There’s an unofficial blog hop circulating on this topic, originally begun over at Hellomylivia, and it’s been interesting to read differing schools of thought.
My philosophy has changed over the years. When I was in college and had Moe boarded nearby, it seemed like friends and acquaintances were constantly asking if they could come out and ride him. At the time, Moe was a fit young event horse, and my answer was almost always no. I didn’t worry much about inexperienced people ruining my horse- I worried about my horse accidentally injuring someone. I had a good group of equestrian friends who were always welcome to ride him, but the guy from biology lab or girl from my sorority definitely wasn’t on the list.
When I moved Moe and Gina to the boarding barn I now live next door to, the barn owner offered to give me a discount on board if I’d let the horses be used in her lesson program. I agreed, because I trusted her ability to judge which students would be comfortable and safe on my horses.
Now, after seeing my horses calmly tote around ten year old children, I’m much more relaxed about who rides them. Johnny’s extended family visited the barn a couple of years ago, and everyone from his middle-aged aunt to his teenage cousin took Moe and Gina for a walk around the arena. Johnny, who had basically zero riding experience, started out riding Moe (because he thought Moe was less scary) and has progressed to the more sensitive (and more obedient) Gina.
That isn’t to say there aren’t limits. Neither horse is appropriate for a very small child. Neither horse is appropriate for a fearful person. Neither horse is great for very inexperienced people, though they won’t kill anyone on a lap or two around the arena. I wouldn’t recommend teaching raw beginners to jump on Moe, because he’s very quick and very excitable.
These days, I get a lot of joy from seeing other people ride my horses- it’s fun to watch a kid practice leg yields on Gina or see a surly teenager grin as they fly over a crossrail on Moe. All the riding helps the horses stay fit and sound in their senior years, too! It’s a win-win for everyone.