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Losing Confidence on New Horse

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  • SuzieQNutter
    replied
    Originally posted by Moonstone721 View Post
    Hi OP and everyone else,

    I logged in to make a very specific post...I wasn't quite sure where to put it, but I saw this thread and after reading the original post and responses, I hope you don't mind that I join you here.

    I am in a very similar situation, although I'm more on the beginner side and I ride dressage. I purchased a young, greener horse last year after a few years of "re-rider" lessons, fulfilling my lifelong dream of owning a horse. I fell in love fast, and felt comfortable on a greener horse as I worked closely with my trainer. Occasionally we'd have our off-weeks, so I'd get on the school horse while my horse got more training rides. But even in the off-weeks, I never felt unsafe...my horse didn't spook or do anything bad, he'd just have his squirrelly baby moments, so I took full advantage of my trainer's services! He was a bit more forward than the typical schoolie/kick-rides I'd gotten used to, but I was able to adjust over time. The one downside to all of this was my horse was significantly low muscled to begin with, so as he built up muscle and balance, I stuck to walk/trot rides on him. As I'm still pretty green myself, my trainer didn't want him pulling and leaning on me, so we decided to wait to canter. There went my dream of cantering off into the sunset on a horse of my own. LOL. But it was all good. We managed to go offsite to a couple shows and got good scores and experience, and at the beginning of the year, I was even able to start cantering him a bit! He and I formed a great bond through all of this, and I was looking forward to the future.

    This spring, I decided for numerous reasons to switch barns and trainers. Right before the switch, my boy got his teeth done (he'd been overdue since I bought him). We made the move, and he did quite well at first. Our new trainer is great, my horse seems to like her, and she likes him too. I got going in my lessons again and was making fast progress, I imagined I'd be back cantering him in no time!

    One day, I was nearing the end of a productive lesson. On one of the neighboring properties, a horse kicked the barrier fence which naturally made a loud noise. My horse scooted, and would not stop. He started when we were just coming out of the corner. I managed to turn him onto a circle at B, and finally when we were about 3/4 finished with the circle he stopped. We finished the lesson working on one-rein stops at the walk (I'd learned them as a kid, but hadn't revisited them in a while), but I was SHOOK. The reality is -- all he did was a very forward canter. He didn't throw any bucks. I stayed seated, didn't loose a stirrup...actually wasn't even anywhere close to coming off. But thinking about those things doesn't seem to help -- my confidence is destroyed, and I've completely lost my nerve.

    After that, I figured I'd leave the riding to my trainer for a bit, while I spent some time working with him on the ground, so I did some free lunging (which I'd done before and enjoyed). I did it twice, and both times, right at the beginning, all he wanted to do was haul ass. So not only did I deal with the bolt under saddle, now he's running around me like a bat out of hell and I am now scared to free lunge. Another day, I tried lunging him on the line (which is a new-to-me skill I've been working on with my trainer), and he kept spooking at everything (dog barking, car starting, etc.). I got on him once at the walk and cried. I got on another day, and managed to do walk/trot with no tears, but I was still afraid the entire time. Today I got on after his training ride to cool him out...I literally had a pony ride with my trainer walking next to us on a lunge line, but I was still terrified. Horse also pulled back in the cross ties on one of the days, and has even been a bit spooky just walking around the property.

    So, here I am. I am afraid to ride, afraid to lunge, and am now losing confidence just handling him on the ground. I've made a pretty embarrassing first impression on my new trainer and all of my new barn mates, although they've all been very kind to me, even though they probably think I'm the biggest weenie ever. One lady was actually surprised to hear we had a couple of shows under our belt, as she's only seen me nervous to get on and walk. Which is both funny and sad.

    It doesn't help that we're in the middle of a global pandemic, and I've lost my job as a result. So it's not like I can just go to work and focus on something else for a bit and get my mind off of it. Horses are pretty much all I have to do right now, and I don't even want to do it. The few times I have sat on him, I feel so relieved when it's time to be done.

    After the initial scary ride, I figured there was no shame in just gradually getting back on and getting back into it...but the problem is, it's not getting better. With each ride, it's almost getting worse. It's even crossed my mind to sell him and look for something potentially a little older and/or slower, or at least a little more push-button, but hubby says no, this is the horse we bought, so this is the horse you ride. Now I have to laugh thinking about how badly I'd been wanting to canter...at this point I'd just like to WALK. Lol. This is certainly no fun for me right now, and it's hard for me to picture not feeling like this. I feel like I've lost so much in such a short amount of time.

