I rode this haflinger for a while. His name was Liam, and he is more awesome than anything. He's trained dressage, jumping, three day eventing, and carting. Hes all around awesome.
Hes got the attitude of a pony and a draft. Its tough to ride him. You have to earn respect while constantly letting him know who's boss. I've had rides where I spent a good five minutes in a terrible trot cueing with leg and reaching back and smacking that ponies butt to get him to lope. However, once he's been forced to work, he loves it. He relaxes and starts licking and chewing and has soft eyes and lowers his head.
He loves to work, loves to have a job, loves to feel important, but gosh damnit, if hes gonna work, he's going to make you work too! He constantly tests you, and its not as much in a 'lets see how far I can push you, I want to get out of work' as it is 'haha, your focus is somewhere else, lets get it back on me!' sort of a way.
Basically, he is freaking smart. Hes one of the smartest dang horses I've ever rode. Its sensitive in a draft way. He knows what your thinking, and he knows how to get away with stuff. For example, he can do lead changes, no problem. If you do a big figure 8, his lead change is beautiful. We were working on a speed barrel pattern once, and it was after Liam hadn't been worked in a while, and he was grumpy, so we were doing an easy lope through the speed barrel. And what did this dang pony do? Get on the wrong lead through every barrel and cross canter when I tried to get him to change leads. Was he honestly having a hard time with it? No. He was having fun and playing a game.
This type of horse, I love. Totally safe, just keeps me on my toes and lets me know when I need to do something differently!
He was owned by my friend for years. She loves him to death, but he is not the horse for her. They fight, and she simply does not enjoy riding him. She knew that, and she leased him out. She was leasing him to a girl, who's parents eventually bought him because my friend did not have the money should something costly happen. This family had the money. So they bought him, but didn't tell the girl he was officially hers for quite some time! This was when I started riding the pony. She was in trouble a lot, didn't yet have her license, lived far away from the barn, so her punishment was consistently 'no riding'. However, even if you get riding priveledges taken away, I think you should still be responsible for coming out and cleaning, lunging, grooming etc. However, it would just be weeks of her not seeing him. So I was riding him! This worked for a while until school started up in the fall, and it turned into her coming out on saturdays and trotting him to death and not seeing him the rest of the week.
She has no sense of release and breaks. She just trots him forever and doesn't get why he's bored, testy and clearly tired.
I went out to ride him last week, for the first time in quite a while, and I was absolutely appalled to see what he looked like. He had concaved withers and hips, as if he dropped a good 100 pounds in the past few weeks. Maybe more, I'm a terrible judge of that. He is the stockiest pony I have ever seen, and I never thought I could see him skinny. He had no ground manners, he was walking all over me, and completely rude under saddle. I couldn't believe what she has let him become! She's moving barns next week, which we are thankful for, because the barn he's at now has no watchful eye, or supervision. This barn will. They will be sure that he is getting fed enough, etc.
By the end of my ride, Liam was happy and relaxed, but it was a battle of a ride. I didn't ask him for much that was physically demanding, but I asked for a lot of mentally demanding things. Man oh man, did that pony work his brain!
It was just so sad though, to see this girl that has the coolest pony and absolutely not care about him! Which leads me to my main point of, do you know someone who clearly does not have the 'horse bug'?
This girl is obviously in it for the social aspect, and I'm sure it makes her feel good that she can show off that she can ride and stuff. But she doesn't have the 'bug' the rest of us do. Her parents told her she could go to the barn when she cleaned her room, and she just left her room messy, for like two weeks in a row! Shoot, I would have detailed my room with a toothbrush just to pet a horse when I was 14!!
Do you guys know anyone that is in it for social, and not because they can't live life without horses in it?! Its so frustrating to me!