We recently had the opportunity to check-out a couple of older horses for clients. One of the horses, a gelding, had been rescued from a rescue that was no longer financially viable. The other horse is a mare that we’d crossed paths with a couple of times over the past 10 or 12 years and really liked.
Neither horse had been ridden for a while. And, in the case of the rescue horse, the new owner had very little idea of what type of riding the horse had done previously. Amy and I have a “standard” pre-ride check that we’ll do with horses that are new to us regardless of age or history. This pre-ride check helps us get familiar with what a horse has been exposed to and how he may react to pressure or to situations that he’s unsure of. It also allows some time for the horse to develop a feel for the new human that’s just entered his world.
As we’ve developed better awareness of what horses tell us, we’ve been able to partially replace reflexes with good judgment. When we get on a new horse for the first time we have confidence that we know what we are getting on and have the tools to help the horse figure us out quickly and comfortably. Older horses may have been exposed to more things than a colt and they may have developed some habits, good or bad, that have helped them cope with their previous life. The nice thing about all horses is that they are honest about what they tell you. The human just has to learn to listen well!
Both of these horses checked-out really well and we were aboard and enjoying the time with them within a few minutes. It may be a little vain to think it but, we felt like these horses really liked what we offered them. We felt some of the things that these horses knew that we really liked and some not so much. We had a conversation about all of those things and found common ground where we could be comfortable today and establish a base to build from tomorrow.