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High energy horse for high energy human?

31 replies

Niassa · 29/09/2023 17:13

I’ve returned to riding after a long break and am starting to plan for my own horse within the next year or so.

Natural horsemanship has really taken off since I last rode regularly many years ago and seems to place importance on matching energies of horse and rider but does this mean as a fairly high energy person should I be looking for a high energy horse to match? Or a low energy horse to balance out mine?

OP posts:
twistyizzy · 29/09/2023 17:29

God no it depends on your experience not your energy levels, if you have never owned a horse before then the last thing you need is to over horse yourself. Natural horsemanship has its place but it can also be a load of bollocks.
You match your riding experience to the horse.

Lastqueenofscotland2 · 29/09/2023 18:07

Honestly that sounds like utter bollocks.

Natural horsemanship covers a range of different practices some good, some bad and some questionable at best and abusive at worst.

Buy the horse that best matches the rider you are now. If you are a novice rider, buy the novice ride.

Niassa · 29/09/2023 18:22

Hahaha- fair enough!
I’ve ridden quite a few different horses over the last year- cob/Welsh D/thoroughbred/ thoroughbred x draught/ ISH/ Arab / Morgan and am still none the wiser really. I guess I enjoy the spirited with brakes genre, although Arabs are gorgeous perhaps they would be too much for me.

If only there was an app to tell me what my perfect match would be :)

I’m in no rush ….

OP posts:
twistyizzy · 29/09/2023 18:28

Your best bet is to ask youe instructor if they know of any suitable horses for you. Good ones will have their ears to the ground on the local grapevine.
Seriously owning a horse is very different to just riding them. I adore TBs and they are my horse but I've owned horses for 30 years+ and I've owned TBs for over 20 years. I would never recommend one to a first time horse owner as they tend to be high maintenance and prone to certain health issues which can be mistaken for "bad" behaviour if you don't know the signs.
Arabs can be very hot and again tricky to own although they tend to be more hardy than TBs.
I don't get on with warmbloods especially Fresias at all.
There is some trial and error involved but if you are first time owner you will have a massive learning curve in the forst year anyway so it is much better to have something calm and predictable in nature who will forgive your mistakes and build your confidence rather than the other way round. So many novice owners over horse themselves and it always ends in either disaster or the horse being sold.

Lastqueenofscotland2 · 29/09/2023 18:35

Owning is different to riding and also, riding a hot horse once in a while is very different to being solely responsible for the exercise and management of that hot horse. In the wrong hands they can quickly spiral and become unmanageable.

Lastqueenofscotland2 · 29/09/2023 18:39

I also like PP am an ex racehorse person, I like them I like the way their brains work. My friend has a ISHxKPWN that is just too clever for me, constantly need to be one step ahead of it or you’ll be on the floor. I don’t enjoy essentially playing chess while I’m trying to do what is now my hobby

maxelly · 29/09/2023 22:24

I know it's a boring answer but when buying a 'first horse' you really need to dismiss thoughts of wanting a certain breed/type and purely consider the horse in front of you. Breeds have certain stereotypes attached but they really don't always play out at all, e.g. the safest, quietest most saint-like horse on our yard is an ex-racing TB and the hottest/trickiest is a Welsh X. And of course the majority of what a horse is like is down to how they've been brought up and trained.

I know it's hard because you probably have been building up to getting the horse for a while and have an idea of the physical type/looks you have in mind, and it's easy when you've been used to riding ploddy types to yearn for something more high-powered but it's so, so much easier and more fun to 'razz up' a naturally bit too slow/quiet horse than it is to quieten down a too sharp/hot one. And like others say a horse that can seem very quiet/slow when you try it will often get a bit trickier when in a new home, unsettled, regularly ridden by a novice so for all these reasons I'd always say pick the horse which objectively and unemotionally best meets your needs (as as per PP your needs now not your imagined needs in however long when you expect to be a better rider/more confident/going BE100 or whatever). I say this in an entirely non judgmental way and as someone that has overhorsed themselves several times because I fell in love with their face/personality (I'm not into natural horsemanship at all but I get what they mean by energy), and it's always, always ended in tears - a horse is such a huge investment both financially and emotionally/practically you really need to not run silly additional risks. Not to say you shouldn't like/click with the horse at all but fixating on wanting an arab or a grey with a long flowing mane or whatever is probably counter-productive (although of course if you find the dream horse that also has the ideal personality and training level and at the right price then of course grab it with both hands!).

margotrose · 30/09/2023 09:35

Riding a high energy horse in a controlled lesson environment is very different to being fully responsible for one all the time.

