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Need Relaxation Ideas*UPDATE*

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  • #21
    I do think part of her fear may be coming from the fact that the smaller pony canter feels "normal" or "right" to her and the bigger canter feels "wrong".

    As a teenager, I mainly rode average sized quarter horses. When I started back as an adult, my first lesson was on a 14.3H quarter horse. Cantered just fine. I did so well my trainer put me on a 16.3H TB for the next lesson (the largest horse I had ever ridden). I did well until canter, spook, buck, tossed off.

    My next 2 lessons were back on the qh. After that I felt ready for the big TB again. It took several lessons for me to get the feel of the big, uphill canter. After first my mind was screaming that it felt SO WRONG and I was going to fly off the back of the saddle. Once I got used to the feel, I have never wanted to ride anything but a nice, rolling canter again. The canter feel was a huge factor in why I chose to buy my current TB and not a lot of the other horses I test rode.

    Stick her back on the pony for a few rides. She might decide she is ready for some different. Also, Jane Savioe says to sing or hum "Row, row, row your boat" to help follow the canter movement.

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    • Original Poster

      #22
      Originally posted by Juxtapoze View Post
      I do think part of her fear may be coming from the fact that the smaller pony canter feels "normal" or "right" to her and the bigger canter feels "wrong".

      As a teenager, I mainly rode average sized quarter horses. When I started back as an adult, my first lesson was on a 14.3H quarter horse. Cantered just fine. I did so well my trainer put me on a 16.3H TB for the next lesson (the largest horse I had ever ridden). I did well until canter, spook, buck, tossed off.

      My next 2 lessons were back on the qh. After that I felt ready for the big TB again. It took several lessons for me to get the feel of the big, uphill canter. After first my mind was screaming that it felt SO WRONG and I was going to fly off the back of the saddle. Once I got used to the feel, I have never wanted to ride anything but a nice, rolling canter again. The canter feel was a huge factor in why I chose to buy my current TB and not a lot of the other horses I test rode.

      Stick her back on the pony for a few rides. She might decide she is ready for some different. Also, Jane Savioe says to sing or hum "Row, row, row your boat" to help follow the canter movement.

      I think you're exactly correct. She keeps saying that she's going fast. I keep tell her she isn't going fast! She's cantering but has longer legs. I put her back on the pony and had her hand gallop around a few weeks, got her comfortable with that but it doesn't seem to transfer.

      I have had her sing before and it does work! Unfortunately, the pre-teen angst comes in and she gives me a hard time about having her do it. I may just put my foot down and insist.

      Just want to say thanks to everyone. They are some great ideas.

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      • #23
        Have her eye checked.... When I don't wear my glasses, I see a mile down, vs with glasses, its normal distance

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        • #24
          if you can help her through a visualization it could help, give it to her for homework. It helped me with my fear issues also some really deep breaths where I breath out twice as long as breathing in (breathing out the fear and focusing). anything to redirect the focus, but having something to focus on . .because if its not on something, it goes back to the fear

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          • #25
            have you tried videoing her on the horse and the pony? Maybe if she can see her self riding and how the horse really isn't going faster than the pony it will put her mind at ease.

            I know I have watched videos of me on my 16 H horse and we are going sooooo slow but when I was up there on his back it felt like we were flying.
            The Love for a Horse is just as Complicated as the Love for another Human being, If you have never Loved a Horse you will Never Understand!!!

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            • #26
              Distracting sounds like it works - so be a "meanie" and tell her before the lesson to expect singing. Ask her is she realizes that she relaxes when she sings.

              Consider these tactics:

              - cantering transitions (in and out) provides lots of positive reinforcement (success) of what she thinks she can't do or is afraid to do
              - transitions provide exposure - the more exposure to the fear, the less fear has an effect
              - control - transitioning out of the canter provides control - that she is in charge and is not gong to get run away on and she controls NOT falling

              Maybe have the singing start on just a long or short side at the trot. Then do it for the canter -- breaking into and out of canter AND singing may do the trick. Keep it a short session though.

              The more it's a transition between trot and canter, the less time she has to get tense (and brace / fall off). Also, she starts to become more skilled and there is no better medicine than feeling "masterful."

