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Dressage Rider “Restarting” a 30 YO QH

I adopted a retired senior QH in 2020 to keep my mare company on my new farm. She actually started as a foster (you know how that goes) and I was told not to ride her given her age - then 27.

Since then, my vet has cleared her for riding but I haven’t done it because … well … time, not knowing how she would be, etc. I have two horses I ride regularly (dressage) so I have plenty to keep me busy. But, she’s the kind of horse who obviously would like to have a job, is in GREAT shape (more energy than my other two combined), and so I finally decided to do it. I bought a used wintec western saddle and have played around with a couple of “pony rides.” I already knew she was super well trained, but have discovered under saddle that she is really, really well-trained. Side pass, rein back, TOH, TOF. All the buttons.

We’ve stayed at the walk so far. And lead line. :laughing:

Any suggestions on how to take things further? I really don’t know anything about western. And she’s a total firecracker and a really herd bound. And your typical quick reaction QH. So I’m a bit nervous asking her to do more. But, I also love her dearly and would like to give her a fun activity.

Maybe I just need some moral support.

And obviously I know she’s almost 30 and want to be careful of not doing too much. This is for her sake, not mine. :heart:


There are a few trainers who have “Riding with Confidence” series of “lessons” on the web. Generally they address what you want to do --start at a low level (as you are doing) then build on the lessons until you are riding with confidence --for me these were extremely helpful transitioning from one long time horse to a new horse at various times in my adult life (used to be VHS tapes, then CDs, now on line). I set aside 30 min every day (my lunch) to watch a lesson --then sprinted out to the barn to try it out on my horse. For one horse 25 years ago, it was all brand new and really got us working well together -still have him --awesome horse --a real jewel. The second horse bought 15 years after the first had already been trained in the program I picked —he just had to wait for me to learn that. I did some of the stuff (ground work) with my DD 3-Day horses when they were with me in the summer --but she was picky about who rode her darlings, so didn’t do the riding stuff with them. All horses improved with the work I did.

So my suggestion to you is look on You-tube at Warrick Schiller, Stacey Westfall, and a few others --see who seems to resonate with you. The one I picked suited me as a teacher (now retired) as the lessons were formulated how I teach: a stated goal, explanation of why it was important, steps to achieve the result, explanation of what could go wrong (horse) and (rider). Video suggested daily 30-40 min with horse, starting with yesterdays exercise (check for understanding), adding the new exercise, and finishing with yesterday’s exercise repeated. Trainer who put out this series is a bit controversial but his early stuff is what I used. Gaining Control and Respect on the Ground, 8 lessons, then Riding with Confidence. I did 14 lessons of the Riding with Confidence --I think there are 50 total. After the first 14, I felt my horse and I had achieved what we need and only referred to the advanced lessons if I needed to improve something specific (for example flying lead changes). I used DVDs (still have them) but the entire program is on-line --um, for a price, but then all of them do charge for their programs. The on-line program I used was by Clinton Anderson.

You could try applying your Dressage training.
After all “Dressage” translates to “training” & you’ve seen she’s responsive to your aids for TOF, TOH.
IIWM, & it kinda has been with my current Used for Trails Only gift horse of 2015 (snail’s pace R Us :roll_eyes:), I’d move up to asking for trot. Or jog if you’re intent on Western.
Once that’s solid, ask for canter/lope & go from there.

I did a lot of my own training for my TB using Podhajsky’s Training of Horse & Rider.
Dry as dust reading, but completely correct.
I had an excellent trainer & he helped me smooth the rough edges off what I taught on my own.
We got counter canter & flying changes this way.

If nothing else, enjoy your Sr.
She sounds like a treasure.
& Pay the Pic Tax! :wink: