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June 21, 2008

Nervous Young Horse?
Did I Buy the Right Horse for Me?

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information


Dear Cherry,

I bought a 2 year old filly(cutting stock) November. She has had 30 days riding on her. I have rode her maybe 5 times she has not offered to buck. But one day while lunging her she jerked me to the ground pretty hard and ripped some skin off my fingers.

One day while riding in the woods with the trainer and another friend she spooked because she noticed the other horses spooked also. When she spooked she went one way and I went the other. Needless to say I got right back on.

She seems to be very timid at times too noises and different sounds she does not like to stay in her stall at feeding time. She walks in and out of the stall. She paces at times and jumps when she hears any noise..

This horse has never been abused hit are mistreated. I do not understand what makes her so spooky at times.

I avoid riding her most of the time because I am intimidated...and I will not ride alone unless I have other people with me. I have rode before in my life and I have owned horses before but never a young horse.


Hi Rachael,

Thank you for your letter because I think it will be helpful for many other people in your situation and I hope my answer will be helpful to you too. My heart goes out to you because I think you'd love to have a dependable horse that you can enjoy and I sure don't like to read about you getting hurt.

A two year old horse is a very inexperienced horse, mentally, emotionally and physically. Most two year olds require not only an experienced rider but one that has ridden young horses before. Fillies and uncastrated colts will be especially "fractious" in their two year old year because they really are experiencing their hormones for the first time ! Like a teenager, they can be full of unpredictable moods, temper tantrums and surprises.

Making Not Breaking by Cherry HillThirty days of training is a start but it is far from enough time to consider a horse "trained". It is enough time to get a horse used to the saddle and bridle and teach them a little bit about go, whoa and turn but as far as developing confidence and experience, well, that takes much much longer.

What your horse needs is a confident leader and a lot of time spent doing a variety of things. In hand work, longeing, ground driving, riding. Riding in an arena, on the trail. Riding alone and with other horses. All of these things are necessary to develop a solid, dependable horse.

How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry HillNow on to your questions. Why is your horse so spooky and is this the right horse for you? Many horses, young or old, but especially those that are insecure, will be spooky. You can read about all the things that make horses do what they do in my book, "How to Think Like a Horse". The more you can see things from a horse's perspective, the more you will be able to understand ahead of time what they might do. But the main reason your horse is spooky is that she lacks confidence.

As to whether this horse is suitable for you, first I want to applaud you for even asking the question but I'm going to let you answer it yourself by quoting some words from your letter. About the horse you say, "nervous, young, spooky, timid, paces, jumps" and about yourself you tell me about two instances where you've had trouble with her (and possibly were injured) and you go on to say, "I do not understand, I avoid, I am intimidated, I will not ride alone.......never rode a young horse."

My wish for you is to have a wonderful horse experience. To do that you have two choices as I see it. The first one would be to spend the time and money necessary to get more training for your horse and lessons for yourself that will teach you how to work with a young horse. The second choice would be to sell the filly and purchase a seasoned, well-trained gelding that is 5-15 years old.

Take care, best of luck, and please let me know how you make out.

Ask Cherry Hill

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

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