I used to be a regular reader of the English riding magazine, Your Horse, and while reading one day, I came across a piece in the "Riding Answers" section that concerned me so much I felt compelled to write a little about here on my Web site. The "Riding Answers" section is where readers write in questions to the magazine and they are answered by the magazine's panel of experts.
The piece in question was from a woman who stated that she and a friend had just purchased a young horse which had been broken, but had received no schooling and she wanted some advice as to how to proceed with the horse's training. She went on to state that neither she nor her friend had any previous experience with young horses and in fact, she herself has had little involvement with horses since owning one ten years ago.
What worried me most about the woman's query was that she had waited until after purchasing the horse before beginning to ask questions about it's training. She stated that she had no lungeing equipment or an area to school in and asked questions about feeding, bitting and clipping.
It was apparent that she had not given enough thought to the realities of owning a young horse prior to purchase and did not have the facilities in which to keep and train one. My advice would echo that of the Your Horse staff member who replied in the magazine--that the woman should seriously reconsider her purchase (as she had not yet taken delivery of the horse) and aim instead to increase her knowledge of horse care, horse management and riding before looking for a horse to buy.
I would also suggest that she look for an older, more mature and well-schooled horse, as a young horse will be dependant on the rider to give him consistent guidance and will not be as tolerant of a novice rider's unsteadiness and inconsistent aids.
I would think twice myself about taking on a youngster for training (and I have been riding for 30+ years) . Although I am a competant rider, there have been times when my horse, Annapolis, and I have not seen eye to eye on a training issue and I have reached a training impasse. So I feel sure that a inexperienced rider and a green horse would only be a recipe for disaster.
Young horses need consistency in their training which I don't think inexperienced riders are able to give. Aids need to be the same each time to enable the horse to understand what is wanted. A novice rider who is inadvertantly shifting his weight all the time or whose rein contact comes and goes is only going to confuse the young horse and cause frustration. This in turn will frustate the rider, who will get angry when the horse does something other than what the rider thinks he is asking for. It can be a vicious circle.
When I first starting building the About Horses Web site, in May 1997, I wrote three articles on the subject of buying a horse. One of which, Finding the Right Horse for You, discusses the things you should consider when looking at horses--for example, your experience, the horse's age and training level, your intended use for the horse etc.
I'd like to hear your opinions on this subject--let's hear them on the EquiSearch Forum.