A "For Fun" Horse

I’m not sure what the correct terminology is for this. For fun horse, backyard bronco? Just referring to a horse that is non-competition track that you keep at home or somewhere other than the trainer where you keep your competition horse(s) . If you’re doing it, how is it working out? Do you find it tough to divide your riding time, for example?

I would call that a recreational horse, or a trail horse if that’s what he did. Or a Semi retired horse if that’s the situation.

Riding two horses daily is a challenge even if both are at the same barn. Riding horses on two properties regularly is going to be more challenging, regardless of the status of each.

In the long run you will likely gravitate to riding the horse that gives you most satisfaction.

Maybe you actually prefer the comfort of your semi retired long time partner and are secretly nervous about going out to ride the hot young performance horse at the trainers.

Maybe you find your backyard pony frustrating and boring, and you are thrilled with the progress on your competition horse and want to spend all your time out there.

It’s rarely or never that we feel exactly the same enthusiasm for riding 2 or more different horses.


True… You always have such good input, @Scribbler!
This would really be more for my teenager than me. Though I’m actually a bit smaller than her & could ride it on days she could not. I’m thinking something that she could dabble in another discipline on. More oomph than a trail horse, but not something that has to be kept in a program at all times to keep it from going feral. If that makes any sense.

What happened was while looking at prospects for a division pony, we saw a few inexpensive, fun-looking horses that were not suited to what we needed but could be fun 2nd or 3rd flight hunters or low schooling jumpers. We found a lovely lease & are all set there. She keeps checking to see if the sale ad for a certain pony is still up. Last night, she said “I’d really like something like that but [Trainer] would never let me.”

I pointed out that many of the families we know keeping even their own comp horses at home have way less experience than we do. And reminded her that I’ve kept numerous horses of my own alive & well at home, been a barn manager, & even had a few boarders at the old farm. I’d probably narrow it down & then pay one of the trainers I ride with to come with us to see the finalists.

Between Covid & the social atmosphere at the current
barn, I feel like now is a good time for her to try out a different discipline or at least go foxhunting regularly again. I’m also hoping to help her avoid that trainer as gatekeeper/imposter syndrome around horses that I grew up with.

Maybe I don’t even have a question so much as trying to organize my thoughts!


my kids For Fun Horses were the same horses that they showed in national shows… our trainer’s wife told me we were going to ruin a perfectly great horse when we brought the last one home to live in the backyard (and the horse was not ruined even by having a six year old tack her all by herself)

The only reason the horses were being shown in the first place was to be subjected to strange things to make them child safe, problem for the horses was they were very good at showing and attracted attention

As backyard animals they continued their tasks with flare. I was often asked why we never sold those horses since we had countless offers of big money … my answer was always the same…These horses are my Kids’ Horses, not mine.


I thinkif you have a lot of trails around your backyard barn it would make a difference. I can remember the solace and relaxation of trail riding and just exploring nature on my horse as a teen. A great way to get that nature fix and a meditative activity.


Unfortunately, that isn’t possible in our situation for several reasons. Good points, though!

I know many people that keep practice and their easy riding horses at home and have a horse or two in training. But, they only ride their training horse a couple times a week and stay legged up on their practice horses the rest of the time.

Do plan on having more than 1 horse on the property, just cause keeping a horse alone never works out that well imho. I’ve had to travel to multiple barns to ride and I rode at one barn in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Its not that bad unless you are driving them.

You can enjoy riding multiple horses especially if in different disciplines.

Go buy the kid a horse(s). :innocent:


I honestly think it probably does more for a kid’s horsemanship to have a horse they can handle, tack up, and ride unsupervised than a show horse up at the maximum of their ability that they can really only ride within a program.

It won’t necessarily get them more ribbons. To be “competitive” juniors and adult ammies alike often need a horse that’s actually too much horse for them and a lot of trainer support.


I second the opinion that two horses at home is better than one. Although many horses survive alone, I think it’s our responsibility to take care of every aspect of a horse’s health, including mental health. Maybe you could line up a boarder and your daughter could make a little income running the place.

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I have a BIG problem with this statement.
Trainer should not be dictating why or how your kid rides.
Period. Full Stop.


You perfectly summed up

Oh, dear! No, it isn’t what it sounds like! I should clarify that the trainer is absolutely lovely. If I told her I was going to buy the animal in question today & wanted to keep it at her barn she would just smile & say ok & work with it, even if she privately thought it was not the right horse for the job. Daughter is anxious in general & over worries about not breaking the rules in all aspects of life. That’s where her worry was coming from. Not anything the trainer has ever done or said.


