What Is A Lesson Horse?
A lesson horse is a horse used to learn horseback riding. These are the horses used by riding instructors to teach methods of riding to beginners. An individual who is learning how to ride may also own or lease a lesson horse. A lesson horse is usually trained in a special way. It must have certain characteristic traits that will make it suitable for learning. You need a reliable lesson horse for your riding lessons. A good lesson horse must be well-rounded. This is to accommodate riders of different skill levels, including first timers. Proper learning is much easier when the horse is accustomed to novice riders. A good lesson horse is integral to a rider’s early education. They ensure safe learning. This is why special attention must be given to schooling a lesson horse. An ill-trained or bad lesson horse poses danger to new horse riders.
What Are The Qualities Of A Good Lesson Horse
Like human beings, there is no such thing as a perfect lesson horse. But, a horse that is to be used for lessons must have certain qualities. When choosing a lesson horse, you should consider the following traits. These are the set of qualities that make a good lesson horse.
A lesson horse must be sound. This will determine its performance. This is why you should conduct a pre-purchase exam before buying your lesson horse. Through a pre-purchase exam you can find any fault the horse may have. You will most likely be riding the lesson horse every day, sometimes more than once. You should ask about the horse’s history. Try to find out if it had any leg or hoof problems in the past.
You should try and find out about the horse’s health record. Don’t buy your lesson horse in absentia. You should take your veterinarian there to conduct a pre-purchase exam. That way you will be able to verify the horse’s health. You don’t want a lesson horse that is prone to illness. You will end up spending a fortune on vet costs. At the same time you won’t gain the most satisfaction from using the horse. A good lesson horse is one that is not prone to tying up or any reoccurring health problems.
A lesson horse does not need perfect conformation, it needs basic conformation attributes. A horse with good conformation will be able to perform day-to-day tasks efficiently. A lesson horse with conformation problems can be prone to injury. It can also start developing soreness. This is the last thing you want in any horse. Will the horse be competing in horse shows? If so, poor confirmation can have a poor effect on your performance. Especially in classes judged on the horse’s form and correctness. A longer backed horse may have a hard time carrying heavy riders.
The number of disciplines a horse can perform determines its value. Your lesson program may involve exercise in different disciplines. A lesson horse that can be ridden in English and Western discipline is good. It’s even better if you can use it for dressage, saddleback, jumps, and hunts as well as equitation. These attributes make the horse more valuable.
A good lesson horse should be able to carry a wide variety of riders. This is important if you will be using the horse in a riding school. Your students will be different kinds of people with varied skill levels. These are riders with different weights, sizes, and riding abilities. A flexible horse will be able to adapt to any rider. It can also adapt to different riding styles, riding ability, and experience level.
Maturity and Experience
Age is a very important factor in choosing a lesson horse. Some people prefer to go for younger horses when purchasing a lesson horse but the years of experience should also be considered. A horse with years of experience is more reliable for novice riders because the horse has experienced different situations in its lifespan. A middle aged horse is often ideal for riding programs but you may decide to buy a younger one. Make sure it’s not too young though.
If you are running a riding school, your lesson horse will be ridden by more than one person. In fact it may be ridden by different people every day. You don’t want a horse that will pose a danger to your students. A good lesson horse must be able to keep its rider safe. You should school the horse to be willing to please its rider. The horse should have a good understanding of what is expected of it under given situations. It must be willing to do its work gracefully.
Patience is a virtue that a good lesson horse must have. This is because many of its riders will not be overly experienced. They are finding their way around horses and learning how to properly ride a horse. A very good lesson horse can help a beginner figure out the right moves and instructions. If a rider gives a confusing cue, instead of misbehaving, the horse will wait until the rider gives the correct cue. This will help the rider understand what cue produces the intended outcome.
You don’t want to trade a well-mannered horse for anything. A horse with good manners both in the saddle and on the ground is priceless. During lessons, a lot of activities take place. A good lesson horse should be able to deal with the chaos of group lessons. A horse that bites, kicks, or bolt is not very safe. These habits are dangerous to inexperienced riders as they may end up getting hurt.
Horses can be aggressive. Many mistakes can be made by a rider who is learning to ride. A bad lesson horse will respond aggressively to some of these mistakes. A good lesson horse should remain calm and be forgiving.
Five Questions To Ask Yourself When Shopping For A Lesson Horse
What kind of lesson do I need the horse for?
The kind of horse you need for beginners may be different from that of advanced learners. A horse for beginners may not need to fulfill too many requirements. A horse for advanced learners needs to be more skillful and conformed. It should be able to serve the rider’s for improvement.
What should the size of the horse be?
The answer to this question depends on who will be riding the horse. Are they adults or children? A big horse is suitable for adult riders. While a small horse will do for children. A pony is also a good idea. A large horse can look intimidating to some children. This is why a smaller horse is advisable.
What kind of discipline will I be using the horse to learn?
The kind of discipline you want to use a lesson horse for should be considered. The different disciplines range from hunter, western, dressage, jumper and others. The conformation of the horse needs to be suitable for the particular discipline. The horse should be able to carry out the basic training of that discipline. It may also be taught, but it must have the ability to learn fast.
What will happen when the horse becomes unusable?
You should think of the retirement options for the horse right from the onset. This should inform your decision when buying any lesson horse. You should know the other usage options available that you can explore when it’s no longer fit to be used as a lesson horse. This will help you maximize your purchase expenses on the horse. You have to remember that you won’t be using that horse for equine lessons forever. There should be a plan B.
