Girl Scout horse...need breed opinions...

  • #1
Hey all! I started volunteering as a horse wrangler/instructor for the local Girl Scout camp yesterday and had an absolute blast! It was insanely hard work (not hard, exactly, just REALLY busy...we had almost 100 girls come through between 9am and 4pm) and I'm exhausted and sore, but we had so much fun.

Anyway, one of the horses we have at the camp was said to be a pure quarter horse, but we honestly don't think she is (they have all mares, BTW, the majority of them being retired polo horses). Her movement is all wrong for a quarter horse and her build is as well. They have a palomino quarter horse there and seeing Paleface (the grey in question) and Summer (the palomino) standing next to each other, you can tell they both aren't the same breed. I mean, I know there's some laxness in the quarter horse type based on their lines (foundation versus appendix verses just thrown-together ranch horse) but you can still look at one and still say "Yeah, that's a quarter horse" despite their breeding.'s a couple pics of Paleface. After watching her move and really looking her over, I am of the opinion that she is an andalusian/paint cross (she has one blue eye and her mouth/gums are very pale pink). I do have to say that she is by far my favorite, even though no one else seems to like her because apparently she can be a bit of a witch on the ground (she's a dream once you get on her, but she was fine for me on the ground once she realized I wasn't going to put up with her witchiness ).


Here is a pic of a grey andalusian standing for reference.

And here's a couple more pics from yesterday (didn't have TIME to take many pics! lol).
This is Sassie. She's a little (MAYBE 13hh?) buckskin paint mare with minimal white who quite lives up to her name. You literally have to walk next to her with a riding crop to get her to move at a walk. Forget a trot. She had untied herself, but has been taught to ground tie, so as soon as her lead rope hit the ground she was like "Awww, dang it!! Now what?!" (That's Foolish, our retired thoroughbred, on her left and Summer, our palomino quarter horse, on her right).

This is Candy. She's a little (maybe 13.3hh) dark bay...something. lol. She's the oldest horse at that camp at 20 years young. She's actually not too bad about stepping out, but she doesn't like to have horses behind her or she'll kick (and if you're trail riding and the horse in front of her isn't going fast enough, she'll bite them on the rump). The girls (Brownies...about age 7 or so) had to groom their horses in order to earn their badge and Candy fell asleep while being groomed.

Just a couple pics of the girls riding. In the first pic are Sassie (in the lead) and Candy (behind her). The adult on the ground is Wendy, my friend that was volunteering with me.

In this pic is Strawberry (in front), a little 14hh quarter horse, and Summer, the palomino quarter horse (I think she's around 15.2hh).


Strawberry and Candy apparently got into a fight today with RIDERS UP . My friend texted me after it happened and was thoroughly freaked out. Luckily no one fell off or was injured.

We also have a retired race horse among our herd (can't remember her registered name, but we call her "Foolish" and her sire was "Foolish Pleasure") as well as a granddaughter of War Admiral (famous race horse), who was the son of Man o' War, one of the most famous race horses of all time.

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  • #2
Also, I need some opinions on a "what to do" matter involving this volunteering gig.

After talking to my boss (I actually work at a barn, helping train/work horses and such), I have come to realize just how many safety hazards there are at the Girl Scout camp. Girths that are too loose (we had a girl almost fall off the other side when she mounted, so I straightened the saddle and tightened the girth, then got a stern talking-to because the girth was "too tight," when it wasn't even NEARLY as tight as the girth is when I saddle my horse); saddles that are improperly positioned, not to mention in many cases ill-fitting (I understand that they are working with donated equipment, so they have to do the best they can, but Candy, the 20yo sway-backed mare, is probably so grumpy because her saddle hurts her because it is improperly positioned); lead ropes that aren't detachable from the halters, so they are simply tied down to the horses' breast collars (poses a safety hazard if the horse puts its head down while walking and steps on or through the lead rope, catching their leg and tripping them); horses with poor ground manners who are used to teach grooming to the girls (I had one horse kick me in the ankle because she was impatient to move and I wouldn't let her, and another horse that almost caught me in the thigh as I walked another horse a respectable distance behind her and she kicked out at me/the horse I was leading); we aren't allowed to reprimand the horses (at least not in front of the girls) because they don't want it to look like we're "being mean" to the horses. These are just a few of the concerns. So, my delimma is I continue volunteering there and try to improve the things I can...or do I run screaming the other way? The girl in charge is younger than me (by at least five years...I'll be 28 on the 24th of this month) and is a "certified trainer," but having the title of "certified trainer" in the States doesn't mean squat because you take a few college classes on horsemanship and they give you a certificate, no hands-on experience required.

