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Am I giving up too soon? re: making a trail horse into a ring horse

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  • #21
    I'll disagree with the majority & say that ring work can be interesting for the horse, I suspect this horse is having a physical issue - has a vet checked him for soreness, teeth etc? if you really like this horse, this seems a worthwhile investment, especially as it's something you should do before purchase anyway.

    Horse is still going out daily plus your lease rides - I wonder if the increased workload has brought out some soundness issue, especially if horse is working harder in his ring work now.


    • #22
      When you're in the ring, are there other horses visible to him?


      • #23
        Sannois- do you take your horse out alone on the trail? There is a short trail around the farm that I would absolutely love to do alone. I wouldn’t do the long trails by myself but this one would be more of a short hack around the fields that would be great. The only bad thing about this horse is that he will NOT ride alone. Even the experienced people won’t ride him out alone. He does best with at least 1 horse but you can see he’s better with 2 or more. Then he’s solid. Just unflappable. But alone he kind of freaks out. So if I want a light trail ride after my lesson I’d need my trainer to saddle up as well. I know she won’t do that. She’d say, “He’s fine! Don’t let him tell you what he wants.” Or something like that.
        But with this guy, I don't think any amount of trails will make him like the ring. I think he's just not a ring horse. I can accept that now. I just need my trainer to see it.

        Yes I take him out alone. I find if I do not take him after I work him in the ring, the next day he is more sticky and unresponsive.
        We do Dressage on the trails, Shoulder in, Leg yields, Find a log or two to trot over. He is forward and soft.
        Do you have a small field or pasture you can do your Flat work in? I also find that is really a great way to work on things for yourself and not have the ring so to speak. For me even with my old TB, Who evented he really disliked Ring work, But take him in the field and I could get all sorts of work out of him. I think it is good for them and you to mix it up and make it interesting.
        Curious, What does he do when you take him out alone?


        • #24
          The only bad thing about this horse is that he will NOT ride alone. Even the experienced people won’t ride him out alone. He does best with at least 1 horse but you can see he’s better with 2 or more. Then he’s solid. Just unflappable. But alone he kind of freaks out. So if I want a light trail ride after my lesson I’d need my trainer to saddle up as well.
          I missed this part
          Look for a different horse! a horse that does not go out alone does not fit into my definition of a successful trail horse
          soooo if he's not suited to the ring & not suited to the trail, he's likely best as a lesson horse.


          • #25
            Originally posted by RhythmDivine View Post
            he only bad thing about this horse is that he will NOT ride alone. Even the experienced people won’t ride him out alone. He does best with at least 1 horse but you can see he’s better with 2 or more. Then he’s solid. Just unflappable. But alone he kind of freaks out.
            Based on this alone he is not the horse for you.
            You can't do the ring work you want w/o a fight.
            You can't trailride unless you have someone to go with.
            Too many holes in this horse for it to be enjoyable for you to own him.
            Continue your lessons on another horse, continue your group trailrides on him.
            Keep looking for a horse to buy.
            Hope you find one soon!
            *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
            Steppin' Out 1988-2004
            Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


            • #26
              First off, a horse ridden by numerous riders can be very confused if asked to do any more than the basics.

              A 15yo horse that is conditioned to do mostly in-line (trail) riding can easily become body sore when asked to work on changes of bend, outline, gait etc..If he's been somewhat ouchy he may now associate the ring with that discomfort.

              Sounds like he's got a touch of buddy sour too.

              Actually he doesn't sound like the best choice for a "go to" or "everything" horse. They are out there. Look at and try many before you invest.
              Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"


              • #27
                If he was fine being ridden once a week and now is acting up on a more regular schedule I would look at saddle fit, teeth, joints, muscle pain, etc. This is an area where many trainers are very defensive and if you bring up saddle fit you are more than likely going to get "of course Dobby's saddle fits fine, he is just acting u and you need to learn how to get after him" but the reality is that very few trainers are qualified to evaluate saddle fit, subtle lameness, muscle soreness, etc. Of course a trainer can give you a general idea but there is a reason people go to saddle fitting school or become lameness specialists.
                It shouldn't be your responsibility to fix and train a lesson horse though. If my trainer was not taking active steps to address any health and training issues I would ask to ride another horse or look for a different facility. There is nothing wrong with moving on if a trainer does not have the resources to provide you with the horse you need at this stage. An advanced beginner should not be expected to train or fix a horse. That is a quick one way ticket to developing bad habits and potential fear issues. Beginners need solid citizens until they have the confidence and skill set to address problems.