    It's interesting to see people saying horses get a little kooky in the spring, although we don't have grass pastures in my region. Like I mentioned, he just had his teeth done after being overdue. He's also 100% on alfalfa now (last place he was on a mix of alfalfa and oat). Same supplements, but new facility. To give you an idea of what has changed.

    Anyway, I wanted to reach out and see if anyone would like to be e-mail penpals and help each other talk through some of these things. I'm glad to hear I'm not alone, though I'm sorry anyone else is also feeling like this. All I have right now is my husband (who doesn't get it) and my barnmates...I honestly could just really use a friend. If anyone is interested, please send me a private message and we'll get it started. If more than one person is interested, maybe we could make a group e-mail chain. If this is too much of a hi-jack of the OP, please let me know and I can delete and move it somewhere else. Thanks everyone, if you made it this far!

    (Yes, I tend to get a little long winded. Sorry! I used to be a writer, but don't get to do so very much anymore, and sometimes when I get started I just can't stop. *facepalm*)
    Yes Moonstone. Send me your email address and I would love to be your penpal. I feel I can help you.

    Suzie Q

    Leave a comment:


  • paw
    replied
    Moonstone721 - I'm sorry. If you're done with this horse (and that's fine!), ask your husband if he'd rather be waiting on you hand and foot after you'd fallen off and (hevern forbid!) broken something. I really can't even imagine that attitude...

    That said - new barn, different feed (and 100% alfalfa - that's a bit much), new trainer; all are potential behavioral change triggers. Your horse may be feeling better (and stronger) and meanwhile, you're dealing with all sorts of non-horse-related stress. Time for you to take a breath.

    Maybe it's your time to just groom him. Work up to hand walking him, and then (but only when you're ready!) lunging. Slowly, carefully, in control. Do *not* pay attention to what anyone else is doing, or what you "should" be doing with the horse - focus on where you're comfortable. And if you're not comfortable, sell him, and get something that brings you joy.

    If your husband would rather see you stressed or hurt than sell the horse, I'm afraid you've got bigger problems.

    Feel free to PM me.

    Leave a comment:


  • Moonstone721
    replied
    Hi OP and everyone else,

    I logged in to make a very specific post...I wasn't quite sure where to put it, but I saw this thread and after reading the original post and responses, I hope you don't mind that I join you here.

    I am in a very similar situation, although I'm more on the beginner side and I ride dressage. I purchased a young, greener horse last year after a few years of "re-rider" lessons, fulfilling my lifelong dream of owning a horse. I fell in love fast, and felt comfortable on a greener horse as I worked closely with my trainer. Occasionally we'd have our off-weeks, so I'd get on the school horse while my horse got more training rides. But even in the off-weeks, I never felt unsafe...my horse didn't spook or do anything bad, he'd just have his squirrelly baby moments, so I took full advantage of my trainer's services! He was a bit more forward than the typical schoolie/kick-rides I'd gotten used to, but I was able to adjust over time. The one downside to all of this was my horse was significantly low muscled to begin with, so as he built up muscle and balance, I stuck to walk/trot rides on him. As I'm still pretty green myself, my trainer didn't want him pulling and leaning on me, so we decided to wait to canter. There went my dream of cantering off into the sunset on a horse of my own. LOL. But it was all good. We managed to go offsite to a couple shows and got good scores and experience, and at the beginning of the year, I was even able to start cantering him a bit! He and I formed a great bond through all of this, and I was looking forward to the future.

    This spring, I decided for numerous reasons to switch barns and trainers. Right before the switch, my boy got his teeth done (he'd been overdue since I bought him). We made the move, and he did quite well at first. Our new trainer is great, my horse seems to like her, and she likes him too. I got going in my lessons again and was making fast progress, I imagined I'd be back cantering him in no time!

    One day, I was nearing the end of a productive lesson. On one of the neighboring properties, a horse kicked the barrier fence which naturally made a loud noise. My horse scooted, and would not stop. He started when we were just coming out of the corner. I managed to turn him onto a circle at B, and finally when we were about 3/4 finished with the circle he stopped. We finished the lesson working on one-rein stops at the walk (I'd learned them as a kid, but hadn't revisited them in a while), but I was SHOOK. The reality is -- all he did was a very forward canter. He didn't throw any bucks. I stayed seated, didn't loose a stirrup...actually wasn't even anywhere close to coming off. But thinking about those things doesn't seem to help -- my confidence is destroyed, and I've completely lost my nerve.

