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I Was on the Worst Horse Ever Tonight!

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  • I Was on the Worst Horse Ever Tonight!

    My yard owner has bought a horse she loves and everybody else hates. He's about a mile wide and the deepest swayback I've ever seen on any horse that wasn't a retiree. I had to catch him -- he made me run around for 5-10 minutes, so I think he isn't happy being ridden. All the time I was on him I had to lean forward with an unsupported lower-back, to keep from falling backward. So my back was killing me after 10 minutes. And, he's so wide that my knee joints were hurting me too. And then there is his head motion. He moves his head alternately side to side so much that when I was approach a jump I thought "he's going to run out to the right; no he's going to run out to the left; no to the right; no to the left". At least I learned to disregard that movement. There was nothing I could do about the pain. Fortunately, my trainer took me off him after a bit and put another student on him. That rider later said "he's alright -- I've had worse", but I got to ride her own private horse and he was an absolute dream.

    Anyway, I feel sorry for this guy. I don't see anyplace for him at the school and yet he tries to do his job.
    Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!


  • #2
    So, you did learn some things from the old Gent it seems?

    You learned that some of your physical issues are going to make it tougher for you to ride certain horses. Maybe there are exercises you can do to make yourself stronger and more limber? Don't take it wrong, as obviously I don't even know you Just saying I bet you could improve yourself some to make it easier to ride that type horse.

    You DID learn to focus on the task even with the head movement you described. Ah, and you learned to trust he would do his job despite the feeling being odd to you. Trusting is a VERY big lesson

    And you learned that the old guy serves a purpose. Even though you may think he isn't great for the school program, he gave you a gentle reminder about empathy. You recognized the try in him. The TRY is a very special trait in a hose. ALL of our horses teach us something. The good horseman will recognize the lessons, even if they are not the ones we expected to learn.

    You are ready for next lesson grasshopper

    Edited to add that there might be something that could be done to help the old Gent too. Can't they pad a saddle better to compensate for his weakness?
    I\'m not crazy. I\'m just a little unwell.


    • #3
      Aww...Sobriska, what a nice post!


      • #4
        One of the most fun horses I ever rode was a very swaybacked gelding who looked like a poster child for one of those drawings in the front of my horse books that was a drawing of a horse with every conformation fault possible. He was great to ride bareback and went like a bat out of h*ll, very comfy with a built in saddle.

        It's sad that you can't see that he may very well have a job and could be trying the best he can, probably with some conformation issues that make work harder for him. I guess if this is the worst horse that you have ever ridden then I don't think you have ridden very any horses.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Sobriska View Post

          And you learned that the old guy serves a purpose. Even though you may think he isn't great for the school program, he gave you a gentle reminder about empathy. You recognized the try in him. The TRY is a very special trait in a hose. ALL of our horses teach us something. The good horseman will recognize the lessons, even if they are not the ones we expected to learn.
          Sobriska, what a lovely post.

          They all have something to teach us. No matter how unruly, or unusable, or whatever we may think they are. There's a lesson in there somewhere and if you can learn to find it, you'll be so much better off-- as a horsewoman and as a person in general.

          Sounds like he was a decent fellow, honest at least, and sometimes that is worth more than anything else.
          We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


          • Original Poster

            That WAS a nice post, Sobriska. Yes, I did "recognize the try in him" and that's exactly why I feel bad about the situation.

            At my age (60 next month), I don't think I'm going to reacquire a limber back or knees. I know our 75 YO student doesn't like to ride him, at all -- probably for the same reason.

            sketcher, I DO recognize that he is trying his best. I don't think his best will be good enough, and that's why I'm sad. Still, it's up to the YO to decide whether he stays or goes -- and she does like him, so who knows?

            I *haven't* ridden many lesson horses. Let's see, 2 at my old school, and 6 or 7 at this school -- plus the horse I use for fox hunting. But then many people who own their own horses have probably ridden less.
            Last edited by altjaeger; Oct. 2, 2008, 12:27 AM.
            Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!



            • #7
              There was a horse at my lesson barn that was the least favorite choice out of all of them.

              I now own him

              He has taught me so much and I am so thankful to him. So thankful.
              Any time someone talks about their horse in a bar, there's love in the room.