What will be the horse’s resale value?
Many people see their lesson horse as a pet. They grow up loving it and could be together forever. While this is a good way to see your lesson horse, the situation will not always be the same. Especially if the horse is used in a riding school. A time will come when the horse is no longer useful to you. At that time keeping the horse will no longer make financial sense. At that point, you may have to sell it. But you will want to sell it and recoup some of the cost from your original purchase. You should always consider your options right from the point of purchase.
Best Lesson Horse Breeds For Beginners
Some horse breeds are more popular with beginners and are usually recommended as lesson horses. These breeds have a better temperament, they are well mannered and calm, they are not prone to vices and are more dependable. This does not mean that these breeds are perfect. Not all the horses of a particular breed are reliable. There are individual exceptions but generally the following breeds are regarded as more suitable as lesson horses.
American Quarter Horses
American quarter horses are very versatile and flexible. They are popular among English and Western riders. Their good temperament makes them a good choice as lesson horses. They make good beginner horses. This does not mean there are no individual exceptions.
Draft breeds are enjoyed by beginners and experienced riders alike. They are very quiet. They are forgiving and steady. These breeds are dependable enough to accommodate a beginner’s mistakes. They do not exhibit vices that could hurt learners. But, draft breeds come in large sizes. This can pose a challenge to children riders. It can also make it harder to maneuver. Mounting them alone can pose a challenge!.
Examples of gaited breeds are Icelandic Horses and Kentucky Mountain Horses. These are specially bred horses. They are intentionally bred to be hardy and exhibit good temperament. You don’t have to learn to post the trot. They are well suited to learners who are suffering from back pain and knee problems. These breeds are reliable and trustworthy.
Have you have decided to own a horse of a particular breed? You still need to ensure you are getting the right individual. There are always going to be individual exceptions to the suitability of these breeds. It’s your responsibility to ensure you are getting a lesson horse that meets your requirements.
How To Prepare A Lesson Horse For Inexperienced Riders
It’s no news that most of the people that will be riding a lesson horse are inexperienced riders. It’s important that the horse is properly prepared for this purpose. The horse should understand its job, and should be willing and ready to do it. The rider will attempt all sorts of movements. The question is how will the horse react? An inexperienced rider will still be fumbling with the reins. The lesson horse needs to be able to regulate its speed on its own.
The riding instructor should create a kind of controlled experiment. This is to test the horse’s readiness for another rider’s ability. Then, the instructor can condition the horse based on the feedback received. This exercise is important for horses that are entering a lesson program. Whether in a riding school or privately owned lesson horses. This is not meant to disorientate or desensitize the horse. The aim is to identify the fears of the horse. It is meant to prepare it. It is also meant to prevent the horse from overreacting to variations in cues from different riders.
What should happen before even allowing an inexperienced rider to mount the horse? The riding instructor should prepare the lesson horse. They can work the horse to let it get out any built up energy. This will help to prepare the lesson horse for the task ahead. It will make the horse become more patient with a beginner rider.
Here is a quick guide:
Start with the walk before gait.
Observe the horse in the different scenarios the horse is likely to encounter when handled by a beginner. Examples of such are occasionally losing a stirrup and unrefined cues.
Observe tensions in the horse. Instances of shying, high head, and jerky movements should be noted. These are indications that the horse is uncomfortable and nervous.
Build the horse’s confidence by trying to stabilize him. If you notice flapping hands makes the horse nervous, avoid while being ridden by a beginner.
Create a reward mechanism. This is to get the horse used to the different unrefined actions he is likely to encounter with the learner.
The inexperienced rider is likely to give big or loud cues inadvertently. Give those cues and immediately alternate by quieting your body.
How To Prepare A Lesson Horse For Nervous Riders
Expose the horse to nervous riders. Do this by imitating the likely nervousness of the inexperienced rider. The more you do this, the safer the horse becomes for riding. You can be confident that the horse will adjust in unexpected situations over time. This will ensure the safety of future rider.
This is like the steps outlined for preparing a lesson horse for inexperienced riders. Consider how a typical nervous rider acts and reinforce these actions. Take note of how the horse responds. Nervous riders are usually tense. They have an excessive grip on the reins. Hunched shoulders and tight legs are attributes they exhibit as well. It will naturally interpret this as a motivation to keep going fast. You need to make the horse understand that they need to check in and slow down in such situations.
A faster gait from the horse may cause the nervous rider to panic. This will produce more confused cues and the horse may end up becoming aggressive. You can make the horse slow down by tipping their nose into a circle. Gradually spiral them until they stop. Reward the horse with a scratch on the back. This will help them understand that slowing down under such tense circumstances is the right thing to do.
Horse lesson programs can be a daunting task. It can also be life threatening if not well managed. Many people have been injured while learning to ride and can sustain serious injuries. It’s important that you have an appropriate horse for your riding lessons. A good lesson horse should have all the qualities discussed in this article. You shouldn’t settle for less for the safety of both trainer and students.
Table Of Contents
Chapter 1 – What Is A Lesson Horse?
Chapter 2 – What Are The Qualities Of A Good Lesson Horse
Chapter 4 – Best Lesson Horse Breeds For Beginners
Chapter 6 – How To Prepare A Lesson Horse For Nervous Riders
Chapter 7 – Conclusion