    After that, I figured I'd leave the riding to my trainer for a bit, while I spent some time working with him on the ground, so I did some free lunging (which I'd done before and enjoyed). I did it twice, and both times, right at the beginning, all he wanted to do was haul ass. So not only did I deal with the bolt under saddle, now he's running around me like a bat out of hell and I am now scared to free lunge. Another day, I tried lunging him on the line (which is a new-to-me skill I've been working on with my trainer), and he kept spooking at everything (dog barking, car starting, etc.). I got on him once at the walk and cried. I got on another day, and managed to do walk/trot with no tears, but I was still afraid the entire time. Today I got on after his training ride to cool him out...I literally had a pony ride with my trainer walking next to us on a lunge line, but I was still terrified. Horse also pulled back in the cross ties on one of the days, and has even been a bit spooky just walking around the property.

    So, here I am. I am afraid to ride, afraid to lunge, and am now losing confidence just handling him on the ground. I've made a pretty embarrassing first impression on my new trainer and all of my new barn mates, although they've all been very kind to me, even though they probably think I'm the biggest weenie ever. One lady was actually surprised to hear we had a couple of shows under our belt, as she's only seen me nervous to get on and walk. Which is both funny and sad.

    It doesn't help that we're in the middle of a global pandemic, and I've lost my job as a result. So it's not like I can just go to work and focus on something else for a bit and get my mind off of it. Horses are pretty much all I have to do right now, and I don't even want to do it. The few times I have sat on him, I feel so relieved when it's time to be done.

    After the initial scary ride, I figured there was no shame in just gradually getting back on and getting back into it...but the problem is, it's not getting better. With each ride, it's almost getting worse. It's even crossed my mind to sell him and look for something potentially a little older and/or slower, or at least a little more push-button, but hubby says no, this is the horse we bought, so this is the horse you ride. Now I have to laugh thinking about how badly I'd been wanting to canter...at this point I'd just like to WALK. Lol. This is certainly no fun for me right now, and it's hard for me to picture not feeling like this. I feel like I've lost so much in such a short amount of time.

    It's interesting to see people saying horses get a little kooky in the spring, although we don't have grass pastures in my region. Like I mentioned, he just had his teeth done after being overdue. He's also 100% on alfalfa now (last place he was on a mix of alfalfa and oat). Same supplements, but new facility. To give you an idea of what has changed.

    Anyway, I wanted to reach out and see if anyone would like to be e-mail penpals and help each other talk through some of these things. I'm glad to hear I'm not alone, though I'm sorry anyone else is also feeling like this. All I have right now is my husband (who doesn't get it) and my barnmates...I honestly could just really use a friend. If anyone is interested, please send me a private message and we'll get it started. If more than one person is interested, maybe we could make a group e-mail chain. If this is too much of a hi-jack of the OP, please let me know and I can delete and move it somewhere else. Thanks everyone, if you made it this far!

    (Yes, I tend to get a little long winded. Sorry! I used to be a writer, but don't get to do so very much anymore, and sometimes when I get started I just can't stop. *facepalm*)

    Leave a comment:


  • seriously?
    replied
    I have been where you are. Nothing really had happened but my confidence dropped to nothing. No reason. Then of course the overthinking about overthinking and the anxiety about having anxiety. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies.
    I think stacymc had a lot of great points. If you are directing your attention towards a million transitions, it definitely helps.
    List all the reasons that you are a good rider.
    Go back and do some ground work - long line, find poles and obstacles. Build your relationship.Take some time and cut yourself some slack.
    I am better now for sure, but still mindful.

    Leave a comment:


  • ZELLA
    replied
    Why not spend the spring and summer hacking out more often so that you get to know your horse better?

    Leave a comment:


  • Xctrygirl
    replied
    So let me say this....

    SELL HIM












    Now assess your HONEST gut reaction to this.

    IF your mind said "Oh screw you, you stupid eventer chick. You don't know me and what I can or can't ride!" Then you have your answer. Buckle down in your training and find the way back to the confidence that you have had before.

    IF your mind said "FINALLY! Someone else sees it might be best if I walk away" Then you have your answer also.

    This is a sport we do for fun. Psychological and mental growth comes with it but ultimately you should be getting off your horse everyday and seeing more positive than negatives. EVEN when you're building on a challenge and learning.

