Novice questions... please reassure me!(37 Posts)
Hello, my daughter is pony-crazy, so we have a one day a week pony share. She loves it, but he's a bit more lively than the riding school ponies I'm used to, and I'm worried I'm doing something wrong! The other people on the yard say we're fine, but are we?!
When my daughter rides, he often shakes (like a wet dog!). Why? Is it a friendly thing or is he fed up?
He often jumps/bucks/fusses when going from walk to trot. No-one else seems to think it's a big deal! Shall I just ignore it?
How can I get him to stop barging me when I'm leading him?
I'm doing my best but I'm feeling a bit out of my depth today! Have I just got too used to lazy old school ponies, is this just what proper ponies are like? Do I just need to toughen up?!
Firstly, I think the shaking is normal. He might be a bit itchy or in need of a stretch. Or he might just think he's wet
Secondly, have you tried putting him through his paces on the lunge? It's always worth taking a look from all angles to see if you're missing any signs of discomfort in his transitions. You could always get an instructor to watch with you if you're not confident spotting things on your own.
Thirdly, barging is just plain bad manners. I wouldn't use a chifney, though, because it has the potential to be used incorrectly and do more harm than good. Make sure you have a nice strong rope, though. I would try doing some in-hand work in a fenced arena. Keep him on a loose rein, reins over head, and just do random stops and turns to keep him paying attention. If he doesn't stop when you stop, back him over the place where he was meant to stop. If he doesn't back, I've been told to give him a light pop under the chin with the rope or the non-buckle bit of the rein. HTH!
Sounds to me like he is not the right pony for you.
Shaking. Is really unpleasant if he does it a lot. We have and old pony with Cushings that gets hot and does it. But it is also a ploy he uses to show he's boss.
Ditto. Barging. It is just bad manners. Practise leading him without a child on. He needs to learn some manners.
Bucking etc during transitions. In my view unacceptable.
To me he sounds not very well trained. There are plenty of lovely ponies out there. Novice or not you shouldn't be intimidated by your pony.
He may sense your inexperience and be taking advantage. Even so. If it's not working, don't be afraid to move on and find a different pony.
Barging is a pet peeve of mine. It can be so dangerous. In experienced hands, I'd say chain/lead over the nose and let him run into it a few times.
Bucking going into trot could be caused by getting caught in the mouth.
It does sound like you need some experienced help in real life.
He doesn't sound the right pony for you. What does his owner say about his behaviour - is s/he there when you ride?
Thank you for your help!
He's so lovely and calm when we're grooming/tacking up, he just seems a bit of a grump in the school, and a right arse if we take him for a walk! I just freaked myself out a bit yesterday, it was hard work with both my kids there. He spooked in the school when he saw DD1 (9) standing at the gate, and that freaked out the 7yo Dd2 who was riding him. And then it took him a little while to calm down, which freaked me out!
But we're all fine, it's not normally that hard. I can work on manners, and I'll find a teacher to help.
The other people on the yard are so kind and encouraging to Dd2, they're always happy to explain stuff to her, and to help us out, i'd hate to leave that. I think I need to work a bit more on my novice-ness, I'm literally starting from 0! Any idea how I could learn more horse-y skills? Maybe I could volunteer at the riding school or something...
The owner is there, but she's busy with the other horses usually. I wasnt sure if I was making a fuss over nothing, if this is just what ponies are like, but maybe I'll talk to her about it... I don't want to be needy!
TBH as your child is so young, and you are totally un-horsey, the owner really ought to be more involved until you've gained some more experience.
Don't forget that you are doing her a favour by exercising her pony just as much as she is doing you a favour by allowing your child to ride.
One of mine is on part-loan (to a very experienced person) but he's still MY responsibility ultimately and if his jockey is unsure of anything I'd be mortified if she felt she shouldn't be asking for advice.
I really wouldn't worry about the shaking - that's normal, most horses will do it at some point, and kids usually learn to find it funny with the right attitude.
The transition from walk to trot issue depends hugely on what you mean by jumps/bucks /fusses - actually bucking would be unacceptable (and suggests a physical problem), but many ponies will "bounce" into trot - slightly lifting their front end rather than the rear end like a buck. That can be a response to excitement, or grumpiness (usually if they're kicked / smacked into trot reluctantly!), a response to a firm rein contact (confusing signals), or a lack of balance. It can also be pathological, but I wouldn't leap to that if he's ok otherwise.
