What does ammie friendly mean to you?

This is a spin off from the Andalusian question. I realized I am not entirely sure.

Maybe my question is also, what’s a pro ride horse beyond being so well trained that no one is going to let me on him to mess him up?? :slight_smile:

I see a difference between ammies and pros in my world, in general the pros have courage and sticky seats, and a will to get the job done, even when they have a limited set of tools or problem solving ideas. They tend to be effective, up to a point at least. This is true of both good pros and crap backyard pros.

Obviously there are riders who are ammie in name but pro in skill level, so I’ll leave those out.

The ammies I know myself included tend to be riding our own Speshul Pet Horse and hence are a little more tentative, a little more patient, a little more cautious. Sometimes that has a good outcome but I would say we are more likely to be a little less effective or fast in getting a horse to do something. And generally we do not have that inherent fearlessness that leads people to become pros.

But ammie is not beginner, either. I’m thinking of people who are objectively pretty good riders and horsemen/women but don’t have that pro guts and drive.

So what makes a horse ammie friendly versus a pro ride?

I think if the average ammie wanted to compete at high levels, they’d probably need any horse to be in a training and coaching program in order to make progress. That doesn’t mean the horse isn’t ammie friendly, just that the ammie needs coaching.

I’m at the low end of nice horses. I see lots of people sorting out OTTB, OTSB, and various young or green or rescue horses, either alone or with some trainer input, with varying levels of success. But I dont get to see really high level performance horses that are super talented and super difficult in some way, which is what I think of as a pro ride.

Anyhow my question is also probably, what’s a true pro ride horse? Maybe if I saw more of those I’d know what ammie friendly means by contrast!

Now there are lots of horses that are so well trained, that the pro isn’t going to let any old fool of an amateur climb up. They might get restive if you gave them conflicting aids inadvertently. But they might not be inherently difficult, just so well tuned and so valuable.

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There are infinite ammies who ride just as well, even better, than pros. Being pro v. ammie means absolutely nothing about your ability. It’s just a way to distinguish streams of income.

But we have to generalize somehow for simplicity’s sake. We try in so many different ways-- experienced v. beginner, ammie v. pro, etc. All of the generalizations are flawed.

In dressage or any other sport, if I say a horse is a “pro ride,” I mean it needs it needs an experienced rider and needs to be in a consistent, quality training program in order to be successful. Of course, you don’t have to be a pro to necessarily deliver that.

If I say a horse is “ammie friendly,” I am usually talking about a horse that can handle a wider range of rider abilities and is more adaptable to how and when it is schooled.

Otherwise it has nothing to do with the amount of training a horse has. It also doesn’t really have much to do with the horse’s ability. It’s mostly about temperament for me.


texarkana is 1001% correct. Beautifully put


OK, that makes sense.

How do you define successful, though?

I do think they all need to be in a consistent program to be successful, whether that’s a good ammie or a pro. But lots of people have ammie friendly horses DIY that are perfectly safe, just not very successful. They don’t have much forward, or they get stuck schooling First Level forever because of rider limitation, or they develop holes in their training that you need to work around.

I think of a pro ride as a horse that has too much oomph for most people to ride without coming to grief. But I actually haven’t been around these kinds of horses much.

“Successful” is complex. At it’s most basic definition, I would define it as maintaining a job as a riding horse. But obviously the sky is the limit beyond that; you make what you want of success. For some people, a horse is a failure if it doesn’t win championships at Grand Prix. For other people, the horse is a great success if they can get a respectable score riding a training level test.

In my mind, the thing about a horse who is a “pro ride” is that it’s not going to meet anyone’s definition of success without an experienced rider and regular, structured work. Now why that horse needs an experienced rider might be because it has so much “oomph” the mere mortal can’t stay in the tack, or maybe it’s too hot/sensitive for the average rider, or maybe it has some behavioral issues, or maybe it was trained in an ultra specific manner to execute, or any other combination of reasons.


On top of what Texarkana said, I think the main thing that distinguishes the two rides is whether the horse unravels without direction or micromanagement, or if he goes along happily regardless of who is steering the ship. We’ve all seen a pending-blowup that could have been diffused earlier, that probably would not have happened at all under a more savvy rider - that is quintessentially not amateur material to me.


Micromanagement is an excellent way to put it!


Ok that all makes sense. The horse unravels to an unmanageable degree without really clear competent consistent riding above the ability of most ammies, even after its fully broke.

