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Getting over your fear of a certain horse?

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  • Getting over your fear of a certain horse?

    So, about 3 weeks ago(maybe more, it was really all a blur for me anyways) I had a pretty bad fall off of one of my horses. This particular horse is one that is an 8 year old Appendix Quarter, homebred and has never really ever been known for 'acting out'. Granted, he had an accident about 3 or so years ago at a boarding barn that left him with paralysis on the right side of his face as well as a broken processing bone in his skull and he was stall bound for a while since we couldn't 'shake the egg' so to speak. Up until that point the horse had been in training to do the Hunters for a few years and had shown lightly with me in the irons and recently he had been backed by a trainer who wanted to suddenly have him do the small juniors (with me in mind) since this horse REALLY has the jump and the power behind him. He'd never really been shown by anyone else but me and maybe he was a bit annoyed by this new 'trainer'.

    The said accident happened when we had decided to get some jumping photos for my slideshow at school due to graduation coming up. I ended up using the said horse over my mare due to her not really having that photogenic quality, and to add to that she's a pretty nervous horse that looks at everything. The said horse had a really good foundation as a baby and the only thing he ever looked at was this bright pink Hello Kitty umbrella that someone had left by the ring at a horse show once.

    Long story short, we warmed him up on the flat and then over a smaller jump(about 2'6) a couple of times before my mom and I decided to bump up the jump since he felt like he was ready to go and the first time he sort of balked at the jump so I took him back around again. The second time around I felt that he had the right pace and so I steered him to the jump. I didn't feel anything abnormal on take off and was pretty happy with the jump. However, he bucked once when he landed and I ended up recovering, but then he bucked twice to the side on the first stride away from the jump and this time I was unseated and fell off. Needless to say he ended up running around the whole twenty acres for a few minutes because we couldn't catch him. My mom also ended up having to call EMS.

    Now, i'm sort of afraid to ride him and would like some advice on how to overcome this apprehensiveness that I now have. I haven't ridden him since and my mom has made me ride the mare that we would have used otherwise, should we not have decided to use him. My mom and I pow-wowed together and came up with the ideas that a) Maybe the camera that the photographer was using bothered him since it made this beeping noise, but that hasn't ever bothered him before, b) That the accident made his personality change and then finally c) That all this abnormal stimuli made him act out in this manner.
    Last edited by MonterStables; Mar. 22, 2013, 09:53 AM. Reason: clarification

  • #2
    I'm confused. When had the horse last jumped?

    Comment


    • #3
      Does your horse regularly jump this height? I can't gather from the original post if he is in normal training to do this or not. From what I have taken, he is not used to this height? He sounds like he was over-faced after your raised the fence height.

      I am also confused... when you say the accident happened are you referring to the accident where you fell off or where your horse was injured?

      Comment


      • #4
        You say the horse had an accident 3 years ago. I get the impression that the trainer has jumped recently, but how about you, and where was your instructor while this was going on.
        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

        Comment


        • #5
          It seems to me this horse had little to no schooling over fences since the accident he had 3 years ago? If so, this could be your problem. Just because he was in training previously does not mean he's going to come back right where he left off. They are not computers that you 'install' something on and that's it. He needs to start at the beginning and get back into work slowly. I've also nearly been dumped just on the flat when people are in the arena with cameras if the horse isn't used to that sort of thing.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think if you stick to a better PROCESS in the future, such as not starting a horse that hasn't jumped in eons at 2'6" and then bumping it up right away, you will regain your confidence.

            For example, if next time you start with trot crossrails, until those are right (could take one try, could take one month), and then trot in and canter out of a line until those are right (same), and then canter foot high cavalleti for a small eon until your rhthm, pace and canter are EXACTLY right and you can't miss, and THEN start cantering larger single jumps. If you follow this scheme, you will have faith that your PROCESS has prepared both you and the horse for a successful and confidence building experience, and you will be able to feel his readiness "come along with you" to the jump.

