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First fall off my horse... Need some advice please

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  • #21
    As someone who has owned a difficult and somewhat unpredictable horse for the past (nearly) five years...some horses are just this way. To some degree, you kind of have to decide if this is something you are willing to live with or not. That does mean accepting that you will sometimes be afraid. Being brave is not about not being afraid - it is about doing what needs to be done despite being afraid. If you don't think you can do this, then you will probably not be happy long term with this horse.

    My horse has been in some pretty darn good professional programs for significant lengths of time (at some points in his younger life getting pro rides 3 times a week). You know, the horse is 8 years old now. He can still be a real jerk, OR perfect. It all just depends. Mostly, he is situationally reactive. So I can usually tell what kind of day it is going to be based on what is going on in and around the barn.

    I've learned to read him better over the years, and I try to make smart decisions with him that still result in me being able to end up doing what I planned to do with him on any given day.

    Some days, I still make a choice that is less than ideal with him, and it gets me in trouble. This morning is a good example. Horse had the day off yesterday and our weather has been really up and down (29 degrees Monday morning, now a high of around 80 today (Wednesday)). It was breezy and cool this morning, and I've only ridden my horse in the outdoor a handful of times so far this season (due to weather). Like an idiot, I decide to go ride in the outdoor without riding in the indoor first or lunging him. Luckily, I was smart enough to close the gate to the arena. In any event, he walked to the arena snorting and flagging his tail. Telling myself to "man up," I got on him in this state and rode out there.

    He was plainly fresh and clearly telling me, "Woman, I'm happy to drop you today and I won't give it a second thought," but off I went. We made a bunch of circles, figures, etc. at the walk and he did okay, although felt like a little bomb under me. Then we trotted in much the same manner for about 10 minutes, with a few OMG-butt tucked moments when the wind blew. And then, just as I was starting to really relax and congratulate myself on doing well with the fresh beastie, he rodeo bronced really freakin' hard and galloped off in a series of bucks. I lost my right stirrup on the first huge bronc (sadly, I know how huge it was because I have witnessed these from the ground), and then somehow rode the rest of the bucks hanging off of his left side with my face pretty much in the underside of his neck. No idea how, but I managed to stay on. We were both pretty surprised, I think.

    So, that was plainly scary. I was afraid after that, for sure. But as soon as I righted myself, I pulled his right rein to my knee and booted him in a circle, then carried on. It wasn't fun. It really sucked, actually. I didn't enjoy my ride, but I did what had to be done. In my time with him, I have learned that these days happen. The good days are really great (jumps around courses calmly with great lead changes). The bad days...well, they really suck. You can try to learn to manage the bad days preemptively (like, today, I should have lunged or ridden him inside before getting on him when he was clearly ready to party), but you will still miscalculate sometimes and those days will suck.

    I'm not sure if this helps or not, and I know it is rambly...sorry about that.

    And I'm glad you are okay!

    Comment


    • #22
      As someone who has owned a difficult and somewhat unpredictable horse for the past (nearly) five years...some horses are just this way. To some degree, you kind of have to decide if this is something you are willing to live with or not. That does mean accepting that you will sometimes be afraid. Being brave is not about not being afraid - it is about doing what needs to be done despite being afraid. If you don't think you can do this, then you will probably not be happy long term with this horse.

      My horse has been in some pretty darn good professional programs for significant lengths of time (at some points in his younger life getting pro rides 3 times a week). You know, the horse is 8 years old now. He can still be a real jerk, OR perfect. It all just depends. Mostly, he is situationally reactive. So I can usually tell what kind of day it is going to be based on what is going on in and around the barn.

      I've learned to read him better over the years, and I try to make smart decisions with him that still result in me being able to end up doing what I planned to do with him on any given day.

      Some days, I still make a choice that is less than ideal with him, and it gets me in trouble. This morning is a good example. Horse had the day off yesterday and our weather has been really up and down (29 degrees Monday morning, now a high of around 80 today (Wednesday)). It was breezy and cool this morning, and I've only ridden my horse in the outdoor a handful of times so far this season (due to weather). Like an idiot, I decide to go ride in the outdoor without riding in the indoor first or lunging him. Luckily, I was smart enough to close the gate to the arena. In any event, he walked to the arena snorting and flagging his tail. Telling myself to "man up," I got on him in this state and rode out there.

      He was plainly fresh and clearly telling me, "Woman, I'm happy to drop you today and I won't give it a second thought," but off I went. We made a bunch of circles, figures, etc. at the walk and he did okay, although felt like a little bomb under me. Then we trotted in much the same manner for about 10 minutes, with a few OMG-butt tucked moments when the wind blew. And then, just as I was starting to really relax and congratulate myself on doing well with the fresh beastie, he rodeo bronced really freakin' hard and galloped off in a series of bucks. I lost my right stirrup on the first huge bronc (sadly, I know how huge it was because I have witnessed these from the ground), and then somehow rode the rest of the bucks hanging off of his left side with my face pretty much in the underside of his neck. No idea how, but I managed to stay on. We were both pretty surprised, I think.

