Ginger The Project Horse

There’s a Thoroughbred mare at my barn that is just adorable.


Physically she’s so-so (dressage wise). I like how she naturally articulates her hocks and steps under herself. I’m curious to see how she’ll develop once I can get her a little more supple and balanced. She hints at hidden suspension.

Originally she was purchased for the lesson program the barn was going to have. Ginger was a 6 year old, unraced TB, that the previous owner had said was used as a lesson horse. I find that last part hard to believe…

At the time of Ginger’s purchase my barn had a psuedo trainer (we’ll call her DA). DA picked out Ginger and convinced the barn owners to purchase her as a “ready to go” lesson horse.

I was only running into DA maybe once a week as she finished up a lesson and then rushed out of the barn.  Until one evening I walk into the barn and find DA visibly shaken and upset. I asked what was wrong and she tells me Ginger bucked her off. DA explained how the horse had thrown a bucking fit. DA made sure to explain how huge the bucking and jumping around had been.

DA never rides Ginger again. And eventually she stops showing up completely.

So Ginger is sitting there wiith a bad rep, and a sweet face.

We (the boarders) wonder what made this horse explode. We goad one of the braver, younger girls to ride her. She rides her and nothing happens. But she does say the horse is green and cross-canters terrible.

Another boarder and I tack her up to ride her and see what she’s got under the hood. I had to put a helmet on just to pick her feet out. It took every sneaky trick I knew to get her to lift each leg.  When I pressed her side to ask her to move over she pushed so hard into me that she nearly knocked me over. So we immediately started working on the concept of moving away from pressure. Within a few minutes she starting to get the idea and we can stop her from squishing us into the wall.

The first ride I could tell she was extremely green. The horse flips her head violently if you touch the reins. When you ask her to halt, the horse locks her jaw and braces against the reins. Neither of us could get her to move at all without a whip. No matter how hard you thumped her sides she just grunted and stood her ground. She seemed like she just didn’t understand.

Fast forward a half dozen rides. This is one heck of a smart, kind, and generous horse.  We can move her butt and shoulders around from the ground with a light touch of a finger, she lifts each foot when asked (although still a bit snatchy about it), she accepts steady rein contact (mostly), and she moves forward off just a leg aid (no whip required).

We’ve already taught her leg yielding, and I can leg yield her both to and away from the wall. She picked up turn on the forehand and turn on the haunch in 2 seconds. She walk/trots quietly and is quickly picking up the idea of working evenly on all 4 legs (no more motorcycle turns).

I even tried some canter work with her. I don’t think she’s quite supple or strong enough yet to really work on it. But she let me set her up for a good depart, and didn’t cross-fire once.

So today I taught her haunches in and shoulder in (at the walk only). Took her maybe 5 minutes to puzzle out what I wanted, and how to get her feet to go there, and then she had it.

The only time I’ve seen the mare show any attitude was when she didn’t understand something. And her outburst consisted of some head tossing with pinned ears. I growled at her, she quit and went back to Ms. Pleasant.

I like this horse, a lot. She’s fun to ride and she’s sweet as pie. Nothing seems to phase her. Things are banging, chickens are flying, kids are jumping on the trampoline, and she doesn’t care. She’ll stand for hours as you bath or groom her. She likes people and wants to interact with us.

So to wrap this up… the barn owners are trying to sell her now that DA doesn’t give lessons there anymore. I don’t want the mare to go. I’m worried about her future. If she does sell then I hope it’s to someone who can help give her a happy, productive life. 

I’m hoping she doesn’t sell for a long time.


Jess & Ginger


Me & Ginger

5 thoughts on “Ginger The Project Horse

  1. Aw! How sweet! Of course, I’m partial to red-haired TBs … 🙂 Good for you guys for being willing to work with her, and understanding that her bad behavior was just really a lack of knowledge.


    • Ironically, I have avoided owning a TB since I was a little kid. My second horse was an OTTB and was just way too strong for me. It scared me badly. I also thought chestnuts were hot tempered, wild childs.

      But all my preconcieved notions have been turn upside down by this sweet mare. She hadn’t been worked in a week, and you can hop right on and get to work without a single worry about bad behavior. She really is a sweetheart.

      We have 3 other TBs (that were off the track) at the barn this year, and each one is a credit to their breed. Personable, hard working, and sane. I’m seriously considering a TB for my next horse. What a great breed!


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