WIBU to do a horse share (as a non-rider)?

(33 Posts)
matildasquared Thu 27-Mar-14 14:34:40

Also, middle-aged.

I love horses and always have. I rode ponies maybe three or four times as a child, never really learned technique, just larking. Never had regular access to horses.

I moved to this very horsey village five years ago. Last year my husband bought me two riding lessons as a Christmas gift and I had a great time--although, at 43, I was disappointed at the amount of physical fear I felt. I wasn't afraid of the horse himself, as I could tell he was a gentle boy who enjoyed the exercise. It was just being up so high made me tense up. I'm ashamed to say that in the two lessons we didn't even advance to a trot. I was shaking all over and it took all my courage to sit up properly in the saddle as we walked around the track.

Given the expense (and my lack of progress) I didn't sign up for any additional lessons.

However I keep thinking of horses. I need a hobby too (to counteract stressful job). We have a postage-stamp garden and anyway couldn't afford to keep a horse or pony at present.

Would it be crazy of me to put up an ad or something offering my services to a local horse-owner? I'm imagining a scenario in which I could go and muck out someone's stalls every Sunday, for instance, and then maybe get up on the horse and do a gentle ride around the paddock, building confidence.

I am sure I could do a good job cleaning out the stables and brushing down the horse if someone showed me what to do. As far as riding, I figure if it's a gentle cob or something we could both just take it easy around the pasture--definitely not taking it out on the road or trail.

If you were a horse-owner, would you welcome an offer like this? Or would I come across as a crazy lady who would do more harm than good?

Hoppinggreen Thu 27-Mar-14 14:37:27

As a former horse lover I'd be delighted

Hoppinggreen Thu 27-Mar-14 14:38:03

Sorry, horse owner!!!
Still love them, just don't own one now

matildasquared Thu 27-Mar-14 14:41:18

Another question: there is one particular stable I often pass on walks and last week I happened to meet the owner as she was giving her horses breakfast. I helped her with the gate (her hands were full) and we got talking about her horses. (Her cob Logan has become my particular chum.) Would it be weird if I left her a note or just brought the horse-share thing up the next time we meet?

I don't want to be a horse-stalker.

gordyslovesheep Thu 27-Mar-14 14:41:35

firstly repost in the Tack Room grin

secondly I wouldn't ride a lone horse without supervision 'round a field' if you didn't feel confident on a school horse, walking with an instructor - if anything happened your fear would get worse.

I think there is nothing wrong in volunteering to help out (try a local stables - ours pays helpers in lessons) it will help build your confidence

However you had 2 lessons - I wouldn't call 'only walking' after 2 lessons lack of progress - especially if you are a nervous beginner

I returned to riding after a fall 2 years ago (also 43 btw) I rode okay and gained back confidence but not technique so i went 1-1 for lessons and stripped right back to walk - starting to relearn everything - took months to get back to cantering

it take time and patience!

Voerendaal Thu 27-Mar-14 14:44:05

Sorry but as a horse owner I would be terrified to let you ride evn the safest horse with your total lack of experience and also your fear. Horses area flight animals and accidents happen. What would happen if you fell off , injured yourself and could not work and earn money. Would you sue the owner?
I appreciate you want o be around horses , I love them but I also respect them. If I was you I would go to a BHS riding school and help if you can there.

spindlyspindler Thu 27-Mar-14 14:45:07

I used to ride until I got too fat to feel comfortable doing it. The only thing I would say is that taking care of a horse on a horse-share basis is quite a big responsibility/commitment, as well as being quite technical in some respects - they're quite complicated to look after as there's a lot that can go wrong with them, bless em.

I volunteer at an RDA place (riding for the disabled) which is brilliant because you don't have to go regularly, just when you can fit it in, and they really appreciate the time. Also, you learn shedloads about equine care. You might want to try something like that before you take part ownership of a horse?