      So, that was plainly scary. I was afraid after that, for sure. But as soon as I righted myself, I pulled his right rein to my knee and booted him in a circle, then carried on. It wasn't fun. It really sucked, actually. I didn't enjoy my ride, but I did what had to be done. In my time with him, I have learned that these days happen. The good days are really great (jumps around courses calmly with great lead changes). The bad days...well, they really suck. You can try to learn to manage the bad days preemptively (like, today, I should have lunged or ridden him inside before getting on him when he was clearly ready to party), but you will still miscalculate sometimes and those days will suck.

      I'm not sure if this helps or not, and I know it is rambly...sorry about that.

      And I'm glad you are okay!

      PS - sorry if this double posts...forum is still acting all wonky!

      Comment


      • #23
        As far as the fall goes, if you have managed his behavior for 2 years without issue, and feel he is improving, you are doing everything right.

        If it makes you feel better, I just fell off my new guy for the first time last weekend, after 5 months off the track, and considered it a huge improvement over my older guy who dumped me day 1.

        Your story about bolting is kind of scary, but it sounds like if you have managed it in the past without fear, he's generally improving, and he just finally got you once, I'm not sure if means anything. See how you feel tonight, and then in your lesson.

        Comment


        • #24
          I bought and broke in a young arab. She was (and is) very agile, and for a long time would spook every now and then, and 4-5 times she dislodged me before I had time to think!
          What I would suggest is your paying VERY CLOSE ATTENTION to your horse so that you know when he is even thinking about bolting or bucking. There will definitely be a wee signal, and once you recognise it you can take precautions, like diverting his attention, moving him forward, changing direction.
          As for feeling nervous about getting on again, well I used to MAKE myself go and ride, and dreaded it, but after a few weeks she seemed to settle, and I forgot to be nervous. I developed the fastest hand at mane grabbing when she did one of her 'lateral-arabesque recreational spooks' which she still does occasionally.

          The other thing is - do you ever go out on long hacks - a couple of hours or so? IMO it makes a world of difference to a horse's attitude, and it's a great way to build a relationship, and understand your horse. I recommend that you make the effort to do it if you haven't done so. Your horse will thank you for it

          Comment


          • #25
            Sometimes fear is rational. Horses are large and unpredictable animals. IMO you need to figure out two things. First of all, is this horse suitable for you in regards to your riding ability and confidence level? Your trainer and your instincts can help you with this one. Secondly, are you having fun (or likely to have fun with in the near future) with this horse? If it isn't fun, it isn't worth it.

            Comment


            • #26
              To me, bolting for no apparent reason signals a reaction to pain, often a spine or high-up hind injury/issue, or maybe a saddle fit issue. Have you had him checked out as far as any of that? A vet or a chiro or a massage person is what I'd suggest. Other issues might be diet and lack of turnot, maybe he has just bursts of energy?
              I would look into that. If he gets a clean bill of health though, I'd seriously think about finding him a new home and you a new horse. Bolting is a nasty, dangerous behavior if there's no fixable physical cause.

              Comment


              • #27
                To me, bolting for no apparent reason signals a reaction to pain, often a spine or high-up hind injury/issue, or maybe a saddle fit issue. Have you had him checked out as far as any of that? A vet or a chiro or a massage person is what I'd suggest. Other issues might be diet and lack of turnout, maybe he has just bursts of energy?
                I would look into that. If he gets a clean bill of health though, I'd seriously think about finding him a new home and you a new horse. Bolting is a nasty, dangerous behavior if there's no fixable physical cause.

                Comment


                • #28
                  Have you ruled out a pain issue? Most of my mare's problems stemmed from sone sort of pain thing we couldn't figure out. She was a racehorse who'd raced for 4 years, and when I bought her (less than a month after her last race) she was great for the trainer we sent her to to break her to regular riding tack. We brought her home, and she started to have some nasty habits. This horse literally did it all, from bolting to bucking, spinning, stopping and running out at fences, throwing herself on the ground, and rearing and flipping over on me (multiple times).

                  It turns out she had severe back pain. Thankfully I didn't give up on her, she's a great horse, talented, just a love in the barn, and now, very well-schooled under saddle. She just has a very sensitive back and needs a custom saddle (None of the off-the-racks will fit her, including the "custom" French ones) a sheepskin pad directly on her back to reduce friction, and I throw a Thinline on top of that just because it seems to make her more comfortable.

                  Putting her on a gastric health supplement helped her calm down (because her tummy didn't hurt so much), as did putting her on grass hay ONLY and feeding her beet pulp and some Ultium to help bulk her up. For a long time she got NO treats because any little bit of sugar/refined flour acted like jet fuel. (Now I can drizzle molasses on her feed, but she is somewhat more mature now).

                  Riding her 6 days a week is also integral in keeping her sane. The fitter she is and the harder she works, the happier and quieter she gets. She likes to get out. It seems backwards, but it works for us.

