Confidence --Where Did You Go?

Discussion in 'Horse Chat' started by smilingbigsmile, Jan 8, 2018.

  1. smilingbigsmile

    smilingbigsmile Registered

    Jan 8, 2018
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    When I was a little girl I had a best friend for a horse. Sweet memories!!! I had horses off and on up until high school then finally got a horse when I was in my 30's. With this horse 20 years ago I had an injury with a horse. It wasn't life threatening but it was enough to scare me pretty bad and to see my horse and never touch another one until last year. My horse rared on me and broke several teeth. Anyway -- thats the story with him.

    Then last year I decided to get back into this horse thing again. In the beginning my stomach was in my throat and I would get butterflies was even around horses. I forced myself to face my fears. I love it!!! I bought a fully broke/trained horse last January. In June I broke my leg pretty badly-- non horse injury but I have 21 screws in my leg and a plate. My poor horse was in a stall from June to September with occasional turn outs. Needless to say by September she was wired and had a ton of pent up energy. When I finally could walk I would take her to the round pen and let her get out some of her energy. I finally started riding her again in December. Some days she can be so sweet and practically fall asleep while I'm grooming her or like today While getting ready to saddle her she would pin her ears back and act like she was going to bite me. I also was cleaning her hooves and she dropped down to her knees. That scared me! I couldn't believe she just did that!!! I just rode her last week and it was wonderful! I couldn't wait to ride her again today but instead I just put her back in the stall. Tomorrow I will try it again. I want my confidence back so bad but there are do many times I feel like Im going backward. She is an 11 year old Arab/paint mare.

    In my head I think I need to be around my horse as much as I can and the confidence will come back but the thing I seem to always go to is "I need to sell her". I know that is a move I would regret forever! There is no way I would ever be able to replace the quality of a horse that she is. I guess I am asking for advice/encouragement on this issue. Thank you in advance!!!
  2. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

    Mar 30, 2016
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    My advice is to spend a lot of time around her and best advice ever..go grab some lessons. On a well trained horse, under a professionals eye, you'll get your confidence back up. Lessons are never a bad idea. Good luck-!!
  3. Bakkir

    Bakkir Senior Member

    Nov 15, 2010
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    I agree with spending time with her. If you are able to, do some ground work with her and lunge her before you ride. She is just fresh and got used to doing nothing.
  4. palogal

    palogal Senior Member

    Jan 3, 2008
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    If finances allow, send her off for 30 days with a good patient trainer that will work with you as well. No shame in asking for help. I would also find a way to get her turned out more. Her behaviors signal she is annoyed and bored.
  5. ginster

    ginster Senior Member

    Feb 19, 2012
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    Since she was not worked for quite a while is it possible that her saddle doesn't fit right now? Maybe she gained weight. And she very probably lost muscle tone....
  6. slc

    slc Senior Member

    Feb 19, 2004
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    Hi...we're of similar ages, I think. And this is a very common problem in our age group.

    This will be long - others who are impatient are welcome to skip it and read something else.

    Many gals our age look back very fondly on childhood or teen years in which they rode, take 15-20 years off of riding, and have....a very bad experience, as you did. And quite often, yes, multiple attempts to get into riding fail with repeats of episodes that cause a loss of confidence. I wish I had a dollar for every lady I met in your predicament. It's a big problem.

    Many instructors and friends try very hard to help people in your situation and come up very frustrated. And many times, the fear does not improve. I will say that right up front.

    For one thing, as we age we often have changes in balance and vision that affect our 'comfort' level with certain motion activities. Many of us get a mild degree of vertigo from 'aging' of the middle and inner ear, from menopause, etc. That affects how we respond to motion. We also get more cautious with activities that involve motion over the years. We get more cautious in general about taking risks, too, and about repeating a situation that resulted in past injury. If we don't do a certain motion activity for a few years, we may lose our comfort level with that activity.

    From what I've seen, even experienced myself after some injuries, and compared myself to other people in the same boat, yes, you may not ever enjoy riding again. You may have to quit. However, I believe that if you do the following you can recover from your anxiety.

    Sell this horse. Yes. You say you'll regret it, I say you'll regret not doing it. Without any question in my mind, I say that. I don't feel the horse is a good fit for your situation at all. You've had a bad experience and quite often selling the horse you had the experience with is absolutely necessary.

