Wondering if I should stick with this situation or move on

I am just not having luck with trainers/programs. About 6 months ago I started taking lessons with a new trainer (I’m a middle-aged re-rider). She has 2 horses, 1 was a lesson horse and a jumper for many years, and the other is a big mare that doesn’t jump and can’t be taken to shows. I wasn’t sure I wanted to jump anyways, so no big deal. I’m riding mostly the big mare, but the trainer asked me to get on the jumper a few times. I had seen this mare buck with both my trainer and another accomplished rider. Trainer says she fixed the issue although she was a bit spicy the prior day. I get on the mare despite my gut telling me not to, and luckily no issue. She starts teaching a new pre-teen beginner student on this mare. The mare mini-bucks the first lesson. Second lesson, 2 huge bucks when coming around a corner after trotting a ground pole and kid face-plants, right in front of both of her parents. I’m thinking to myself - that could have been me! and given that I am almost 4 times this kids’ age, my faceplant would have been a lot less graceful. Since this was the trainers only jumper, it’s all she had to put this kid on who wanted to learn to jump.

So now I am only getting on the bigger mare who is super quiet and has helped me greatly with confidence and doesn’t do anything dangerous, but now I’m really wondering if I should trust this trainer. Or do these things just happen? And am I limiting my progression by having access to only one horse? Searching for new barns is so exhausting so I prefer to make this work, but I also want to progress and be safe!

It’s a multi-level problem.

  1. Good school horses, especially those that can jump and go to horse shows, are very difficult to find and moderately to very expensive.
  2. Few people can afford to maintain a large string of school horses or make more school horses anymore.
  3. Many trainers, especially those with small operations or new in the business, can’t afford to buy good school horses or can’t find them at any price.

The end result is that way too many trainers end up crossing their fingers, hoping for the best, ignoring that voice of good sense whispering in the back of their head, and using horses that aren’t entirely suitable for giving lessons.

I have experienced this personally. After I got hurt on a not-really-suitable school horse, I found out that several other students had also come off the same horse in the same way I did. One broke her arm and one severely sprained her ankle.

If you want to make your current situation work, you’re going to have to take a firm position of not riding the bucking jumper and making the best progress you can on the bigger mare, staying within her limitations.


Maybe time to start shopping around.

Sitting a buck or a spook is very individual.

I follow a FB group for funny fails in eventing and jumping. I see a lot of riders who look like they have a seat but pop right off at something minor. Including just cantering.

Anyhow, why not go shopping and do trial lessons in other places? Now you know that an important question to ask is how many lesson horses and what they do. Don’t think of it as tiring. Think of it as getting out and learning the lay of the land around yiu.


yes, this makes a lot of sense and sounds like exactly what is going on here. I know this trainer’s intentions are good, and it’s very difficult nowadays.

1 Like

true, I shouldn’t look at barn shopping as a chore. I just might find something better.


Yes, I probably should have emphasized in my first post that this doesn’t mean that the trainer doesn’t have the best of intentions. I loved the trainer under whom I had the fall I mentioned above. But it is difficult now days and sometimes, finding themselves in a tight situation, people don’t always make the hard decisions they probably should.

When I first started riding seriously again, after 10-15 years of just riding casually and occasionally, I could still pull off the pretty equitation pose when riding, but if anything even minor went wrong, I was in real danger of just sliding right off the side of the horse. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Somewhere coming off is part of the deal.
Of course the manner of separation of horse and rider is an issue.
I have been in programs where certain horses had a reputation. They were very adept in placing their riders on the ground. We knew it and perhaps tensed a little when this was our steed for the (group) lesson. You were happy to manage the first, and somewhat embarrassed to faceplant twice the next lesson.

Alas, we are no longer as accepting of risk.
Not for our aging bodies, not for our less feral offspring.
how much risk you are willing to take is up to you *and I can’t blame you is ‘close to zero’ is your thresh hold)

as it was, my cousin fell off one of the lesson horses that then went on to become quite successful at medium jumper levels. She just didn’t like the lesson program and ever changing riders (cute little chestnut mare)
it helped that the instructor was well known enough his stock generally rotated. Some of his steeds went on to better carreers and were much valued by their new owners


Falls happen, but it’s our obligation, as professionals, to avoid/prevent them when possible.

I would move on. Your trainer sounds like not only is she lacking good school horses, but some common sense. Either that or she is ignoring the voice in her head telling her that it isn’t a good idea. Either way, I wouldn’t trust her judgement. I wouldn’t ever put one of my students on a known bucker…


So that makes me wonder. If I am going to come off, would I rather it be on a 14.2hh bucker, or the 18hh gentle giant who might trip over her huge feet or spook at the horse-eating rabbit?


You do not need to start thinking this way 6 months into your returning rider adventure. That will destroy your confidence. I have come off 3 times as a returning rider. Once when a lesson horse tripped in deep footing. Twice when my own horse did a tiny buck at standstill and caught me off guard.

