14.3 hand lesson horse for teens/adults? Thoughts?
Have been actively looking for a new lesson horse to add to my string. Looked at a horse yesterday, trying to decide....advice is appreciated!
He is a 4 y.o. Morgan/Quarterhorse cross with 60 days professional training (broke western). Decent conformation, very sweet, could use a small tune up under saddle, but he hadn't been ridden in months so considering that he was great. His owners didn't seem like "horse people" and the only reason I could get out of them for selling him was that he was always biting the other horses and I think they thought he was meaner than average? They do have a older mare that I can see would need more peace than maybe she was getting from this guy. They are only asking $300 for him and was told they could negotiate on that, so I really like that aspect!
Downside is that he is 14.3 hands, and I am looking for a horse for beginning teens and adults. I think he is stout enough to handle adults, weight ratio-wise, but wondering what the downsides might be for starting students off on a horse this size. I was really hoping to find something at least 15 hands but it is slim pickings right now, and have been looking for over 2 months.
Really wish I had a picture or video of him but didn't think to take one when I was there.
Horses normally keep growing until they are 6 years of age, so he may grow another inch. The main thing is, whether he is slab-sided - which I would not expect him to be with that genetic heritage - or whether he is well sprung enough through the barrel to take up a lot of leg. If I were looking for such a horse, I would not let his size deter me. Bear in mind that for any rider that might have any fear issues, smaller is better. Good luck and keep us posted.
ETA, what part of the country are you in? Harness the power of CoTH to help you find what you need. If you are on the East coast, I know of at least 2 probably suitable critters that are in the care of rescue groups.
RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.
Is he wide? 14.3 but wide-ish could work for average sized adults and teens (~5'7 and under) If so, maybe it's worth a shot. What's his personality? For beginners, child or adult, you want something with their head screwed on straight first and foremost.
Beware of putting long-legged riders on him. When I started riding again after many many years off, I started on a small 16 hander. I'm 6' and all leg. I now have a horrible habit of lifting my heels to ask for a faster gait. Ugh.
Short is good! Says me with the pony, the extremely large pony. I'm 5' 7", he's easy to tack up and get on and off and handle on the ground, plus an easy keeper.
No seriously, although you want a horse that can carry the largest number of people that come to you the most important things you want in a lesson horse are manners, patience and experience so a newly broke horse may not be the way to go.
He's got to teach new riders - you say these are beginning - so he's going to be the bombproof beginner horse that can't carry an intermediate, ie he has to be convinced he knows what's right and does it pretty much in the absence of good signals from them, or he has to be a bit difficult and make them signal to his specifications (one program I was in had an intermediate horse like that, not exactly forgiving but once you asked him the right way . . .).
I would just hesitate putting such a horse straight into the lesson program, not until you know how he thinks. Will he bite people? Make them hike for hours through the field the catch him? Be hard to bridle or saddle? How are his cues? If he gets pissy is he going to put in a buck during a canter transition - NOT good for beginners. So I'd be more concerned about that than an inch in height.
I am in Boise, Idaho. Yes please, if anyone has a lead in my neck of the woods, let me know!
The woman riding this guy is a dead beginner and she has had no problems with this guy (besides unclear communication, which is where the tune up would be needed, he just seemed a little rusty and dull but lightened up quickly after just a few minutes of riding. He seemed very forgiving for his age.
He would first go to a teenage working student is quite a good rider, both to train him for beginners and to give her an opportunity to finish a horse. I would like to put him to work by this summer for the beginners. The working student is 5' 10" . Lucky girl.
How is his stride? Does he ride like a choppy pony pogo stick or can he step out like a larger horse?
The 4 yr olds I've bought all grew at least another inch by age 6, so that's a strong probability (and it changed their stride a bit, as well). I'd be more concerned that he have very clear gaits that help beginner riders develop a good feel, and that he sounds pretty young and green for the job.
Putting aside the fact he is a little green for a lesson horse at the moment...
His height makes him a very GOOD prospect for a lesson string. Something between a 16+ hander and a Pony is always welcomed by novice smaller adults and tweeners too big for anything except a $$$$ top of the line Large Pony but intimidated by a big horse. Lesson barns get alot of use out of this type horse and they are always popular with the clients.
