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Too scared to ride.

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  • #21
    Are there other changes going on in your life that are worrying you? Sometimes we project our fears onto our riding.

    It does not sound like a good fit. That's neither a problem with you or the horse. I've ridden enough horses, I get on a horse and I think, "Oh, he rides like So an So. I like this ride" or "Oh, crap this horse reminds me of Bucky and I'm going to die." It sounds like your new horse isn't much like your old horse, and those differences can be daunting.

    I'm a list maker. I would make a list of what you love about the horse, what your like, what you don't like and what you hate. Then look at it realistically. Can you learn to like, or at least tolerate, the things you hate? Or are they totally out of the question.

    One thing bothers me. When you are nervous and tense or afraid on a horse and you come off, you are much more likely to be hurt. So, I would have a very candid talk with your trainer. Let him know you've got an issue.

    I was called in by a BNT to work with his student who was afraid of her new horse. I did dressage lessons with them. Over time, with longeing and flatwork, she gained confidence and was able to return to the show ring with him. But it wasn't long before he bucked her off and broke her hip.

    Trust your instincts. Listen to your gut. If you are not having fear issues in another part of your life that are transferring to your riding, then your body is trying to tell you something. Sometimes our bodies get it before our minds do.

    Good luck and happy riding.


    • #22
      I am also an older rerider and I feel your pain. While it won't help you in the show ring, I use this every ride. http://www.rstor.co.uk/fitting-sizing#
      It helped my confidence so much with my unpredictable mare, that I got one for my steady Eddie gelding's saddle, too. They are ridiculously expensive for what they are, but I love that I can hold on at all times and still use my hands. I use a breast plate as well since holding onto this won't do much good if the saddle is under her belly. Just covering all bases, lol.


      • #23
        How often are you riding him?

        I had an awful, crashing fall six or seven years ago. Thought I'd broke my back and convinced that I'd killed my horse. (I didn't.) It shattered my confidence. Even the thought of riding scared me.

        I started by just spending time with the horse- grooming, leading in hand. Then one day I felt like riding, so I hopped on and had a quiet hack and went from there.

        One of the best things my trainer did was make me ride every day, even if it was just hacking.

        My advice to you is try to ride him every day, even if you just mosey around the arena a bit. Do low stress things- maybe try some gymkhana games at walk or trot?
        Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!


        • #24
          One thing I have learned in getting older is trust my instincts. This is a perfectly nice horse but something in your gut is telling you to be afraid.

          Either sell him, and be prepared to take a loss $ wise, if need be, and next time take longer to buy a horse and feel comfy with it (perhaps a lease first), or go back to basics and put off showing for a season till you develop trust and a relationship with this horse as an individual animal, Ground work, trail ride and jump much lower fences till you bond and feel confident with this horse.


          • #25
            I think that you need to make a decision about what you WANT. It's ok to work on your confidence issues with a qualified trainer on a horse that scares you if that is what you want. If you can work through those issues it will make you a better rider.

            It's also ok to admit that this horse isn't a good match and a different horse you are more comfortable with will work through those issues just as well.

            You don't have to keep this horse. You don't have to sell him either.


            • #26
              That friend who reminded you you did more when you were younger? What a blockhead, what an unsupportive thing to come up with when she knew you were already down over this. Not much help.

              I rode all my adult life but Western and never jumped seriously until I was well over 40. In the 20 years between then and now, I went thru 5 lease horses with 3 trainers in 2 states and just 2 owned in the journey to 3'land. Of those horses, most did their job as teachers to advance me. Of the 2 I owned, one scared and hurt me and we gave up after 2 years. The other was quirky and scared others but never bothered me and I still have her in retirement 12 years later after a very successf show career.

              Think having the lease horses (plus doing some buy/sells in the Western years) helped me be a lot more objective about what did or did not meet my needs.

              I also learned decades ago that all the ground work, bonding and going back to square one is not going to fix the gut feeling its not the right horse for you. When you are looking down a 3 to a 2 vertical oxer oxer seeing nothing 4 strides out on a windy day? No room for doubt.