I’ve certainly seen enough adult beginners and returning riders get into trouble with unraveling horses that would be fine with more skilled ammies. So beginner friendly is another thing.

I would disagree “beginner friendly” is a requirement to use the phrase “ammie friendly.”


Yes, I agree that beginner friendly and ammie friendly are not the same thing.

I’m just curious as to how competent we imagine the ammie to be. Or what holes we imagine an ammie to have.

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In short: “it depends.”

If/when I make generalizations about ammies, I:

  1. Assume they are competent riding independently (otherwise I’d call them a beginner or use some other descriptor).
  2. Know horses are not their main source of income, therefore there might be more times in their life when the horses have to take a backseat to other job and life responsibilities.

#2 is what sometimes prevents the average ammie from being able to micromanage a horse’s training. An “ammie friendly” horse can deal with the fact that their rider might unexpectedly give them a week off or have some rides where their rider isn’t totally mentally present. A horse described as a “pro ride” is more likely to have significant setbacks with that type of schedule.


Ammy friendly for me = can take a joke (inconsistency or mistakes) and not lose their marbles.

Pro-ride for me = cannot take a joke, exceptionally high-strung, has a very finely-tuned balance by which to judge aids fair or unfair, can come untrained in a heartbeat at any level, etc. Does not necessarily have to have all these “qualities.”

An ammy horse is one I’d be happy to put just about anyone on for a ride, a month, a year, forever. Doesn’t mean they wouldn’t need tune ups or loads of help to get the horse to reach its potential, it basically means that it’s mostly safe, and a good egg that can let things roll off its back.

A pro-ride horse is one that has something (not just talent, there are loads of ammy type horses with tons of talent) that might make it somewhat unpleasant for the AVERAGE amateur.

Currently own a pro-ride. Love her to pieces. Would accept/buy another one of her in a heartbeat. Wouldn’t wish her on most ammies and most importantly vice versa.

I guess another way to think about it would be to ask, “Would this horse be more likely than most to come to great harm in the wrong hands due to its temperament?” No = ammy horse Yes = pro-ride horse.


I think the Ammy friendly ride is a horse who can take a week out of work (say because the pilot is having health issues or life issues) and still be the same horse you sat on 7 days before. Agree also that they can “take a joke” without retaliation and just have a really “I’m going to take care of you” temperament.


I think one big difference with ammies is that we don’t have the benefit of riding a wide variety of horses, so we often have less tools in the tool box to address a certain type of temperament. An ammie might have great skills and be an upper level rider on their faithful personal horse, but won’t have that depth of experience to know how to deal with vastly different types, or address a novel behavior on the fly. Using myself as an example, I feel like I’m a pretty competent ammie, having started several horses and taken on many more as ultra-green beans, mostly in the stock breed realm. However, my current WB mare has been a challenge, and left me scrambling for tools to train her. We are getting there, but at about 50% of the speed that I normally progress green beans, and probably 25% of the speed that a pro used to working with this type of horse could do.

Also when I hear pro ride I think hot and explosive. Luckily my mare, while quite opinionated, is very sensible and more likely to just stop or push into pressure, so ammie me has been able to carry on with her and that has saved her from being put in the pro ride category.


Ammie friendly to me is the horse that isn’t so sharp to cues that any slight bobble to the rider makes the horse do something the rider didn’t really mean to ask for. Say rider is cantering along the rail and leg slides back a little. Ammie friendly horse keeps cantering, pro ride horse is doing flying lead change which causes rider to shift the other way and bump the other side now pro ride horse is doing tempis. Ammie ride horse is still cantering on the original lead at the same pace or maybe he sped up a tiny bit.
I don’t mean that Ammie horse is dull to the aids just that they are not super sharp to them and are not over responsive for that level rider.

Ammie ride horse is not going to have a duck and spin move and be spooky about everything.

Ammie ride horse likely will not have huge expressive gaits that most ammie riders don’t have the ability to post to let alone sit to without getting tossed around.

For a jumping horse horse an ammie ride is one that isn’t going to stop/run-out or take it out on the rider in some way if the rider puts them at a less than perfect spot (long or short). If they touch the fence they won’t buck the rider off on landing. A great ammie horse will find the perfect spot on their own.

Ammie horses can take a joke. They are more tolerant of those rider errors that ammies are more likely to make- leg sliding back, tipping forward in the downward transition, riding crooked, too much contact, not enough contact, inconsistent contact, eyes down, overbending horse’s neck, etc… These errors may be at the subtle level not the overt beginner rider level but are still there. Ammie friendly horses do not make the rider pay as harshly for these errors as a pro ride horses might.


