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Advice Needed - What to do?

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  • Advice Needed - What to do?

    I'm a 32 year old re-rider who is having issues. This last two years has been really hard on me physically - I've had 4 riding accidents (3 of them not on MY horses, but on friend's horses) because I wrote checks my body could no longer handle (but my mind could...well...at the time).

    I'm not an inexperienced rider, au contraire, I'm a rider who has had time off, but keeps overestimating what she can do based on what she USED to be able to do. This is a problem. Couple that with general out-of-shapedness due to now not riding due to above issues and you have....a mental mess, which is what I am now.

    I have a fancy-ish young-ish horse that I am now terrified to ride after my massive fall in August that resulted in an emergency room visit. Was it his fault? Nope, not in the least. He can spook some, and is VERY forward and bold, and I am absolutely terrified to even throw a leg near him. In the meantime he has been ridden by trainer, who likes him (but says that he can only put his experienced students on him)

    So what do I do? Do I try to sell him in this terrible market? And then buy something old and plodding? Do I suck it up and get back on and hope I live to tell the tale? My trainer thinks I'll be fine with some lessons on his schoolies but he also is very brave, and I have TOTALLY lost my nerve to the point that walking out into the pasture made me shake, literally, with fear.

    Compound that with the fact that supporting the current horse in training means that I don't have a whole lot of free cash to throw around at a new one....

    Sorry this post is a mess, I'm just so confused.

  • #2
    Sell/trade him and get something experienced that you can have fun riding. There is no reason to have a horse that terrifies you, even if the horse is not a bad horse. He is just not a good fit.

    It is very common for reriders to confront fear they never used to have, and try to push themselves to ride green/young horses that they would not have batted an eye at as a teenager. But many have families, responsibilities, and more sense as adults. You are not alone. All my friends in your situation have gotten much more enjoyment out of horses after finally selling the naughty young thing and purchasing a safe, fun average-looking horse.

    Comment


    • #3
      For many of us, there just comes a time when we say "Riding should be fun and full of joy....I'm not getting that anymore." -- Especially after injuries that shatter our confidence.

      There would be no shame whatsoever in selling your boy and moving on to something more steady once you've got some nerve back. There is no rule book, no Big Judge in the sky telling you what to do with your horse, etc.

      Don't rush into anything though. Take some time off, ride a few oldsters and go for long trail rides. Learn to ride just for the pure joy of it with no pressure. Walk the entire time if you want. It doesn't matter.

      Then, after a few weeks/months, reevaluate where you are. If you're at peace with moving on, then put him on the market and don't look back.
      <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

      Comment


      • #4
        If you're too afraid to even sit on the horse, it's not worth it. I'm having a similar issue with one of mine right now. He is a bold horse, and is a big mover. He can have a buck in him occasionally. There's a trainer at my barn that's been doing a bit of ground work with him (lunging, etc). Anyway, even during the first session he has improved immensely. If your horse is working well with the trainer maybe there's a chance he'll improve and be the horse you want. However, if trainer (as you said) still says he needs an experienced rider, it may be better to just cut your losses, sell the horse, and look for something new. It might even be good to take lessons for a while, and think about what you really want in a horse/what your goals are. This is my problem as well, and I'm trying to analyze if my horse will fit my goals when he is more schooled, or if there is just a personality/goal conflict there.

        Comment


        • #5
          I'd agree selling your horse might be an option, but in today's market you might be better off negotiating some sort of lease to your trainer.

          If he has experienced students he feels safe training on your horse, does he also have a lesson horse you'd feel safer riding in lessons?

          That way you can work on your confidence riding a steadier horse and your horse can get some mileage under the trainer's eye.

          Hopefully by the time you feel ready to ride him, your horse will meet you in the middle and be a calmer mount for you.
          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

          Comment


          • #6
            I had a pretty bad accident about a year and a half ago. Fluke deal.

            But it did drive home the idea that I am NOT invincible...a thought I'd held for most of my life. LOL

            Getting back into riding this last year, I found that the biggest challenge was my strength and balance. I ended up kind of pushing through, but if I had it to do over again, I think I would've spent some time at the gym working on strength and cardio.

