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My confidence is shattered, yet my parents keep pushing. UPDATE:#55

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  • My confidence is shattered, yet my parents keep pushing. UPDATE:#55

    I need help. I am a young teen and have been riding for about 6 years. I dabbled in saddleseat my first year and then transitioned to hunters and hunter jumping. After about 3 1/2 years of riding hunters a had a confidence shattering fall. Long story short, I was bucked off a horse and broke my shoulder. (If you want more details let me know). I do NOT blame the trainer and stayed with her. She had an accident and couldn't teach for a while. She had her accident the day after mine and coincidently it was right before she stops teaching because of the winter weather. Lessons for all of her students were discontinued for 6 months. I stayed with this trainer for 2 or 3 more months and then switched trainers (the accident wasn't really a factor in the swap). I rode my old trainers horses (3 of them after the accident) and never had a problem with them. Albeit, I had ridden these horses for years and knew them like the back of my hand. Her horses were also very much hunter horses. Always the exact speed you wanted, listened likes saints, all the hunter traits. No quirks under saddle. (Except for one horse and the one that bucked me off)(she had 6 horses).
    My new trainers horse that I ride on the other hand is a full fledged show jumper. It takes some effort to get him into a nice frame, he likes to have his head up to look around at the trot, he likes to have fun, and loves to jump. He has taught me a lot, but it's taken so long just to be able to go over ground poles on him.
    My first ride on him he spooked or tripped (we don't know which) and almost fell to the ground. The only time I've had a horse spook with me on it I was on a lunge line so it wasn't that bad. I was already nervous on him, but I don't know why. I had been on my trainers horses after my fall. And one of the ones I rode after my fall I hadn't ridden or touched for 2 years. After the trip/spook whatever you want to call it, it only became worse. He hadn't been ridden for two weeks prior to one of my lessons and was fresh. I was totally okay with that. I was working on getting him to slow down at the trot and lengthen his stride (he naturally has a quick, jumper speed trot) I was doing this so I could get the correct amount of strides in an exercise. Pole, 1 stride, pole, 1 stride, small jump (maybe 1 ft) (I had been jumping 2' 6" with my previous trainer) once he went over the jump he gave a small buck which led to him cantering. I freaked out and ran him into a corner. I've just gotten to the point where I can canter him without freaking out (me and my old instructor would gallop two of her horses and race on an old airplane runaway so speed isn't new). A month or so ago my foot got suck in the fence (it's one of the electric fences has the poles that you can move around). I pulled the pole up out of the ground and it touched the horses side. All of my instructors know the fence will shock them if they touch it so the horse jumped in the air, spun around and bucked. The second buck I did an emergency dismount and plopped down on my butt, got up, said "whooooo!" With my hands in the air, and looked over to see the horse standing next to me. Thank the lord the fence was off. I know that was my fault because I rode him too close to the fence, but it didn't help the confidence situation.
    Anyways, my mother is always bothering me about how far along I was at my old barn and how far I have regressed with my new instructor. She's never actually ridden a horse and doesn't understand how much mental power it takes to do things. I've always been very hard on myself and what looks to be a simple mistake to someone else that I fixed in a matter of seconds is almost world ending to me. I strive for perfection. My mom is always talking about how I just need to "try harder" and "get over it". All she does is criticize my riding when she doesn't know about anything that I'm doing! My old instructor banned her from watching my lessons because she sit at the the rail and yell at me to do things! I've told her to quit but she doesn't listen. I've tried talking to her about what I'm feeling but it turned into a shouting match because she just didn't get it. My instructor is fine with me taking it slow, but my mother isn't!

    Can anyone help me? If something is unclear or you have questions feel free to ask. I know this post is disorganized and scattered.