But no, YADNBU, looking after horses is massively rewarding even if you don't ride and they are fabulous fabulous beasties. smile

spindlyspindler Thu 27-Mar-14 14:47:32

Oh PS some places will give you a free lesson in exchange for helping out. I wouldn't be massively pro someone inexperienced trundling about on even the gentlest of gentle cobs without proper supervision because horses are fairly spooky at the best of times and even a very gentle horse can freak if a crisp packet blows past at the wrong time. Also, novice riders can be very heavy on a horse's mouth and back until they've built up their core and learned not to hang on by the reins so horse owners might not be too keen on that basis either.

matildasquared Thu 27-Mar-14 14:50:44

Thanks for the encouraging responses!

Voerendaal, you're absolutely right about the liability--I can't believe that didn't occur to me.

There's also the danger that with my bad (or total lack of) technique, I would potentially frighten or confuse the horse. So, yeah, the unsupervised riding would be a dumb idea.

Thanks for the suggestions about the stables. Maybe I'll contact the local stable to find out whether I could volunteer my services just to gain experience around equine care.

Bonus: taking home poo for my garden.

spindlyspindler Thu 27-Mar-14 14:54:22

PPS sorry, I didn't pick up on the fear thing. It can absolutely be overcome but seriously you must build up your confidence and technique under supervision and in a suitable enclosed space like a school - not just for your sake but for the horse's. If I were you I would definitely go down the route of finding a nice friendly local stables to volunteer at and see if they'll let you join in a lesson occasionally in exchange or give you a discount, and see how you like it before you commit to a horse share.

softlysoftly Thu 27-Mar-14 14:54:53

As a former very busy horse owner I would have loved someone that would go muck out, feed, groom and maybe let her run around the indoor school for me but I wouldn't have let you ride.

Might have swapped for me lead reining you and supervised instruction though.

Well actually not on mine as they were all nuts but theoretically!

spindlyspindler Thu 27-Mar-14 14:55:33

Sorry, cross-post!

Yes, please please reduce our giganto muckheap. I often see people furtively filling bags with muck, obviously under the impression that they're stealing a valuable commodity, when the truth is we have very limited space for muck and are desperate for people to take it away without us paying them smile

matildasquared Thu 27-Mar-14 14:58:24

Okay, the riding solo idea was a bit silly of me.

There is a large stable and riding school up the road from me. I'm going to contact them and ask whether they'd like a volunteer!

spindlyspindler Thu 27-Mar-14 15:02:50

Oh no, it wasn't really. I mean, there's so much horsey stuff I read as a horse-mad kid about children teaching themselves to ride on dependable old cobby types with infinite patience, or somehow ending up in possession of an untameable Arabian with whom they form a Mystical Affinity (I am looking at you, Patricia Leitch and Walter Farley) that it really wouldn't be unreasonable to think that you could learn that way!

spindlyspindler Thu 27-Mar-14 15:03:51

(My favourite thing being the whole "Dobbin won't let you fall off" thing. Dobbin can't stop you falling off because DOBBIN HAS NO HANDS)

fuckitall Thu 27-Mar-14 15:05:43

I knew someone who was very nervous, she spent time helping me out with My old mare who is retired, she groomed her and helped scoop the poop and she got some good experience so was less frightened when it came to riding.

A horse share is more than just riding and mucking out, could you honestly say you would know what to do if your horse came in with a cut leg? Everything starts with baby steps smile

Good luck

matildasquared Thu 27-Mar-14 15:06:50

Yes, lol, a wild Arabian who, it turns out, only needs patience and affection. I would be thrown off into the mud again and again (miraculously without injury) until one fine day we break into a gallop, vault the fence, and go riding off into the moors as the music swells.

That sort of thing?

matildasquared Thu 27-Mar-14 15:08:13

Fuckitall--horsey band-aid?

No, you're right, I'd have no idea. I need to get loads more experience and training before I consider anything of the kind.

fuckitall Thu 27-Mar-14 15:27:36

No no no no no

You have to kiss it better EVERYONE knows that grin

frumpet Thu 27-Mar-14 15:37:57

I would go to the school and ask to help out , maybe with lead rein classes and mucking out , grooming , tacking up etc . Also i dont know anyone who did more than walk after two lessons , except for my poor mother who's horse bolted across the school wink

matildasquared Thu 27-Mar-14 15:39:01

Okay! I just sent the following to my local stables/riding school. Somehow I doubt I'll have a positive response. When I had my two riding lessons there they struck me as a bit--snooty, precious? (My instructor seemed completely at a loss at my fear, saying, "The horse is walking on a lead, what exactly are you afraid of?")

But worth a try.

Will also try striking up conversations with Logan and his owner. Will just have to walk by that stable every day now until I run into her again!

^Good day,

I'm interested in gaining experience caring for horses and I'd like to see whether you could use the services of a volunteer, maybe one day per week, at the stables. I'm 43 and I live in [town]. I am not really a rider, having only been on a horse a handful of times. I would like to help with feeding, mucking out stables, grooming, and any other grunt work you might need help with.

I work at a law centre 4 days per week but could commit to volunteering at your stable on a Saturday, Sunday, or a Monday. I could do a half or full day.

In return I am hoping that I could gain confidence and experience around horses. In the future I would like to own a horse or pony but I have a great deal to learn.

Thanks very much. Please feel free to contact me by email or give me a call at x if you would like to talk more.

Kind regards,
matildasquared^

wouldbemedic Thu 27-Mar-14 16:01:32

That's a lovely note. If you don't hear back, maybe call in person to follow it up as I think it all depends on how you come across in person.

Being nervous isn't anything to be ashamed of - it's not even unusual. What you'll probably find is that your nerves start to go when (one day) you can afford an adorable old plod on loan. That's what helped me.

Helping a private horse owner is tricky because you really need a very beginner's horse who is a little bit boring. Those horses seem to be in riding schools on the whole, because private horse owners outgrow them so quickly.

Personally, I would very definitely volunteer with Riding for the Disabled while also reading everything you can get your hands on about horse care. It would be great if you can help out at the riding school also, though I'd go on the Friday morning if I were you as it will be overrun with bossy little girls the rest of the weekend. I'd also save up for ten private lessons with a really sympathetic instructor who understands your situation. You might feel it's very expensive but I found I learnt at least twice as quickly this way, as well as feeling much safer because of the one-to-one supervision. You can also have the best horse that way, rather than having to share the good ones. In addition to that, you can learn to trust one horse, which is much easier than just overcoming your nerves on every horse you meet. You might find there are lessons in stable management available also. As a former horse owner, I'd have been much happier if I thought you'd had formal instruction - though like others, I wouldn't have wanted you to ride without me for a while (though would certainly have given you half an hour in the school provided you didn't lean on my horse's mouth. Or kick!)

The faster you progress, the better placed you'll be to horse share or loan as time goes on. But I would be very careful not to take rides here, there and everywhere. Horse owners forget what it's like to be a beginner and they often don't know what their horse might do with a stranger on its back.

matildasquared Thu 27-Mar-14 16:15:41

There's an RDA stable the next town over! I hadn't realised. They need volunteers on Mondays, too. I just contacted them.

Great suggestion, thank you so much!

SelectAUserName Thu 27-Mar-14 16:38:03

Good on you for being so proactive and determined, OP!

I would persevere with lessons alongside volunteering, ideally private lessons with someone who specialises in or has experience with adult novices - ask at your local riding school, or be prepared to travel to a school which does. I actually think it sounds quite encouraging that you didn't get into trot after two lessons, because it sounds as though the instructor was sympathetic to your nerves and didn't push you into something you weren't ready for or would be uncomfortable with.

You could ask for some lessons on the lunge, to concentrate on your position and to get used to the feeling of being onboard without having to worry about controlling the horse, and to start rising trot safely.

If the nerves persist you might want to look into NLP, which can have good results in this sort of situation.

Good luck and enjoy!

cungryhow Thu 27-Mar-14 16:39:07

good luck, I hope at least one of the options works out for you. You will be surprised how quickly you pick things up, don't be afraid to ask questions. Most horse owners are delighted to chat to anyone who will listen about their beloved animals!

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