            Then I'd probably take a few weeks of lessons on a lesson horse or half lease something steady eddy. After you've got your leg and balance back, you might find that it's no longer "scary" to ride your horse.

            I am lucky in that I have a steady eddy as well (2 horses)...so I was able to get my leg and balance back a bit more before I threw a leg over my more challenging horse....and was able to RELAX at that point....because my mare is not only a challenge, she's sensitive...and my anxiety just ratcheted up the rest.

            Good luck!
            A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

            Might be a reason, never an excuse...

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by ChocoMare View Post
              For many of us, there just comes a time when we say "Riding should be fun and full of joy....I'm not getting that anymore." -- Especially after injuries that shatter our confidence.

              There would be no shame whatsoever in selling your boy and moving on to something more steady once you've got some nerve back. There is no rule book, no Big Judge in the sky telling you what to do with your horse, etc.

              Don't rush into anything though. Take some time off, ride a few oldsters and go for long trail rides. Learn to ride just for the pure joy of it with no pressure. Walk the entire time if you want. It doesn't matter.

              Then, after a few weeks/months, reevaluate where you are. If you're at peace with moving on, then put him on the market and don't look back.

              Well said Chocomare, well the first part - I can't quote a single part!

              I'm not even a re-rider and all I want to do is have a nice quiet horse to have fun on. Mostly because with our business, I'm only on green horses.

              Yes at the moment selling is a hard. But if he is a fancy young horse and going well, he might be saleable. Hard to say I guess.

              But from your post it seems as if getting a plodder, as you put it, would be depressing. Don't look at it that way at all. You would have so much more fun and confidence on a horse who in a sense was taking care of you. Those horses are worth their weight in gold. And more importantly, you would be so happy.

              Don't beat yourself up as someone who has had some nasty falls, I know what a toll it can take. And it's no fun doing something you really want to do, yet being scared to do it. We have one mare here who is a gem. You can put anyone on her, she's safe, and she always tries to please. Downside is she's not very attractive and not the best of movers. But at the end of the day we will never sell her because we can and do anything with her. And if someone wants to ride and isn't a good rider, we know she will take care of them. It is nice to have one horse to rely on. Of course since my husband sold his hunting horse, he's kind of taken her over!

              Good luck, and do not feel it's your fault. Riding should be fun!

              Terri
              COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

              "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thank you guys, I appreciate it so much.

                You know, maybe the half-lease would be workable. I think the one horse that I've ridden there before (besides my own) is already half-leased, but that still leaves a half, doesn't it?

                The trainer is suggesting to ride one of his lesson horses, and the last time I rode them (Prior to my last accident) I was very confident on the one and jumping 2'9" again (which isn't huge, but I hadn't jumped anything over 2' in 3 years) in the first lesson (this is the horse that I am mentioning above).

                You know, it's a funny feeling, because my horse doesn't do anything bad. He's strong, forward and can spook, but he's not "ack dangerous" or unpredictable (no buck etc.) - all that being said, for whatever reason I have a mental block about riding him.

                He's actually the second horse in 2 years that I've backed, and the first one never scared me like that. I don't know what it is about him. Maybe it's just the falls, but I'm not scared of riding in general, I'm terrified of him. I can't figure it out.

                It's been 5 months since I've ridden last (and had the fall). So time off, I took - I thought to myself that I would ride again when I absolutely couldn't stand not riding anymore. And that's where I'm at. I guess I'm afraid of the trainer pushing me (he's not a bad guy, but I don't think he completely understands that this has turned into a full blown phobia) and I just dont' know if I'll feel brave enough to ride my own horse unless I ride another horse a LOT (if that makes any sense).

                I scheduled a lesson for tomorrow night (although I might ride tonight if he has a cancellation - I'm going to be at the barn grooming the big fancy boy anyway) - I guess we'll see how it goes. Thank you all, for your help.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Sell him.

                  You ride to have fun. He's more horse than you want/can deal with right now. Riding is too expensive to have a pasture decoration. That he can do x, y & z is immaterial if you won't ride him.

                  I had one lovely horse I had a big crash on. I lost my nerve when it came to him...I found him a new home and was off jumping a new horse with no worries.