Barging when leading... Really rude, but lots of ponies do it. The easiest way to remind them of who's in charge is to lead in his bridle and carry a long whip if you can - not to batter him, just to tap him up if he lags behind or to remind him to keep out of your space if he shoves into you. It's worth you getting a few groundwork lessons from a local trainer - you can work on his manners and develop some skills to deal with what he does.
You may well find that your local RS runs BHS courses in horse care - these used to be the BHS stages, but I think they've re-branded them to another name recently. You don't have to do the riding side of the course, but learning about the other aspects of keeping horses would be really useful for you. Some of what you learn in these types of courses are a bit rarefied - their method of putting rugs on ponies is a constant source of amusement in the real world! - but you'd learn how to handle horses safely, as well as many other aspects of horse management for if you ever progress to owning your own.
My old Highland was very over weight and used to do the shaking thing, felt like I was riding a blancmange.
Head shaking and bucking between transitions sounds pain related
Bucking in transitions could be a pain issue, I agree. If it's a regular thing, I would take it as a sign of discomfort, not naughtyness. It could be an issue with saddle fit, back pain, or a response to something else. If this is a regular thing, IMO a responsible owner should get this looked at. If he is just doing it with your DD and no-one else, is she causing him pain in some way, e.g. bouncing in the transition? The shaking, if it's very regular, might also be a sign of discomfort.
Regular bucking/rearing/"naughtiness" is so often pain related, or due to remembered pain, and is very different to one off incidents from excitement/high spirits/fear. It's not ok for you to just ignore this.
How is he on the lunge without a rider and without a saddle? A good instructor will also be able to assess saddle fit, and may have some ideas as to what is causing the behaviour.
Is there a reason you've gone for a horse share when your DD is only 7, and you're not very experienced?
I'd suggest getting some stable management lessons yourself, finding a riding school that works through BHS progressive riding tests would be good. You can just do SM without doing any riding, and these would give you a good grounding in all aspects of care.
Finally, if the pony is barging and you are taking him into public spaces, please be aware that if he causes any damage, you will be liable. Do you/your daughter have public liability insurance?
Is your daughter still having her weekly lessons or is she having lessons on this pony ?
Is she having lessons on this pony? What does the instructor say?
Do you know how to lunge or long rein? Sorry for all the questions!
We are sharing a pony (but really just visiting it after school once a week) because my daughter loves being around horses, and wanted to get more involved in looking after one regularly. She's too little to be a volunteer at her riding school yet, and I thought it would be a good way to learn together. I'm a horse novice, but I'm relatively sensible person who likes learning new things!
It's hard because horsiness seems to be something you're born into round here... not many openings for newbies.
I can see from this thread I need to be less mousey, and ask more direct questions.
She still has lessons at her riding schooligans, and I've started looking for a teacher to come and teach her on this pony too. I need to chase that up!
I don't know yet how to lunge or long rein yet.
But you'll be relieved to hear we do have insurance! 😂
Riding and handling a pony can be quite dangerous. I know you know that, but I've seen lots of accidents happen to children in similar sorts of situations to you. I wasn't someone completely born into horses, but I worked as a riding instructor for a while, so I am sympathetic, but I also don't want your daughter hurt or put off by a nasty fall, or the pony hurt.
I do think you need someone experienced supervising your daughter's riding- for her sake and the pony's. At 7, she's too young to deal with a situation like this on her own, and it's impossible to tell what's to be happening, over the internet.
As a first step, before you ride the pony again- have a read/look at basic saddle fit and common problems with saddles- a badly fitting saddle often causes bucking. Ponies do change shape with the time of year so something that fit last summer might be causing issues now.
To check the fit, you should put the saddle on the pony without a numnah/saddle pad. Looking from behind the pony, you should be able to see daylight through the gullet, the saddle should look balanced and not skewed if the pony is standing square. Check for any pinching around the shoulders or the withers- and check there is a decent clearance (about 4 fingers) over the withers. Check the saddle is not coming down the pony's back past the last ribs. Put a girth on the saddle, and get someone to trot the pony up. Check the saddle is not moving or bouncing on the pony's back.