EeesandWhizz · 30/09/2023 10:36

Just look for a horse that you are able to ride now, not one that you think will be good in the future, or with a few lessons, or with some training etc etc. Ignore the breed and colour, they really don't matter, age and size really does matter.

Niassa · 01/10/2023 08:36

Great advice from you all, thanks.

Circumstances mean that currently 95% of my riding is hacking out, on trails and also open ground, usually on and with other TBs but as a small light woman I do think something less than 16.2 might be more ‘me’. I’ve ridden the non-TBs on a couple of riding holidays and various hacks at other places over the summer.
I know I’d like one who has lovely ground manners. I am sick of having to have eyes in the back of my head for a couple I ride who like to give a swift kick or cheeky nip when I’m grooming/ tacking them up.
I agree with the PP about Freisians- they look absolutely beautiful but I rode one earlier this year- for me, so uncomfortable! So I know I mustn’t be swayed by looks.

I’m planning to get some regular lessons soon although I’m just planning to hack out, do fun rides and possibly riding club stuff when I have my own.

I’m still not sure what defines ‘experience’ . I’m definitely wry much still a novice, but estimate I’ve probably spent 140+ hours in the saddle since the Spring and ride 2 or 3 times a week.

Thinking about my own horse is exciting but slightly terrifying as I would plan to keep him/ her for life.

OP posts:
Niassa · 01/10/2023 08:46

My gut feel is a 14.2-15.2hh, chilled and affectionate on the ground, intelligent pretty forward-going but sane horse. Maybe 9-15 years?
Do let me know if you know of any :)

In the meantime I’ll keep musing.

OP posts:
Niassa · 01/10/2023 08:50

I would also keep the horse on part livery at a knowledgeable supportive yard as the more I learn about stable management the more I realise I still don’t know!

OP posts:
twistyizzy · 01/10/2023 09:20

@Niassa an experienced riding school rider will be a novice horse owner.
My advice is lots of riding lessons + also stable management lessons. You will be on a very steep learning curve.
Agre range I would personally say 10 yrs+, you want a horse who has seen it/done it and has a good level of basic schooling. It can be difficult to get a chilled on the ground yet intellgent + forward going when ridden horse. I would re-visit your list and take out intelligent + pretty. For a first time rider looks are the least important thing, personality + reliability should be top of your list! For example warmbloods are often intelligent and that's why they can be challenging because they are unpredictable and can throw lots of things at you. They definitely aren't for first time owners/novice riders.
Lower your expectations of the horse and underplayed your riding experience.
Not sure if you arevin the UK but if you are then highly recommend you go to a BHS yard and do t least your Stage 1 riding + care tests to give you a very basic understanding.

margotrose · 01/10/2023 09:24

I’m planning to get some regular lessons soon although I’m just planning to hack out, do fun rides and possibly riding club stuff when I have my own.

Is there any reason you're not going to have lessons on your own horse?

CocoonofDavid · 01/10/2023 09:30

The pp has beat me to it- advanced at a riding school is super novice when it’s your own horse. Don’t underestimate the challenge of being on your own without back up.

Even having back up on part livery is not the same. You say you are a hacker? Well then you need something that is completely solid as you’ll be out and about in the world, possibly hacking alone? You can’t necessarily predict what you will come across out there. Going on trekking holidays is very different- the horse knows the routes, the guide knows your horse and the route and any potential hazards etc and is there generally to take charge/responsibility for everything.

I’ve been riding for 30 years, had a pony as a teen and my own on DIY for the best part of 15 years BUT there are many horses I’d ride in a lesson or similar under supervision (emotional back up!) of a lesson with a good instructor that I wouldn’t dream of taking home with me because I don’t have the self confidence to manage a hot/intelligent horse without back up on the ground.

You need something that’s ‘been there and done it’ and isn’t going to be perturbed by the daft mistakes all novice owners make.

Its much much easier to jazz a horse up that’s naturally laid back than try and keep the lid on something spicy.

Niassa · 01/10/2023 10:08

@twistyizzy haha- excuse my poor choice of words- I meant ‘pretty (i.e reasonably) forward-going’ ie rather than ‘pretty and forward going’ I don’t mind what it looks like really, although I’m not too keen on very roman noses.
Thanks again all, I’ll have a look at the BHS stage 1 course.

OP posts:
JesusMaryAndJosephAndTheWeeDon · 01/10/2023 10:45

You also have to remember that you don't just have to be able to ride this horse day to day you also have to be able to cope with it when it has had a months box rest or when the ground is so frozen you haven't been able to turn out for a week or when it needs controlled handwalking daily.


