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Can every physically-sound horse be ridden?


Can every physically-sound horse be ridden? Or are there some horses that are just not good with a rider? I have heard of expensive horses being sold at auction for peanuts because no one could ride them.

There are many reasons why a physically-sound horse might find riding stressful or difficult and act accordingly. First of all, even if a horse is sound, it is important that all the tack used for riding is comfortable for the horse, suitable for the type of riding and appropriate for the rider. If any of these elements are not in place then the ride becomes stressful for the horse. It is also important to understand the level of training and fitness each horse has and be sure that the horse has the foundation to perform the skills asked of him. 

In addition, the horse’s conformation should be considered Some horses are just not built for the upper level disciplines, and regardless of training – will find it too difficult to meet performance expectations. The only thing the horse can do is act out physically to express its discomfort and frustration.

However, if all these things are in place and the horse is STILL unhappy being ridden, there are some more extreme possibilities to consider, such as:

–         Has the horse had an unpleasant experience that it is relating to riding? Remember, horses have very long memories and often connect unrelated fearful events together. For example, if a horse is frightened by a sudden unexpected noise during one of the first few times it is saddled, it may associate the feeling of fear with saddling for a very long time and act accordingly.

–         Has the horse had sufficient ground training to prepare it for the fact that a human is going to sit on its back (in a blind spot) and direct it around? If the horse is not convinced of the leadership abilities of the human riding it, the horse may begin to make its own decisions.

–         Horses communicate mainly with their body language. As a prey animal, when a horse perceives something in the environment as a threat it natural inclination is to run away. When this is not possible, they may resort to bucking and rearing as a display of aggression and a message to the threat that they are no easy target. The presence of a human, who the horse perceives as a benevolent leader and who is not afraid of the threat, may help diffuse the situation.

At present, there are many good horses on the market now that are going to auction. A horse with a riding issue has stiff competition to find a good home – so many times these horses are sold for next to nothing.