              You are great for brainstorming on her behalf. Fingers crossed that you all will be joking about this in a few weeks.

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              • #27
                Maybe take her hacking? I find that a canter can feel faster inside if you've started noticing how quickly the other end of the ring is coming up.

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                • #28
                  Justa Bob, justa had to ask...is the name from Jane Smiley's "Horse Heaven"?

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Just some thoughts:

                    I broke my collarbone a few months ago (not because of a horse!) and had to take a couple months off of riding. When I came back, I found I was nervous about cantering (even though I've had my horse several years, trust him to the moon and back, and know him really well) so I spent the first half dozen rides just walking and trotting until finally I felt ready to do a little cantering. And it really was just a little, until I remembered how much fun it was. Maybe just have her walk and trot until she asks you to let her canter.

                    And when I first was re-riding again (almost five years ago now)...I found the transition into canter really hard. I thought too much about it, worked too hard to make it happen and usually ended up doing the trottingreallyfastbutnotactuallycantering thing and then bouncing all over the place and having to get myself re-centered. It was awkward and it made me not really want to do it. What helped there was getting the horse into a position where it felt inclined to canter with less work on my part. Whether that's, you know, the instructor on a lunge line telling the horse to canter...or going over a pole (I mean like a cavaletti or even just a pole on the ground, not a jump) where they have to pick up their feet and the trnsition is easier...it might help if all the nervousness is building up from getting into the canter. Particularly if he feels bigger than the horse she's used to.

                    Also...can the horse do walk->canter transitions? If she can sit straight from the walk into the canter, she might find that easier than thinking about posting trot and then having to get sat and situated for cantering.

                    Maybe she does need to hold on. I held on for ages to some mane when cantering. Made me feel more secure (though hah, for a little while my horse took "holding on to mane" to be "move faster", oops, so maybe use a strap on the saddle or a neck strap or something instead).

                    Do a lot of exercises without cantering at all, but with the goal of getting the muscle memory in there for her to want to really keep her leg down and calf on the horse. It's probably happening at the other gaits too but just isn't as noticeable (heck, I know when I canter, I find myself drawing my legs up and have to consciously think about putting them down and not pinching with my knees). This goes back to the "walk and trot until she's asking you to let her canter" thing. Plus, maybe by then his gaits will feel normal to her and she'll have an easier time without comparing him to the pony.

                    Finally...maybe see if she'd be willing to get/borrow/wear a protective vest. I've started wearing one whenever I ride because my mom was just generally concerned about me falling off. But I've noticed that wearing it seems to actually be improving my position (I have a habit of hunching my shoulders) and gives me just a little bit more confidence about my riding even though I'm not really afraid of falling off. Anyway, my point is, it might help your student too.
                    The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
                    Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.

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                    • #30
                      I'm not sure it would work in all situations but when I was coaching my daughter and she had a freezing-at-canter crisis after a fall, I tried all the singing/breathing/lunging etc. to no avail. We ignored it for months, no avail. Eventually what worked was to get up on the (saintly) horse double behind her, take the reins on either side of her, have her grab mane, and canter. Started singing with the canter. Then did 8 strides canter/4 strides walk/8 strides canter etc. All on double, singing pop tunes like only an embarrassing adult can sing, making her hips move with mine and the movement and singing like a crazy person. By the time we were done she was laughing so deep and hard and couldn't wait to canter again. Started on the lunge (so she could just grab mane) and doing 8 strides canter/4 walk/8 canter. Then in a few minutes she wanted the reins and off lunge and never looked back. Was jumping in a few weeks.

                      Of course this is less awkward when it's your daughter. Maybe. To this day eyerolls, giggles, and blushes whenever I mention this episode. Or use my own hips to explain to any student how to move with the canter. Or sing along with the radio to that particular artist. Actually I may never live it down.

