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Skittish horse- am I being precious?

(17 Posts)
Noofly Sat 26-Mar-16 22:01:58

As a disclaimer, I know nothing about horse riding. In fact, I am scared of horses!

DD(10) has been having group lessons for 3 years but to be honest, until a couple of months ago she's not had any interest in progressing and has been happy just walking and trotting around the barn and doing itsy bitsy jumps. She started having regular private lessons a couple of months ago on top of the group lessons, but she's very much a beginner rider.

She's usually on a lovely gentle and calm horse, but every once in a while she's put on a very skittish, easily spooked horse. She likes this horse- she says she responds with barely any touch/movement. I get incredibly nervous when she is on her because she (the horse) is easily spooked- the wind rattles the barn doors, she's spooked. Another horse gets too close, she's spooked. I've watched her take off and throw various riders over the past three years.

Until last week, DD has kept her under control, but last week a horse was acting up behind her and she took off doing 2 giant cantering circles around the barn until DD got her under control. She was then skittish for the rest of the lesson and tried to take off a couple more times, but they then gave DD a helper and between the two of them, they kept her under control.

I'm not sure what I'm asking! I think I'd like to know if this is perfectly common and something DD needs to learn to deal with (DD just shrugged it off) or is it not OK to have such a skittish horse in the beginners riding group- I.e. should I ask that DD not ride that horse or is that me being precious because I'm scared of horses?

britnay Sun 27-Mar-16 07:58:58

Any reputable riding school would not put a rider on a horse that they did not think they'd be capable of handling.

Noofly Sun 27-Mar-16 13:23:53

Do you mean that she shouldn't be put on a horse that she might not be able to stop from taking off once spooked or that it's OK for her to be on this horse because she was able to control her after a couple of loops?

DD wasn't phased by it at all. She says she knows what to do it the horse takes off- seemingly she could tell it was about to happen and thought, "Oh great. Here we go." I was busy thinking, "Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap. Stay on. Don't fall and break your arm".

Floralnomad Sun 27-Mar-16 13:28:31

The only thing I would say is that if your daughter has been having lessons for 3 yrs and has not progressed past the 'beginners' lesson I'd be looking for a different riding school . With regards to the 'skittish' horse , if they are having to get a helper to presumably lead your daughter then that's not acceptable as your daughter will not be learning much .

thatcoldfeeling Sun 27-Mar-16 13:31:30

Not acceptable for any level of rider Imo (within a riding school context).
I wonder whether it is a working livery horse. Request that your dd does not gave this horse and consider another RS.

thatcoldfeeling Sun 27-Mar-16 13:31:58

*Have not gave.

Noofly Sun 27-Mar-16 14:26:08

Floral I'm not fussed about her lack of progress, tbh. Until a few months ago she had no interest in really learning how to ride. It's just been a bit of a fun activity on a Friday afternoon. The riding school would check this on a regular basis and she was quite adament that she just wanted to go round in circles round the barn over and over and over again and having a great time doing so. It's only since Feb or thereabouts that she's decided she would quite like to learn to properly ride and so she's had private lessons on top of the group ones. She loves the private lessons and they are like night and day compared to the group ones (so much so that I'm considering just switching her to privates).

She doesn't normally have a helper. She was given one for the last 10 minutes last week as once spooked, this horse is more likely than not to be spooked again.

OK, so it sounds as though I'm not being overly precious about requesting that she not have this horse if her normal one isn't available. Good. grin

DollyTwat Sun 27-Mar-16 14:53:07

Hi Noofly, my son and I started riding lessons last October. I've ridden over the years but never got the hang of cantering really. So my son was the same as your dd for ages being happy just trotting etc then he had a canter on the safe steady pony he likes, and he wanted to canter all the time

He got put on a different, more responsive horse, and didn't like it at all. So we ask for that horse specifically each week. Or a similar steady horse

I'm the same, I ride a particular horse in the ring, because she's not so responsive and I need a horse that forgives me doing the wrong things. But I have to ride a different horse on a hack because the other one goes a bit mad in the field

Ultimately it's what your dd feels safe on and happy riding I would say. We don't go riding when it's really windy as I don't like riding a spooked horse either. But don't feel shy about requesting a particular horse, most people do I think

thatcoldfeeling Sun 27-Mar-16 14:56:50

As for private vs group lessons - pretty sure from my experiences that a private lesson is worth abt 5 group lessons!

