Am I riding wrong? Spurs and crop on stubborn pony

So basically I am currently riding this adorable little stubborn pony named Bunny. She’s a grey mare, most likely between the ages of 19-24, and a HUGE pain to ride. She’s 14.2 and I weight around 130 pounds, and 5,4. So recently I’ve been riding her with a crop, but she’s also a lesson pony and is pretty numb to it. Only when I smack her really hard does she then buck and take off. She also nips and pins her ears back, not very friendly. To hopefully make are ride less painful, I bought a pair of tiny 1 centimeter spurs for her. There not sharp, and there flat on the end. I’m 14 and didn’t really know what I was looking for. They seem to work but she’s still a total jerk about it! She is not pleasent to ride, and I don’t ask her to jump anymore then a low vertical… am I riding wrong? I hate using so much metal on her…

please help!

This sounds like a question you need to be talking to your trainer about. S/he should be able to pinpoint any health issues with his/her horse (could be a pain issue, ulcers, mare issues that need to be addressed, etc). Some horses just don’t do well with being school horses so she could be sour to that.


^ this!

Lesson horses develop all kinds of defenses against beginning riders, with the long term goal of ALL of their possible riders giving up and letting said lesson pony live a life of idle luxury in the pasture.

When I end up on one of these burnt out lesson horses I approach it from the viewpoint that it is up to me to PROVE to the horse than I am a better rider than their usual riders. I often have to get creative. If one thing does not work after several rides I try something else.

One thing that has helped me lately with balking horses or horses that refuse to move forward freely is tapping them on the croup when that leg is supporting-pushing off. The correct moment to use this aid is when your hip rises, tap the top of the pony’s croup on that side. When I tap on the croup I keep my reins in the other hand so I do not give an accidental hand aid. This action is a tap, when I tested it on my bare leg it just smarted a little bit. This is an aid, not a punishment, I am trying to get the horse to push off of that hind leg a with a little bit more push. I do it mostly at a walk because right now I am too uncoordinated to do it at a trot, but after practicing it at a walk you might be able to do it when said pony just drags at the trot.

I repeat, this is just a tapping motion, tap each time the croup rises on that side, and continue until the pony moves a little faster. DO NOT do this hard, if it is done too hard the rider might incite a sudden charge forward, a runaway, or the horse can kick. Be sure to praise the pony when the pony goes faster like you want it to. If the pony goes too fast at first let the pony move for a few strides before you tell him to slow down to a more reasonable speed.

This has worked for me with dead sided lesson horses, and on horses that obviously never learned what a leg signal at the girth means. It is very, very, very important not to accidentally give a rein aid at the same time.

Good luck with the pony!

Are you riding the pony full time or is she shared with other beginner riders?

If shared, then you have to realize she is getting reinforced in her bad habits by every other rider. By the time you get on her again, she has learned to balk all over again.

It would be very educational to watch the trainer ride her. Ask to see this. What does trainer do and what kind of fight does pony put up?

If this was your own horse, I would suggest a full vet workup because guaranteed at her age and job, something hurts. Likely hocks or SI joint. Maybe saddle fit too. These are not options on a lesson horse and trainer may not be 100% forth right on known health problems.

But also balking is a terrible habit to fix once they learn to tune out the aids, natural and artificial. I would say never buy a horse that’s learned to balk.

Balking seems safer than being too hot, until you get serious with a balker and they start to buck rather than go forward.

Honestly riding spoiled lesson ponies is not always great for your own development. Kids graduate from those kinds of lessons with very crude use of aids and have to learn not to kick and tug on private horses they buy or lease.

Consider how this pony goes for other riders. If she is good for most people you may grow into her. If she is terrible for everyone except the trainer or she trainer has to ride through a real bronc fest to get pony to move out, then feel free to stop riding her because you will never do well with her.