can I/will you ride my horse?

This is always such an interesting thought exercise for me.  Inspired by Olivia and T recently, I can’t help but think about who is allowed to ride my horse.

The answer is, much like my horse, complicated.

hawley01 who doesn’t want to ride this?

There are times, especially when Murray has been in regular work, that he is going so well and so easily that I feel like anyone could get on him.  I actually did this a few times in Spring 2015, when my friends and I would pony swap and ride each others’ horses around.  Murray was super — he rode just like I said he would and jumped everything they pointed him at and even dressaged kinda cutely.  It was super.  He was a rock star!  I even promised my roommate that after the Camelot event she could jump him around a bit bigger, I just wanted his health/safety/etc. to be solely my concern until after the event.  And then the evidence of his insecurities and poor training reared its ugly head at Camelot and I spent the entire summer and then some working through that.

And basically nobody but me has ridden him since.  One good friend and one teenager have ridden him for me while I’m gone, but never more than a handful of rides.  And usually he’s good, but they both know me and Murray very well, and know how to keep him fit without engaging meltdown mode.

I really, really want Murray to be the type of horse other people can ride.  What I wouldn’t give for a productive trainer ride is not worth having in this universe.  I want Murray to get used to all different sizes and shapes of butts on his back.  I want Murray to learn to perform under all different conditions and pilots.  I want to get other peoples’ opinions on how to ride him better!

I want help getting this!

The only way to get Murray to this place where other people can ride him is to have other people ride him.  After installing really, really, really good manners in him.  But other people riding him is still a totally an integral part of this equation.

Thanks to certain flamboyant behaviors that someone insists on pulling out (with alarming frequency recently), not a lot of people are dying to get on Murray.  And this is not some round-about way of complimenting myself.  I’m not trying to say that it’s impossible or even all that challenging for other people to ride him.  He’s not hard to stay on, he’s just not particularly easy to get a productive ride out of.  In part because he has learned that by being a punkass he can get out of work with me sometimes, and other people most of the time.  I don’t have a ton of data points here, but it there’s a weirdly strong correlation between someone new getting on Murray and asking for work, and a period of screaming and flailing during that ride (don’t worry, I’m not mixing up correlation and causation) before anything productive happens.  So the people that I want to ride my horse aren’t really all that interested in riding him — they know they can ride him, they just aren’t interested. With good reason.

And then there are the handful of people who volunteer things like “I’ll ride him!”

Is it painting in too broad of strokes to say that by saying those words you almost immediately disqualify yourself from the pool of people I consider capable of riding Murray?

Perhaps it is unfair of me to generalize like that, but Dunning-Kruger is a thing! A real legit thing!  And I think that the people who see Murray being a twerp and are like “I’ll ride him!” either think they can majikally fix him with their special asses — in which case, they need to give me an ass transplant RIGHT AWAY — or think that they can do something that I can’t or won’t do to get him past it (spoiler alert: excluding hurting him, this list has zero items in it).  But if someone is so confident that Murray a) won’t act up for them, b) will act up and they can stick it because they are just that good of a rider, and/or c) they can fix him, I suspect they don’t understand enough about riding to realize why I won’t let them on him.

(I should know, because I was that person, and look where it got me: my horse still bucks, can’t go on the bit, and is now habitually jumping exactly -6″ higher than we were almost two years ago.)

In general, I feel like the people who can accomplish b), c), and then a) get paid for their efforts, and are typically pretty done riding horses with attitude problems because they rode so many of them earlier in life.


I have dreams that one day, in his glory years, Murray will be packing kids around, sassing them over fences, but generally being a good guy who teaches kids how to ride.  But our current predicament leaves us in something of a “Who can ride my horse?” paradox.

17 thoughts on “can I/will you ride my horse?”

  1. Correlation/causation notwithstanding, I’ve definitely known horses that will push ALL THE BUTTONS when someone new gets on, just to see where the boundaries are. You can’t really fault their logic.

    I don’t really care if my horse is the “anyone can ride” type. I do care that I advance his training and make him a better version of himself in the event something happens to me and he needs to be rehomed.

    I usually just tell people I’d let them ride my horse, except I like them too much to do that too them. It’s mostly a lie–I don’t like a lot of people, but I do like my horse to well to inflict them on him.


  2. I love that idea! Although I also have a belief that some people can’t ride certain types of horses due to personality clashes. Ex. an anxious or impatient rider on a hot or sensitive horse. Horses have personalities just like we do!


