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In Over My Head?

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  • In Over My Head?

    Well, I took the plunge (sort of), and welcomed home a green OTTB. I didn't buy him. I'm just casually free leasing him from a trainer friend in Florida. She didn't have a person or job for him, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to try my hand at riding a greenie. I'm a proficient and experienced rider, but I'm still an ammy, and I've had the privilege of riding mostly made horses through my life.

    The problem is, he's neon green. Like basically unbroke. I think he was somewhat broke at some point, because I've seen videos. But he's been sitting around doing nothing for many months. Now he is like riding a confused ostrich. Head straight up, flying trot one minute, dead to the leg the next. Questionable steering. I'm telling you, he feels like he's rarely ever carried a rider. When I started dreaming about this project, I NEVER wanted one this green. I thought I could handle something that is already w/t/c and happily stepping over poles. That I could handle. Now I feel like I'm overfaced.

    On one hand, this is not what I had in mind. And it's not very fun either.

    On the other hand, it's a great learning opportunity, and I'm only paying his expenses.

    I don't know. I'm probably in over my head with this one. I can return him, but I feel embarrassed by my lack of ability. Would love to hear what others would do in my shoes.

    P.S. I never sat on him before he came to me. I did try to see him, but the day I went, he threw a shoe.

  • #2
    I think your trainer friend is getting the benefit on this one. She gets free mileage on her green horse. No harm in sending this one back to ensure you don't get hurt and you said you aren't having fun. Life is too short for that. There are other free leases out there if you look. Good luck.
    Finding Cures, Saving Children. Sept. 29, 2019 Saddle Up for St. Jude event. Donate here.

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    • #3
      How long have you had him? It can be a little overwhelming at first but I bet he picks things up faster than you think he will!

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      • #4
        Here's my perspective. For amateurs, horses are supposed to be fun. Obviously there are bad days. But for the most part, you should be appropriately mounted on one that is safe and makes you grin.

        How long has he been with you? Maybe he needs a bit of time to settle. Maybe give him a week or two. If it's still a mess, talk to your trainer friend about sending him back. If she's really your friend, she won't want you to be scared or overfaced.

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        • #5
          Depends on your comfort level. What you're describing doesn't bother me in the least, but I rarely get the opportunity to ride "made" horses. I'm usually the one making them, and I'm in it for the journey so it all comes with the territory.

          If you feel overfaced and unconfident about how to proceed in educating this horse, then you should return him.

          That said, there is no "timeline" for any horse. If you can go slow (and you should) he could turn out to be a fantastic project and learning experience. We don't grow without getting outside our comfort zone, but I generally don't advocate for people who don't feel confident starting young horses to do so. So I guess it all comes down to the "why" - is he spooky, silly or hot and you don't feel like you can ride that, or is he just an otherwise sensible greenie in need of some education and lacks balance?

          As an aside, with horses like these, I like the Denny Emerson approach - hack them out, day after day, at a marching walk. After a couple of months, it's amazing how much they change.

          Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by Abbie.S View Post
            So I guess it all comes down to the "why" - is he spooky, silly or hot and you don't feel like you can ride that, or is he just an otherwise sensible greenie in need of some education and lacks balance?
            A little from both categories, but mostly the latter. He's a bit silly and hot right now (whinnying incessantly for his friends with giant saucer eyes), but he works out of that. Mostly, he's just clueless. For me, I ask myself....am I really equipped to teach one who knows next to nothing? I have a good trainer, but I can't afford to have the 4-5 lessons a week that would really get us moving in the right direction.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Momateur View Post

              A little from both categories, but mostly the latter. He's a bit silly and hot right now (whinnying incessantly for his friends with giant saucer eyes), but he works out of that. Mostly, he's just clueless. For me, I ask myself....am I really equipped to teach one who knows next to nothing? I have a good trainer, but I can't afford to have the 4-5 lessons a week that would really get us moving in the right direction.
              If you don't know the answer then the answer is pretty much there, don't ruin your own confidence trying to fit a circle into a square hole. I would send the horse back and get what you know and are confident you can handle.
              Boss Mare Eventing Blog

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              • #8
                Originally posted by gertie06 View Post
                Here's my perspective. For amateurs, horses are supposed to be fun. Obviously there are bad days. But for the most part, you should be appropriately mounted on one that is safe and makes you grin.
                YES, LOL I have the other issue, I bought a horse who is really well trained, above my level of competence, so we are having twice a week lessons to try and get us on the same page. I keep thinking about the money I spent, and the fact that we are barely competent as First Level, when he is a second level horse, who has exposed all my short comings.

