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I'm wondering if it's even possible for me to ever be able to handle a horse. I don't know if it's 100% me or if my gelding, Al, is just really unusually pushy.

My heart is broken and I just can't stop crying about it but I can't deal with him anymore. I've had no less than 5 people tell me they really want him, that he's an awesome horse. The person I hired for lessons told me she's very picky about who she will "put a leg over" and that she would have bought him in a heartbeat if she'd known he was up for sale. She did tell me, though, that he's "a very pushy old gelding with a lot of tricks up his sleeve."

It's just a nonstop freaking battle with him. I have taken to heart all the advice people have given me and I have never once given in to him when he has refused to do something I've asked him to do. I had to get spurs to force him to go forward when he refuses and I follow the advice to "ask, then demand, then force" by clicking then nudging with my feet and then touching gently with the spurs before finally having to dig them in.

Hooves were the same story - he started refusing to pick them up for me so I got the trainer over and we worked him for an hour before I finally got him picking them up again and I have never ever let him get away with not picking them up for me since then.

He's tricky - I saw him fooling a more experienced person a couple of days ago. He kept "accidentally" swinging his head and knocking grain on the floor while she was trying to use it to encourage him to get into the trailer. He got away with it 3 times before she figured out he was doing it deliberately.

Are there any horses out there who are softer touches? I'm willing to be persistent but I'm not wrestling a horse every time I try to go out to enjoy them. He's too smart for me.

I don't mind a horse that is really forward. I have talked so much about Zippy - the green broke mare I was tricked into riding. I was totally in love with that horse. I stopped riding her for various reasons, but when I was riding her she never refused to do anything I asked her to do, never resisted me when I was on her back. She never tricked me. She was just so green and I was green too and I didn't want to get hurt.

I have good balance and good control of my feet when I ride and I have got lessons on ground work and do exactly what I'm told to do. I just can not handle jerks and bullies and I really feel like Al is a jerk.

Please be nice - I have already heard and heeded a lot of advice. I've done my best to surround myself with experts and they are all just so very helpful and everybody says they can "show me a few things" to get Al to behave. The problem is that they show me those things and I do them and he behaves until he figures out a way around it and then I'm calling people again. I'm exhausted from constantly being forced to assert myself and not ever being allowed to just relax and enjoy myself with this horse.

Is it always going to be like this with every horse? Can I find one who is as sensitive as Zippy or was she only that way because she was green and hadn't figured out how to resist people yet?
 

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No, you just have yourself a bad egg. Sell him and buy a good egg.
My mare is for sale, but she's 20, so I'm not really pushing her sale, if she goes, great, if not, oh well. She doesn't do jumps, just regular trails, she goes where you tell her and unless there is something bad in the way (a cow, snake, nutty dog, etc), she keeps going.
He sounds more like a pony who's gotten away with everything for a long time and nothing but hard effort will now make him move. So he's either a project for someone who wants to deal with a pain in the butt or a pasture puff.
Sell him and find a good, normal horse.

I don't know Zippy's story, but green horses don't know anything yet, they haven't been taught and don't have miles under them, so they are usually all over the place until they learn. Then they become good horses or, like Al, they are allowed to get away with bad things and turn into a bad egg. So it's up to you and your trainer to make Zippy a good horse.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I wish I knew who to trust to help me find a good egg. Everybody just wants to sell their horses and when I bring an expert with me the horse will be just fine for the expert I'm sure.

I know he got away with a ton of stuff with the last person who had him. She was 90 lbs soaking wet and absolutely terrified of him. I only got him because my friend's daughter used to own him and her daughter said he was the best horse she ever had.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well - good news. It's only been an hour since I put on my facebook page that I can't handle him and my friend's daughter who used to have him contacted me and she wants to buy him.
 

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Find a good feedlot horse. Or a house previously used for lessons...and take a few lessons on him. Some horses spend a bit of time figuring out how not to do exactly what a Human wants.
 

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There is no amount of help or advice that is going to change Al with you. It is what it is with that boy. Sell him to the girl that owned him previously, and then go find yourself a good riding horse.