    Em

    Leave a comment:


  • paw
    replied
    Originally posted by BAC View Post
    If the horse is too much for you (your words, not mine), would you consider selling him for something you could enjoy more right now? I'm not against taking your time but all that walking would bore me to death if it was months of walking.. An 18 hand horse with a "big spook" that is "too much" for you doesn't sound like a good ammy prospect.
    Trust me, walking my big horse is anything but boring! And no, he's got a home for life - it's the journey, not the destination.

    I have learned *so* much from this horse, and the fact that he's not easy has made me a much better rider. The challenge is figuring out why the horse reacts the way it does, and how (in this case) to give him confidence. I need to be one step ahead (which can be mentally exhausting), but there are moments of true joy when it all comes together.

    Leave a comment:


  • RAyers
    replied
    Originally posted by springgreypony View Post

    It was sort of a gradual process. As springtime started, we had a few rides where he was very fresh, and I felt very out of control, nervous, and tense in a way I have never felt on a horse before. As I kept having those rides where he felt like he was almost to much for me, I started to lose confidence and maybe even a bit of hope. When those rides kept happening, I had developed a much more tense presence on him as I was always ready for him to spook and buck, take off, etc. (I know it is natural and alright for a horse to spook, but it can be a little intense for me!) Even though he has become less fresh as the weather evens itself out, I have just kept that scared presence on him. It feels like there is much more pressure to train/ride a horse well when he is young and full of incredible potential, and with an already weak mental game, it hasn’t been easy!
    You might need to admit you don’t have the mental attitude it takes to ride up and fresh horses. That’s ok. It is a very unique quality in a rider who can kick a horse forward when they seem like they want to explode already.

    Spooking and bucking are normal for every horse and we riders have to accept that it will happen while we ride them.

    The ability to relax and let go while riding a horse that is loosing its shit is a skill that has been lost only to be replaced by breeding less reactive horses.

    It’s ok to admit you don’t have that ability. Very few riders do anymore. But if you want to get the confidence to ride through this, you are going to need to get comfortable with feeling out of control, giving compete trust to your horse, and let yourself be willing to hit the ground. It’s the nature of the game when pushing up the capabilities of horse and rider.

    Just the other day on the gallops my horse exploded under me when the others moved off. I focused on my heels down, legs down and around him and kicked him forward into the gallop. When he found the front door, he relaxed, opened his stride and we had a great time. My helmet cam recorded me laughing the whole time.

    Body tension does more to ruin a rider’s confidence than the horse can ever do. And the more we try to control the spook or buck the worse a horse will get.

    Leave a comment:


  • Pally
    replied
    Hey welcome to my world. I started as a kid super afraid for my safety (or, at least, control) and grew up to be an adult afraid of disappointing... well... I guess just me. So, yeah, the adult issues are 10X worse when it's my own horse rather than someone else's.

    I also know the very frustrating feeling of knowing full well there's another way to feel and yet feeling crappy. In horses and life. It's almost as bad as feeling bad. But I try to use it to remind me that the better feeling will come back.

    In this case, maybe you can have a COVID silver lining. It sounds like you were riding and not kept out of your barn... but, well, it would actually be pretty easy and understandable if some of your moving up, accomplishing X goals went *poof*. I mean, that should be allowed anytime (as an amateur that's your perogative!) but it's just really, really easy to explain away right now.

    Do what you feel confident about (whether that's low jumps or ground work or anything in between). If you find yourself tense and worried about something, try to cipher out whether it's because of real, unconquerable (at this moment) fear or just the nattering worry-wart voice. If it's the latter, see if you can appease her with only committing to small pushes of the boundaries. (eg. "Ok not sure I want to canter, so let's just try one 20 metre circle", "Yeah, I'm on the fence about getting on today. So I'll tack up, watch him on the lunge and if he's good, maybe get on to cool out.") Personally, when I do this, most times I do more than I told myself I would. I just need to convince myself to get over that initial hump.


    Good luck. Smile. Remember, your horse wants you to be good, but he doesn't care if you're perfect.

