Surviving Green + Green

Last Updated on February 26, 2022 by Allison Price

It’s the “forbidden” match, a green rider riding on a green horse. These strategies will help you to be successful and safe if you find yourself in such a situation.

You did the thing that everyone tells you not to do. You bought a horse as a novice rider. You are worried about how you will treat your novice rider, and what you might do to make it safer.

[READ: 6 Tips for Beginner Riders]

Although most professionals recommend against the horse-and-rider combination, it doesn’t necessarily have to be black-and blue. There are many ways to overcome the challenges of greenness, making your partnership rewarding and enjoyable. Six key strategies will be shared by green-horse experts. These strategies are important and should be followed. You’ll have the best chance of success for your horse and yourself, regardless of your riding goals.

A key strategy for success if you are a green rider riding a green horse is to work under the supervision of an expert.

1. Give your time.
You must make sure you have the time to make your partnership work. Even for professionals, training a green horse can be a tedious task. It will take you longer to train a green horse because you are a beginner and you’ll have to learn a lot. It will be difficult to make significant progress if you can only get to the barn once or twice per week due to work or family commitments. Ideal is to work with your horse five to six days per week.

Robin Gollehon is a pro and owns and runs Gollehon Quarter Horses in Versailles, Kentucky with Roger. Being consistent takes patience, dedication and perseverance. Green horses are inherently flexible and will change over time as they adapt and adjust to new experiences. You need to be able to ride and work with different versions of your horse every week. Inexperienced riders may find it difficult to keep up with their horses’ knowledge, or vice versa. This can make learning a little slower.

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You’ll need to spend more time and money learning to ride novice horses.

Gollehon says, “It is important to learn and practice riding on horses that are finished. This will help you hone your aids and achieve balance in the saddle. It will also build your muscle strength, endurance, and muscle power.” This will make you more confident and physically ready to ride your green horse.

Although learning new skills with your horse can be rewarding, you should be ready for some hard work and frustration. You can expect to spend more time learning (and doing homework) each day, repeating lessons, and putting in a lot of sweat, tears, and practice.

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2. Ask for help from a professional.
Your best chance of success is to seek expert assistance in some form. Pro Gordon Potts, who runs The Brass Ring in Burleson Texas, says that if the horse isn’t sure what to do or the rider isn’t sure what to do, it’s best to get help. It can turn out to be a disaster otherwise. If you have the financial means, you should train your horse full-time with a professional or bring a trainer along when you work with your horse.

Even if your greenie isn’t able to do full training, it’s important that you ride him under the guidance of an expert. Caroline Wood, a trainer, teaches novice rider Barbie McIntire.

Claire Robertson and Gordon Potts share a post-ride briefing. To ensure clear communication, a good relationship with your trainer is crucial.

Potts says that one of the most important skills for training horses is “feel”, which refers to having a keen intuition about how horses respond to different stimuli. Bob Avila, the great horseman, said it best: “Feel doesn’t come naturally. Potts states that it’s something you learn. You must teach inexperienced horses how to ride. That’s where professional help can come in.

Claire Robertson, who is only 13 years old, has been riding horses for just over a year. She now has her green horse under the tutelage of Potts. Although she has much to learn, Robertson says that her success was made possible by the support and guidance of a skilled trainer.

Robertson says it is important to find a teacher whose style suits you. If your personality is not compatible with the trainer’s, communication can be difficult, especially when you are young. Although I am aware that I have much to learn, I am grateful Gordon is able to understand my passion and help me reach my goals.

Jennifer Pettyjohn has been working with Robin Gollehon over three years and is currently training her second green horse, as a novice rider. She emphasizes the importance of having an open and honest relationship with your trainer right from the beginning.

Pettyjohn states that “maintaining a dialog and establishing trust with Gollehons from the beginning really helped me through the endeavor.” Robin allowed me to watch the entire process with my two green mares, from the first groundwork to the longe line to the under saddle. This foundation was critical to my success. Robin explained each step and gave me more confidence to handle training situations on my behalf.

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3. Realistic goals are important.
As you would with a child, be patient and flexible when setting goals for your horse’s success. Pettyjohn suggests that you keep your eyes open for the sake of both your horse and yourself. While it is helpful to set goals, don’t make a timeline for your progress. You have to be flexible because we all learn and move at our own pace.

Stacy Westfall, trainer, shows groundwork – an essential part of training any horse green. Experts agree.

A lot of turnout can help keep your horse’s energy levels under control and not interfere with your training.

Barbie McIntire, a novice rider, purchased a 4-year-old green Paint mare about a year ago. She admits that she was nervous about riding a greenie in her first riding career.

She says, “I quickly learned that my mare can sense my anxiety when I’m having an anxious day.” “Those days are when I learned to adjust my expectations and focus on achieving one small goal so that we can always finish in a positive place. Caroline Wood, my trainer, taught me how to be a strong leader towards my mare. She also taught me how to keep our experiences positive. I am able to accept that perfection won’t happen overnight.

4. Groundwork is a great resource.
Stacy Westfall, a clinician, trainer and champion colt-starter, advises that you should “fall in love with groundwork.” “I don’t mean endlessly wishing your horse in circles. I mean using fundamental groundwork for a better understanding of your horse’s temperament.”

Westfall explained that you can observe your horse’s reaction to new situations from the ground.

“Is he curious?” Fearful? Are they afraid? It will also help you to determine if your horse is lazy or if he seems to be full of energy. She adds that the more you know about your horse’s perspective from the ground, you will be more safe and effective in the saddle.

McIntire and Pettyjohn agree that consistency in groundwork is the key to their success. McIntire and Pettyjohn have successfully shown their second green horses in longe-line classes. McIntire has competed in showmanship with her young mare.

McIntire says, “At my first show I wasn’t comfortable in the saddle so we did showmanship.” Through groundwork, I was able to establish a wonderful connection with my mare. It helped me overcome some issues in the saddle and boost my confidence.

[READ: Goal Setting Tips For Riders]

5. Be an avid learner.
Learn as much as possible from books, magazines, DVDs and other credible websites. Gollehon also suggests that you audit a few clinics with a respected trainer or clinician to learn more about how you can use the information at home.

Proper nutrition is also important so that he can work with vigor and not eat too much.

Westfall recommends that novice riders observe their trainers and watch what they do with their horses. She says that watching others is a great way to learn which techniques work and which ones don’t. “Often, just watching can give you insight into how a green horse thinks about things and reacts to them.”

Westfall recommends that your trainer or friend take a video of your horse in action as you work with him, regardless of whether you are riding on the ground or in the saddle. She says that being able to see yourself clearly on the screen helps you evaluate what’s working well and where there is still room for improvement. These videos can be saved and re-watched periodically to see how your skills and horse’s progress over time.

6. Give proper care to your greenie.
Green horses are usually young and have lots of energy. Give your horse plenty of turnout time if you can. This is especially important if your horse has a spunky personality that can distract from you or cause him to lose focus. You can also get the “freshness” by round-penning or languishing him before you ride.
To avoid giving him too many carbohydrates, be mindful of what you are feeding him. Ask your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist for advice on the best feeding plan to provide him with the right nutrients and energy for his work load. He should be fed good, but not too much. Your training will be more difficult if you feed him too much grain or other rich foods.

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