            (If at any point you would like to do a photo op during this time period, do it over the "out jump" that you are trotting in and cantering out of a line. Ideally do this while you are taking a lesson with a trainer. Trainers have their ways of strategically setting up the exercises so that everyone feels successful at the end.)
            The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
            Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
            Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
            The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

            Comment


            • #7
              My initial thoughts are that you are expecting an excessive level of sainthood from a horse that is still youngish and has been out of training for several years. It is perfectly fine to only feel comfortable on made horses -- it is what it is and you can't change that -- so send the horse to a reliable trainer to get restarted and back to where he was when he was injured. A minimum of 90 days full training in a 6 day a week program, then get back on and see if he's not just as good as he once was.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                I should have clarified and not sort of rushed through it.

                Trust me guys, my mom never would have allowed me to ride/jump him if he hadn't been in regular work. He's been in regular work since the middle half of 2011( the accident had at the boarding barn happened in October of 09) and even showed at 3 foot with the trainer while the trainer boarded with us. I always ride under my mom's supervision and she was there to make sure everything was alright.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think the best thing you can do is just get back on that horse. Start out just walking around on him. Walk all over the farm inside outside every which way. Take all the time you need. You don't need to rush through this and you don't have to prove anything to anyone but yourself. Build the time and how much you do each ride. Get comfortable just flatting around then add in some ground rails. Ground rails will become cavaletti and pole/cavaletti courses and before you know it you will be back to jumping.
                  Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Credosporthorses View Post
                    I think the best thing you can do is just get back on that horse. Start out just walking around on him. Walk all over the farm inside outside every which way. Take all the time you need. You don't need to rush through this and you don't have to prove anything to anyone but yourself. Build the time and how much you do each ride. Get comfortable just flatting around then add in some ground rails. Ground rails will become cavaletti and pole/cavaletti courses and before you know it you will be back to jumping.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Agree, just get on and get comfortable. If that takes just waing for a while do that. Work back up slowly. When you do decide to jump again start off small. A little cross rail, trot it and so on. Have you ridden this horse and jumped it much? Or is your trainer mainly riding him? If the trainer is mainly his ride I'd suggest riding him more so you can learn him better and become more of a team. Some horses get use to one person and then when someone else comes along and may not ride exactly the same they may act out a bit.
                      Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                        I'm confused. When had the horse last jumped?

                        This is an important question because even if the horse has jumped a lot since his accident, if he hasn't jumped much in a few weeks...he might have just be feeling fresh.

                        However, given your long drawn out story, I imagine you don't trust him much. If you can't put the past behind you and ride him like any other horse, he might not be right for you anymore.
                        Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                        Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MonterStables View Post
                          I should have clarified and not sort of rushed through it.

                          Trust me guys, my mom never would have allowed me to ride/jump him if he hadn't been in regular work. He's been in regular work since the middle half of 2011( the accident had at the boarding barn happened in October of 09) and even showed at 3 foot with the trainer while the trainer boarded with us. I always ride under my mom's supervision and she was there to make sure everything was alright.
                          For what values of "making sure everything was alright"?

                          I have a horse whose level of brokeness and honesty cannot be argued with that is great to ride to a 3'6" jump but no way no how would it be safe for someone's mom to supervise their kid jumping him around without trainer supervision for year book photos...
                          The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                          Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                          Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                          The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by rabicon View Post
                            Agree, just get on and get comfortable. If that takes just waing for a while do that. Work back up slowly. When you do decide to jump again start off small. A little cross rail, trot it and so on. Have you ridden this horse and jumped it much? Or is your trainer mainly riding him? If the trainer is mainly his ride I'd suggest riding him more so you can learn him better and become more of a team. Some horses get use to one person and then when someone else comes along and may not ride exactly the same they may act out a bit.
                            It was the other way around really. I was the only one who ever rode him. Prior to the trainer(who we fired for reasons that I would have to talk about in a PM although I will say that they related to the starvation of a horse that he was training and I was riding for him) the horse was showing in the Baby Green Hunter for a few months and then 2 foot Opens with me, as well as schooling 3 foot sometimes at home and by all means we didn't drill that into him since we knew that he needed a trainer in order to jump higher and effectively. We were bringing him up slowly and I think that due to the fact I was the only one riding him that the trainer(who would come to ride him 3 or 4 days a week in the mornings while I was at school) sort of frustrated him.. you know?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It is the worst feeling to be afraid of just the one horse. Especially when it is a horse you enjoyed riding before.

