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Monday, 23 April 2012

Ardall Safety Rider.

My Ardall arrived from Ireland last week and I wanted to try it out on some known quantities before I try anything more exciting with it!! I decided to try Bella with ”Seamus” first as I think of her as being pretty much bombproof. This was a mistake in hindsight as Bella has had a very sheltered life – never even been sat on by anyone except me and never been subjected to anyone falling off or even nearly falling off. Grace is very snorty about new things but puts up with just about anything and has been ridden by loads of people, from experienced riders to complete beginners, and has had people fall off, etc. (and me vaulting and standing on her back) so she would have been a much better bet to start with! Anyway it turned out OK but gave Bella and I a nasty shock!

She didn’t mind him sitting on her at all at halt (as you can see) or walk but when I took her in the school and asked her to trot things got very exciting! I had her on the lunge (mistake – I should have let her loose) and she was fine for a few circles in trot then suddenly decided she didn’t like the feel of the Ardall and took off bucking. It has a spring in it and moves in a very realistic, if exaggeratedly so, fashion. Bucking made it sway violently like a drunk on a bronco! Bella was very good and didn’t try to pull away from me but was going so fast on a smallish circle she kepy losing her back end and nearly going down, which was scary and upsetting. She eventually stopped and realised if she kept still the Ardall did too so she didn’t want to move. Having got that far I wanted to get her used to it so kept persuading her to trot a few strides until she started to relax and realise that it was harmless.

I felt dreadful afterwards because Bella is my pride and joy and has never even tried to buck me off so she really didn’t need the Ardall but, looking back, I think it probably was a good thing. If something happens in future and I lose my balance hopefully she’ll now know that the best thing is to stop. It took me a few days to recover from the guilt and think about trying it again!

I decided to let Grace decide if it is a reasonable thing to ask a horse to put up with and if it upset her I was going to stick it on eBay! Grace was a star! She took a few minutes to get used to the sight of it and let it come near her but after that she was fine. I studied it in motion very carefully this time and it does sway an awful lot in trot. In walk and canter it hardly moves at all and is no real problem, but even Grace looked momentarily suprised when she first started trotting. After that she seemed to like it and was was really using herself. I think she appreciated the nice light weight for a change!

I bought the Ardall to make Merlin really safe to ride (and because there are a couple more youngsters I’m helping people back this summer) and I think it really will do that. Once a horse is used to it I think it would never again worry about anything that happened on it’s back ever again. However there’s no way I can see of preparing them gradually for the motion of the Ardall in trot, so there is some doubt in my mind about just how horse friendly a training aid it really is. The bottom line is as long as it’s girthed up properly there is no way it’s going anywhere, and it can’t hurt them, so it has to be preferable to someone frightening a youngster half to death by falling off them and probably catching them badly in the mouth while doing so, not to mention possible injury to the rider. On a horse that had been deliberately bucking people off I’d use the Ardall without hesitation, and with a well prepared youngster I think the long term benefits will outweigh the short term fright it will undoubtedly give them but I’m still thinking hard about it before I use it on Merlin or any other inexperienced horse!!!

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely fascinating. Going to do some research just so I can find out more about the Ardall.

    Looks like it might just make Merlin a really solid ride for kids.

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I am a clicker training addict and there is no cure - thank goodness!!!