  • #2
    I'm sorry you're going through this; it's not fun when riding becomes so stressful. Talking with a sports psychologist sounds like it may really benefit you, especially one who has dealt with other equestrian athletes. Check out "the mindful equestrian" on instagram. You may find the book "inside your ride " by tonya johnson helpful.

    the other thing, and maybe I am not getting the grasp of where you were riding when it happened...if you are riding in an area where the "rail" is an electric fence...well, that speaks to me as maybe a red flag that the facility isnt the safest. You might consider a different discipline for a while, with a supportive instructor who understands there is some baggage.

    Moms can be tough, maybe sitting down with her and explaining how you feel about riding after your accident may help mom be more understanding and help you work though this. If you are really feeling fearful and this stressed, taking a break is not a terrible idea. You can always pick up riding again if you desire.


    • #3
      First things first: see if you can go back to riding a confidence builder. Continuing to ride a horse or horses that have rattled your confidence is no help and will only make you worse. Don't stop riding because that will give your brain a chance to inflate the problem and then you might never ride again and wouldn't that be a shame?
      Second: your wonder you are a perfectionist with someone telling you to try harder and suck it up. Yikes.
      She has somehow made this all about her and forgotten you have feelings, too. I sometimes think there are parents who have little checklists - you know: get married - check, buy house - check, have kids - check. And they forget you are a human being. Good for your instructor to chuck her out of your lessons. It's hard to overcome these people, I know - I lived it with a narsicisstic mother. It's why I no longer speak to her. Is there someone at your school you could talk to? Use them. Because I think if you ask your mother if you could go to sports or regular therapy she would either question you or say no or worse still, want to be there Hmmmmm unless you framed it that you were so afraid and wanted help getting over your fear. That might work. I wish you the best. And stop beating yourself up over little things - they ain't worth the agony. BTDT, it's hard to learn but it can be done.
      "Cats aren't clean; they're covered with cat spit."
      - John S Nichols (1745-1846,writer/printer)

      Don't come for me - I didn't send for you.


      • #4
        It sounds like this horse is not a good match for you right now. Does your trainer have another school horse, a steady Eddie type who doesn't get excited over fences and trots and canters quietly when asked? I would talk with your trainer and be honest about your fears and ask about a different horse. There is zero shame in dialing things back a step. In fact, sometimes that can make you a better rider, because you can really fill in any holes in your riding as well as repair your confidence. A break is never a bad idea if it's really what you want and need. Sometimes a step back to an easier horse/lower jumps/flatwork/trail riding/whatever builds your confidence is all the break you need.

        As for your parents, you need a separate hear-to-heart with them as well. Tell them your confidence isn't where it needs to be right now and the criticism isn't helping. It kind of sounds like your mom is living her dream through you a bit. Maybe suggest that she take a few lessons with the trainer--she might have fun and will for sure gain a new understanding of what you're trying to accomplish. "Mom, it seems like you really want to be the one in the saddle sometimes. Why don't you try a few lessons yourself? I know you enjoy watching my lessons, and I think you'd love riding yourself even more!" Depending on where your barn is located, you can ask her not to come o your lessons, if she is close enough to go home or perhaps to a coffee shop or something for an hour, or bring a book and read in the car. Of course if she starts riding, she could schedule you both together and then she would be busy getting ready for her ride...

        I've always been a super timid rider, so I've been in your shoes (minus the Mom part). For me, a step back to a horse I felt confident on was the key. Riding became fun again because I could work on improving instead of being on guard every second. Until I said something to my trainer, she had no idea I felt that way. The horse I was riding who made me nervous went really well for me, so the issue wasn't visible to her. The horse she put me on afterwards was still a challenge, but for different reasons, and I really improved as a rider and in confidence.