                  Sometimes, a relationship doesn't work...cut your losses and find a new beast to throw your heart over the fences with.
                  "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'd second (third) what Chocomare said

                    I couldn't agree more with Chocomare.
                    Take some time, try riding some more steady eddies (if you can find them), try to get back in the saddle a bit first, then decide if you want to continue with your horse.

                    I also had an epiphany when a really talented but difficult horse I had bought tossed me off not once but twice! (yes I'm a slow learner), I sold her and changed the type/kind of horse I rode.

                    That's how I got into my spotty bodies! And I am having a blast, I wish I had had the courage? self knowledge? to change horses sooner, would've saved me from a lot of anguish.

                    So don't beat your self up, it's all a learning process.

                    MW
                    Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                    Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                    New edition of book is out:
                    Horse Nutrition Handbook.

                    www.knabstruppers4usa.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I am not the slightest bit ashamed to admit I am not mentally the rider I once was. I am probably a better rider physically than ever before but I am much less tolerant on their back. There isn't a horse alive that I can't handle from the ground, but on their back only a steady eddie will do from here on out. My horse turned 21 on Thursday, I have half jokingly said that when he dies I won't ride ever again. Life is scary enough, I don't want my hobby to be scary as well.
                      McDowell Racing Stables

                      Home Away From Home

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        First of all, don't be too hard on yourself. What you're feeling is perfectly normal, and many of us re-riders go through it. The reason you're afraid to ride your horse is because you have enough experience to know that a green horse needs a confident balanced rider, and you are not there yet, but that does not mean you won't be after a few months of consistent riding. You can put that experience and knowledge to better use by re-building your skills on a steady onfidence building horse while your green horse also builds his strength, balance, and knowledge under a more confident and advanced rider.

                        You haven't lost your knowledge and experience, you've only lost muscle tone and balance, and that knowledge is adding to your lack of confidence. You may discover that a few months of lessons for yourself and some training for your horse will bring you both to a point where you're a better fit. If not, and you decide it's time to move on, your horse will have the benefit of being better trained and his chances of finding a good home will have improved. If you trust your trainer, he may be able to recommend a good rider who will take him on as a free lease for a little while because of his potential.
                        Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                        Witherun Farm
                        http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Can you afford the several months of training needed to get this one better suited for you?

                          That is probably the best way to look at this. Have to mention that, although you like your trainer, some of them really don't have alot of experience with adult reriders. Some seem to be really unaware of the additional challenges and keep thinking you will suck it up shortly and everything will be fine just like any 16 year old. Just not the case.

                          If trainer likes the horse and is so convinced he will be suitable for you, work something out so s/he trains it and you ride the schoolies.

                          Or do what I would and sell him, there is a market if they are priced right and trainer has good connections. Maybe even a swap.
                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The older you get the easier it becomes to lose your nerve and not get it back. Let's face it, we are not getting any younger and most of us middle aged people don't have the guts or the nerve we had in our 20's.

                            I would make it an enjoyable experience - whatever that means for you. If it means selling the horse, sell it. Don't rush into any decisions. Do what your gut instinct tells you is right. You will know what to do.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I took a lot of time off between college (1987) and starting riding again (1997.)

                              the first thing I did was try to start right where I left off even though I was 10 years older and really 15-20 years from my "hey day" of riding (Pony Club, eventing, and tons of jumping/showing.)

                              what a mistake! I over-reached and got hurt. many multiple times. luckily at that time (1997) I had a very forgiving App who was not hot, did not bolt and would in some sense take care of me when I "wrote checks my body could not cash."

                              even as great as he was I still found lots of opportunities to do more than I was capable and end up in the ER.

                              in 2005 as a 41 year old and again not having ridden seriously in 3 years (gave the App to my child Pony Clubber) I bought a 6 yo untrained small WB to start myself. I picked the calmest, most pleasant, easy going horse I could find. then, I worked with a NH trainer twice a month to do ground work and did not even attempt to ride him for the first year.

                              fast forward to 2008 and we are having a ball: riding in the open, trails, eventing, dressage. this boy can do everything.