                BUT then I get on, slop around the arena on the buckle end, with the biggest ever smile on my face, because he makes me feel safe.

                Riding should be fun, whatever your version of fun is, it’s different for us all. Learning and progressing is great, but you need to enjoy the journey

                "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

                "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ParadoxFarm View Post
                  I think your trainer friend is getting the benefit on this one. She gets free mileage on her green horse. No harm in sending this one back to ensure you don't get hurt and you said you aren't having fun. Life is too short for that. There are other free leases out there if you look. Good luck.
                  This.

                  I personally love neon greenies. But not everyone does, and not everyone has to. ETA I completely agree with EverElite
                  Last edited by mmeqcenter; Jul. 6, 2019, 10:48 AM.
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                  • #10
                    If the work doesn't appeal to you, don't do it, send him back. If you want to give it a try... well... everyone does their first greenie at some point, as they grow as a horseman. If you don't want to "grow as a horseman", perfer to stagnate comfortably, send him back. If you want to try, "restart" him. "Re-break" him. Starting from the beginning, and see what he knows vs what he doesn't know. Fill in the holes for him with what you know. Challenge yourself to become a better horseman in the process, clear stepwise goals, clear communication, and reward for getting something you wanted from the horse. If he has some training done on him already, he will come around for you quickly, and you may end up giving yourself a boost in your horsemanship in the process.

                    Being an "amateur" only means that you are smart enough to not be trying to make your living in the horsie business. It doesn't mean that you can't do things that professional trainers and riders do. You can, and can do them even better since you have no pressure on you from an owner paying your bills. Being an amateur does not mean that you can not act in a professional manner, and ride and train horses. If you want to.

                    Have some success with this one, and your next project may be something you purchase off the track, for yourself.
                    www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by NancyM View Post
                      If the work doesn't appeal to you, don't do it, send him back. If you want to give it a try... well... everyone does their first greenie at some point, as they grow as a horseman. If you don't want to "grow as a horseman", perfer to stagnate comfortably, send him back.
                      Sorry, but I respectfully disagree with this. Being a good horseman includes knowing when you're over faced and at risk at putting yourself, and your horse, in danger. OP, there are many ways to "grow as a horseman" that don't involve backing a OTTB while you doubt your ability and desire to do so.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by EverElite View Post

                        Sorry, but I respectfully disagree with this. Being a good horseman includes knowing when you're over faced and at risk at putting yourself, and your horse, in danger. OP, there are many ways to "grow as a horseman" that don't involve backing a OTTB while you doubt your ability and desire to do so.
                        I also disagree with that statement and agree with this one. Not everything in riding is a competition or measure of your ability. I’m so tired of the d*** measuring between both ammies and pros. Riding greenies neither makes you nor prevents a person from being a good horseman. You know what does though? Injuries caused by riding horses that are way above our skillset or comfort level.

                        IME/IMO super greenies spend a lot of time being quite unfun to ride. You’re not getting paid to do this. Decide if you feel the rewards will outweigh the risks and numerous bad days you will have.

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                        • #13
                          One of the trainers at my old barn inherited an TB (not off the track, but a TB) when her elderly mother-in-law passed away. The horse was quite young, and had just been sitting in a field on her MIL's property. Supposedly, the mare had been broke.

                          After a few rides that did not go well and suggested the horse was even less broke than she had been led to believe, the trainer--who was known for riding the most difficult and greener horses at the barn--hired a guy with experience backing and breaking horses. After a few sessions with the guy, the pro began getting on again, working with the guy, eventually took over the horse's training herself once the horse was past the super-green stage. Now, after several years the horse is a very solid citizen, being ridden by teens at shows.

                          Even pros aren't ashamed to ask for help. Also, some people are great working with the very super green quasi-broke horses, while others prefer and excel working with green horses a little bit father along. Since this isn't your horse, isn't much fun, and as an ammie you probably have limited time to ride, I wouldn't feel obligated to push yourself through this, especially if you're concerned the horse might be picking up bad habits. I agree it sounds like the situation is more advantageous for the trainer than for you.
                          Check out my latest novel, Pride, Prejudice, and Personal Statements!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Momateur View Post
                            On one hand, this is not what I had in mind. And it's not very fun either.