Betta/Horse lover
  • #3
That's awesome but some of them sound like nasty horses.
  • #4
Huh, well unfortunately I don't see many exotic breeds here (Andalucians, Quarters etc) so I don't want to comment on the form/breed when I have nothing to compare it to...

It does seem like you are restricted in trying to implement discipline, as they have to be reprimanded despite the audience. If you enjoyed it as much as you say, and have the time to devote, I say stick with it, it looks good on the CV, you are helping out young riders (I can't believe I was also once that small beside a 13hh!!) and the knowledge they get now will stick with them.

In terms of trying not to upset anyone, the girth being tight enough is the first thing to be checked before either getting on or before getting children up there, so that's an 'OOPS' moment when they say it's too tight.
  • #5
The grey, are her hooves striped? Does she have the sclera around her eyes? She reminds me of an appaloosa. I don't see any andalusian in her, her build just seems "wrong". I can't explain it. And her head looks "mustangy", but the rest of her doesn't.

In regards to your "moral dilemma":

Horse people gossip. What goes on at one barn is known at a barn 30 minutes away.

If anything happens and you're at the camp, you may have problems getting a job at another barn.

I'm a bit confused about the cinch being too tight. If it's placed correctly with no pinching, horses will "blow out" so it's virtually impossible to make it too tight. I cannot see your boss's perspective on that.

Experienced riders can balance their weight. These girls aren't experienced, so loose cinches are a definite no-no. The become unbalanced, the cinch is loose, and they can end up under the horse and get stepped on, etc. Not to mention an experienced horse will try to "balance" a loose saddle.

I'm amazed that they're using horses with poor ground manners to teach Girl Scouts how to groom. The possibility for injuries is endless with that.

You're not allowed to reprimand the horses because it'll look mean. Does she not realize that you're working with 1000 pounds of an animal that has the intelligence of a college graduate with the attitude of a spoiled 5-year old? Not reprimanding them for bad behavior is just asking for trouble and they'll happily provide it.

You should ask her how horses tell each other to "back off". Do they ask nicely or do they bite, kick, and in other ways bully the other to "behave".

Okay, vent done.

My best advice-you're not going to learn any new skills at this barn that will help you. Your reputation can also be at risk with other barns. I would walk away. Unless you're put in charge, there's a limit to how much you can help especially since there are so many dangerous things going on with this particular program. Either you're going to get hurt or one of these girls are going to get hurt and those types of memories can linger for a very long time.

I hope this helps you with your decision.
  • #6
I agree with bolivianbaby. I have never heard of anyone getting a "cinch too tight", but what really scares me is horses that kick - especially around kids. Kids are unpredictable - they will crawl through the bars on the corral behind a horse, etc. Almost any startled horse will kick, but some have a reputation and I don't believe it is ever possible to trust those particular horses. If you can't be in charge of the horse, you are in a no win situation and also someone is going to get hurt. I wouldn't work in that situation.