                      (The 8 strides canter/4 walk/8 canter is really empowering, on any of our horses, to know we can go up and down again at will. I think it helps.)
                      At all times, we are either training or untraining.
                      Flying Haflinger blog: http://flyinghaflinger.blogspot.com/ Flying Irish Draught blog: http://flyingirishredhead.blogspot.com/

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                      • #31
                        I think videotaping her is a good idea. If she sees she really isn't going all that fast, but it just feels fast, then she may start to feel more comfortable. I would put a neck strap on the horse so she has something to hold on to and I'd check saddle fit for her. If the saddle is making her "tippy" then it may feel harder for her to ride the horse than the pony. Check to see if she's fighting the tack and if she's more comfortable in a different saddle.

                        The other thing is to help her find the fun in riding again. Maybe that means letting her ride the pony until she decides she doesn't want to any more. If she enjoys the riding, isn't that most of the battle? If she understands that she's too large to show the pony, she can make the choice of just riding for fun or pushing herself to ride a horse that's the right size.

                        Not everyone enjoys showing and it could just be too stressful for her. Fear isn't rational and while for some people, showing is really fun, for others it's torture.

                        Years ago when I broke my hand after a bad jumping accident, I didn't want to jump for a good six months. I spoke to a trainer about it and her advice was to wait until I wanted to jump again.
                        Last edited by Bogie; Feb. 9, 2013, 12:27 PM. Reason: missing words
                        Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                        EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

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                        • #32
                          Originally posted by Bogie View Post
                          The other thing is to help her find the fun in riding again. Maybe that means letting her ride the pony until she decides she doesn't want to any more. If she enjoys the riding, isn't that most of the battle? If she understands that she's too large to show the pony, she can make the choice of just riding for fun or pushing herself to ride a horse that's the right size.

                          Not everyone enjoys showing and it could just be too stressful for her. Fear isn't rational and while for some people,
                          ^ This

                          Let her W/T for however long it takes until she asks for the canter.

                          I'm somewhat confused as to how old she is or why she's "too big" for the pony - look around on this forum: there are many posts about how X who is 5'6" (& even taller), looks just fine on her large pony or even medium pony ...

                          Right now she's on a 14.1 pony, so find her a 14.3 pony if it's going to make the difference between her loving vs fearing riding.

                          Let her take a year for the transition from the pony she trusts to whatever is next - forcing/pushing her to ride a horse when she's fearful is most likely to end in a girl who no longer wants to ride in a year.

                          If all she wants to jump are cross rails & under 2', then keep her at that level until she asks for more; let her always trot the jumps (easily up to 3') until she's ready to canter - she can still develop a great position.
                          Let her get very stable & steady on the flat before any jumping - if she's already fearful, you want confidence over the jumps not scared.

                          If her parents are pushing, schedule a discussion with them & then with her, you & them.

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                          • #33
                            Originally posted by hrford View Post
                            I think you're exactly correct. She keeps saying that she's going fast. I keep tell her she isn't going fast! She's cantering but has longer legs. I put her back on the pony and had her hand gallop around a few weeks, got her comfortable with that but it doesn't seem to transfer.

                            I have had her sing before and it does work! Unfortunately, the pre-teen angst comes in and she gives me a hard time about having her do it. I may just put my foot down and insist.

                            Just want to say thanks to everyone. They are some great ideas.
                            I saw one trainer over come this teenage reluctance to sing by having everyone in the arena sing along. Everyone, including those observers on the ground, sang row row row your boat, and everyone started to relax and have fun. They sang along with every rider in the lesson so the one person who needed it didn't feel like the odd person out... this was a group lesson but they each cantered alone, they were not ready for a group canter.

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              I have major anxiety issues, both with generalized anxiety and specific issues with jumping. I used to have issues with cantering after leasing a horse that bucked going into the canter. I still get a little nervous if I'm on a tall, narrow horse or a horse that has a very downhill canter (I'm used to riding ponies or small compact horses for the most part).

                              I agree with those who say to just do a little at a time; a couple strides and then back to trot or walk. It also helps to move things way back--as in w/t only until she is so bored of trotting that she is asking to canter. I needed to take a few steps back when I got overly tense about the canter, and with jumping, I had to take a few steps back again recently. After a while doing ground poles at a trot, I can feel confident enough again that I'm asking to canter or put them up to a crossrail. But I need to get to the point where I feel solid where I am before I can tackle what makes me nervous.