                • #28
                  He sounds less and less like the horse you need to be buying.

                  Barn sour is definitely not a good trail horse either.

                  That horse has some problems that seems to be making him unsuitable for what you want, at this stage of your riding.

                  It may take several more horses before you find one that is really suitable.
                  Some trainers have a good eye for fitting students with their horses as they move up, some just "make do" with what is there.
                  Your trainer may be one of those and that is why you are getting red flags all around.

                  I would hold off on buying quite yet, keep taking lessons, keep trying horses and looking, something will come up.
                  As I think you have realized yet, you will love any one nice horse out there, this one now, another next, later yet more and that is fine.
                  There is room in us for all of them.

                  If standing up to your trainer's pressure here causes problems, I wonder if that trainer is really that suitable for what you need.
                  Maybe you can make decisions on this without your trainer getting cranky, that would be best for all, I think.
                  I was always taught that putting the horse first, being very sure it is happy is the mark of the good horseman.
                  Trying to fit a square peg on a round hole?
                  No one can be happy doing that.

                  Owning a horse can teach you much, or become an exercise in futility and years of horse enjoyment lost to fighting situations that are not working.

                  Keep giving this a thought, don't let anyone pressure you into anything that will make you or a horse unhappy.


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by RhythmDivine View Post
                    The only bad thing about this horse is that he will NOT ride alone. Even the experienced people won’t ride him out alone.
                    He won't happily do the ring work you want nor will he trail ride alone (which is something a good trail horse will do). I am sure he has a nice personality (as you do appear to like him), however, I would definitely find a horse more suitable to your needs.

                    Even though you want to do ring work, it's nice to take your horse for a ride on the trails by yourself. Needing to find another rider to go out on trails every time will get frustrating especially since he doesn't do well in the ring either.

                    Find a great horse that can happily pack you down the trail when you want and that enjoys working in the ring. The right horse makes a huge difference and the wrong horse (for a particular person) can really rob your enjoyment of an expense hobby.


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by RhythmDivine View Post
                      Thank you all for your answers!

                      To answer some questions:

                      This horse does mostly trail rides by other people. He's one of my trainer's go-to horses. So he does a trail ride just about every day from late spring until fall. She had only used him a couple of times as a lesson horse for the ring. I loved him so much on the trail, then I rode him in the ring and he was great. I didn't think he would be a good ring horse so I was surprised he was so good for the first few months.

                      Now he's still going out on trail each day with someone, just not me. I'm the only one who rides him in the ring. The place I ride is a mish-mosh type of barn. Mostly pleasure riders, some western, some english, mostly trail, some ring. So it's not much of a specialty barn. Don't know if that matters or not.

                      I love obstacles in the ring and the horse does respond better when we are doing cones or poles. It just still comes down to the fact that I don't see him as a happy ring horse. My trainer just laughs and thinks I'm too worried about his feelings and that no horse likes their job, etc. But in my gut, I just feel like I'd be selfish making this horse do any ring work at all. I think the most he does is tolerate short bursts of the ring, that's it.

                      I was thinking of just riding him when I go out on trails and finding another horse for the ring. That is really what I'm leaning toward. Then eventually I'd like to get my ring horse where we can go blow off steam and do a trail. But I'm thinking it might be easier to get a ring horse and get him used to short, fun trails than turning a trail horse into a ring horse.

                      But my trainer just insists that any horse will act up in the ring and that no matter what other horse I buy, 6 months from now he'll be testing me just like this horse. I can handle a horse testing me. Been there done that. But I really don't feel like this horse is testing me. I feel like he just hates what he is doing. Sigh.
                      I'm sure my trainer isn't happy about being so close to selling a horse only to have the seller back out. I'm sure that sucks. But I told her that I do want to keep leasing him and I will buy another horse hopefully soon.
                      How long are these daily trail rides? Sounds to me like he may also be over worked and very tired, which would make him feel even less like doing drills in the ring when he doesn't enjoy it.