BTW, I thought you had one more year of college and were going to be a teacher and move to WA, or have I got the wrong person? You apparently have a lot of irons in the fire so to speak! lol

  • #7
Hey Paige, congrats on volunteering with the scouts. It can be a lot of fun and tiring (the good kind!)
I know from years of experience that safety is of utmost importance in GS's. So strict at times, it was close impossible to schedule certain outings.

You might want to consider contacting the Council with your concerns. After all, it's their butt that's on the line.
Keeping the girls safe is the most important thing.
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  • #8
I'm being forced to take a semester off, Thyra (LONG story that I'd rather not get into), so I'm trying to find stuff to fill my time because I can't seem to find a job (in two years living here, I've had ONE job interview and I've applied at dozens of places repeatedly...small town, not many choices).

Anyway, most of the horses have decent ground manners around the girls, it's basically Paleface (the grey in the pic) and Moon Pie (a fresian cross) who don't have good ground manners, and they aren't used for ground lessons.

However, I will say that a lot of the "fault" for the kicking and fighting with riders up is the fault of the girls. Yesterday (Tuesday), we had a group of 18 girls come through between 9am and 11am. I was tasked with saddling the horses before they got there (thank heaven! I was actually able to position their saddles correctly, which cut down on a lot of the nasty attitudes) and I tightened the girths to where they should be (the lady in charge was in too much of a hurry to check them). We had six girls up at a time (the other 12 were in the upper arena getting ground lessons from another volunteer, then we'd rotate). These girls were ages 12-15 (the age ranges on Saturday were 7-15). The first group did great. Everyone listened and we had no problems. The second group, however, was a disaster. We put a girl who *said* she'd been taking western lessons since she was 3 up on our lead horse, Juliet. Amanda, the girl in charge, gave everyone the quick "this is how you steer and stop your horse" lecture, then asked the girl on Juliet to get the group started. The girl kicks Juliet forward...and guides her right into the back of Strawberry! Well, of course Strawberry reacted and bucked and kicked at Juliet (nasty kick to the flank...I was standing 20+ feet away and I HEARD Strawberry's hoof make contact...these horses have shoes on all four feet...I'm used to dealing with barefoot horses). Needless to say, Juliet did the only thing she could do, and that was to take off running, rider still on board. The girl on Strawberry started bawling and screaming that she wanted to get off NOW (not that I blame her for the crying part, but the screaming didn't help), which set off the girl next to her on Candy, who was already starting to freak out before this happened. So while Amanda chased down and caught Juliet and made sure she and her rider were okay, I had to stand there holding Candy and Strawberry because if they so much as TWITCHED, their riders started screaming and sobbing again. The girl on Juliet was fine (Juliet wasn't, however...she was limping badly and had a big knot forming where Strawberry caught her...we put her away after that group was done), the girl on Candy got led around by Amanda while I dealt with the rest of the group, and the girl on Strawberry got off after we convinced her to at least walk half the arena. That wasn't the end of it, though...We brought down another horse, Challimare, to replace injured Juliet for the last group. Challimare is a VERY laid-back appaloosa (can't believe I just used those two words in the same sentence!) and extremely well-mannered. These horses are taught that if they stop and there's still backward pressure on the reins, they back up. We got the girl up on Challimare first, then went on down the line. We're about halfway done and all of a sudden we hear a commotion from the other end of the arena. We look over and there's the girl on Challimare with the reins WAY up in the air, pulling back for all she's worth. Of course, Challimare is very calmly and patiently backing up. We have our hands full of horses (Amanda was getting one girl into her saddle and I was waiting with the next horse in line), so we just called out to her to stop pulling back on the reins and Challimare would stop. What does she do? She shortens the reins and pulls back HARDER! I mean, really?! So, Challimare, like the well-trained horse she is, keeps backing up. We tell the girl to DROP her reins this time and she shortens the reins AGAIN and keeps pulling back! Finally, I dropped the lead rope on the horse I had (happened to be Sassie, who ground ties very well) and ran over and grabbed the reins out of the girl's hand. Challimare looked at me like "THANK YOU!!!!!" The whole time she was riding after that, the girl kept shortening her reins, even though we kept telling her not to. Blah! Aside from all that though, I have a blast every time I go out there (today we're going on a trail ride with just me, Amanda, my friend Wendy who was with me on Saturday, and possibly another volunteer).