              Pros ride horses they doubt, don't trust or even are scared of because they have to. Middle aged Ammies don't have to. That horse will be perfect for somebody else who will click with him, you don't so move forward before you really lose confidence.

              Maybe even look to leasing so you don't feel trapped by ownership. There's only so many years you can ride at peak levels, the older you get the more you have to click with the horse...and the more you resent time wasted with one that's just not going to work.
              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


              • #27
                I'm 44, had a horse for 2 years that was randomly spooky and tended to run away when spooked. Bolted in the field one day, it resulted in a big fall which led to knee surgery and a long recovery. The thing is, I knew he had that behavior in him, and I could never relax completely. I avoided certain situations....you get the picture.

                You say he "is a pet." I think it isn't a good idea to think of our horses as pets in the same way a dog or a cat is. The fact is, they can hurt you. Riding should be fun. You fell off because he bucked - that's different from falling off because you lost your balance, for instance.

                I finally decided to sell him to a better match. I got a sweet pony that looks to me for my reaction to something scary. It makes a world of difference because it fosters trust in both directions, which makes riding so much more fun.

                I would think seriously about selling him.


                • #28
                  I agree with others who say to take a step back. Temporarily set aside your goals for showing at 3' and work instead on building your confidence and your partnership with this horse. This will take some time in the saddle doing things that were easy before. FYI many pros--even wonderful ones--may not instinctively relate to the mature ammy rider, so you may need to take the lead on how to handle your confidence issues.

                  You say you want to move up a division, but to me the time to move up a division is when the division you are in is a piece of cake/too easy/boring, and you don't seem to be there with this horse yet. I'd set your desire to move up to 3' aside for the moment. Listen--when you change horses, even to a better horse, you often don't just get to pick up where you left off with the previous horse. Horses aren't identical machines. This horse sounds wonderful, but he's a different animal than your first horse and you need to step back and get to know him and learn how to ride him doing the easy stuff before you can move ahead. It sounds to me like your confidence issues aren't related to him being bad, they are related to him being a different horse than your previous guy. That's okay, just go back to square one and learn how to ride him.

                  Also, why would you have another adult show him? Personally, if I was working on my partnership with a newish horse I'd not be having other people ride him. Again, horses aren't machines and I think it would be reasonable to limit the riders on him to yourself and your trainer. I think the better option would be for you to show the horse at a level you are comfortable at--I don't care if it is the cross rail division or even just going to the show and schooling there and not showing--you should be working on riding and getting comfortable with your horse, not passing off the ride to someone else. Watching someone else ride your horse is NOT going to get you where you want to go, and trust me, your horse isn't going to be crying in his stall that he didn't get to do the 3' AAs.


                  • #29
                    I ride with a neck strap every time I ride. Sometimes I use it, sometimes I don't. I like to have it there because it gives me confidence.

                    That said, if you really don't trust your horse, sell him and find one you trust.

                    If moving up to 3' worries you, don't do it until you are so bored at 2'6" that you want to make the move.

                    One thing that I realized after I turned 50 was that I have to listen to my inner concerns and not push the envelope the way I did when I was younger. The ground is a lot harder than it used to be and it's very inconvenient to be laid up.

                    I don't have fear, per se, but I do have a different perspective on the risk/fun balance.
                    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by RottiMom View Post
                      The thing is, nothing about him makes me feel comfortable He has bucked ONCE, in the year + that I have had him. I think though, that has put me off. It all started a few months ago, itwas very windy and we were hacking outside. We cantered up a hill and when he got to the top he bucked and I fell off. It wasnt a bad fall, like I said...we survived it.

                      In the ring, he has been a saint. I can (and do) more than trot an X, but mother of Earl, Im so anxious now! We still jump around, but I pull at him and I hold him back and we both now get tense. He's pretty much an automated packer, but Im still nervous, and I know he senses that.

                      Its very frusterating because he's done nothing wrong to make me nervous of our ride other than that one buck.

                      The pony kids at my barn say I need to drop by balls. Makes me laugh, because I know they have NO idea what that means.
                      I bolded the answer. No matter if you are jumping or hacking the two things this horse has done you fear is buck and/or spook. That can happen any time.