I have a GP horse (The World’s Most Herdbound Horse) that I would say is definitely a pro ride. He’s sweet on the ground and can be on the lazy side, but he is incredibly sensitive to the aids and cannot “take a joke.” If you do it wrong, you don’t get it. You may get his best guess, but more likely you’ll get an angry growl (don’t know how else to explain the noise he makes when he’s pissed) and a threat to launch you. And you only get that threat once, then he’s in full bronc mode.

An Ammie horse is forgiving, knows his job, and will fill in the blanks if you miss an aid or get him to an odd distance or whatever. But he’s not a deadhead, and will still carry you to the ribbons and medals if you can ride.

It’s supposed to be fun. If the horse is such a technical ride that it’s more work than fun, that’s not always enough to keep an amateur in the game. There are too many ammy-friendly horses out there.


In dressage in particular, there are some horses that have such massive gaits, so much natural movement through their bodies, so much power, a normal, average sort of person, who rides well enough, simply can’t cope with the activity, athleticism and responsiveness. That is a pro ride. Many people drive very well but there are very few who can drive in F1.

Perhaps one problem in the horse world is that breeders are aiming at producing the next all-conquering champion rather than breeding the amiable, kindly horse who tolerates the stupidity of humans. How often does one see riders seriously over-horsed and, even worse, too frightened to ride it.


As above it has to do with temperament and how hot a horse is, as in do they react to everything.

This is different for different riders.

Hubby bought a mare by himself without me as he was ‘now experienced’. People think that if they have done something for years they are experienced.

Any other sport or activity you would be called experienced. Only horse riding people can take horse riding lessons for 25 years and still not be experienced.

My instructor took one look at her and said hubby would never ride her.

He was right, she was here another 15 years. I trained her. She became quiet enough for me to ride and bonded with me and tried her heart out for me.

However she aged and was put down before hubby became good enough to ride her and he is still not at that stage yet.

This is because he became to riding much later in life and he has only ever ridden trained quiet horses. That has kept him safe and he rides better than most, but he is not able to ride a green or hot horse.


I have two horses who are decidedly not ammy friendly. My TB is a bucker - which started to show after I fixed his magnesium deficiency so he could. My trainer and I are the only people I know for sure can ride through his worst, and I learned out of necessity with my trainer’s instruction. I no longer ride my TB because he’s more dedicated to bucking at semi retired and hooves won’t allow more work, and he bucks hard enough that staying on it gives me whiplash. My trainer is strong enough to keep his head up so he can’t buck as hard.
My older mare is one who has a very strong fight response if she feels cornered. I know of very few people who would figure it out and always control their emotions around her - and while she is the most fun horse I’ve ever ridden, I believe she would have become violent and been put down in the wrong home. By gaining her trust, she would walk through fire for me or my trainer.
My mom’s mare is the ultimate ammy friendly horse in my mind. We bought her as my mom’s last horse because her preferred gait is halt. She’s a Friesian / Andalusian cross with very easy gaits to ride, but they are still nice. She is naturally seat responsive and easily goes on the bit, but she is not the least bit sensitive. She’s the type to forget you made a mistake or over corrected within 10 seconds. She doesn’t get worked up over anything, was easy to get lengthening, doing lateral work, etc. She doesn’t argue about things because that’s too much effort. She moves forward promptly simply because not doing so is harder, and she wants to behave so she gets her grain. Just super low drama and capable. Had she gone to a dressage rider as their main horse instead of going to be a retirement horse, she would have been likely to get someone who was learning dressage their bronze without trainer rides being needed.
My youngster is a definite ammy friendly brain. She has the talent an ambitious pro would have done well with her, but she is a super sweet horse who enjoys being a pet. Yesterday after my ride I turned her back out in the herd with piles of hay, and she trotted back to me for attention instead of eating - and she has preferred human attention over food since she was a foal. She’s just a doll. Her gaits are naturally large but easy to sit, and she looks pleasant going around. Really her power is the only thing not typically ammy friendly , but she’s the horse pros would also really enjoy.


“Ammie friendly” is just a horse selling term. What it means depends upon both the seller and the context.

We seem to agree that it implies that the horse can tolerate some mistakes or inconsistencies. Whether that is fair or not to “ammies”, that is the implication to me. Context also matters. An “ammie friendly” PSG horse would be quite different from an “ammie friendly” First Level horse. Same implication though - more forgiving than a “pro ride”.