The Primary Importance of Suitability
Suitability is often a factor that is ignored when buying a horse or pony, I feel this should be the number one priority. It is also a factor that a USEF judge takes into deep consideration during competition.
Safety, safety, safety.
Eight out of ten falls off of horses in Junior or Amatuer classes are often due to the unsuitability of matching the right horse to the right rider.
Is a Grand Prix jumper that Beezie Madden might ride the right match for a rider’s first horse? Obviously not. A horse at that athletic level has too much natural athletic ability for a green rider. One unexpected move would probably be enough to unseat the less seasoned rider often ending in a fall.
The beginner rider needs an experienced horse or pony who will teach them the rudiments of riding, safely. The intermediate rider, again, needs an experienced horse to progress quickly and safely. Once a rider can competently jump a course of about three and a half feet asking and getting flying lead changes when needed — that might be the time to get a super athletic or a green horse.
Many riders who love this wonderful sport become frightened because of falls that often could have been avoided if the suitability of matching a horse and rider had been more carefully attended to. More often than not these riders will drop away from the sport.
This is a good time to bring up the subject of riders returning to this sport after a lengthy absence. Often, riders in their youth were exceptional riders and start right back where they left off – with the super athlete. Unfortunately, unless in an exceptional training program with a very experienced trainer, this too can lead to disaster — unlike the rider above who is happy with her horse.
It is not a bad idea for these riders to step back onto a horse for an intermediate rider for a time before striking off with the super athlete at first. A few broken bones can quell any rider’s enthusiasm.
Often, trainers are put in the position of finding the right horse for a rider on a tight budget. Econmics plays a big part in the game of unsuitability. If a budget is very low often a green horse is bought for a green rider. A phrase that is common amoung trainers is “Green plus green equals brown (dirt!)
It is a hard lesson to learn and most horseman have learned it the hard way, so don’t be like one of us, learn the easy way! Buy or lease a well seasoned, often older, maybe not so fancy horse for yourself or rider that is on the steep learning curve of horseback riding and suitability. As time and skills are improved or brushed up on the fun and thrill of that brilliant athlete will be cherished instead of dreaded.