Size is actually the least of your problems in finding lesson horses as long as you can get your regular clients on them without issue-it's all about safe, safe, safe and patient. And big horses do not ride any different then little ones do if the riding is done correctly.
They say QHs are born broke too (most of mine proved that true). Might not be a bad idea if what has been done with and to it has been done correctly. Heck, for $300?????? Long as you wait a bit and work with him before you put a novice up it sounds like it would work...and you can sell him for 300 or maybe more out of a better environment then where he is now if it does not work.
I'd probably go load him up.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
Do your clients need a bigger step? Most suitable novice mounts don't have a ton of step because they don't need it and many novices can't manage it yet.
If he is to be a starter type and stay 2'3"ish and below, he does not need it. If, however, you want him as a move up type to take on more advanced students? It would limit what he could do.
But good luck finding one good for the real green rider yet with enough step to move up. Boils down to what do you need most in your lesson string, the safe and patient babysitter or a horse to move them further along.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
One of the best lesson horses I ever taught on stood just slightly over 14.3. He started in the lesson program as a green 6 year old with a great temperment and a problem going in a straight line. He ended up the rock of the lesson program, willing to pack around tiny or terrified beginners with unlimited patience. He'd easily jump around courses up to 3' for more advanced riders. He was a tougher ride for the more experienced though - never dirty but he could be a bit of a brat! I think his size was less intimidating than a larger horse. He did add to go down the lines, but his steady pace gave a lot of riders confidence over fences. (And won a lot of ribbons!) It was a sad day when he was retired (at the age of 22). He's still enjoying his retirement at the farm where he taught so many people to ride.
If this horse is suited to your needs in every other way I'd take a chance on him. He's only an inch below 15 hands, and he may grow.
~ A true friend knows all there is to know about you and still likes you. -E. Hubbard
I have gotten spoiled by my two lesson ponies; both of them will take care of the smallest, most timid kids in lessons on friday and go in the 2'6" classes with older kids on saturday without a hitch. That is hard to find.
Yes, looking for a bigger babysitter right now. I have a couple of other lesson horses, one at 17 hands and the other 16.2, that are great for the more advanced, just nothing in between! Before this only had beginner kids starting with me, and now have more and more interest from teens and adults wanting to learn, and I just din't have anything for them to sit on. Thank you all for the enabling!
I think he's a terrific size (and a great price). If he doesn't feel like a jackhammer on crack (which is what I meant by having a rideable gait that allows someone to develop feel for three distinct gaits, as opposed to the worst kind of shake-your-fillings-looose pony stride), he might well be worth the gamble. Best of luck, and I hope we get an update if you bring him home.
Was he well shod? I used to ride a horse of about that size who had shorter gaits--and then he was shod behind and it was like night and day. He was suddenly more comfortable and it turned out that he moved like silk when he was properly shod. So it may not all be size-if he's been sitting doing nothing, it's possible that his feet need some attention.
And the truth is that a horse of that size is never going to move like a 17-hand horse. But he will be worth his weight in gold if he's quiet and steady enough for beginners because many older beginners aren't comfortable on a bigger horse. Size can be intimidating--it is for me and I'm an experienced rider. My horse is 15 hands and while he doesn't have the stride for rated shows, he is wonderful and does very well locally. Not all riders want to ride a bigger horse, and IMO, it's important to learn to adjust your riding to horses of different sizes and types with different movements, so being a bit pony gaited isn't a bad thing-if you can ride that, a bigger-strided horse will seem easy in comparison.
If the horse is really nice, he's a steal at that price.
Thank you everyone! I am barely 5'1", so I have a hard time relating to the idea of riding something that may be too small for me; schooling my 13.3 hand pony feels fine! Wasn't sure how small I could go for adults comfortably and its nice to hear positives from you guys.
My favorite lesson horse is a 14.3-15hh paint. He's a perfect size for a lesson horse, I think; big enough to carry most adults, but small enough to not be intimidating to smaller riders (like me!) who can get wimpy when we get up high. (:
Also agree with others who said he may still grow--my QH still seemed to be growing and filling out a little more until he was about 7. He was definitely under pony size when I got him as a four-year-old and is definitely just over it now.