DollyTwat Sun 27-Mar-16 14:58:54

I'd agree! I share lessons with my ds as we're the same stage - well he's better than me actually!

Noofly Mon 28-Mar-16 08:28:27

Yes, we're finding that as well! The private lesson isn't quite double the cost of the group lessons but it's 100 times better so value for money it definitely seems worth it now that DD has decided she would quite like to properly learn. She's like Dolly's son- didn't want to canter but now with the private lessons, she's decided she likes cantering so much better than trotting and would happily spend the whole lesson doing it. (and thank God for that because I suspect she would have fallen off the skittish horse last week pretty quickly had this happened a couple of months ago before she was comfortable cantering.)

DollyTwat Mon 28-Mar-16 12:59:07

Both me and my ds like the steady old horses, they don't get spooked at much! They don't go very fast either!!

madcapcat Wed 30-Mar-16 14:10:54

As a horse owner (and nervous rider!) I would be guided by your daughter tbh. If she's happy riding the sharper, spookier mare and the riding school are keeping an eye on it by providing a helper when necessary she will probably be learning far more than if she only rides one (or one type of) horse/pony. You should also speak to her instructor - they will be able to give you a much better assessment of your daughter's ability to cope with this mare and her spookiness. (NB They should be focussing the discussion on why your daughter has the ability to cope and what she is learning - it would be a red flag for me if their points were confined to something like "but that's the only horse available" and not on suitability)

The other thing that may be worth mentioning is that I find things look MUCH scarier from the ground than they do when you're on board - I used to find it really scary watching my horse being ridden by others (even if he wasn't doing much wrong) because he looked so fast / so powerful, but riding him just felt like being on a moving sofa, even when he was being really wicked and bucking / galloping in circles round the indoor school.

AnchorDownDeepBreath Wed 30-Mar-16 14:14:08

I think if she's happy and she knows what she's doing, I'd leave her to it. I think your fear of horses is conflicting things for you.

The horse might be more skittish than you'd like, but your daughter seems happy and if it's a good riding school, they clearly think there is benefits to giving your daughter that horse... and I'd agree with Mad that she's learning a lot more on that horse!

Noitsnotteatimeyet Thu 31-Mar-16 20:28:16

Dd loves the skittish ponies at her riding school as they're more fun to ride

Her instructor insists that she rides all the horses she's got the ability to cope with as she learns much more that way

Occasionally she's had a horse zoom off around the arena but she's always managed to get them under control

If you're happy with the riding school your dd's at I'd leave her and them to it

Booboostwo Sat 02-Apr-16 14:45:52

The problem is that if you want to progress in your riding you have to challenge yourself. There is nothing wrong with enjoying horses at a particular level and not wanting to go further but if you want to go further you need a horse that helps you learn without frightening you. The difference is crucial, the horse has to be a step up, but not a step too far because too big a challenge can dent the rider's confidence.

If your DD is happy I would leave well enough alone. Of course seeing her being carted around is scary for you but in a sense that is riding, it is a dangerous sport and if you ride you must accept that sooner or later you will fall. Also on this particular issue learning how to stop a skittish horse is an invaluable skill. Even the most placid of horses can take off on a bad day; the beginner's reaction is to curl their body and pull on the reins which makes things worse. You have to be taught to sit up and half-halt a horse that's running away with you and it's best to learn this in the safety of an arena rather than out on a hack heading for a road.

StableYard Tue 12-Apr-16 13:52:33

I think your DD sounds fantastic! My son and I both ride and I am NOT happy on skittish horses. The fact that they don't phase her, shows that she is better than what she is "showing" in her lessons. Riding isn't just about staying on, it is being able to remain calm and know what to do with a flighty one. I haven't mastered that yet!

There is one horse in particular that I don't like and if they try and give me him then I refuse. I don't pay £25 to be scared and have my confidence zapped.

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