I have three horses. One is coming 7 whom I compete. One is 3 who I backed a few months ago and am simply riding on the trails and one is the epitome of ‘the fun’ horse. He is for anyone to ride because I do not have to worry. He takes care of every rider that I put on him. That being said I ride him 3 times a week to keep him in shape. He’s used mostly for trail riding because of where we live but he’d hang out anywhere. I do keep all 3 at home; but, I spend a lot of time trailering my competition horse out to be coached or find opportunities to school in a full size dressage arena. Because I have light in my arena I think I could still make it work if I boarded my competition horse out…I don’t because I prefer to do my own training/riding.

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I agree. To that end, all of the horse’s we’ve kept in a program have been ones that she could ride, handle, and enjoy by herself without trainer’s assistance. We’ve always gone with the trainers that insist the kids learn & participate in the care & feeding & not just the riding. Both my teen & her non-riding sister are pretty well-versed beyond the basics, anyway, from coming with me to work.

Without going into too much detail, there’s room here at our rental property but some limitations due to the landlord’s own agricultural uses. It is fine for something like a field hunter where I can do trot sets in the field or even out on the road, or for a young horse you’re going to stick out in a field to grow out for a couple years. For keeping a show horse fit to the level that is fair to the health of the horse, though? I’d have to trailer out or accompany her to the farm across the street where their liability insurance disallows unaccompanied minors.

It is just too much to be tenable for me as a single parent, working full time, supervising virtual learning for two kids, and trying to devote somewhat equal time to cultivating the interests & hobbies of the non-riding child. And the social aspect of the barn in non-covid times. That’s why we board at the moment. Moreso than horse temperament.

Absolutely agree they need a buddy. In the past, I’ve borrowed a companion from friends. We currently rent & the landlords have a couple pasture puffs of their own. So we’re covered in that department, fortunately :blush:


I have one like this. She is my “kids’ horse” as in she is safe for them and to give pony rides etc., but they don’t really ride. I use her as a practice horse, trail horse, and low level Eventing horse…and just to play around with. This year she is also going to be my broodmare! (She is a lovely horse in her own right, just not as fancy as my show horse—she should produce a very ammy-friendly, well built and good moving horse with color as she is a palomino).

I sometimes get too busy to ride her much, but she is fine without regular work. I can give her months off and hop on with no safety concerns.

She lives with a mini donkey—and he is a whole other barrel of fun. Everyone adores him and my boys LOVE playing with him! …might be a way to give your new pony a low-maintenance companion.


What I would call a using horse. Nods YES. We always had one of those that the kids could ENJOY. No qualms about their friends coming over to enjoy also. A horse tank would be turned over to use as a mounting block and they’d pile on bareback. Poor horse would enjoy all the attention and grooming and treats. Never had a bit in her mouth, ridden with halter lead rope so I never worried. No one ever fell off bc she’d scoot herself underneath them to catch them if they leaned. And if they really lost their balance she stopped dead in her tracks and stood still. And she was the one that would comfort them when my daughters would go lay on her back and tell their secrets.


@clanter I was responding to OP.

As an adult, I moved on from a trainer who told me I would “ruin” my TB Hunter riding him in a Training Jumper class. I went ahead, using the class as a warm-up for Medals, since both had similar fences.
It riles me when a Pro is handed too much power over how an owner rides or shows their horse.


My show/competition horses always doubled as my fun horses too. I’ll never forget the time I rode my AQHA “show horse” (eventually we were Congress finalists, ROM earners, multiple circuit champs) down the road from the barn where I boarded and to the river to see if he’d enjoy that. He did! We had a grand old time out exploring the neighborhood and goofing off. When I got back to the barn, some of the other boarders (who rarely ride outside of a ring) looked amazed. One said, “I didn’t know he trail rode!” I think my response was a puzzled look and something like, “Well, I didn’t exactly ask him if he did or not, but he’s a horse, so why wouldn’t he?”

I rode him in Christmas parades too. Once with someone riding up behind me double.

I like a multi-functional horse.


When I was a jr I had my show horse, kept at a fancy stable. I was also the working student and my own groom but still. Completely different set of rules.

I kept my semi retired horse as a more self care place, paddocks/pasture. I used him as a ‘practice’ horse. It was amazing to have.

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I have considered getting one of these just for fun. I could let friends ride, or sponsor a young kid to ride, or go on hacks and general silliness (western, dress-up, parades). Would teach it to drive as well.

I don’t have kids but I was lucky enough to learn to ride on a horse like this - money can’t buy happiness but this is pretty close :heartpulse:


My friend and I blew our working student’s mind this summer by riding our horses down the (rural, dirt) road to lesson in the neighboring farm’s ring while our footing was being redone. She’d assumed we were going to take the trailer. Nope, these show horses are going right on down the road, past the cows, and over the weird single-lane bridge!