                              I guess I'd say get back on him in a controlled environment where you feel safe. Minimize the things that could make it go bad. Ride on a calm day, with a person on the ground you trust, etc. Keep the rides positive. Do only as much as you can without getting anxious. If just sitting on him makes you anxious, just do that until you can calm down a little. Then stop and get off. Do a little more each time. Push yourself a little, but not so much that you end up having a panic attack or making yourself more scared. It is a fine balance between challenging yourself to get past your fear, and accepting that it is there and can't be ignored.

                              That's what I'd say if the horse had a bad experience and got scared. I don't know why it wouldn't also work for a human.

                              Good luck.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I took a fall off of the main lesson horse I ride a few weeks ago. As I was circling my trainer added a rail to a vertical and I must have tensed up because the horse jumped long, and I came off. He is already a fresh horse a times so I wasn't real happy getting back on. My trainer has worked with me on him doing lots of groundwork (circles, poles, cavalettis ) with lots of stopping and backing so he knows I'm in control and piloting him. I agree with everyone who said just roll back to basics for a bit, ii gives you time to get over any nerves and helps him as well.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Each individual is different. I had a green horse that I fell off of twice in a six-month period, both the same way (sort if mini bucks that threw me off balance, which threw her off balance, which threw me OFF.). I never trusted her after that. Even though it was my fault, theoretically, I couldn't quite get over it. I lost a lot of confidence. Sure, I "should" have sucked it up and worked through it. But at the time I decided I just wasn't up to it. My husband continued to ride the horse and never had a problem, and we eventually sold her. Although there is a little voice that tells me I should have worked through the problem, another voice is telling me I made the right decision.
                                  “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
                                  ¯ Oscar Wilde

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Fear is normal... we all have it and there is a reason for it. It's called self preservation.

                                    So now how to overcome apprehension to your fall.

                                    I bought a BIG 18 hand 2,000 lb horse years ago and got a great deal... well why such a great deal on such an amazing animal you ask - - - because he got naughty, spooked, knew he was big and intimidating and people were afraid of him. Not as young as I used to be, I bought him anyway because I just lost one of my horses and my other horse was alone. This horse would do whatever he could to not work - so first (I will say so I don't get flamed) I had the vet out, chiro and made sure he was pain free. Had a saddle fitted just for him too. I found when he started to get bored of flat work he would spook, and when I jumped him he would change. He enjoyed jumping. I found him a job he liked. To make a long story short, there were times he scared me. I didn't take a fall like you (knocking on wood right now) but I had a fear of him. There was just something that my gut said to give this huge animal the respect he demanded. But what helped me, I now ride him bareback and am comfortable on him was I spent a lot of time with him. Turn out, brushing, light riding not expecting much from him. I still respect him A LOT and know what he is capable of and has inside but the time we just spent together with no pressure was very important. I think it helped him too because I truly feel he loves me and trusts me too. Sadly he is retired of jumping but he is still happy, big and not always as intimidating

                                    Also I have found when horses are naughty more often than not they need MORE work.....

                                    Good luck to you and I know with time thing will get much better.
                                    Live in the sunshine.
                                    Swim in the sea.
                                    Drink the wild air.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Agreed with the above posters who recommend taking it slow. I had a bad fall off a horse years ago and was unable to ride for quite some time. When I came back, I struggled with fear, but only fear on the one horse, not riding in general. I was in denial for a while, then after finally admitting to myself that I was afraid, took baby steps to get myself comfortable again. I did a lot of bareback walks, then walks with some short trots incorporated, then more trotting and some short canters, and finally back to trotting low jumps, etc. It can be incredibly frustrating to have a fear of just one horse, but by setting manageable, achievable goals, you can work to overcome it. Rebuild your relationship from the ground up.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        It just takes time and confidence building... slow baby steps. Don't rush yourself into something you aren't comfortable with. At the same time, remember you HAD ridden this horse without issue and it was FUN. It is hard to block out bad incidents that happen. When I was a kid I got thrown and went to the hospital via ambulance with a concussion. It was my first fall and that horse scared the crap out of me. It took me months to get up the courage to get on him again and when I did it was just walk/trot because I fell at the canter. Over time I eventually worked up to cantering him (this was before I jumped so I never jumped him). I was a kid so my timescale was allowed to be at a snails pace with just the basics, but you get the idea. You can do it, you used to be confident with this horse and you will again!!!

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