                      You gut is telling you something and if I were you I would talk to your trainer and keep searching for a 3' horse you ARE comfortable on.

                      I have an older horse I was riding for a while and he would get strong and spook. I consider myself an okay rider; I stayed on but really never felt 100% comfortable on him. Never moved up jumping on him. This does happen.

                      My new horse is a total baby and I feel comfortable on him. I know all horses are unpredictable - but some are different than others.

                      To me it sounds like you are ready to look for something more comfortable for you and there is nothing wrong with feeling like that.
                      Live in the sunshine.
                      Swim in the sea.
                      Drink the wild air.


                      • #31
                        Sit down & have a long talk with your trainer, you need to only ride this horse in a fashion in which you feel comfortable - maybe that means going back onto lungeline lessons with him; riding through the tension is not likely to relax you (it hasn't worked for you yet), find the level that you are able to relax at & go from there - if all you do is walk around on horse for weeks, that is just fine; when you're completely comfortable & trust him at the walk, start trotting ...

                        Right now your tension is making him tense which is making you more tense etc, etc
                        Make sure that you are fit & strong off the horse, this will help you feel more in control when you do ride him.

                        There really is no such thing as a horse that is not sellable, if you can't/won't trust him, then find another horse - he sounds as if he would easily sell at the stage he's at; why wait another 6 months or year ...


                        • #32
                          As a more timid kind of rider, I've found my reaction to misbehavior/accidents is very different depending on how I feel about a horse. I hate spooking for instance, and the first horse I leased was a wonderful boy but he was spooky. Despite this I really loved riding him and was never afraid of him. On the other hand, I used to ride a young horse that I never really felt comfortable on despite the fact that he was not misbehaved, and he spooked ONCE and I've never forgotten it. The fact that I was already nervous made the event into a much bigger deal than it was.

                          Look for the horse that you are comfortable enough with that you can brush aside a bad day as if it never happened. They exist!


                          • #33
                            I'm not sure I would advise the OP to sell her horse because I'm not sure it sounds like he is the problem...one buck after cantering up a hill on a windy day is something even a reliable trail horse might do. Plus, realistically the OP very well may take her problems on to the next horse after all the effort of selling him and buying another, especially if she is looking for another horse that has the energy/athleticism to jump 3'.

                            I also want to add that the OP here should give herself a lot of credit for what she has accomplished as a rider who started in her 40s. It's pretty normal for both horses and riders to need to plateau and or take a step back sometimes in the process of learning and improving, so don't be hard on yourself!


                            • Original Poster

                              What well thought out replies, thank you all so much.

                              I had a long telephone conversation with my trainer this morning. She is wonderful and really listened to my concerns. I think the issue is stemming from the retirement of old faithful. I could seriously put a rock on his back, send him in the ring and he would find all 8 fences without putting a step wrong. I moved up from being a newby rider to jumping around 2'6 courses within a year on him.

                              Trainer had puchased this other horse for me, knowing that old faithful would be finishing up his career soon. Because I had confidence and progressed so quickly, she thought this horse (who really is a saint, he was an packer A/O hunter and leased out as a junior hunter for a few years) would be a good match for the second horse. And while he is great, he is also athletic and rounds over the fences, takes a little more stride and although I wouldnt consider him a bucker - he is athletic enough to have found one!

                              So, plan is two things. Trainer is going to have me do some confidence building exercises on him. Work on trusting him and getting to know him and his way of going. Im not sure exactly how that will happen, but Im willing to do it. I trust the trainer completely.

                              We are also likely going to be looking for another horse, something with a little flatter jump that can be easier to stay with so "I" dont get rusty while getting things together with my other guy. I think going this route will allow me to work on confidence instead of losing it. Looking for a lease preferably.


                              • #35
                                Sounds like a good plan. I struggled with confidence on my mare for awhile, after a nasty (for me) fall after she jumped some cavalettis and things just spiraled from there. I had to take a step back and focus on riding the gaits properly, handling the large stride, adjusting her stride, being able to open her canter and then bring her back. I had to be a better rider or it wasn't going to work.