Do yourself a favor, take an impartial horse friend with you when you look at the next horse. YOU get on the horse and see if it does well with YOU, not a trainer who happens along with you to ride the horse for you. Your vet might be able to refer someone to you that could go along to look at prospective horses, and your vet might also know someone with a horse that would work for your needs. Go for a little older horse, say 14 or older, who has been ridden extensively on trails, but preferably not one that has been shown in any competitive western ranch work type shows. Those horses are going to EXPECT their riders to know their cues, to know their moves, and to know their speed and agility. Unless it is a really gentle gelding that was culled from those shows for not being competitive, which might work well for you because they will have a lot of training but not the drive to be competitive and will be easier to manage and handle. You need a horse that is forgiving when you make mistakes, not one that will take advantage of you when you make mistakes.

I never take my trailer when I go look at a horse to buy. Gives me the ability to walk a away if I get the urge to buy something that maybe isn't exactly what I need, but I really like and am having an "I want it" feeling rather than a "this is the correct horse for my needs" feeling:). It works well if I have to go away for a while and think about the horse before I buy it.

There are GREAT horses out there, don't let Al dissuade you from owning a horse.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
What about horses that have been shown in western pleasure or something like that? I'm thinking that the lady who is training Ona for me might have friends who are selling their horses that didn't do well in AQHA for them. I imagine those are the types of horses she will be pointing me toward if I ask her for help. Her husband's family does a lot of endurance racing so I'm also thinking maybe one of his friends might sell an old endurance horse that isn't competitive any more.

The type of riding I would like to be able to do as soon as possible is just miles and miles of trails, most likely by myself because I have a hard time finding people to ride with me.
 

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IMO, an older, well trained former show horse might be a good choice. You want a horse that you can learn on, not one that needs training in what a rider wants. I would rule out any barrel, pole or other game horse. Some of them tend to get hotter the longer you ride.
If the woman that is training Ona does show all over, in class A shows, she might be someone that could help you.
One thing Im not flexible on, the seller gets on and rides the horse first, or whoever has been riding it. I saw a horse go over on a friend when she was assured that that it was kid broke. She broke a hip very badly.
 

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The type of riding I would like to be able to do as soon as possible is just miles and miles of trails, most likely by myself because I have a hard time finding people to ride with me.
In my opinion, this is really an exceptional skill - especially for a horse to do this with a novice rider, and alone. Yes, there are horses that can do it, of course. But there are many factors that make this work -- the horse's training and trail experience are probably 60+% of this (and therefore, are probably not going to be cheap). The temperament of the horse, and the confidence of the rider are the other 40%.

The problem - as I know it, because I am also a rider that began as an adult, and therefore don't have 20-30 years of experience -- is that someone really confident can make almost any horse do this with ease, but *I* can't. Not tomorrow, anyway. You just can't compress 20-30 years of experience into 2-3 years and expect it to be as good.

Unless...maybe, you buy the rare, truly confident, bombproof trail horse -- and they are out there, but can command the price they desire.

So....I guess I would ask whether there is an interim "goal" you might be able to achieve? Can you do arena work; group trail rides; shows with a trainer?

Sorry if this is not the answer you want -- it probably IS possible to find that perfect horse....but I would argue it would be the exceptional horse, not the average horse - and you would need to pay for that exceptional ability.
 

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IMO, an older, well trained former show horse might be a good choice. You want a horse that you can learn on, not one that needs training in what a rider wants. I would rule out any barrel, pole or other game horse. Some of them tend to get hotter the longer you ride.
If the woman that is training Ona does show all over, in class A shows, she might be someone that could help you.
One thing Im not flexible on, the seller gets on and rides the horse first, or whoever has been riding it. I saw a horse go over on a friend when she was assured that that it was kid broke. She broke a hip very badly.
Yes! Always make the owner get on first (or provide a rider, whatever). Just had this conversation with a friend of mine (novice, older rider) that never thought about this. Yikes!

