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The tack room

Non ridden companion

8 replies

Toomuchtrifle · 22/03/2021 21:43

After following a horsey thread on AIBU got into a bit of google wormhole starting with track systems and ending up looking at pictures of rescue horses needing homes.

The vast majority of the rescues state they can never be ridden and are suitable as companion horses only. Some are young horses. In my ignorance, what leads to a horse becoming unrideable ever again?

OP posts:
lastqueenofscotland · 22/03/2021 22:46

Injury, very poor confirmation - a lot of those rescued look to me like cobs put together from 183 different horses.
Some horses get pain memory type reactions where they aren’t in pain any more but remember that being ridden exacerbated this and display those behaviours.
Also if the horse is due to its past more nervous/stressed it’s more likely to show dangerous behaviours like rearing/bolting.

frostyfingers · 23/03/2021 07:50

I think a lot of them have issues, a lot are very young and pretty much wild. We have one who was rehomed as a companion only and I think if I spent a lot of time he could have become a lead rein type pony. We have him as a companion and I’ve got him to the stage where he’d have a bridle in, but never put a saddle on to him as it’s unnecessary.

There are so many that I think the rescue centres just don’t have the time and resources to rehab the ponies to the extent that they could be ridden and it’s better to get them out into private hands as quickly as possible. That said, I’m sure a fair number of them are totally unsuitable to be anything other than a companion for reasons of the horse’s physical and mental health.

Toomuchtrifle · 23/03/2021 08:03

Thanks, that's both interesting and utterly heartbreaking at the same time.

OP posts:
maxelly · 23/03/2021 11:11

Yes a lot of the ponies who end up in rescue may have previously had illnesses or injuries, or be more prone to injury because of the way they are put together (all horses even the most lovingly and carefully bred and kept do tend to be injury prone unfortunately, all the more so if they are indiscriminately bred or neglected) - and as PP says even once the injury has healed, horses are nervous animals at the best of times and if they associate being ridden with pain or fear some simply can't cope...

I have 2 rescue ponies who fall exactly into the description of indiscriminately bred small cobby type, they are of unknown breeding rescued from a horse hoarder type situation, where a random set of mares and fillies were left to run with their own ungelded colt foals/yearlings and some stallions, and so inevitably the owner rapidly ended up with far more ponies than they could cope with. They're cob mixed with native at a guess but probably their mothers were far too young to breed from and not particularly sound or healthy themselves, may be inbred also, one has been quite lucky and despite fairly poor confirmation is sound enough for a ridden career but the other has terrible hind legs and hocks and is perpetually going semi-lame...

The other issue is that in order for riding to be safe and enjoyable for both horse and rider (particularly if it's a pony small enough to be a child's pony which is a job that requires very careful training) is that the training process ideally needs to start at a very young age and be carefully managed by an experienced person. The horse/pony should be well handled and socialized from birth and then carefully 'broken in' to ride at the age of 4-5. If they are left as mine were to run wild for years then you try to start training them at 6+ it becomes much harder and more dangerous - it's not impossible with a lot of time and effort to train them to be ridden (horse's health allowing) - mine are - but most rescues have nowhere near the time and resources to do this themselves and don't want to rehome to people on the basis that the horse can potentially be trained to be ridden as (a) you'd get freeloaders thinking they're getting a free kids pony who'd then dump the pony back on them if anything went wrong and (b) the retraining process needs lots of time and expertise which most people simply don't have and it has potential to be very dangerous to both horse and rider if it all goes tits up, so it's much safer for the rescue to hedge their bets and say non ridden only!

It is sad but although most horses do enjoy being ridden, mostly they do also enjoy living a nice life out in a field somewhere as a companion to other horses, it's certainly not a bad life for them. I do think the situation is better than it used to be, grazing is so valuable now and so fewer people have access to empty land/fields they stick ponies on, that you get far less small time/random breeding going on than say 50 years ago - of course there are irresponsible people out there that should never have animals at all.

Toomuchtrifle · 23/03/2021 11:23

@maxelly that's interesting and lovely to hear your rescues have a good life with you now despite how life started for them.

One rescue had a lot of dartmoor ponies, which were basically the unsellable ones left over after a drift auction. I did read somewhere once that they could be incredibly inbred and effectively unrideable because of it.

OP posts:
Daytimetellysucks · 23/03/2021 18:44

My friend has a youngster with juvenile arthritis.

She manages to keep him just about field sound but can’t ride him so he’s a companion for her other pony.

A lady at our yard has one that was abused and badly treated - she rears (proper, fully upright, over backwards rears) if anyone tries to ride her so it’s just too dangerous but is an absolute sweetie on the ground (she’s been fully examined and had several full work ups)

I’ve got a retiree OAP who can’t really be ridden again, although DD occasionally hops on for a slow bareback wander from the field back to her stable. She has arthritis and it got the better of her - we are able to keep her field sound but she’ll never be in work again.

TheFnozwhowasmirage · 23/03/2021 19:14

I had one who was beautiful,looked like a Barbie pony. She belonged to a friend,her son bought her from Melton horse sales with his birthday money. He was able to ride her,but if at all stressed, she'd lie down and not get up until she'd recovered. She was able to be ridden on lead rein by tiny tots after he'd outgrown her,but you took her off at your peril. She went to a loan home where an adult rode her, despite being told not to,and after that she was unrideable by anyone. She came to me as a companion,with a reputation for being difficult,but I loved her and she always knew what was expected of her here,so never got stressed. She was with me for a few years,and I lost her last September. I miss her every day.
frosty fingers I'm glad to see you on here. I was Mirage before my name change,and I remember you from horse threads years ago.

frostyfingers · 23/03/2021 22:56

I’m still here, I don’t post that much but always read the horsey threads. Have had the usual heartbreak and joy from my lot, and still learning!

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