School Horses: The Good, The Bad, and The Lame


A school horse sleeps in cross ties.  That's about normal.

School horses are worth their weight in gold. They are the foundation of most every rider’s beginnings. They come in all shapes and sizes, temperaments, and soundness levels.

Rodney, the horse I learned to ride on as a small, small child was a 16.2 hand chestnut Saddlebred gelding. He was ugly, he stuck his tongue out when you rode, and he could be a total lunatic. But, when a beginner sat on his back, he took care of them.

Rodney wasn’t your typical hunter/jumper school horse. He was shown extensively on the Saddlebred circuit in saddleseat classes. He was “retired” to life as a school horse simply because his owner retired from riding. He taught me how to walk, trot, canter, and jump small X’s. I fell in love with this horse. When I got my pony, I cried! I didn’t want a pony, I wanted Rodney!

Rodney could be a total lunatic, but when a beginner sat on his back, he took care of them.

I’m sure everyone has their good and bad experiences on school horses. I have seen everything from three-legged-lame school horses to Thoroughbreds just off the track (ie. INSANE school horses). As a trainer, the good, sound school horses are tough to find, and if you nab one, you take precious care of it because you may not find another.

No matter what their breed, their age, or their soundness, in my opinion, a good school horse enjoys taking care of the person they are teaching. Rodney was a good school horse; I’m sure he had some pretty severe arthritis, but he was still going 10+ years after I learned how to ride.

Here’s a shout out to all the school horses; the good, the bad, and the lame!