Also - in my experience - on my local Craigslist, I would equate the words "gaming" or "gymkhana" horse to be almost equivalent with "green broke" and/or "not trained". AKA "too *fast* for me, but might be a good gaming horse." I don't think I've ever seen the word "gymkhana" with a horse ad that described any actual training or competition - ever. But, if I saw an ad that intrigued me - I'd ask for lots more details, and would want to see someone else ride that horse before I even considered getting on.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I guess for an interim goal I could train to do western pleasure or something and just go on some group trail rides. Group trail rides would be few and far between because I can't seem to get a group together. When people do endurance races they are essentially trail riding alone, right? Maybe an old retired endurance horse would do it?
 

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IMO, an older, well trained former show horse might be a good choice. You want a horse that you can learn on, not one that needs training in what a rider wants. I would rule out any barrel, pole or other game horse. Some of them tend to get hotter the longer you ride.
If the woman that is training Ona does show all over, in class A shows, she might be someone that could help you.
One thing Im not flexible on, the seller gets on and rides the horse first, or whoever has been riding it. I saw a horse go over on a friend when she was assured that that it was kid broke. She broke a hip very badly.
Molly is right, and I should have specified that the owner should be on the horse first, not the buyer. I meant by saying you should ride the horse and not your trainer, that you need to be able to confidently ride the horse no matter what your trainer can or can't do, and you should be the one testing out the horse after watching the owner or rider get on. I should have been very specific...

I agree also that normal western pleasure horses are much cooler in temperament that the game horses. She put that well in her post. I think the Reiners, cutters, etc type horses are so trained to leg that you better be as well trained in their discipline to handle them correctly and safely. They can and will come out from under you in a heartbeat if you give the wrong signal, where a less hot horse will forgive your mistake.
 

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I guess for an interim goal I could train to do western pleasure or something and just go on some group trail rides. Group trail rides would be few and far between because I can't seem to get a group together. When people do endurance races they are essentially trail riding alone, right? Maybe an old retired endurance horse would do it?
There may be a trail riding group in your area. You can research it online. Everywhere I have lived there were such groups.
 

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We have always done a lot of trail riding, no matter what else we were doing, for the horses sake as well as ours. Going around in circles has got to be boring for the horse, as well as the rider. Once you are fairly sure the new horse understands what you want it to do I would ride outside the ring. Are there fields where you could be seen from your house or the barn where the horse is? Do you have cell service where you want to ride? Once you feel confident in the horse I would go ahead and ride where I wanted to, as long as someone knew where I was, my phone worked and I wore a helmet and maybe a vest. I have been riding most of my life, so maybe I don't worry as much.
Our kids rode endurance years ago, they went out on trails from the time they were eight or so--but not alone, usually with a sister. No one ever had a problem, neither did I, either as a kid or adult. You will know if you can trust your horse. Can you have an accident? Of course, but as long as you use common sense, the risk should not be to great. Riding with a bunch of riders that don't know what they as doing may be worse than riding alone.
 

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Almost all the riding I have ever done has been riding alone on our dirt roads and in our fields and trails. I haven't ridden the horses more than two miles from home though. Zippy absolutely loved it. She would have kept going further if I had let her but the more I rode her the faster she wanted to go. She and I were both green so I decided to stop riding her for various reasons. I loved that horse. I couldn't go under low branches with her and she acted up a bit in open fields but she was great otherwise. Maybe I will be able to buy her next year when she weans her foal.

I just assumed all horses would enjoy that. Maybe I have been too hard on ole Al, expecting him to love it as much as Zippy did. He doesn't mind getting brushed with branches or going under them. He loves being on a trail in the woods but he is one humongous pain in the butt if we have to cross a wildlife trail and we have tons of those. When we would get to one he would refuse to go forward and back into the nearest ditch and start turning around to head home. I had to fight him so hard to force him forward. I got spurs and they worked fine on the first ride without me having to dig in or kick him. By the end of the second ride he was refusing to get out of the ditch unless I kicked him really hard. I know it was a trust issue but it's not like I just took him down a trail right away. I spent months working with him on the ground before our first ride, got lessons.

Anyway. I'm glad I sold him. He was soextremely scary to load and just generally a bully. He was the older "been there done that" horse and zippy was the green broke one. Go figure.
 

