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The tack room

Taking the next step

11 replies

bigbaggyeyes · 24/06/2021 21:46

I'm almost 50 and been riding on and off for years, since I was a kid, with a bit of a break when I had young dc. Ive always had lessons at a good school and also hacked, beach rides and the odd jumping lesson, and had a bash at polo. I'd class myself as an experienced novice.

I'd like to take my riding to the next level, start to bond with a horse rather than ride what's available. What I don't know is 'how' to look after a horse, how to look after tack, food, grazing etc etc, pretty much everything.

I live rurally and there's often people who are looking to part loan their horses. I love the idea of this now my dc are older and don't really need much supervision, I have the time now. But I'm a bit embarrassed as I've no idea what to do, other than ride.

Any suggestions?

OP posts:
CountryCob · 25/06/2021 07:39

Are there any colleges near you that do BHS style qualifications? That is where I learnt as an adult how to look after horses before I had my own

NiceTwin · 25/06/2021 07:43

Just be totally honest with the loaner, if you see one suitable.

I have my horse at home, so would be quite happy for somebody to ride her and me still do the jobs. Alternatively, I would be more than happy to tell people how to do what they weren't sure of. We all started somewhere, you have just started later than some.

Good luck in finding one.

bigbaggyeyes · 25/06/2021 09:59

Thank you both. I'll have a look at the courses. I'm off for a lesson today so will talk to them about it too

OP posts:
maxelly · 25/06/2021 10:59

Like others have said, a course maybe but actually just a few 'stable management' lessons from your instructor would see you right. I have sharers for my horses and I actually a thousand times prefer someone who admits to not having a lot of knowledge and who will listen and do what I say and accept guidance, than the kind of dangerous fool who thinks they know it all and will do their own thing. Caveat that we're on a busy yard where there are always staff and other owners around to ask for help, rather than an isolated/quiet DIY yard where you'd be on your own, I would def go for the former kind of set-up as your first share, ideally where horse is on full or part livery so your job will largely be to ride rather than do a lot of care of the horse.

To pick an example from your OP, re feed, obviously it's nice if someone understands the theory behind what horses eat and why, when you would increase or decrease or change the type of feed etc., but actually in practice I 100% decide what my horses have and the most I ever want a sharer to do is give them a pre-prepared bowl of food or haynet, I don't really need any input from them so if they don't know the difference between oats and grass cubes it's no skin off my nose. Likewise on BHS stage 1 you learn the fundamentals of things like different tack options/bits, different rugs, paddock management etc where again, 99% of the time as a sharer all you need to do is follow what you've been told by the owner.

The things I would say you do need to know how to do:

-Tack a horse up (with basic saddle, bridle and boots, if share horse wears something unusual owner will show you how to put it on and fit it) - spot any dangerous wear and tear to the tack.

-Groom a horse ready to ride including picking out feet and checking for stones (again just basics, you don't need to know how to strap or turn out for a show or anything fancy)

-Put on and take off rugs

-Catch in and turn out a quiet horse safely. Know how to tie up a horse safely on the yard.

-Muck out (this isn't really a skilled job per se but it takes a bit of practice to do quickly and not waste bedding) and do basic stable checks ie does horse have water, forage.

-How to do basic field checks i.e. check water, ragwort or other poisonous plant check, scan for any fencing damage and what to do if any issues (99% of time this is report to yard manager or member of staff rather than try to fix yourself!)

-What to do with a hot/sweaty horse after exercise and how this differs in summer/winter.

-General yard etiquette ie general yard safety and security, clean up after yourself and your horse, say where you're going if you are going out hacking alone.

-Important one, how to spot signs of illness/injury and what to do - although once again 99% of the time the answer is find an experienced person and ask for help! However experienced they are I don't really want my sharers trying to treat my horse if it's injured or making decisions about whether to call vet or not, as that's for me as owner to do (or in an emergency, the yard manager), all I want them to do is spot the issue and escalate appropriately!

I reckon I could teach you all that in a couple of hours, a lot of it you probably already know or half know anyway and a lot is common sense. You can get yourself a book for reference (it's old fashioned but I still refer to my Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship for things I need to look up) and like I say, the most important thing is to be honest with owner and find a set up where there's plenty of help and guidance available. Good luck!

lastqueenofscotland · 25/06/2021 16:30

Does your riding school offer stable management sessions?
I feel this might be more appropriate than a loaned horse who may be kind and quiet but very used to competent handling and they may be unsettled by a novice handler or someone taking longer than they are used to.

Pleasedontdothat · 25/06/2021 17:01

Can you start by asking to be shown how to tack up/untack when you have your next lesson? I’m in my 50s and find it much easier to ‘hold’ things in my head if I can do a couple of things regularly and once I’ve got the hang of those, then move onto the next thing rather than have a whole load of information imparted to me in one go. I’ve picked things up gradually over the last 3-4 years that DD’s had her share, then loan, then own horse (then horses!) and can now confidently tack up, untack, groom, pick out feet, change rugs, bathe, wash tail, muck out, poo pick, turn out, bring in, prepare feeds, fill haynets, soak hay etc and know when something’s wrong and I need to get help from someone more experienced. It helps that DD’s first horse is a saint in equine form - her new mare is much less forgiving!

languagelover96 · 28/06/2021 08:11

Hello there

Riding schools are not cheap. My advice is to make a list of local riding schools and book a time to visit over the phone or via email. A course can definitely help you along but you need to be patient and dedicated to your horse.

A good quality riding school will teach you lots of things about horses and so on. Call up the British horse society or take a look at this link with a lot more information

Talk to them about your options for lessons. See if you can work out something. Horses are tricky animals, not all of them are 'easy' to handle.

CaptainThe95thRifles · 28/06/2021 11:59

The main thing you need to learn is that whatever you learn about management at an RS or through a BHS college is probably not how the owner of any share horse would want you to do it. There's more than one way to skin a cat, or, indeed, rug a horse.

When it comes to management, there's an absolute tonne of diversity in how to do things and however much experience you have, to be a good sharer, you need to follow the owner's wishes meticulously. You also need to have excellent common sense, though in my experience, that usually comes from having a complete lack of sense, screwing up and learning from it!

Floralnomad · 29/06/2021 10:31

Does your riding school offer part loans of their horses as that may be a place to start as you will get some experience of riding without supervision but will have the support for the non riding tasks . If not could you ask to help out during the week a bit for a while and tag on with a member of staff . Obviously some owners want things doing a certain way but if you know the basics you can adapt .

ExConstance · 15/07/2021 15:01

How about a little instructional break? There are working and mixed riding/horsecare holidays, not too expensive. The wife looks after the Queen's Highlands at Balmoral.

NeurologicallySpeaking · 21/07/2021 21:31

I was in your position two/three years ago- very similar experiences riding and have had two part loan horses since then. Both owners were happy to teach me the stable management bits I didn't know. To be honest the biggest thing, rather than rugs, grooming etc which I had dealt with before on riding holidays / some stables, was actually double checking my own tack and mounting alone. A couple of times I realised I hadn't tightened up the girth after mounting 😬 The other thing that was tricky was planning my own schooling session without someone shouting at me what to do. I jotted down a few ideas as I found sessions went better if I went in with a plan.

Go for it - I am off loaning for a bit because I have a baby but had a wistful browse this morning and there were a few suitable out there in my area.

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