        • #5
          It sounds like the horse you are currently riding is not the best match for you. I would ask your instructor if there is any other horse you can ride that might be a bit quieter and less reactive. When you've had a lapse in confidence, it is normal to need to return to a lower level or easier horse for a while in order to build yourself back up. I've been riding for over 25 years and have gone through this process many times. I have also ridden some horses that just were not a match for me no matter what. I always give them a fair try of a few weeks, because sometimes things improve after a few rides, but if I continued to feel unsafe I would ask the instructor if I could not ride that horse anymore. Usually we kind of reach that conclusion together before I even need to ask. At my barn there are plenty of lesson horses so not being able to ride a certain one is usually okay. If this is the only horse available to you, you may also need to consider switching trainers again to one with horses that are more appropriate for your current mindset, at least for a period of time until you are feeling confident again.


          • #6
            So I'm a little out of my depth here, and hopefully people much more knowledgeable about a situation that crosses safety boundaries with a minor will chip in ...

            Per your first post, you've given this a good effort, so it isn't like you haven't tried. You have given it your all, and the results are not comfortable for you. As far as I'm concerned you have the right to draw the line about what is right for you with riding.

            So, the first question to answer is: do you want to ride at all? Or do you want to ride, but just want to stay at a lower level than your mother wants for you? Either answer is fine. Be very honest with yourself, and take the real answer as your goal. It's ok if you really don't want to ride at all.

            As I read what you've written, there is only one issue that you should focus on when you communicate about your problem, and that is "safety". Put it on "safety" rather than "confidence", because "confidence" is something people are likely to pressure you to do, but "safety" is where they are more agreeable to back off. You have a lot of experience but have not been safe in your riding through no fault of your own (no it is not your fault that things go wrong). Your riding skill level makes no difference to this issue. The number and frequency of falls and injuries is what matters. At this point it does not matter how each happened and those details are just a distraction. I believe that you have the right to draw that safety line and stick to it, wherever you want that line to be, regardless of what your mother or anyone else says.

            So I'd suggest that your first and best option is to speak frankly and openly with your instructor, without your mom present, about what you do and do not want to do. If you want to stick with one level, ask to do that. Hopefully your instructor will be willing to set some limits on your behalf. You and your instructor both will have to stand up to your mother and simply do what you both know is right!

            If your instructor pressures you to go beyond your personal boundaries, then you may need to start sticking up for yourself and simply don't do things you don't feel safe doing, no matter what anyone is saying (such as jumping something or jumping it in a bad location). That may be hard. You may be saying "no" when asked to do something in your lessons. But if you don't cave in, if you stick to your principals, adults have a way of giving up on trying to make you.

            If you really don't want to ride but your mother keeps insisting and taking you to the barn, then I think you'll have to be "that" kid and just refuse to cooperate. Don't get on the horse. Go on strike, as it were. Don't get into explanations about why you aren't doing it. Just simply don't do it. Even don't get in the car to go to the barn in the first place. This will be very awkward and will take a lot of strength. There may be pressure and even yelling from your mother and/or the instructor, but it's better if you don't say anything back.

            If you go this route and prefer not to ride at all but end up at the barn anyway, then find a place at the barn that is out of the way, go there and just sit and do something else to pass the time until it's time to go home. You'll have to ignore whatever anyone says to you, as arguing probably won't help. It won't be easy at all. But adults almost always eventually stop if a kid is flatly refusing to engage in an activity. I wouldn't recommend this for most kids, but as you describe your case, then I personally have no problem with a sit-down strike, as it were.

            If you want to get an adult other than the riding instructor to confront your mother on your behalf, then you need to be aware that this could be successful, but it could also open a huge can of worms, as it were. You'll need to present the problem to an adult who can intervene. You could go as far as a meeting with your school counselor. However, know that with any counselor you won't be able to control things if the counselor takes major steps and it becomes a much larger situation.

