Green horses are definitely not the easiest equines to handle or care for. They are still relatively new to the whole “horse and rider” ideology, and they might still cling on to some of their wild instincts and tendencies. To be fair, even the most docile horses still have a bit of wildness in them, as well as some self-preservation instincts. All that being said, is it a good idea to buy a green horse if you’re a new, inexperienced rider?
The answer is that you shouldn’t buy a green horse as a new rider. There’s a very good reason for this: learning together just doesn’t work. You need to be confident enough in the saddle and to have some prior experience with riding horses before you can hope to handle a green horse successfully.
If you’re inexperienced and the horse is green, there’s a good chance that none of you will learn anything worthwhile. Bonding is also more difficult to achieve between a new rider and a green horse. So if you are a new rider, just go with a more experienced horse.
One that has gone through advanced training, and one that will obey your commands without question. Trained horses are more at ease anyway, even with new riders. They are easier to work with, and the chance of an accident is greatly reduced. Still want to buy a green horse, though? Here’s what you need to know about them beforehand.
What is a green horse?
In the horsemanship world, “green” is a term used to describe a horse that has received little to no formal training. It’s worth noting that some horses are greener than others, but the same thing can be said about riders as well. Some riders are “green” in the way that they are inexperienced. As I mentioned above, paring a green horse with a green rider is never a good idea.
Ever heard the saying “Green on green makes black and blue”? What this means is that pairing up a new rider with a green horse will result in some “black and blue” injuries (bruises).
Some tips for dealing with green horses.
Green horses are prone to certain challenges and issues that simply don’t factor in with trained and more experienced equines. That said, no horse comes already trained off the pasture.
All horses need time, commitment, and discipline in order to become the best versions of themselves. Up next, I will list some of the main challenges that you’ll be faced when dealing with a green horse, and then I’ll tell you how to overcome them.
- Use positive reinforcement. Rewarding your horse for a job well done or for a command obeyed is the key to progress. Horses learn by association, so rewarding it quickly after it followed your commands is a very useful training tool.
- Never blame the mount. If something doesn’t go according to plan, take a step back, and see what YOU can do better. Never blame the mount for shortcomings and failed training sessions. Horses don’t think like us, and most of them are doing their best to understand us and keep us happy. Horses can pick up on human emotions such as fear and frustration. Don’t let these dominate the training sessions. Instead, adopt a positive attitude and always seek to better yourself. Your mount will follow.
- You will need to hack quite a bit. Hacking represents riding for pleasure or for exercise. Your horse is green, yes, but that doesn’t mean that you should confine it to limited space and hope for the best. One of the best ways to bond with your equine companion is to ride it and spend time together, getting to know each other. Hacking offers a great opportunity to practice your horse riding skills while allowing the horse to get acquainted with your mannerisms, riding style, and personality.
- Asking for help. Sometimes you might be stuck – might think that you’re not making any progress. The horse is not to blame, so maybe it’s all you. It can be difficult to carry on when you no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel. My advice is to ask for help. Don’t ever hesitate to ask for help, even if you think you know it all, even if you think there’s no more hope. You’re a new rider, remember? There are others out there who’ve overcome these obstacles, and who will be glad to help you do the same.
- Some horses are just easy to spook. Horses have their own personalities, and some of them are easier to scare than others. When talking about a green horse, it might be easier to spook than usual, but that’s only because it’s still clinging on to its wild tendencies. You can learn to adjust to its reactions, and you can mitigate its response somewhat. However, don’t hope that your horse will get over its spooky tendencies altogether.
- If you want to buy a green horse that shows promise, always look at its walk and canter. You can train a decent trot at a later date, but a horse’s walk and canter are much more difficult to improve as it matures.
- Don’t think about the timeframe. If you set up clear time-based goals for you and your new green horse, you might be disappointed when you miss a deadline. Instead, focus more on achieving progress even if it takes a long time. Some green horses might surprise you and they might end up being fast learners. Others, not so much. Keep in mind that you’re in this for the long run. It always helps to note down each day while keeping track of the horse’s progress. This way, you’ll have clear evidence that what you’re doing is making an impact.
Buying a green horse as a new rider is not a good idea, but if you do end up with a green equine that requires training and attention, make sure to stock up on patience and ask for help. More experienced riders and handlers will be able to point you in the right direction. Learning together as you go along won’t work. Instead, make sure to learn as much as you can yourself and then try to teach your green horse some new skills.
If you have a more experienced, trained horse that you can practice with, you’ll get a better understanding of the equine discipline. You’ll know what to aim for at the very least. There have been cases in which a new rider was able to bond with a green horse in little to no time. Those are exceptions, however, and should not be viewed as the norm. In general, experienced trainers deal with green horses, and new riders learn the ropes on well-trained equines.
It’s safer and more enjoyable for everyone involved.