Anyway, bolivianbaby, I totally get what you're saying about it ruining my reputation with other barns in the area, but I'm not going to be barn-hopping while I'm here. I'm sticking with the barn I'm at, mainly because the girl who owns it is my friend and we've been working together for over a year now and get on well. If I was planning on trying to get a job at another barn in the area, I would TOTALLY be concerned about what the Girl Scout barn is doing to my reputation. However, by the time I work (or board) at another barn, I'll be in Washington state, far from AZ and any damage volunteering at the Girl Scout camp might do to my reputation.

Lucy, from what Amanda (the girl in charge) has said, some of the things I'm seeing as safety concerns have actually come down from the Council! Such as the tying the lead ropes down to the breast collars. If I had the funds (which I might after today as I have a job interview!), I really want to go out and buy new lead ropes with snaps on them and replace all the lead ropes so that all we have to do is unsnap them, not tie them down. The lead ropes they have, other than being permanently attached to the halters, are only about 4 feet long. Not long enough to be able to tie the horses properly, IME. The lead rope that came with my horse is a 6 footer and I don't like how short it is.

Sorry this is so long.
  • #9
What, you don't teach them the "emergency dismount" first?

It's a whole lot easier than the "unintentional dismount".

Don't you hate when horses do what they're told instead of what you want them to do?
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  • #10
ROFL! Bolivianbaby, you crack me up! The worst is we can't allow them to step down to dismount. We have to get them to do the belly-slide off. Well, the majority of these girls have only seen the step down dismount, so that's what they want to do and they won't listen when you try to tell them differently. I had one girl getting off Summer (the ~16hh palomino QH) who stepped down and got her foot stuck in the stirrup. She very "gracefully" ended up flat on her bottom. To be honest, it served her right.

OH! And about Paleface's ancestry...I showed her pic to my boss and she said it looks like someone chopped apart four totally unrelated horses and pieces them back together to form Paleface. Give the one blue eye and the pink around her eyes and her mouth, we've come to the conclusion that she's most likely QH/paint/appaloosa and maybe some mustang in there, which is where the fact that her trot and canter are rather andalusian/Spanish could come from. lol

  • #11
I'll be honest. Unless I'm riding bareback, I can't slide off a horse. I get stuck. It is not a pretty sight. Ask my daughter. We went riding one weekend and they made you dismount like that. She fell over laughing so hard, told everybody, and wished she had a camera.

Plus, so many things can go wrong dismounting like that. You have no way of handling the situation of the horse spooks.

At least you'll learn patience on this job
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  • #12
Yeah. I'm REALLY hoping Amanda doesn't make me dismount like that today. lol However, I will have to use a mounting block to mount Paleface, which will be embarrassing enough. It's not because Paleface is too tall (she's maybe gelding is 14.2hh), but because I tore my left rotator cuff and my stupid state health care insurance has denied my claim, so I can't get it taken care of. When I mounted my friend's gelding last week, I nearly passed out when I pulled myself up into the saddle because it hurt so bad (and I have a VERY high pain threshold).

Oh, and as far as dismounting stepping down versus sliding off...apparently they did a family camp over the summer and this dad was riding Paleface. When he went to dismount, he stepped down (like he'd been told NOT to) and his boot got caught in the stirrup and he jabbed Paleface in the ribs trying to get it out. Well, Paleface took off (who wouldn't?!) and the guy ended up flat on his backside. lol

And yes, I'm learning patience to deal with my future high school students. If I can deal with all the stuff going on at this camp patiently, I can handle anything, right?
  • #13
Bless your heart! Not fun!