It turns out that I can still sit a spook and that a feel good buck at a canter doesn’t really dislodge you that much.

At this point you should be on horses that build confidence. When your anxious overthinkimg adult brain says omg I’m going to fall off! You need your rational brain to say, Fluffy never bucks or spooks I am totally safe. You don’t want your rational brain to say, yeah there’s a 50 % chance Fluffy will try to kill me today.

If you are starting to think this way it’s high time for another barn.

Sometimes anxious people actually stay in dangerous situations too long because they don’t trust their gut feeling anymore or they have social anxiety about trying to move or change things.


I have voluntarily rolled myself into blackberries when things went a little sideways.
I have been launched by the same horse and deposited as lawn dart.
I preferred the roll in the blackberries, I believe


Perfectly said

You can ask to only ride the one horse. And in the meantime try other barns. Medium sized barns with >5 lessons horses may be a better fit since there is some variety in the lesson horses.

Something else to consider is partial leasing a horse from a boarder. Lesson horses put up with a lot and dont always get schooled as much as they should. Of course it takes a special kind of horse to put up with multiple different inexperienced riders. Falls or bucks will happen at some point. Some programs have enough horses they can give the horse a mental and physical break as needed. And good programs give their horses days off from lessons.

We own a horse we half lease and the horse stays schooled and doesnt get used by a lot of different riders. He is super safe, great for an advanced beginner because he is in a program and only has 2 riders one of which is a more experienced rider who an keep him schooled.


I’ve found as I’ve moved from the “I’ll ride everything and anything that comes my way” person to the “Damn it! No I’m not gonna do it” rider that I have to ask myself this a lot more than I should. Both horse types have their pros and cons.

On the one hand, the 18hh gentle giant is going to be a solid dependable ride every time. you might get a buck or a spook here or there but generally, a solid horse. On the other, you’re going to get much the same ride every time and that’s no way to advance your riding skill set. That’s perfectly fine if that’s what you wanna do!

As far as the 14.2hh bucker, well you know you have to be on guard with him. He’s going to make you sit up, pay attention, and RIDE! You will always have to be “ON” and aware, which is going to make you a better rider in the long run. Downside is this comes with not being able to fully enjoy a ride because you do have to pay more attention than you would on the gentle giant.

There’s nothing wrong with either choice, or riding both. It honestly comes down to a risk/reward choice for you.

***Another thing to keep in mind when making your decision is that a horse is NEVER going to react to different riders in the same way. Ever. How a rider is feeling, their confidence level, their behavior, and physical limitations all effect their mount and determine what kind of ride they’re going to have as soon as they step up into the saddle. I’ve got one gelding currently that is a giant dang puppy dog for kids and inexperienced riders but can turn into a fire breathing dragon with me or my sister on occasion because he knows our capabilities

1 Like

“Lesson horses” should not buck. Period.

It is not acceptable to put beginners or anyone who pays for lessons on a horse that bucks.
What has happened? The definition of a “lesson horse” for beginners, or any one else that isn’t hoping to be a bronc rider, is a horse that is tolerant and does not buck, rear, or misbehave in any manner than a beginner can be taught to handle.

Don’t tell me that is impossible to find them, and that “every horse will buck”. I’ve seen dead quiet lesson horses all my life. They don’t buck.

I have brought up several of my own horses from weanlings for my at home hacks. Never a buck. Not lesson horses either, but hopefully you get the drift.

Thankfully I’ve never met a “trainer” that would put someone who is learning on a horse that bucks. There is no excuse for that.

Someone needs to pick suitable horses for lessons, or get out of the business.

It is not OK to risk peoples lives because you (trainer) can’t afford to find suitable horses for the people who are paying you to teach them to ride.


define lesson horse.

A lot of time you don’t know what you got until you try.
the string in question got a lot of new horses and those that didn’t work out moved to different jobs.
Horses are horses.

I do agree though, that horses that don’t take a joke (or beginner rider) need not be in that sort of program.


You know what they say about “good intentions”. :wink:

You don’t “try” them out on the students though, and if you are unable to assess the horse’s suitability for beginners, then you should not have the responsibility of choosing lesson horses.

This horse bucks and they know it. No excuse to put a beginner on a known bucker. None. And no excuse to try horses out on your students.


you know as well as I do that you can’t ‘assess’ a horse 100%.
they are fine 99%, and the 100th time they walk past the haybale they spook.

what you want is the one outfront of Walmart.
We had a gelding that could not be arsed to move.
Except whenthis one mare came into the arena. So 99% of the time he was dead broke at the age of 3, except, then.
And what about stuff like bee stings etc…

I do agree with you, the horse that can throw a buck out of the blue should not be in the lesson program.
But that usually takes a time to find out.
Plenty of stories like that on COTH. The horse is as good as gold, until he isn’t.