                            On the other hand, it's a great learning opportunity, and I'm only paying his expenses.

                            I don't know. I'm probably in over my head with this one.
                            OP I think you know what the right answer is. Based on what you said above, I agree that you should send the horse back. It is very commendable that you wanted to take on a greenie, help your trainer friend out, and grow more as a rider, but there are different shades of green, and this one's maybe not your shade. That's all.

                            I used to be a pro and I sat on a lot of neon green, not-so-fun horses. As an ammy, I can pick/choose which ones I school when I have free time and I am needed. You should have fun on the one you're spending money on, even if it's a "free" lease. There is no shame and you should not be embarrassed to tell your trainer it's not the right fit. If he/she is a good trainer, she will appreciate you having the knowledge and self-awareness to say so. That's being a horseman.
                            War Horse Blog
                            Blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse

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                            • #15
                              Some greenies are easier than others to get going. The fact this one isn't working for you isn't an indicator of your inability to work with a green horse, just that this isn't the right one to get your feet wet, and I don't know why you would want to really. I imagine your trainer friend would rather you were honest with your trepidation and return the horse rather than get yourself hurt, or make the horse anxious.
                              Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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                              • #16
                                Green Beans can be much fun and much frustration.
                                On one hand, they are fun because they don’t know anything and truly get better almost every time you work them (because they don’t know anything to begin with!)

                                On the other hand they can be frustrating and sometimes scary. I have one in my barn now that went through 2 different trainers who I’ve concluded taught him that he was much stronger than they and if he spooked and acted scared, he would just get pet and coddled. He’s now a big strong 4 year old with a wagon of bad habits which includes unloading said rider when he determines he’s worked enough. Spooking and pulling back over nothing and generally bullying all humans. He will have a week of good days and then on day 7 he blows a cork and nasty bucks until he unloads you. Those are the kind that you don’t want to mess with.

                                If you are up for something new and different, because greenies are their own book, give it a whirl if the horse is just uneducated but generally kind and safe. You say he trots around 100mph, I would get thee to a round pen and put some speed control and woah on him from the ground first. Separate from his buddies when possible. I don’t know if it’s possible in your situation but can you tie him away from friends? I have several patience poles that all mine go on. They learn to stand quietly and sleep most of the time. Most importantly , don’t be afraid to take it slow. I wouldn’t swing a leg over something that didn’t listen to woah in the round pen, flex both ways and stand quietly. It doesn’t solve all your problems but it’s making that horse give you some respect.

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                                • #17
                                  What does your current trainer think of your ability to handle a real greenie? Would it be worth it to you to spend a bit on a month's worth of training to see if he could become a bit more manageable for your skill level? Have you done any ground work with him?

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                                  • #18
                                    I suspect that the previous work he has had at the track, and the skill set that you are learning or have learned are out of sync.

                                    The only way to fix that is more lessons perhaps with a different focus.

                                    He needs to go back to your "friend".
                                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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                                    • #19
                                      Dunno here, do you have the skill set and the free time to put the hours, time and risk getting hurt into somebody else’s horse? Or money to pay trainer for more lessons on trainers horse....so she can take him back when your time and money result in her horse getting broke?

                                      Not to get personal but, depending on your age and who depends upon you for support? Working with one this green can end up costing you if you get hurt and can’t work. I vote no on it for this reason as well as it’s not your horse and you are spending the money and taking the risk so you can give it back to trainer when the heavy work is done.

                                      You won’t love every horse you ever sit on in life, no shame in admitting that and moving on...especially when it’s not even your horse.
                                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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                                      • #20
                                        OTTBs are often a specific version of green. They have had some training of course but it is different from what you are used to. No they don’t understand contact. They usually don’t understand canter either. And this horse in particular seems to have a lot of anxiety issues with being away from the herd. You can learn to address these issues. But it sounds like you need some coaching at a minimum because you don’t have the necessary tools already. Which is fine. Starting and restarting horses are learned skills. Could it be rewarding for you? Maybe. But I think you need some help, which makes him a little more expensive.

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