    Leave a comment:


  • springgreypony
    replied
    Thank you so much to everyone for the advice. I really appreciate the support. Answering some questions here;
    -Yes, I have an instructor and she is lovely! She has been working with both my horse and me, and is doing a stellar job. I am merely looking for some more tips and advice, and to see other perspectives of improving my mental game and becoming more confident, while also learning to not push myself or my horse too hard, and enjoying the process.
    -Yes, there are plenty other spring variables that could’ve caused his freshness. Grass, workload, cool air, etc. can all be factors causing it. I am well aware of these, and have just grouped them into one category of “springtime.” The amount of feed and hay change seasonally, but it has always been the same brands. I’m sorry if I answered the question the wrong way hah! He has routine vet checks, teeth checks, and has had a few chiro appointments, so I am almost positive it has just been those overall spring factors and my old ammy behavior causing loss of confidence. (We don’t bounce back as much as we used to!)
    -My health, both mental and physical, are doing alright! Considering what is going on in the world right now, I have been finding myself becoming a little stressed, but these are crazy times. I probably need to relax and not let my mind think too much about the outside world while at the barn.
    I am planning to ride tomorrow and I will take it slow. It is supposed to be a sudden chilly and rainy day, so I may just groom him and enjoy his lovely company. If I do feel alright to get on, depending on how he is, I will have a little ride around. Maybe lunge him, make him focus with lots of transitions and circles to keep him thinking, or maybe even just walking around with him. Who knows- it seems like everything is a waiting game. But I think I am okay with waiting now.
    Thank you everyone! Have a nice week.

    Leave a comment:


  • BayBondGirl
    replied
    staceymc Love it, I have to do similar when mine has uninstalled her brain

    Leave a comment:


  • SuzieQNutter
    replied
    Originally posted by springgreypony View Post

    No, he has been on the same supplements and feed since I have owned him. I am guessing it was just the sudden onset of spring weather that was causing him to be so excitable? And I probably just wasn’t prepared for it...

    Also, thank you to everyone for the insight. I will be riding again tomorrow and we will try to take it slow. Something I heard lately is that “it is a marathon, not a sprint” and to enjoy the process. Maybe this is a reminder to take it slow and remember why I love riding in the first place.
    Feeding changes with how much grass they are getting as well as how much work. It is the extra grass in springtime that makes the change, not just the weather.

    Leave a comment:


  • staceymc
    replied
    I have an amateur/owner horse that I bought as a coming 5 year old. He's quite literally the most powerful horse I've ever sat on, and was definitely too much for me when I bought him. But I'm on a budget and have always had him in a trainer's program so we've made it through fine and I became a way way better rider from sticking with it.

    Mine's antics are definitely worse in the spring. Hormones. Cool fresh air with few bugs and lots of yummy spring grass. When mine is bored and fresh, he amuses himself by spooking at things he's seen a hundred times. Trot too close to a jump? Picks up all 4 legs and moves them over. Bird flies up when you're walking by? Leaps into air and scoot off. Endless headshaking. Drama everywhere.

    On fresh days (seemingly every day here lately) here are my tips not to die or lose confidence.

    Work. Immediately.

    Trotting around in large circles will not do you any good.

    Walking? Then you are lengthening and shortening while you are walking and doing lateral work. Shoulder in. Haunches in. Leg yields.

    Trotting or cantering? You're doing circles and changes of direction and transitions constantly. Both within the gait, and between gaits. I do not go more than 10 strides or steps without changing something. Left lead, circle left. Trot 5 steps. Pick up right lead canter and circle right. Go forward out of the circle. Walk. Canter right again. 10 strides later, walk and pick up the counter lead. Go 10 strides. Halt. Back. Walk off. Trot 10 steps, canter true lead for 5 strides, trot and circle, using your leg yield to spiral in and then back out. And on and on.

    Do this and he does not have time to spook. He is paying attention to YOU and ONLY YOU. And riding like this tires him out mentally and physically much faster.

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  • BayBondGirl
    replied
    When I bought my mare, she was almost borderline "too much" for me but I felt confident that I could grow into that as a rider and it would stretch me. The first short while was great, but then I started to feel like maybe I had made a wrong purchase and we were not suitable; I wasn't confident on her, spooking made me really anxious and I wasn't making the progress that I remotely imagined. I often ended rides in tears. This went on for a good 6+ months, until around the year mark things suddenly began to work much smoother and I finally felt like we were a team.

    I'm so glad I stuck it out because she has taught me innumerable things, but that isn't for everyone. I agree with the advice to dial down your expectations, enjoy what you have in the horse that you have on each day (some days are very different horses in the same skin!) and communicate clearly with your trainer so that she/he isn't pushing you unnecessarily. End rides on a good note, even if that means you're only mounted for 15 minutes if you can feel it might be a bad day for you!

