Horse can "take a joke"?

I keep seeing this included in descriptions of horses for sale. Can anyone tell me what this means? I’m at a loss. Thanks!

Horse doesn’t hold a grudge and not overly sensitive . I have a horse that is s turd sometimes He loves me and he tries to do the right thing but persistent immaturity gets in the way. He doesn’t hold a grudge though. Actually this is a line I am going to use when shopping for my next guy. Need one that can take a joke!


It usually means that you can mess up and they won’t get mad/hold a grudge. Horse who can take a joke will jump over and over and over again despite bad distances or a poor canter. (maybe not forever, but they’re forgiving).

These would be horses who don’t take a joke:

  1. You get a bad distance into a line. Horse refuses. Or, you get a bad distance, they jump out fine, and the next fence/next bad distance they say No Way.

  2. You have a weak canter to a fence, horse jumps it, but lets you know they don’t appreciate it by doing a massive bronc on the landing side.

  3. You jump into a line, fail to half-halt, and your canter gets flat and strung out. Your horse has to use some serious power to clear the second fence as they leave out a stride; you have a less-than-stellar position over the fence. They bolt on the landing side because they’re unhappy that you aren’t riding them correctly.

All of the above are reasonable reactions for the horse, but they might not be the best confidence builders/beginner’s horses. So if a horse can ‘take a joke’ people usually like to advertise it.


Thanks! Makes a lot more sense now.

Exactly! I saw an ad recently for a green jumper where the video was quickly pulled down by the sale barn after numerous comments expressing concern. Rider in the video appeared to be a young working student who could stick a saddle but wasn’t yet at a point where she could give this horse anything over a course this big. If I had the money lying around, I would’ve gone & bought the horse on the sole basis of what I saw from him in that video. So honest, such a trier. Didn’t put a foot wrong. No matter what insanely crappy distance he was given, he jumped. And with care & scope.

I think I remember seeing it on Facebook! Really scary riding the way they were flying around the course, but that horse managed to roll with it! Worst best advertising for a saintly packer.


I’ve always taken it to mean more amateur friendly in general, takes riding mistakes in stride, jumping or not. Is it meant to describe mistakes with jumping distances only?

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Oh, I bet it is the same one! It was fairly young, which made it all the more amazing.


I think applies to flat, too. I know quite a few dressage horses who don’t take kindly to rider mistakes.


I think it can apply to any discipline, I’m just in the Hunter/Jumper world so that’s what I think of when I hear the phrase ‘takes a joke’ in a sale ad.

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No, not necessarily. I think you see it more often in that context. But it is definitely used to describe other kinds of horses. Example: Asking for my first flying change in lord knows how long, I mistakenly asked my dressage schoolmaster for the lead we were already on. He sort of rolled his eyes & waited for me to sort myself out & offered the change immediately upon my asking correctly. He clearly knew what I was trying for & was confident & tolerant enough to wait & insist on the correct cue. Whereas if I’d made the same mistake on my trainer’s horse, I could reasonably expect to get bucked hard.

Many times it is age & training. And sometimes it is also the horse’s native personality. We leased a baby green for my daughter last year that had been backed & then just sat out in a field. Basically unschooled. Yet I never once worried because he had this goofy, puppy dog personality & adored people & attention. Riding was one big, happy adventure for him, people were fun & amazing, & if he got confused, he was just going to stop where he was & await further instruction. I’d describe him as being able to take a joke.


Agree with all of this. Especially the bit about lead changes. They can be a good gauge of a horse’s tolerance for mistakes in my experience :laughing:.


Agree with all of this.
Emphasis on the lack of bucking/holding a grudge though.

My moms horse can take a joke. He’s safe. He’s amateur friendly. No spook. No buck. Came out of the womb like that.

My horse would scare a lot of people. He has a spook and explosive buck.
But he’s brave, confident, and honest to a fault. He’ll save my butt every damn time.
I would advertise him as honest, but I would never put it in an ad that he could take a joke since that implies that he’s “safe”.

Our coming 4yo mare? I don’t think she’ll be quite so forgiving. I’m going to have to learn to sit up or I may end up a lawn dart…


my horse definitely agrees with # 2 and #3. I think #1 would only be a risk if i screwed up 3 or 4 fences in a row, bc my horse LOVES to jump, and has saved my butt on bad distances more often than i want to think about.

i would add #4, a variation of #3 … rider sees a terrible long spot and throws horse at the long spot, and compounds the error by jumping ahead of the horse with rider’s upper body. sweet horse takes the long spot … but bolts and leaps and bucks upon landing for at least 40 meters, expressing disgust at the rider’s incompetence.