I got back into riding a year ago having not ridden for over ten years. After testing out lots of unsuitable horses, I found my current share horse. He has been perfect for me (nervous novice) to get back into riding - he is perfect to handle in every way, great stable manners, super safe and sensible, I can hack out and he is not scared of anything. He is a bit slower than others horses on hacks (lots of trotting to catch up) but generally he is great to hack and I can put up with the slight slowness as overall he is a safe and enjoyable hack.
The problem is he is just so lazy and ploddy in the school. He is 20 and has never really done much school work (except for a bit of jumping and pony club with the owner's kids when they were younger) so I don't expect to be doing advanced dressage, but even getting him to canter an entire lap of the school is an achievement - I can only get a few strides and then he stops. Admittedly I am a novice rider so I am sure part of the blame lies with me.
I just don't really enjoy riding him in the school as it is such hard work for little reward and I am often forced to ride in the school as there is no one to hack with on some days (and I don't want to hack on my own as a novice rider and being very cautious).
I would love a horse that is a little more forward going in the school, but still remains safe and sensible for a novice - is that asking too much?
Do you think I should keep on working with this horse - would it be worth having some lessons on him? I feel like at the moment my riding is not getting better - for example I can't really concentrate on my position in canter as all I can concentrate on is keeping the horse going.........I am also worried that by always riding such a lazy horse I will forget how to ride more responsive horses.
I am just really unsure what to do. As I lack confidence, and I am a novice, the last thing I want to do is take on a horse that is too much for me and 'overhorse' myself. I would rather stick with my current slow boy than that!
Why do you want to ride him in the school? What's it achieving for you? If you enjoy him then yes - have some lessons on him, preferably with someone who is prepared to jump on and do a demo so that you have an idea of what he's capable of.
He sounds like a lovely boy. I often ride out on my brother's horses with a lady who has been riding 30 years. The one she rides is a lovely 16.2 cob but he ambles along frustratingly slowly... until the day I was asked to ride him and he walks out really nicely with a bit of encouragement. So the slow hacking is probably down to you, too.
Don't be disheartened - it's early days. But you'll probably benefit enormously from some tuition which will help you enjoy your riding even more.
Some are just like that though. Dhorse is a forward-going hack, you wouldn't be able to put a novice on him at all, but in the school he is just as Theconsultant describes. We've tried everything to speed him up a bit, lots of transitions to keep him interested, schooling whip, spurs, giddyup rope, even giving him a lead with a mare he particularly likes! My instructor has ridden him too on several occasions with not much more success, she says she admires me because anyone else would have given up by now . The only time he livens up is if my mum runs in front but as she is nearly 70 it's not really a viable option . (and instructor says it's not my riding, I've had lessons on her horses and ridden them all fine).
It depends what type of riding you want to do most of and what you enjoy the most, if you really like hacking and you are happy hacking with your horse then stick with him. If you love schooling and want to do more then perhaps a different horse would suit you better, but you then risk having a less compatible hacking companion. If you've not had lessons on him before then definitely have a few to see if the problem is related to your riding - or perhaps your schooling routine (most horses hate going round and round, you have to get inventive). And at 20, just be careful that his lack of impulsion in the school is not related to stiffness, this is even more reason to have a few lessons. An older, unschooled horse might just find all those bends a bit too demanding, an instructor will be able to see this and assess if there is anything you can work on to improve his way of going.
Yes I'd like to know why op wants to go in the school regularly. Fine for a few lessons but if she's a 'happy hacker' not wanting to compete then I don't really see that it'll achieve much if the horse hates it.
Fwiw the horse I usually ride is lively, athletic with wonderful paces, but after 20 mins in the school he demonstrates resistance by putting in a massive buck if he's given half a chance! It's not just lazy horses that hate the school
OP, I think that you would benefit from some lessons on this horse for a while at least. The lessons can help you sort out the cantering thing in the school for starters. Does the horse in question canter consistently when you are hacking? Is it an effort to keep the horse cantering on a hack? Or only in the school?
Also, as you've described yourself as a 'nervous novice', an instructor will help you to push your boundaries in managing different ridden situations. Even if your riding goal is to have some nice hacks, in time, you would want to get to the point where your confidence is high enough where you are comfortable hacking on your own. And this can be achieved by having lessons where you are taught certain things. For example, when you are hacking with your companions, have you been the lead rider? Managed some quiet traffic and a small group of horses and riders? Skills like this need to be learned, and having some lessons can help you with this.
All those saying "why go in the school?", it is hard when you are nervous and there is no one around to ride with. You are bound to think "oh I'll just pop in the school". Op, is there any chance you could start going out a little bit on your own? No need to rush anything, just do five minutes to start with if that's all you feel you can manage and build up gradually (that's what I'm doing). I'm currently spending a lot of time singing or reciting poetry to stop myself getting too tense, try it, it really works or you die of embarrassment when you round a corner and there are a lot of people there staring at you. I'm still not going far but I've gone from literally shaking to being reasonably relaxed even with the odd spook, not much by other people's standards but I do feel a sense of achievement! It doesn't solve the problem of how your horse behaves in the school, but it is a lot less frustrating when you don't feel you are 'trapped' in there until someone comes along to take you out. Another thing to consider is that when out without other horses your boy might be a lot more lively and responsive (mine is) which will deal with your worry about always riding a lazy horse (though hopefully he will still be safe and sensible).
Well I guess op could go in the school for a plod around by my point was in relation to her comment about 'school work', so presumably she's asking for an outline and not achieving it. If the horse sees going in the school as something negative and is resisting (in whatever form that takes) then I think it's hard for a novice rider to gain from it.
I would definitely have some lessons on him. You may find as your confidence grows you want to move onto something more forward going, but a good instructor would be able to advise you on how suitable the horse is for your current ability level anyway. There is a lot to be said for a horse that you are confident on though, so I would stick with him for now, and see if some lessons increase what you can do with him.
Have some lessons on him and you may find that your view of what he can do may change quite quickly.
If the lessons don't help I think you need to be realistic. It's difficult to find a horse that will give you your confidence back on hacks and be well schooled in the arena, and much more difficult to find this in a share so you will need to compromise. Why not stick with this horse for a year or two and then find a more forward going share?