    Next. Do NOT then go ahead and buy another horse at that point. Instead, sign up for riding lessons with an instructor who knows how to deal with adult beginners and provides very suitable, quiet horses. Take 1 lesson a week, minimum. Repetition is the key here. If the instructor has you do things that scare you to death, rather than just push your comfort 'envelope' a little, do switch to another instructor. The horses you ride need to be quiet and 'broke to death.'

    From your description you have got a kind of fantasy in your mind of what your interaction with horses should be and how they should behave. You're going to have to get that fantasy out of your mind and learn the correct responses to each horse behavior. Yes, you have to change how you think about and view horses. And how you behave with them.

    When you do buy a horse, in a few years, hopefully you will be ready. But even then I would absolutely insist you don't buy any more 11 year old half Arab mares. You will need a horse that is very quiet, and very, very 'been there, done that.' A gelding, typically, and a very quiet sort such as a draft-Quarter Horse cross (even in that group, some are quieter than others). An old riding school horse would be ideal - probably an animal that has decades of experience at giving confidence to cautious riders.

    Horses are like - well - similar to 2 year old children in some respects. They can simply say 'no' and refuse to do something, simply because that's how they behave. It doesn't matter how much training most horses have, they will still be disobedient and 'test' out whether the behavior is still required. That's what they do.

    You have to learn a different way of thinking about and dealing with this. An immediate reaction from you to correct the behavior is needed. Knowing what to do is really important, doing it promptly without emotion is also very important.

    There are two reasons horses try to lie down when you pick their feet up. One is that their feet are sore. But the other reason - the commoner reason - is that they simply do not want you to pick up their feet. And this is extremely common with horses that are young and untrained, but also with horses that have not had their feet picked up - very often - for months previously. Some horses even need their feet picked up daily or they start objecting and being disobedient. Yeah, daily.

    So there's a whole set of steps involved in how you prevent disagreeable behavior when a horse should be lifting his feet and standing still. One is having the horse tied up correctly and securely, and positioned somewhere that he can't move around too much, such as in a wash rack or the side of his stall with his hind quarters not too far from the back wall. There is also the thing about having the horse's attention. Take away feed and don't give treats. Set up a routine that signals to the horse, it's time to listen to you and do what he's told. Then have clear cues and consequences for each behavior you want the horse to do.

    Certainly, some forms of discipline and training if the horse is being REALLY difficult, are out of bounds for you at this time. Your anxiety and your 'fond memories' of childhood both are working against you right now, as is not really knowing how to respond to the disobedience. So I'm not going to go into what to do if the horse is strongly resisting and misbehaves severely despite a small amount of correction for refusing to pick up its feet.

    Laying the ears and threatening to bite is similar. The horse needs to learn that that behavior isn't tolerated. Often a warning 'no! knock it off!' right when the head first starts to swing toward you, will stop that behavior. Then there are a whole long list of things to do if that doesn't work(with each person swearing the way they do it is the only way - I prefer to think more of a box of tools and that you pick the tool that works, though I've found hitting horses on the mouth, face or neck seems to simply egg many horses on). Some mares can indeed be nippy and pin their ears back, and a lot of that is unthinking, instinctive and just an automatic reaction to motion. If they are not corrected for the tiniest start of such behavior, it gets established as a habit. They need to be taught that ''no, I'm not a little foal trying to nurse off you, I'm the boss and you don't do that behavior around me, EVEN if I touch your flanks or rump, EVEN if I touch your girth or put a saddle on you." No, we don't have that lengthy conversation with the horse, we simply react immediately with a correction.

    That may help you stay safe until your horse is sold. But if it's getting worse, put her in training with a reputable, patient but firm trainer until she's sold, so she behaves well when buyers show up and keeps those habits after being sold.

    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
  7. BluemoonOKy

    BluemoonOKy Senior Member

    Apr 12, 2013
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    Pay someone to come and work with you. If you send her off to a trainer, that does not train you nor give you the confidence. Good luck. Horse needs turnout and your lack of confidence, health issues etc. should not land horse in stall for months with minimal turnout.
    GONE ROPING likes this.
  8. Faster Horses

    Faster Horses Senior Member

    Aug 24, 2011
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    My advice: turn her out, make sure she has hay in front of her 24/7, and treat for ulcers.

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