              • #8
                years ago when i first started riding, i took lessons at suburban essex in nj, they had a bunch of schoolies, there were a few that everyone loved to ride, comfortable and forgiving and then there was sugar
                sugar didn't have a mean bone in her body but her trot was like a 5 legged gerbil, absolutely bone shattering and the instructor i had there used to make me do a whole lessons without stirrups on sugar, made me trot around and around as i would watch others glide by on fair chance or pink
                sugar taught me how to ride a horse forward into my hand and sit a trot, if you rode her front to back you were in pain, i took to wearing 2 bras for a lesson just to keep the girls under control, if you could relax your lower back, push her up and give with the rein and then ask her to move underself from behind, she actualy wasn't all that bad, i could really feel the difference, i also learned to be independent with my upper and lower body, if you leaned forward at all, you lost the roundness of her back, i have been very thankful over the years to have ridden that horse, bless her she must be long gone by now


                • #9
                  The horses that people hate to ride sometimes teach them the most

                  My daughter spent a couple of months riding cranky ponies who would do things like randomly stop dead in the middle of a nice trot or just decide to turn around and follow a horse going the other way. Pain in the you-know-what to ride, but she learned a lot.

                  Last lesson she got to get back on her favorite horse, who has been out of work several months due to a serious illness. He's everyone's favorite because he's pushbutton and predictable. Worth his weight in gold, but the horses people hate to ride are important too

                  eta: She has a new instructor and last week she was doing something she couldn't do on the cranky ponies- round after round of 2 pt and posting trot with no stirrups. She said "I'm sorry, I'm not very good at this" and her instructor said "of course, that's why you're doing it!" Thought it was a great riding lesson quote


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by yellow-horse View Post
                    sugar didn't have a mean bone in her body but her trot was like a 5 legged gerbil, absolutely bone shattering
                    Ditto! LOL

                    I learned so much riding a super sweet gelding with the world's most jarring, lurching trot. And if you didn't keep your legs loose and your upper body balanced, he would canter in front and trot behind, which was worse! I literally could not post his trot the first few times I rode him. It was just humiliating and comical.

                    But you know, after a dozen lessons I was able not only to post his trot but even to sit his trot, and it made every other horse's trot feel utterly effortless, so I thank the old boy for that.


                    • #11
                      I remember riding "Spot," an ancient pinto something, when I was 12 years old. I HATED him so much! He was hard to steer, hard to get to canter, hard to jump.

                      I made the mistake of telling my trainer that I didn't like Spot.

                      Consequently, I rode Spot for every lesson I had for the next 6 months.

                      I learned more from that cranky a-hole of a horse than I did from probably any other horse I ever rode!
                      Originally posted by tidy rabbit
                      Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community.


                      • Original Poster

                        Good news! I think we finally found someone who will ride him. She's 19 (the youngest rider by far in the adults lesson groups) and has a much more flexible back than I. She also said she felt a bit sorry for him because nobody wanted him (really, us older riders were going to need back surgery if we kept on him, plus with his unsteady seat and head movements we didn't feel so safe). I think the trainer is going to find a riser to put under her saddle.
                        Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!



                        • #13
                          Wanabe, you make a valid point about the aging human body and how it fits a horse- which is why earlier this year I donated my lovely warmblood to a college riding program. I had him made just exactly the way I wanted him, but his size, specifically width, was such that whether hunting or trail riding, after a couple of hours, knees and hips just hurt. Not his fault, not my fault, just the way things are. I find I'm comfy all day on a smaller, thinner horse. Granted my 5 yo appendix did shoot up to 16 hands, but he isn't a tank. My 3 yo may end up stockier, but she'll top out at 14.3 to 15h so I think I will be able to handle it, she has very comfy gaits.

                          But it's true that every horse has something to teach you. I'm reminded of the first horse I ever hunted in 1971, a school horse named Buck, big buckskin though not the reason for his nickname, see below, came off a truck from Oklahoma, breeding unknown though I would suspect some combo of remount and quarter horse. Among the comfiest canters I've known in 50+ years of riding. But the trot! Agony to sit! And so of course I always drew him for those lessons where we worked the sitting trot w/o stirrups for hours on end! He was a dream to hunt, and I did win a fair number of ribbons with him in the hunters, 3'6" ring and outside courses, with a caveat of course. He'd pretty much pack you around, had a great eye for a fence, but if you banged his back or snatched his mouth, you were on the ground within two strides. That is, I would suggest, much greater motivation to ride correctly than having a trainer yelling at you!


