We love all 7 of our horses. Each of them have their own strong points and weak points; particularly endearing points and obnoxious points. But when it comes down to it, what we need
are horses whom we can put beginner riders on and rest assured that they won't do something to frighten the rider. We have 3.5 of those. Sort of.
Harley, Shoshoni, and Romeo all do really well with kids. Rest assured, they aren't the follow nose to tail type horses. Each will test the rider in their own way and somedays be more of pills than good lesson horses. The first day of a beginning class - particularly for kids - is always chaotic to the point of being hilarious. Even with a couple of helpers to grab horses and put them back in the direction they are supposed to be going, we often end up with the entire class breaking down as Harley is standing in the center of the ring doing nothing. Shoshoni not standing still and probably spinning in circles. Romeo is ususally quite good - though has a tendency to want to go much faster than the rider wants. I like to look at it saying that anyone who learns to ride on our horses is going to really learn how to ride - not just how to sit on the back of a horse.
You may note that Jordan isn't in the list above. He does fine with beginner riders - but the rider does need to be able to keep a presence of mind if something unexpected happens. Like - don't start yelling. Jordan's not fond of yelling.
Ginger has a policy of accepting riders at 8 years old, and has on a few occasions agreed to accept them at 7 after speaking with the parent. I didn't truely appreciate the distinction at first, but let her set her policies. After witnessing a few 7 year olds on the back of a horse, I've come around. They quite simply lose their minds. Perfectly sane little girls turn into paralyzed lumps of sand who have no ability to comprehend language.
Ginger frequently instructs riders as to which hand to hold the reins in. That they confuse right and left is actually little surprise - because I know I do it all the time! So I asked her why she doesn't use inside and outside directions instead - meaning towards the inside of the arena vs the outside of the arena. She said that isn't any better. Apparently when you haven't spent as many hours taking lessons in an arena as I have, those directions aren't any more intuitive. The crux of the problem really comes to light, though, when Ginger starts asking "Show me the hand that is holding the reins." And they get that wrong.
So you can imagine, keeping a presence of mind isn't the little ones' strong point. Not when they are sitting 6 feet off of the ground to start with. So Ginger isn't putting small kids or timid beginners on Jordan anymore.
So we're down to needing another beginner horse. Since we already have 3 horses who are for intermediate riders, and we arguably have no intermediate riders, I've been pushing that we really need to sell at least one or two. I relented and agreed that if we could find leasers for them that we could then have the best of both worlds, thus: http://www.sunponyranch.com/for_lease.htm
Then our friend Jay called and asked if we might be interested in an older, light ride horse who would be good with kids. His friend Vicki had just such a horse, and unfortunately had been considering putting her down because she couldn't afford to keep all three of her horses and didn't really have a use for her. But, she has such a lot of life left in her, her vet convinced her she needed to find a home where she could be put to some light work. Voila, looks like a match made in heaven. We spoke with Vicki and then went to meet the horse last weekend. Vicki's willing to let us try her out for a month or so, and then give her to us if it works out. So after our trail ride on Monday, we stopped at Vicki's place and picked up Missy / Misty / Penny. We're contemplating changing her name but as she's a loaner just yet we haven't decided one way or the other.
Since we don't have camp this week due to the 4th of July holiday, this is a perfect opportunity for us to work with her and help her acclimate before we throw her to the kids.
Oh, and we got her home yesterday and put her in the welcome pen where she could sniff noses with the horses in both of our pastures. Jordan is in LOOOOOVE. Again. And it appears to be mutual since she was putting on quite the display for him. She's 25 years old! Not only is he gelded, but she's spayed - something fairly unusual for a horse. Someone needs to tell both of them that they're living in a dream world.