I am always very glad that my horse is a bit on the small side and has a fairly sensible brain in these circumstances. I might like something with bigger more expressive paces and more power when things are going well but my god I wouldn't swap her for the world because she makes me feel safe.

twistyizzy · 01/10/2023 10:48

@JesusMaryAndJosephAndTheWeeDon ha ha yes my 16.3 TB with warmblood paces is interesting to handle in the middle of winter when the rain is lashing down or after 5 days of being confined to his stable due to ice/snow etc 🤣🤣 I just laugh at him but he definitely isn't suitable for a first time owner, he would scare the shit out of them with 4 legs off the floor.

EeesandWhizz · 01/10/2023 10:50

Your first horse is unlikely to be your forever horse - as you learn to ride you'll probably want more than a first horse will give. It's a bit like your driving lessons and test - lessons on a riding school horse are so different - you'll really learn to ride once you get your own.

I think you really need to put breeds and looks firmly to the back of your mind and make sure that you are able to get on the horse from the floor - withers to chin is a good indicator of the size that you need to look for. I would be wary of anything intelligent and forward going - it's not something you want at this stage - you need to build your confidence on something sane and safe first.

If you want a written list of what would constitute 'experience', I would probably take a look at the Pony Club C+ test 2023. This is where a good basic horse care and riding really starts in my opinion, and will also give you an easy check list of what may need work. The B test is when riders really start to know their stuff.

twistyizzy · 01/10/2023 10:53

@EeesandWhizz that's really good advice about the PC C+ test.

maxelly · 01/10/2023 10:59

I think don't worry too much about how you describe your experience levels, the only times there's formal definitions are at a riding school where they need to know which class to put you on or, in a limited sense, when competing. Annoyingly the two bear no relation to one another (novice riding school and novice SJ/eventing very different!) and even though saying to someone 'i compete at medium dressage' or 'I'm aiming for a BE100 this season' gives a person an idea of your riding ability it still is pretty contextual. For instance I've ridden all the advanced medium manoeuvres on a schoolmaster but that doesn't make me an 'advanced' dressage rider, and equally I wouldn't fancy my chances of making it round a prelim on the aforementioned mad hot Welsh x without getting bucked or spun off 😂 but that doesn't make me a below prelim level rider either. But my point really is in the 'real world' of horse ownership people just don't ask you to explain yourself by way of riding experience per se, people say things more like 'I've been riding a long time but I mainly hack these days' or 'I'm bringing on my ex racer with the aim of eventing' or whatever and people infer from that accordingly (not to say people aren't into each others business or don't weigh you up and make judgements positive or negative about your riding cos I'm afraid they do 😂, it's just there's not really a simple grading system to do it by!)

Eyesopenwideawake · 02/10/2023 15:39

Have a look at Lusitanos/Luso X - smaller horses with brains and brakes and generally very hardy. If you really want to lose your heart the annual fair in Golega is on in a months time 😊

Eyesopenwideawake · 02/10/2023 15:40
MissCordeliaPreston · 05/10/2023 21:04

I share a pony with my two daughters. There's something in the energy thing. He is completely different with each of us. My youngest is high energy and he feels it and is much sparkier with her than me or the other daughter. My eldest is a perfectionist and that adds to the pony's stress but he demonstrates that stress differently with her. I just want to re-learn to ride and do simple things with him - the first time he was tense, as was I. As I have relaxed so has he and he has become much calmer with all of us since I started schooling him in the very basics.

Our's is a Connemara. He's perfect for all three of us size wise (for now, my eldest will grow out of him..., about 14hh2 and has a good temperament despite being highly sensitive. There are other Connemaras on our yard and they aren't at all the same personality, but are all forward going. I didn't pick him for the breed - some of the best horses I know are proper mixes.

He's a grey and honestly if I could pick and choose I wouldn't get another grey but mainly because I'm a lazy groom and he likes rolling in shit.

Postapocalypticcowgirl · 05/10/2023 21:15

One thing to bear in mind is that owning a horse is probably 90% not riding them unless you can afford full livery. You mention you want a horse with great ground manners (which is sensible) - that is probably not a high energy horse. Although they won't necessarily kick or bite, higher energy horses tend to be the most chilled on the ground, they can be tricky to lead around etc etc. Obviously it's not true of all horses, but something more laid back about life will generally be easier to handle than something "hot".

It's also worth bearing in mind a TB in a riding center doing regular hacks out is being given way more exercise than most private owners will manage. When you're responsible for all the care, you tend to ride less, not more, and a horse that might be hot but manageable in regular work may become very tricky just ridden at weekends in the winter.

I think it's worth thinking that your first horse may not be your forever horse, buy something that feels well within your comfort zone, and a few years down the line you may feel you want something a bit wizzier!

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