  3. Oooh! I have thoughts about letting people my ride horse, too. Typically I tell someone either you have to be Charlotte Dujardin (though, she carries her hands a bit high for him… I dunno) or you have to know nothing for me to let you ride him. Not because he’s dangerous or anything, but because you can quickly backtrack his confidence and he’ll take that shit out on me. That’s not okay. I have a few friends who ride well enough, or like me enough, that I’ll ask them to cover for me while I go out of town. And I have a friend who is a confident dressage beginner, who loves booping around with him on a loose rein to keep him moving. Those people are godsends to me, since my old horse has to stay in regular work at this point lest his joints give up on us completely.

    I’m picky about trainers riding him, but mostly because I would rather sort out the issues myself. Exactly twice I’ve found it very beneficial for my trainer to hop on and feel the uneveness and lack of confidence I was feeling but wasn’t able to be seen. I think the trainers were super happy to hop back off and hand his geriatric ass back to me, though! Hahaha!


    1. I actually didn’t even touch on the “fallout” aspect of letting other people ride my horse, and that is a huge part of it too! Even when good riders have ridden him for me, he always feels “different” when I get back on, and (whether or not that different is more correct), I don’t like it!!!

      I would like Murray to get to a place similar to where you have Pig, and have people be able to sit on him and feel what I’m feeling WITHOUT the soap opera. Maybe when Murray is Pig’s age?!


      1. Lol! Maybe when he’s that age! I think a big part of it, for us, was developing confidence in the relationship. I’m not changing every ride now, and therefore he isn’t either. He knows his job, and how he’ll be asked to do it, and he’s very confident in those things. Now if someone asks him for a leg yield wrong he’s less likely to have a meltdown than just ignore them. It’s a help!


  4. lol yea nobody is beating down the door to ride Charlie either, tho for different reasons. he’s kinda clumsy, doesn’t really steer. doesn’t always go, and definitely doesn’t always stop. plus he doesn’t really know how to do anything cool. i don’t think he’s particularly challenging to ride either – he just doesn’t have that way of going that inspires onlookers to dream of getting a shot at him. which is fine. i don’t share my toys well anyway haha


  5. Hah.. Murray… he’s a special snowflake. Like Austen, I’m cool with other people riding my horse if they 1) Have absolutely no idea what they’re doing, or 2) are very experienced/skilled and good at creative negotiation. Dino will throw every trick in the book at a new rider just to see what he can get away with. If the rider lets him get away with it, he gets that idea stuck in his head, but if the rider is very confrontational about letting him NOT get away with it, that’s almost worse since he steps up to the fight. While he definitely won’t HURT anyone.. it’s really, really bad for his work ethic, attitude, psyche, etc. I’m very protective of his mental state, so I only occasionally have other people up on him, and I almost always am there to supervise/coach them through the ride.


  6. For the first two years no one rode Ramone because my trainer is pretty strict in the program. Once it dawned on me that I was going to sell him which meant other people were going to need to ride him I immediately started giving out pony rides and he was good!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m in a pretty similar (I think) boat as yours – the people that I would like to ride my horse typically are in the “Eh….Maybe someday…” camp, and the people who typically say that they want to ride him are small children because he’s adorable and like a puppy on the ground, or something. The girl who catch rode him at the show was actually someone who falls into the first category, so that worked out pretty well. And she didn’t hate him, which was neat since he certainly wasn’t at his best that day.


  8. Oh gosh. I totally know this feeling. May is not an incredibly difficult ride, and I have allowed her to be used once or twice in a lesson for someone who is looking at buying their own horse but they have only ridden schoolies. However, she has also once decided she never needed to stop trotting for a working student (completed about 20 laps around the arena before getting bored and finally walking) and also once deposited a friend of mine (who was eventing her 6yo OTTB at Novice) in the dirt after a jump.

    Both incidents occurred because they assumed she would be 100% perfect without any input from them… As a result, I am now pretty cautious about who I allow in the stirrups, and I am careful to make sure I, or my trainer, has a close eye on them at all times. I will say though, a trainer ride often gives me FANTASTIC input into what’s going on.


  9. Such an interesting post! I will let anyone (within reason) ride Whinney because a) she’s very safe and b) she knows how to stand up for herself. I will let some people ride Lou – a have a friend who is gives her a very relaxed ride so they get on well, but another friend who rode her for a while (and who is a fairly educated dressage rider) got the pleasure of being bucked off because she wasn’t listening to what Lou was telling her…..
    As for Zeph, the only people I will let ride him are my Mum (since she is his part owner & a very conscientious rider), and the trainers I am working under, because he requires a very specific type of ride.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ll let basically anyone ride mine. Within reason of them not getting killed, of course, but I’m not particularly picky. The mule is actually very easy going so long as she’s just doing the basics (and not being asked to collect or dressage or listen) so I even put complete beginners on her. I would love to have more people who actually know how to ride, ride her.


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