These are only very basic checks, but may help highlight a problem with the saddle fit. Alternatively, when you get an instructor out, ask them to check the fit.
You should also check the underneath of the saddle for any damage. Feel the flocked (padded) areas for any lumps/bumps, and check the tree is not poking through uncomfortably near the front. It's a good idea to check the saddle regularly anyway, just in case any stitching has broken, or there is any damage.
If you think there are any issues with the saddle, talk to the owner, and try not to be fobbed off.
Find someone who can lunge for you- even if it's just an enthusiastic 16 year old (an instructor would be better)! Get them to lunge the pony without the saddle, and with the saddle but no rider. See if the pony behaves the same in both these situations.
Does the pony have any areas of sensitivity when you're grooming? Are they girthy? If you run your hand (firmly) down the back, do they show any signs of pain?
Sorry for the essay, I hope it helps a bit though. I'd consider getting a basic book such as the BHS stage one, or the pony club manual of horsemanship, as well.
A lot of the advice given above is guff, please don’t hit your pony in the face with a rope, please don’t try to teach it that you are the ‘dominant’ one, and please don’t try to lunge if you’ve no idea what you’re doing. Speak to the owner about finding a qualified, kind instructor or behaviourist who trains with empathy, and get the saddle checked by a recommended fitter, and, if needed, a vet. Ponies are not machines, although riding school ponies do a good impression, and it’s better to get a good start doing things in a way that aren’t going to upset your pony than try and undo mistakes.
You've got him one day a week. What's the deal you've made? I honestly don't think it's up to you to pay for schooling or saddle fitting. Be careful what you get drawn into! Have you talked about farriers and dentists and vets? Worming?
But you mustn't let him barge. Bad manners and dangerous, particularly with little children.
It’s pretty hard to tell over the Internet, but from what you’ve said I would guess the pony is uncomfortable. What struck me was you saying it was a nice horse when grooming, but seemed grumpy when being ridden. A change of personality like that, along with the shaking and bucking rings alarm bells for me that the pony is uncomfortable when being ridden.
It sounds like you haven’t got enough experience to make that call though, so I guess you could either voice the concern to the owner or get an instructor to give their opinion. A bit of help from someone more experienced is definitely required. It could be as simple as you aren’t putting but saddle in the right place - I’ve seen that a lot! Or it might be a saddle fitting issue or teeth or back pain - loads of options. YouTube is useful for finding basic checks on saddle fit too.
Agree, for bucking etc I would've tack check, back & saddle check, teeth( dentist) and vet etc but that's not your responsibility, I'd personally ask when those checks were done last. If it's not for years I'd walk away. Poor pony if not.
Plenty of ponies around if you look/advertise.
If you move on to a new pony find an instructor to go with you and explain your novice owners. We all need to learn
If those are done I would look at instructors it's probably a naughty pony with lots of novice riders and s/he become cheeky!
Good luck !
Just to remind people, the OP said:
He often jumps/bucks/fusses when going from walk to trot. No-one else seems to think it's a big deal!
Now that might be a pony bucking and displaying discomfort in transitions, but it might also be a novice horseperson describing a normal pony responding to the sort of unbalanced riding you get from a 7 year old. I'd be really surprised if other people on the yard all dismissed a pony actually bucking in the transition and said not to worry about it.
The OP also did not mention headshaking, which is entirely different from body shaking - the former is far more of a concern than the latter.
I would really advise the OP to find a good trainer to help them with groundwork, and to pursue stable management lessons, but I don't think it's necessary to prophesy doom as some posters are on this thread.
DiseasesOfTheSheep True, it could be absolutely nothing, and I am not imagining full bucks- If they were I imagine the DD would have probably stopped wanting to ride.
I do think it sounds like a potential symptom of pain/discomfort though.
But this is why an instructor is needed to see what is actually going on.
BTW OP, is your daughter riding with a crop?
" but I don't think it's necessary to prophesy doom as some posters are on this thread"
No-but if you have a pony for a day a week when the owner is on the same yard you need to be very careful what you're signing up for. I would be wary if I were the OP.
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