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I found a lovely mare that was 17 yrs old to try riding again after 20 years off the horses. She was a perfect baby sitter, but all I wanted to do was walk quietly and get the feel of a horse under me again, my balance and confidence was shot. Star was a total love, though even so she tried to convince me she didn't know how to longe and got away with that for a bit until she actually did one day... then I knew better and she quickly shaped up.

They are out there and I'm sure you can find a great horse. Don't be afraid to let a horse go to a home that is more suited if it is not the horse for you. Keep going until you find that right fit - a more forward horse with good manners and sound basic training sounds good. Al sounds pretty sour and like he needs some retraining - not much fun for you!

I agree that the more specialized reining, cutting and gaming horses will likely be too hot and respond too quickly to cues you might not even know you are giving. A Western pleasure horse might be a great trail companion, or it might only know how to behave in a show ring. I see horses advertised on our CL ads all the time that have ridden and packed elk in the back country, I'm willing to bet they are pretty stable solid horses.

There's a horse training outfit in this area that works with a lot of horses to get them well broken and desensitized to a lot of different things as well as going forward through tarps, water, bridges, etc. I suspect that something from that sort of trainer might be a good fit.

Take your time and be patient. I'm sure you can find a good horse for you. Over the years I've had several that you would have enjoyed, that were stable, willing and fun to ride.
 

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A lot of endurance horses can be pretty hot too - they're basically trail horses who go fast and don't have much actual "training". I rode much of the endurance circuit in the upper Midwest a couple years ago (if I remember correct, that's where you live?).

A 4-H/kids horse might be a good horse for you. I'd advise against some of the WP horses unless maybe they are very low-level 4-H/open type show horses. The AQHA/APHA/ApHC type of WP horses are often trained backwards with "spur stops", using your outside leg to turn, etc., and you don't need that kind of confusion as a beginner rider.

Definitely have the seller ride the horse first, THEN your trainer, THEN you. Your trainer should know you well enough to be able to tell after a few minutes of him/her riding a prospective horse, if that horse will be suitable for you. It also would be really helpful for you to find a more experienced rider to go with you on your trail rides, perhaps with some compensation for their time. You need an experienced friend/trainer/whatever to help you through the sticky spots and possibly ride your horse for you once in a while. I know it seems like you're just forking out money to people when it comes to horses, but that's how it is, especially as an adult new to riding. Horses are expensive, but you getting injured is far more expensive.

And yes, be patient. Easy for us here on the internet to say, I know. You may need to look at or try 100 different horses before you find one that is the right one for you.
 

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I'm not sure where you are located, but my personal choice if I were looking for a safe, reliable horse to trail ride would be a semi-retired ranch horse ... something that isn't quite up to before daylight to after dark rides in rough country but one that has had a job all his/her life and has pretty much seen it all. You can still find them that will push with a novice rider, but it's less likely with a ranch horse, who has never been allowed to get away with 'tricks'.

I wish there were some easy suggestions to find the kind of horse you need/want but unfortunately there aren't. A few good suggestions here and I agree that endurance horses and 'game' horses may be a bit too 'tight-wound' to be suitable. A horse that has been conditioned for endurance riding may not be quiet natured enough to deal with slow trail rides every few days ... a type "A" horse doesn't always appreciate leisure. I'm also a bit wary of arena show horses ... if they haven't had a lot of 'outside' miles in addition to the show training, they may not transition to 'out in the woods' with horse-eating monsters hiding in the bushes.
 

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I'm just going to insert something in here, not trying to start an argument. While for most horses and riders, green plus green equals black and blue, this is not always the case. Much depends on the temperament of both the horse and the rider. I've known people that have gotten horses like this. The horse, from the time you first put a saddle on it's back seems eager to please it's rider, and it doesn't matter how experienced the rider is. Zippy may very well have been that type of horse. W/out knowing either you or the horse, I can't say for sure.

But, if you enjoyed riding her and she did well for you, maybe instead of looking for a horse to own at this point in time, lease a horse for a few months, take lessons and go on trail rides. Then by the time she's weaned her foal, you can see if she is the horse for you.
 
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