Sunday, January 9, 2011

Your First Horse: Part 2

I remember my first horse. My parents bought a feed store after my dad's work closed resulting in him getting laid off. My dad had always wanted to own a retail store - his dad had owned a hardware store. Working at the feed store always results in meeting a ton of interesting people. One person we met was a horse trainer, I'll call her DVO.

I had been asking for a horse for years. I wanted to take lessons and I used to count horses that we passed while on road trips. Eventually my wish was granted. I could get a horse and take lessons with DVO. I only followed a small amount of my own rules when I got my first horse. DVO was going to take us to visit several horses and the first one we visited I fell in love with (don't do that. Look around at multiple horses before you settle on one). I rode him around the pasture walk, trot, and barely a canter and I wanted him. Sure it took an hour to catch him, he veered off towards his buddy when I rode and he would only canter a few strides. I didn't care, he was the one. He was a 16 year-old QH gelding, 15.3 hh and I would say he was about green broke.

He didn't want to canter, then when he did he wouldn't stop, he wouldn't bend, didn't know how to lunge and refused to be caught. Oh and he bucked and tried to rub me off on fences. But he was perfect in my eyes. Luckily DVO was a fantastic trainer and she helped me to reform my wily horse. He was not a beginner's horse, but he turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. I would never, ever recommend that anyone get a horse like Grady. He was a brat to say the least. But I was a fearless child who tried my hardest. It didn't matter how many times I fell off or got bucked off, I would get back on. I learned quickly, took weekly lessons and rode almost every day, practicing what I learned. I had a great trainer, a place to ride at home, always wore a helmet and my parent's were willing to cart me around to lessons and 4-H.

Today Grady is a very well mannered old man that I will own forever. He taught me so much about perseverance and training. He made me want to learn more about training horses, not just riding. He is still a brat when other people ride him and still has the occasional buck left in him but he is a totally new horse.

My lovely boy :)

I'll use one of my lesson kids as an example for what can go wrong when buying a horse. She took lessons from me for two years - she rode english and was interested in learning how to jump. She had taken lessons at a fancy hunter barn before meeting me through my parent's feed store. They were planning on buying a horse. They had plenty of money (illustrated by their beautiful brand new Pessoa saddle and girth that they brought to use for every lesson) so I envisioned a dead broke, fancy Appendix QH to learn to jump on and show english pleasure. I advised them to take a horse trainer along with them when looking at horses. They ignored my advice. Things got busy for them when school started again and I never heard from them again. Talking to someone else, I learned that they went out and bought a cutting horse. It was a very nice horse from what I heard, but do you know their reason for buying it? Well, the daughter complained about a horse that they tryed out because it wouldn't do what she wanted and she blamed it based on the fact that it was a western horse. So the mom, to teach her a lesson that it was the daughter's problem, not western horses, bought her a cutting horse. The horse is super hot, way too much so for a first horse so they have invested a lot of time and money in taking lessons and putting the horse into training so it can become a quieter horse. The daughter has found that she enjoys chasing cows, but the horse is still too much for her. The horse is now for sale. 

So yeah, please don't follow either my example or my student's example unless you are one of those people who is not afraid of horses and will work your hardest every single day of the week to make things week. But even then, sometimes (make that all of the time) a well-trained, well-suited horse is worth every penny.

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