                              My instructor, in an attempt to make me relax in general, makes me talk a lot. Counting strides, having a conversation, announcing how much I love the pony I'm riding, etc. It does help a bit. I also think it helps to be encouraged to gallop/collect; if I am thinking, get up in half seat and go, it's fun rather than scary, especially if I can then sit deep and collect. Try asking her to gallop the long sides and collect the short sides or do a collected circle there.
                              "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

                              Graphite/Pastel Portraits

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                              • #35
                                I wouldn't make her sing if she's self-conscious about it. That will only make her more tense for a different reason. I agree with the suggestion to play music. Everyone relaxes to their own favorite music. So why not have her "choreograph" a routine to her favorite song and have other riders of her age do the same so she doesn't feel singled out?

                                Other than that I would agree to let her choose to canter. When she's ready, she'll do it on her terms. If she's only doing it to please you or to fit in - then she's not going to enjoy it or relax. Ever. It seems like now their has been such an ISSUE made of her cantering that the poor thing is probably aware and feels very pressured to do it. Screaming "RELAX" at someone does not make them relax. How is she if you (trainer) are not around? I have had trainers that really stressed me out trying to get me to do a particular THING. I found that when the trainer would leave the ring for a moment, I relaxed and was able to achieve it. Can you say...find a reason to exit the ring and leave a trustworthy junior around to keep an eye on her? I have definitely seen kids relax and do better when they are being coached by juniors that they admire but don't feel threatened by.

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                                • Original Poster

                                  #36
                                  I thought I'd give an update.

                                  For someone who said I shouldn't be forcing her if she doesn't want to. I make all my student give me goals. One of her goals, not mine, is to show over a course. So she's got to get through this if she wants to show.

                                  Anyway I've been working with singing, and stretching to mild success but not great success. Last night though I put her back on the big packer gelding and we did "pole bending". I say that with a smirk because he's not much of a bender, more of a straight line fellow, and she's scared to go fast! I pulled out my gelding and said we're going to race but I'll only go as fast as you did. Well long story short, she cantered, and hand galloped that gelding! Then started laughing and saying "this is fun!"

                                  I actually teared up and cried a little. I don't think we're through this 100% but it was the first time I could seriously see she'd had fun aAND sat in the flipping saddle.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Hurray for progress! I'm touched to hear how much you care about your students.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      I've had a number of students with this problem...I did the "canter x number of strides then you can trot again" - so like just the short side or something. All the kids I've had that were hesitant to canter, we just did everything at a trot, worked on crossrails, etc, then when they were ready to canter, we cantered. I find that the longer they spent at a trot and working on their seat and stuff, the better they were at a canter when they actually did get to it. It made all the difference letting them wait until they were ready.
                                      Teaching Horseback Riding Lessons: A Practical Training Manual for Instructors

                                      Stop Wasting Hay and Extend Consumption Time With Round Bale Hay Nets!!

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                                      • #39
                                        No ideas of how to help you just wanted to say what an awesome trainer you are and how much you care about your student...
                                        Live in the sunshine.
                                        Swim in the sea.
                                        Drink the wild air.

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                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by hrford View Post
                                          I thought I'd give an update.

                                          For someone who said I shouldn't be forcing her if she doesn't want to. I make all my student give me goals. One of her goals, not mine, is to show over a course. So she's got to get through this if she wants to show.

                                          Anyway I've been working with singing, and stretching to mild success but not great success. Last night though I put her back on the big packer gelding and we did "pole bending". I say that with a smirk because he's not much of a bender, more of a straight line fellow, and she's scared to go fast! I pulled out my gelding and said we're going to race but I'll only go as fast as you did. Well long story short, she cantered, and hand galloped that gelding! Then started laughing and saying "this is fun!"

                                          I actually teared up and cried a little. I don't think we're through this 100% but it was the first time I could seriously see she'd had fun aAND sat in the flipping saddle.
                                          somehow i missed this before I posted my earlier comment - that's awesome that she's doing so well!! Good job for being an awesome trainer willing to work through things with your student.
                                          Teaching Horseback Riding Lessons: A Practical Training Manual for Instructors

                                          Stop Wasting Hay and Extend Consumption Time With Round Bale Hay Nets!!

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