            If you are desperate enough to go to a counselor, then you do deserve an advocate to speak up on your behalf, even if this is your last resort. Make a simple list of incidents and injuries and the year each happened, and also some short notes on how long you've been riding and what you've accomplished. Such as "Six years of riding with instruction, jumping at the 2'6" level. Broken collarbone - 2016; Bucked off - twice in 2017; " etc. That's imaginary and just an example. Don't offer detailed explanations of how each one happened, or who was at fault, because that just gets people into discussing nit-picky details that don't matter. Stick to your written list of incidents and injuries and that (a) you have ridden for a long time but feel unsafe while riding, and (b) either you have no interest in continuing to ride, or else that you want to stick to a certain level if you do continue to ride. Ask directly for their help explaining to your mother where you want the boundaries to be drawn in a way that she will respect. Be ready to come back to your main point about the limits you want, again and again. Then be prepared for things to get very sticky with your mother! It may work, but I'd say this route is the last resort and only if you are really desperate.

            Good luck!

            When I was a kid there was a time when someone at the school decided that every kid should be good at basic gymnastics. Well, even though I liked the idea of gymnastics, at the time my tall, gangly, uncoordinated frame didn't work well with it at all. I was definitely not a safe performer. I couldn't do even the simple moves adequately and was never able to walk the balance beam even when it was sitting on the floor (you are a much better rider than I ever was a gymnast!). Eventually I was shuffled off to something I could handle better! It happens, everyone finds what suits them best eventually.


            • #7
              My concerns:

              Doesn't the new trainer have more than one lesson horse? The horse sounds unsuitable to you as a lesson horse - it does not sound like you have the experience to ride the horse like it should be ridden (e.g. collected in a frame) OR it is not trained well enough for a lesson student to learn this.

              Don't understand the "lesson horse hadn't been ridden for 2 weeks prior to my lesson". Why not? As a lesson student you are paying to LEARN. It would be different if you were being paid to train.

              I would not pay money to ride at a barn that has step in poles with electric tape as an arena fence.

              I think your mother is making a good point, although possibly not in the right way. I would definitely be looking for a new trainer. Why would you pay money to ride bad horses?


              • #8
                I agree that you need to ride a different horse and probably with a different instructor. It would be extremely difficult for anyone to gain confidence in the situation you described.

                I would seek out a new instructor and tell her/him that you need to regain confidence. Make sure that they have school horses that are "kick rides". I suspect you will fairly quickly feel more secure and progress to and even beyond your previous level in this situation. Only then should you attempt more challenging rides - and then only if you want to! I believe you will learn better when you can concentrate on you and not worrying about the horse doing silly stuff. Stuff will happen, but when your confidence is shaken, you need to be able to relearn how to relax and ride confidently so stack the odds as much as possible first.

                I suspect your mom might be happier if you are riding a calm horse well and progressing rather than dealing with fresh, hot horse not trained as a hunter.


                • #9


                  • Original Poster

                    To answer the questions.

                    1) Her fence is usually really secure. She doesn't have the money to get a wooden for her arena, so for the time she has the poles and hot wire. It is usually very secure and is staked into the ground but her dogs (two large dogs) were playing in the arena earlier that day so they probably knocked it loose. I did find the stake while on the ground. Lol.

                    2) my dad is very supportive and is not pushy like my mom. That's why I don't mention him.

                    3) I do not want to switch instructors. My current one has already helped me through a lot of my riding problems that my old instructor wasn't able to figure out. She has a lot of riding knowledge and I'm very lucky that I've found her. She's trained with some of the top hunter and dressage people of her time. ( she's older so think George Morris and the like)

                    4) pertaining to the fence accident: he wasn't ridden for a couple weeks because my trainer was injured. He was extremely chilled and good until the fence attacked us. Lol

                    5) I Have shown twice. Both with my previous instructor. First show was all flat classes and a 4-h qualifier. I am so not a 4-h girl. Ha. Second we did flat and jumping very small show and a huge confidence builder. Almost all firsts!