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by wanabe View Post
                            My yard owner has bought a horse she loves and everybody else hates.
                            How nice that the old swaybacked guy has found someone who appreciates him, even loves him. Lucky fella!

                            Originally posted by wanabe View Post
                            Anyway, I feel sorry for this guy. I don't see anyplace for him at the school and yet he tries to do his job.
                            I don't see that at all from your post. Sure, you didn't care for him, and it sounds like he's got some quirks. But, as Sobriska very eloquently pointed out, you DID learn a few things from your ride on him, and it sounds like he is doing his job to the best of his ability.

                            The lesson barn where I teach part-time has a few golden-oldies that sound very similar. Like us, er, "mature" humans, they have some aches and pains that they have to protect. They have developed some quirks over time. Each has something special to teach and they are used when individual students are ready to learn that special something ... and sometimes that something is along the lines of "you are not going to be able to ride every horse well." Good for you, wanabe, for recognizing that the old gent was giving his best effort.

                            Sobriska, your post reminded me a lot of my old trainer! I've often beein in the position of having to ride just whatever some kind soul is willing to lend me due to horselessness/broken horses/etc. When I'd complain that some horse or other didn't live up to my halo-bedecked beasties, she'd just grin and ask, "So what does that teach you?" She has a great lecture about learning from any horse you have an opportunity to ride; your post rather echoed it. Nice to read!
                            Equinox Equine Massage

                            In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
                            -Albert Camus


                            • Original Poster

                              Yeah, in my barn owner's never-ending-quest to get me off the horse I like, I've ridden 2 OTHER horses since this one. Both were THIN and I realized how much my knees liked it.
                              This last one is certainly teaching me something. It has a very rough trot -- tough to sit. And it's kind of wacko with jumps, although it gets the distances right. I was doing a course that began and ended with the same jump. I had been over the first jump a half-dozen times already with no problems when we added the loop-back over it for the finish. I got a very-last-second refusal and I hit the dirt in my new cavalary breeches. Turns out one side of the jump is a different color than the other and it doesn't like that color. Also, when you rein it to a stop after jumping (but not after just cantering), it gets a very choppy up-and-down motion that at one time would have had me off. Still, I think I can work with this guy.
                              Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!



                              • #16
                                Your post reminded me of a TB that I used to part board/ride- I was the only one who loved him and everyone else hated him.

                                It worked out in my favour as I became his sole rider. The barn owner didn't expect him to be so hateful by others but she let him stay (she leased him from another barn- this barn sent a few horses for a small fee for us to use).

                                I became the social outcast because of him- no one wanted to ride with me He did nothing wrong but was so oddly put together.

                                Last week I was talking to one of the girls I used to ride with- she said she never noticed that I was outcasted () (mind you it was years ago)and was shocked to hear that I actually liked riding him. She immediately got over her shock when I told her that it was simple- he did everything and anything for me. He had a true heart.

                                I learned lots on that horse- because of him- I could ride anything (he was like riding a toothpick- so narrow that one little spook would have me hit the dirt ) I learned VERY quickly to adjust my balance to sit with him better.

                                As much as this horse isn't the best horse in the world- I think he will have tons to teach you. And its not his fault if he's built that way. I am sure if horses had the option of plastic surgery like we humans do- he'd fix his own faults

                                I think your barn owner is just making sure you don't get used to one type of a horse and is getting you to ride a bunch. It is a big eye opening experience!


                                • #17
                                  firstimpressions makes a very good point. If you have an opportunity to ride a variety of horses, particularly horses with "issues," you will become a much, much better rider as a result. Believe me, I know! I had about a 2-year period where I ONLY rode my own two horses and when circumstances put me on different ones after that time ... well, I have always recognized that I am untalented as a rider and it's only hard work and struggle that's gotten me this far, but man, did I just outright SUCK when suddenly put on an unknown horse!
                                  Equinox Equine Massage

                                  In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
                                  -Albert Camus