    Best wishes and don't get down on yourself. It's a journey, and as mentioned, a long one, so don't feel the need to hurry along!

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  • Crazy4aOTTB
    replied
    Originally posted by springgreypony View Post

    It was sort of a gradual process. As springtime started, we had a few rides where he was very fresh, and I felt very out of control, nervous, and tense in a way I have never felt on a horse before. As I kept having those rides where he felt like he was almost to much for me, I started to lose confidence and maybe even a bit of hope. When those rides kept happening, I had developed a much more tense presence on him as I was always ready for him to spook and buck, take off, etc. (I know it is natural and alright for a horse to spook, but it can be a little intense for me!) Even though he has become less fresh as the weather evens itself out, I have just kept that scared presence on him. It feels like there is much more pressure to train/ride a horse well when he is young and full of incredible potential, and with an already weak mental game, it hasn’t been easy!
    I have felt the same way with my first horse. He would get tense and spooky and buck for no reason. This made me a very timid rider. I agree with the above responses to take the jumping and flat down a notch for a while and do what makes you feel comfortable. I am lucky to have an amazing trainer who helped me by showing me what to do when I or my horse felt nervous. She would have me do lots of circles, changes of directions and gates. So I would do small figure eights and go from walk trot every 5 -10 steps. This helps me relax because I am thinking about what's coming next (trot, walk, change direction) and it keeps the horses mind busy on what you are asking instead of being fresh and spooky. While I might be nervous about how my horse feels underneath me it turns that nervousness into productive energy to use to concentrate on getting my horse to relax. This method has usually worked to get my horse thinking and relax, Good luck and hang in there!

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  • merrygoround
    replied
    Have you an instructor who can give you the tools to deal with this sort of thing. A good instructor should be able to teach you the necessary reactions you need to use automatically with an overfresh, I'm distracted horse.

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  • Libby2563
    replied
    Originally posted by Groom&Taxi View Post
    Is there anything stressful or concerning going on in your life that is not related to your horse? If so, you could be transfering anxiety from that situation to your interactions with your horse.
    I was wondering this too. This spring has been unusually stressful and anxiety-inducing to humans everywhere (understatement of the year?). You might need to do some introspection, meditation, whatever helps, and take a few steps back with the horse to cut yourself some slack. He sounds lovely and a return to basics wouldn't hurt either of you. Good luck!

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  • springgreypony
    replied
    Originally posted by Bristol Bay View Post

    This makes me want to ask what you’re feeding him, and if there were any changes to his diet. New cut of hay, hoof supplement, anything.
    No, he has been on the same supplements and feed since I have owned him. I am guessing it was just the sudden onset of spring weather that was causing him to be so excitable? And I probably just wasn’t prepared for it...

    Also, thank you to everyone for the insight. I will be riding again tomorrow and we will try to take it slow. Something I heard lately is that “it is a marathon, not a sprint” and to enjoy the process. Maybe this is a reminder to take it slow and remember why I love riding in the first place.

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  • WildLittleWren
    replied
    I have been following Warwick Schiller, he has some fabulous videos on focus, connection, and relaxation. Some of his wife's videos touch on anxiety in people, and they tie it all together nicely. You might look into it. A lot of the work is like watching paint dry, but it REALLY makes you be present, focused, and relaxed, as well as it makes your horse be more present, focused, and relaxed. Just a thought, throwing it out there. He has a video subscription which I subscribe to, but there are also other videos out there, even other clinicians and trainers that have different methods and good ideas on how to get you, and your horse, to relax.

    Good luck OP!

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  • endlessclimb
    replied
    Springtime can bring out some nutty behavior in even the best horse.

    My suggestion for next time you feel like he's a powder keg is to get off, grab some side reins or vienna reins, and lunge. If he settles in after taking some edge off, take the side reins off and get on him. If he doesn't settle, then finish the lunging, cool him down, and be done for the day.

    There's no pride before the fall. If you don't feel safe, or you're tense and know it's going to translate into a rough ride, get off. There's always tomorrow. No need to win the battle but lose the war.

    Your horse doesn't know or care about his own potential, ever. That should never be a driver for you to feel bad about yourself. If you're doing your best and you're not injuring him, and you're having some modicum of fun on a regular basis, yall are doing fine. He's got his whole life to "reach his potential". There's no rush.

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