                    6) my instructor has 6 "rideable" horses as of right now. One of them are out because of injury, one has back problems that are beginning to resurface (so no riding for him until they get sorted out), one is a very difficult ride that my instructor is currently working on. As of the other three, one I currently ride. One is a bit of a greenie (not really but he can act like it sometimes), and the last one is a sweet little pony that I have started riding recently. I actually rode the pony out on the trail and for a short while in a few mini lessons and he is an easy going kids ride. He doesn't know how to jump to my knowledge though. The horse I usually ride is a total sweetheart and I trust him until he starts expressing himself. I'm not used to him doing that and it scares me a bit.

                    7) pertaining to the accident. I was a pony that was know to get exited and buck when in hot weather and jumping. (No health problems. Promise) we were doing pony rides on her and she was very well behaved and was getting tired. Once finished my instructor at the I've told me that if I want I could hop on her bareback and ride her back up to the arena. (I had ridden this pony bareback and bridleless before in the field and I was an advanced student, especially with that pony) so I plopped a helmet on and hopped on and started going up the hill. Now to get to the house to the arena (we were at the house) you had to go up a steep incline. Think the Lincoln memorial stairs but steeper. About the same distance up. We made it maybe halfway before the pony decided " ya know what no." So she spun around and tore off down the hill bucking and acting like a wild mustang. Now the bottom of the hill is like on of those funny obtuse angles in math class and the pony decided "imma jump from about 4 feet from the base of the hill onto the flat ground below" well she did that and I was thrown from her over her right shoulder and landed hard. I broke my right shoulder in two places and my arm.

                    It it might help to see where I'm coming from.

                    If im missing something let me know.


                    • #11
                      Unfortunately, the more you write about the trainer, the less I think of her lesson program.

                      6 horses, 2 rideable by students, and not enough students riding that one sits for two weeks if she's not able to ride it herself. Are you the only lesson student?

                      Not enough money to fence the arena safely...which is pretty important in a lesson program. Step in posts are not safe, not to mention the obvious issue of hot wire in an arena.

                      Go back and read your original post. You don't trust the horse you ride. If you can only trust him "until he starts expressing himself" you don't trust him. He's a horse. He will express himself; they all do, especially when a) they are asked to do something they don't want; and b) the rider makes mistakes. So, not exactly a great lesson horse for you.

                      It does not sound like tour trainer is equipped to teach you, at the level you are currently riding. It takes good training, good horses, and decent facilities to make a good lesson program. Having horses isn't a "lesson program." They need to be suitable for students to learn on. And that takes resources.

                      I have trained with a few backyard trainers. Lack of adequate horses is essentially what holds them back. That's the hard part because you need enough that if one is injured, you can let it rehab....but not too many that you pay more in board than you can afford. One of these was a great trainer when I rode my own horse. But she simply didn't have enough horses to run a good lesson program.


                      • #12
                        It sounds to me like you need a good year of riding where the only pressure comes from within. I know that younger trainers who are starting out can be more fun, but it sounds like you need to find an older been there done that trainer with a bunch of horses at every level. Find the trainer who teaches 7 year olds. When you are having an off day just work on your EQ on one of the old plodding school ponies. There is nothing wrong with doing that. In fact, I think knowing your limits and staying within them is a great example of bravery and horsemanship.


                        • #13
                          A steady eddie is what you need and an instructor that has all horses that can be ridden by any rider and one that does not suggest you get on a pony bareback and bridless. SHEESH.
                          It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.


                          • #14
                            it may also help to consider your long and short term riding goals. Short term goals should be specific, long term can be more vague, and then work with your mom and coach to see if they are realistic and attainable in your current situation. Make sure you and your mom can agree on your goals.

                            I am confused about your current coach: older, rode with high level coaches, but has neither the money nor the facility to run a suitable program? That just doesn't make sense. Are you sure she really "rode" with high level coaches vs just took a clinic with them? Or rode in the same arena as them? I have seen too many coaches (locally) who have oversold their experience and skills, and it takes a while for people to catch on. Please try to be objective when assessing her credentials. Also: is she insured to teach? I am guessing not based on your description of her facility. That should be a red flag for you and your parents.