                  Moral of the story: If you really like the horse and want to sink some money into finding a solution, start doing some creative, experimental stuff and have a trainer ride if you are too afraid. If you really don't like the horse and can't ever see yourself up on it again, send it to a sale barn to sell.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
                    It's a bit of a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment.
                    Use phonetic alphabet for work all the time, but never thought of putting it quite that way -- LOVE IT!
                    At its finest, rider and horse are joined not by tack, but by trust. Each is totally reliant upon the other. Each is the selfless guardian of the other's very well-being.
                    (Author Unknown)

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by Martha Drum View Post
                      Sorry to hear about this unpleasant experience. I am glad you are both okay.

                      Can you provide some details about what caused you to fall?

                      Are you working with a good trainer helping you?

                      That said, I suspect my advice will either go:

                      1. Yay! You can finally stop worrying about falling off the horse for the first time! Got that over with! And you're okay!

                      or

                      2. Why don't you stop riding this horse, and find one to ride that you are not afraid of (especially after two years)?

                      I vote for option 2.

                      Clearly, experience with your good old schoolmaster hasn't prepared you to deal with an unpredictable, unruly horse.

                      But guess what? I wouldn't want to deal with one either, and I actually know what I'm doing.

                      Listen to your inner voice, telling you this is a bad idea. Just because you love him doesn't mean he cares.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        I can totally relate.

                        As a late teen Ihad a dirty bolter. I got really hurt - think knee reconstruction hurt. And I rode eventers, so had a pretty good stick factor. For him, it came from being overfaced as a young horse and his flight reaction would kick in. Once he learned he could get rid of me that way - he went on to a different job where he was never asked to do anything but be a trail horse.

                        But it killed my confidence. And then I did my next really not smart move - I found a pretty nice young horse that was misrepresented - I know - shocker, right? - and bought him, even though he bucked me off the day I tried him, and actually fractured my back.

                        Long story short - We will be making our PSG debut in July. How did I get from a horse that broke my back to here? The right trainer. Not the most expensive, not the biggest name - though a couple of those names really liked this horse in a clinic environment - just the right trainer for the horse and me. I went through a couple different ones looking for the right fit, but I found her. Knew exactly how much she could push me and when to tell me to get over myself.

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          In the cowboy hall of fame there is something written on the wall that goes like this:

                          there ain't a horse that can't be rode, there ain't a cowboy that can't be throwed!
                          A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Sometimes fear is rational. Horses are large and unpredictable animals. IMO you need to figure out two things. First of all, is this horse suitable for you in regards to your riding ability and confidence level? Your trainer and your instincts can help you with this one. Sometimes even a very capable rider can have confidence issues that make a steadier, more reliable horse a better match. Secondly, are you having fun (or likely to have fun with in the near future) with this horse? If you think this horse is on the brink of overcoming its bad habits and being more reliable, great. If not, it's a ton of time and money to keep a horse and if it isn't fun, it isn't worth it.

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Thoughts create, change what you are thinking on and off your horse. The one thing that stood clear in your post " I love him so much ". Focus on this, your thoughts will jell with this happy feeling rather than the "fear" feeling-thought, use this "love feeling" to LIFT your enjoyment of riding.......your horse....

                              If you are focus, happy and worry free, there is a good chance, your horse will be too

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Some observations based on my own situation, hope they help...

                                Talk to your trainer about managing this through more turnout, less grain, even trying Quietex or another calmer. Some folks don't think calmers do much, but I have had good luck with them.

                                I find some of the spooky ones require contact. Not pulling, but being careful not to let those reins get too loose. And keeping the attention on you at all times by changing things up, not just mindlessly going around the ring.

                                You may have tackled those already.

                                Of course, there is the possibility that it's a matter of creating respect so he listens to you instead do anything else he might be afraid of. I second the groundwork for that. (Hmmm, in my case I actually accomplished that with my gelding thru solo trail rides! When it was just the two of us, I think he just had to rely on me. He still spooked at times, but sometimes he popped back under me in time to catch me. Not sure I recommend solo trail rides, though!!)

                                Good luck!
                                Born under a rock and owned by beasts!

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  1. My fallin' shirt (safety vest) is a Tipperary and it's black.

                                  2. I joined crossfit and I swear most of my progress is mental!

                                  Paula
                                  He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    I've been there. If you want to get through it you will find a way, just do what's comfortable at the moment and don't worry about goals.

                                    If you don't want to get over it and decide he's not the horse for you, that's ok too. I've done that more than once, and it has not hindered my ability to develop good working relationships with other horses....unless I wait too long. Even so, it will come back, but maybe not with this horse. It's up to you and no one's decision but your own.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      OP if you're showing this weekend he can't be that bad all the time?

                                      What level are you showing at?

                                      When he bolts, what do you do to correct the behaviour?

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #39
                                        .
                                        Last edited by Kiera; May. 16, 2013, 10:59 PM. Reason: Fixing odd posts up now

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                                        • Original Poster

                                          #40
                                          .
                                          Last edited by Kiera; May. 16, 2013, 11:00 PM. Reason: Fixing posts

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