                                It sounds as if you're in a similar situation. Having an intermediate horse to get you there might really help.

                                You have to feel comfortable. If you're not ready for 3', that's ok. I'm assuming you're not gunning for the 2016 Olympics, so if you're not ready to move up, trust those instincts.

                                I personally found it was a big step to go from a horse with a flat jump who would find the distances for you, to a bigger jumper who needed you to find the distances. In my experience, I think it's normal to realize you're not ready to jump a certain height, even if you were jumping that with a different horse. Again, trust that.

                                If you want to make this work, I would identify what you need to work on to meet your goals, and just focus on the building blocks. Tick them off. Put all the foundational pieces in place before moving up and putting them together.

                                Not an expert, just talking about what helped me.

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


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by findeight View Post
                                  Pros ride horses they doubt, don't trust or even are scared of because they have to. Middle aged Ammies don't have to. That horse will be perfect for somebody else who will click with him, you don't so move forward before you really lose confidence.
                                  This. So, so much this.


                                  • #37
                                    On a really pragmatic note...sometimes starting all over and just walking if that's a you are comfortable with? Good advice but...

                                    For a mid 40s or older Adult with a family and a career? Riding time is limited, maybe 3 days a week. They board out and depend on a full service barn and others to ride when they can't. Clocks ticking on strength, reaction time and nerves due to increased recovery time from scares and falls due to the unavoidable fact they are not young anymore physically.

                                    How long is this typical Ammy who wants to show rated at 3' going to spend 1k to 3k+ a month to walk around on a horse they are scared of????

                                    This is a well broke horse and competent rider so not talking unrealistic goals, just a real world situation many face despite doing everything right. Just not the right horse.
                                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                                    • #38
                                      IMHO, there are two separate issues here. 1 - your level of riding and what you want to do 2. the horse you have now. It sounds like you made a lot of progress your first year of riding, but just staying on and going around a 2'6" course isn't really riding. You need the strength and skill to sit through a buck or a spook with confidence. Shit happens when you ride, even on a packer. Sounds like your trainer is pushing you too fast to show for whatever reason - maybe she is making more money off you that way. Go back to what you are comfortable with and enjoy doing - I think taking lessons on the intermediate horse is on the right track and don't be in a rush to show 3'.
                                      As far as the horse is concerned... one buck on a windy day is being pretty well darn behaved. You owe it to this horse to not pull on his face and punish him because you are scared. Either sell him to someone who is capable of riding him or if you have the money, keep him until you are advanced enough to ride him well yourself.
                                      As an older rider now myself, I have to admit that I am no longer comfortable jumping over 3' and that's okay. Do what makes YOU happy on a daily basis - and if you eventually get to being successful on your new horse in the AO's - great - if not...well, that's okay, too. Life is too short and horses are too expensive not to being having fun.


                                      • #39
                                        here's the thing.... being "older" ammie riders there is NO reason why we should ride horses that are unsuited or that make us nervous. and there is no reason why you need to continue to support a horse that doesn't fit your needs.

                                        in all honesty - it sounds like trainer is looking out for their wallet and not your best interests.

                                        if this were me i would immediately sell younger horse and find a different horse that truly fit my needs - not my perceived needs, but my needs right now.

                                        i assume that the market for packers is quite good so you should have no trouble finding a fantastic home for your younger guy.

                                        remember that life is a finite time frame and we only get this one chance - why waste it on being nervous and doing things others think we should be doing?


                                        • #40
                                          Sounds more like trainer was acting in OPs best interests and really thought it was a nice horse for her. Maybe trainer did not realize middle aged ammies have such a unique set of issues that may not be obvious, now s/he knows.

                                          OP has now had a long talk with trainer who has advised moving the horse along. Trainer can get commissions for selling this horse and finding another or continue to bill OP for services and shows with this one so there is no financial advantage one way or the other. Trainer even suggested leasing which gets them less but would really suit the OP better as a continuing client.

                                          It's nobody's fault.
                                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.