                      Your trainer is lucky that you want to keep leasing him, and I don't think you should. What you are not buying is a horse that has developed behavioral issues related to what you do. IMO he just is not a suitable horse for you at this time. When you are buying a horse (first horse or first horse for new discipline anyway?) it should be safe and a pleasure to ride. He isn't being that horse. Not his fault, just not it. I think many of us have had the Mr. Wrong horse who we tried to make work out for way too long, it isn't worth it for either of you. You are doing the right thing.


                      • Original Poster

                        Thank you again for all of your help!

                        This horse is definitely buddy and barn sour. My trainer said that if I took him home in a different environment he wouldn't be that way. I have one foundered, senior horse right now who would be his pasture mate. At this barn, he's kept in a pasture with 8 other geldings. So there is the buddy sour thing.

                        The barn does one hour trail rides. Because of the storms, we have so much mud that lately they've only gone out a couple times. But typically he would do a one hour easy, beginner trail ride 4 -5 times a week.

                        He has a super calm personality. He's a stocky, grade quarter horse. Not a flashy horse at all, but because of his calm personality, I thought he was the type of horse I should be looking for.

                        Every time I've mentioned trail riding alone to my trainer she kind of rolls her eyes. She insists that it takes a well trained horse and advanced rider to take a horse out alone. Now I'm an advanced beginner in the ring, but I'd say I'm intermediate on trails. To do a short trail ride around the barn property doesn't scare me in the least. I tried taking him out once and it looked like he was willing. Then it was like he realized we were alone out there and in a split second he did a 180 and started heading back to the barn.

                        I managed to stay on I think because it happened so fast! I couldn't get him back on the trail so I hopped down, walked him out to the field and did some ground work and lunging only so that he wouldn't think that acting up got him out of work. I spoke to my trainer/barn owner and she made it sound like asking a horse to go out alone is a tall, tall order. So I kind of just put trail riding alone out of my mind and focused on the ring.

                        But now the ring isn't going so well either. He doesn't appear sore at all. The farrier has been out recently and said his feet look great. The work I do in the ring is kind of tedious but not hard. When I do ride in the ring alone it's about 30 minutes. But lately with his antics, I get about 15 minutes in before he shuts down. They said he used to be a ranch horse and he's used to working long hours.
                        But, my trainer got him a couple years ago from this guy who basically does a lot of horse trading. So sometimes I get the feeling they don't know as much history on this horse as they claim. She will say, "oh he worked a ranch for hours a day! This should be like a vacation to him! He's not working too hard." But the more I think about it and after reading replies here, I think he's been mostly a string trail horse his whole life. And that's not a bad thing. He's great at his job.
                        Someone who has never been on a horse in their life can get on him and go out in a group and he'll take care of them. Doesn't spook at anything on the trail.

                        But the trail alone? Nope. The ring any more than once a week? Nope. I'm definitely going to keep looking. I have a $5,000 budget. I don't care what breed, sex or color the horse is. I'll take a horse up to 18 years old. A grade horse is fine. So I don't think I'm being too fussy. I'll find something.


                        • #32
                          Cross-posted with you. After reading your post, I'm glad you're going to keep looking. I don't know what horse prices are like in central Va., but around here I'm sure you'd be able to find the horse you want in that price range.
                          Last edited by pAin't_Misbehavin'; Jun. 13, 2013, 12:10 PM. Reason: cross-posted
                          I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


                          • #33
                            For that price, no more than you are asking of a horse as in age, breed, looks and training, not a fancy horse you can go show in the basic classes at small shows, you should be finding one for about half that much.

                            That horse sounds way overpriced.

                            For that price, you really need to find a better trained and more versatile horse and without re-training issues.

                            I say, keep looking and don't get impatient, the nicer horses are harder to find because they are not that many of them out there for sale, but they are out there.

                            I would see what other local trainers may have available, trainers maybe that go to open shows and have students moving up and their very beginner packer horses come up for sale, some that may be just what you need, to learn to ride in the arena and still be good trail riding horses.