                            You could consider doing another discipline for a while? Might give you some time to get your confidence back, while making it harder for your mom to judge your progress.

                            Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                            • #15
                              I just want to say that for a young teen, you are pretty articulate! Keep up with your are doing well! Good luck with your riding. I can imagine how frustrating it is. You've gotten some good advice above.
                              My hopeful road to the 2020 RRP TB Makeover:


                              • #16
                                I congratulate you on your courage. If a horse, pony, whatever dumped me like that and I broke my shoulder it would be nope I'm done. But you got back on and took on a horse that is a bit "frisky," too. NOW use that courage to stand up for yourself. You are not a wind up toy for the pleasure of your mom or your instructor for that matter. I'm glad you feel she (the instructor) has things to offer you and you should take advantage of them but she sounds almost as bad as your mother. She's just controlling you a different way.

                                And another observation - from my own life - everyone thinks that being a perfectionist is the same as being a bossy bitch. It's not. It just means you are trying so hard to make everyone happy that you forgot about you. It comes from not knowing where the goal line is as it changes constantly and without you knowing it. Truth. You do you. Go to some counseling. Get their perspective. Or just come here and we will set you straight. Some make their point nicely and others harshly but they are all valuable.
                                "Cats aren't clean; they're covered with cat spit."
                                - John S Nichols (1745-1846,writer/printer)

                                Don't come for me - I didn't send for you.


                                • #17
                                  So why did you switch from the first instructor? Because she banned your mom from lessons?

                                  And it was with the first instructor that you were injured?

                                  I think you need to find an instructor where safety is the number 1 priority, who is also willing to ban your mom from lessons, and has a selection of steady-eddy lesson horses.


                                  • #18
                                    OP - It's good that this current trainer has helped you with your riding and you feel that you've improved. Those of us that have been around the barnyard more than once are trying to tell you that this trainer isn't using basic safety protocols and you're being pushed to ride a horse that you're not ready for. You may be ready for him based on your skill level - but, you've had some set backs and as you put it "my confidence is shattered yet my parents keep pushing."

                                    You want to get back into your comfort zone. Learning how to do that is a basic life skill. This experience is one of those lessons that will teach you that skill.

                                    I encourage you to talk with both your parents -- at the same time. Ask them to help you work through this. Learning to express ourselves in person, face-to-face is a skill too. We learn it first with our parents. I'm adding my congratulations to you on your writing skills. I'm betting that you Mom and Dad had something to do with that too.


                                    • #19
                                      OP you are doing great. Your mom needs to realize she is not helping with her comments so you need to remind her.

                                      Im mom to a young teen rider and like all riders, she has had her ups and downs and so have her friends. You need a horse that is a good match for you and it sounds like this trainer can't provide you with that. It's not even that you need a old calm horse, it's you need the horse that makes you feel confident whatever that is. And a good trainer will see this. It sounds like it's just a case where your trainer cant provide this for you. I think you should try elsewhere. Try a few lessons some where else (let your trainer know you are doing this) do some horse summer camps, see what may help you feel better about riding. Good luck- and let your mom know her comments arent helping!


                                      • #20
                                        I feel your pain. I'm another adult who is not on speaking terms with my mother because she is incapable of hearing me. Don't feel like her behavior is a reflection on you in any way. Her issues are hers, even if they affect you.

                                        Talk to your instructor about being your ally. Let her know if you feel like you need to ride easier horses for a while. She could talk to your mom about the progress you have made since starting lessons with her and the specific things you have improved upon. It sounds like you are riding more difficult horses now so it may not appear that you have progressed to the less-educated eye and your mom may need help seeing the skills you have developed. Does she know your mom was banned from watching your lessons at your old barn? You could ask her to ban your mom from the new barn, without letting on to mom that it's coming from you...