

    Should the same rider be starting a green horse that has balance issues, a nasty spook, an attitude, or is purpose-bred from a hot, athletic bloodline known for producing 4* horses? Heck, no.


    Jennifer



  19. #19
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    There have been many excellent points made here. In addition, I think that working with a green horse is almost as much intellectual as it is physical. One needs the abilities mentioned so far, but I think you also need to have ridden enough 'made' or mostly 'made' horses to know where you want to end up. Then each ride is a little step towards that goal. To me, the physical part is mostly muscle memory at this point, (even thought I am always monitoring my position, legs, hands); the mental part is what is so engaging to me. Llistening to the horse, responding to him, asking and giving - I think those are all important parts of being able to ride/train a green one.



  20. #20
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    I think being able to think independently and rational decisions quickly is just as important and any physical riding skills. I rider has to be able to think fast enough to not just keep her/himself safe but also know what is best for the horse at the time.
    Tru : April 14, 1996 - March 14, 2011
    Thank you for everything boy.


    Better View.



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