                            • #34
                              This horse is definitely buddy and barn sour. My trainer said that if I took him home in a different environment he wouldn't be that way. I have one foundered, senior horse right now who would be his pasture mate. At this barn, he's kept in a pasture with 8 other geldings. So there is the buddy sour thing.
                              Yea, he'd be worse at home. Keep looking.

                              It's been my experience to get that in PA requires at least $6k. Everything else has huge holes.

                              And yes, horse pricing in PA is all outta whack.


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by RhythmDivine View Post

                                But now the ring isn't going so well either. He doesn't appear sore at all.
                                At your level of experience I doubt you could tell if he was sore. I'm not saying that to be disparaging, it's very difficult for even the most seasoned horse people to detect subtle lameness at times.

                                I'm dealing with loose stifles in my horse. He's always been a little loose and an extended lay-up really pushed him over the edge. He's perfectly sound hacking out but if I ask him to bend I can tell he's just NQR. I've got a vet and a chiropractor involved but it's taken quite a bit of time to sort out the different issues and come up with a treatment plan. Almost no one can see that he's off, I just know it under saddle. If you were to watch him move it's unlikely you'd even see it. This horse was always happy in the ring or out. Now I'm keeping arena work to a minimum because too much hurts him. It's not boredom, or him being naughty. He hurts.

                                What you describe sounds like a physical issue to me. The horse has been part of a hack string and is able to do that just fine. Then you ramped up the workload and started adding bending and smaller figures. I could be wrong but I'd guess the horse hurts somewhere.

                                I still doubt that he's a good match for you but it's unfair to label the horse a "bad" ring horse without at least having taken a good hard look at possible physical issues. His owner should do that or just let him be happy and comfortable as part of a trail ride string.
                                "Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple” – Barry Switzer


                                • #36
                                  i hope you don't take this as offensive to you, but your trainer really does not sound like a knowledgable or sympathetic horse person. comments like "no horse likes their job" and "all horses will test you in the ring" are completely asinine and untrue. also, telling you that he will be LESS buddy sour at home with one other horse is the worst advice i've ever heard! if anything, he will be twice as buddy sour with only one friend (not to mention if you take him out and your other guy is left alone he may get very upset too). if i were you i would look around for another trainer.
                                  My mare wonders about all this fuss about birth control when she's only seen a handful of testicles in her entire life. Living with an intact male of my species, I feel differently! WAYSIDE


                                  • #37
                                    Barn and buddy sourness are training issues that should have been dealt with. I question the trainer's judgment for recommending him to you. Those behaviors do not go away magically. The horse needs retraining.
                                    “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

                                    St. Padre Pio


                                    • Original Poster

                                      This horse's price is $4000 which I honestly thought was high for a grade horse but I figured, a good horse is worth their weight in gold. So I was happy with 4k because that put me under budget.
                                      OneGrayPony a horse that rides in the ring and alone on trail would be 6k? I know pricing here on the east coast is nutty. I'll read about people out west who found a great horse for $500. Here if it's $500, you're lucky if he's ever had a halter on him.

                                      I don't want a show horse. I'm not interested in showing or anything. I just need to know some foundations of riding. I've been riding a few years now and I don't know how to do things like turn on haunches or forehand, my rollbacks are pretty lame, collection, etc. I really wanted to buy a horse through my trainer because I'd get to know the horse better and have more of a history on it. Here we are 6 months in and now I find we aren't a good match.


                                      • #39
                                        $4k sounds extremely overpriced! i'm in SE PA and that seems like a lot for a 15yo grade horse who can't go out alone on the trail and tries to buck you off in the ring. that sounds like a free horse to me.
                                        My mare wonders about all this fuss about birth control when she's only seen a handful of testicles in her entire life. Living with an intact male of my species, I feel differently! WAYSIDE


                                        • #40
                                          Yea, the market is really really screwy here on the east coast.

                                          You might have the best luck finding one amongst the fox hunting crew. Are you on Facebook? There's a group that often has suitable sounding horses called "Hunt Horses for Sale".

                                          Just saw a nice TB in MD for 4k that sounds very good for what you need. She's on the smaller side with not enough step to make a hunter/jumper - those are good choices.