Will that heal on it's own like a sprain or are you pretty much in a mess until you can come up with the funds to have it treated?
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  • #14
I'm basically out of luck until I can afford to get it fixed (sometimes requires surgery, which the orthopedist I saw said would probably be the case with me because of how long I went before getting it looked at...waited 3 months before going to the doctor). What makes it even better is that on top of the torn rotator cuff, I did sprain my AC joint (where the clavicle and shoulder blade connect) at the same time and because I haven't allowed it to rest, it hasn't healed. What's funny is that I did all this while working at my friend's barn (where my gelding is boarded). We were moving stall panels and because I'm bigger/stronger than my friend, I was doing the heavier part of the work (lifting the panels onto the fence and walking them over until they dropped to the other side). It's been...six months? since it happened and I still have problems with it. I can lift lighter saddles (like the ones at the GS camp), but I can't saddle my own horse because my friend's saddle is a show saddle, so it's like 60lbs and lifting UP is one of the things I can't do.


  • #15
You people bring back memories of my 4-H leader days. We had a well trained Appy show horse that was our son’s project. Among other things at the county fair one evening, they had a costume class for the horse kids. Our son dressed as a pioneer man, was leading his “wife and baby” who was sitting side saddle (on a regular western saddle). Drum was very well mannered and always in the ribbonsat the Appaloosa shows, so he knew his stuff - maybe too well, because he also knew when the crowd applauded, it meant he was leaving the arena and he would put on a little dancing show - unless his rider stayed in command. Our son knew and was assured his ‘Dad would be at the entrance if there was a problem. (In this case the arena was an old race track) His “lovely wife” in a long dress, wearing a sunbonnet and carrying the “baby” was also warned and told to “get that foot out of the stirrup and drop the doll” before you try to dismount if anything goes amiss, because you will windup backwards and stirrup hung.. She was a tall lanky teenager and not at all worried. It all went wrong. Drum started jumping around after he passed the grandstand and the crowd applauded, Son let go of him. Son’s Dad wasn’t where he was suppose to be and we found “Wife” in the nearby woods, jumping around on one foot, the other foot in the stirrup (still holding the doll) with her Dad standing there watching and saying, “I knew we should have named you Grace!
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  • #16
ROFL! Thyra, that is too funny! That honestly sounds like something my Dakota would do (the whole "dancing for the crowd" thing). lol
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  • #17
Okay, so I went trail riding today with Amanda (Wendy had to leave right after we got on the trail because her horse was down and they thought he might have colic, but he doesn't *whew!*). I got to ride Paleface. She's actually a nice ride except that her gait is kinda funky and regardless of how tightly you cinch the saddle on her, you end up shifting to the right. So, I had to keep adjusting the saddle while riding, which got interesting. We rode for an hour and a half and as a testament of how out of shape Paleface is, she was completely lathered, like we had been running barrels the whole time! lol

Anyway, got a good chance to talk to Amanda about the way things are run at the camp. Turns out all the stuff that are safety concerns for me are things that the GS make her do and she really doesn't approve of them either. She's in the process of putting together a business plan for a year-round horse program at the camp, complete with a covered arena, individual stalls (right now the horses are all turned out and eat together), dedicated bomb-proof horses for the program (the horses they use right now are retired polo horses and as has been evidenced by what happened the past few days, NOT bomb-proof) and a lot of other things.
Betta/Horse lover
  • #18
Ya know Paleface is starting to look more and more like a Andalusian Mustang cross.
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  • #19
She trotted out on Tuesday because she was ALL excited about something outside the corral (we're in national forest, so it's hard to see anything around us) and her movement was so Spanish I almost texted my boss right then and there. Wish I'd gotten vid on it with my cell phone, but I was busy trying to keep the girls from piling up on each other going through the L of poles on the ground (to practice their steering) and Paleface was making all the other horses nervous cuz she was dragon snorting and everything.

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