                              I think the keys to this latest success: I am more realistic about what I can and cannot do and I have a nice gentle and quiet horse who is my partner and I can trust in 99% of situations.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Wow, so much good advice in this thread, thank you all ever so much!

                                My horse has been in training for almost a year now. He's a responsive ride, but he's big, strong, and slightly on the spooky side. Trainer has ridden him into the pond, over all sorts of weird obstacles etc. but the horse is just slightly reactive. I know he would be fine if I could just relax, but the last time I rode him I could feel the tension in his back, and his tension made my tension worse (and then we just piggybacked on each other).

                                If I could hide my body's reaction, I'd be fine, or if I could ride him enough to trust him, I'd be fine. But I just don't trust him, and that lack of trust is what is causing our issues because he is one of those "strongly tuned in" horses who looks to their rider for confidence.

                                Does that make any sense?

                                Ashamedly, since the accident, I have only been to see him and spend time with him once. He's fine - the Trainer and kids out there baby him and love on him, so he's not neglected...except by me. I have been the epitome of the absent horse-owner. Sometimes I feel like I need to develop a relationship with him (I know, that makes me sound like I ought to be waving a carrot-stick at him *laughing*) but I mean my phobia is really directly relating to him.

                                It's silly.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Honestly....go work out. Get in shape. I think you'll do so much better if rider fatigue isn't an issue.

                                  In your current "state", you need a kid safe/bomb proof plodder. Not a reactive youngster. Reactive doesn't mean naughty...it just means you need to be on your game. You're not on your game. You CAN be again...but why risk getting hurt just because you're a little out of shape, a little slow to react, and perhaps translating nervous energy toward your youngster?

                                  I wish you were closer. I'd free lease you a nice forward bomb proof/kid broke mare who you could relax on. I totally feel where you're at.

                                  But you've just got to make a choice I think...do you want to work towards riding THIS horse (which will require some effort on your part) or would you prefer to go the steady eddy route and back it off a bit?

                                  Either are fine choices.

                                  Best wishes to you. I totally get it. Got to the point where w/o 2 beers on board I did NOT want to get on...felt sick to my stomach with anxiety. But once I got in shape and really WAS capable again of riding through whatever? Felt FABULOUS.
                                  A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                  Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    No big deal. Most of us go through this at some point or another. We realize we're not 15 and made of rubber...we're getting older, things don't heal like they used to, we have kids, mortgages, spouses to care for...et cetera.

                                    If I were in your situation it would depend on how much I liked the youngster, and if money was an issue. If you really like him and have the money to support his training, leave him with the trainer for a while until he grows up. Maybe even lease him to a good rider who can put some experience on him.

                                    In the meantime, pick up a steady eddy, either purchase or leasing to get your confidence back. A year or two down the road, the youngster will be more experienced, you'll be more confident, and you'll be a better team.

                                    If money is an issue, consider letting him go. Riding is no fun when you are afraid of what's beneath you, and just one more accident/bad day will continue to throw your riding confidence in reverse, at warp speed...
                                    Originally posted by barka.lounger
                                    u get big old crop and bust that nags ass the next time it even slow down.

                                    we see u in gp ring in no time.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I don't know you or your horse personally so take this with a grain of salt -- but it sounds like you are not having fun with this horse, haven't had fun with him, and don't really LIKE the way he goes (and will likely continue to go to some extent, even with training).

                                      It sounds like Trainer likes him and some folks will be able to get along with him. He's fancy, so he is going to go to a nice place. I would encourage both of you to move on -- him to someone who is in the right place to ride, love and pamper him, and you to a horse that you are ready to ride, love and pamper.

                                      You are not letting down the horse, as he will have a bright future with or without you. And you are not letting down Trainer, who is likely to get two commissions out of the deal. That leaves yourself -- and how could you be letting yourself down by finding this horse a home that is a better fit for him, and purchasing a horse that will allow you to ENJOY this fantastic sport for a change?

                                      It is not like you are contemplating this on a whim -- I think it is telling that you haven't been able to bring yourself to even be around him.

                                      And your feelings are not silly. They are perfectly natural. You can't reason your way into getting along with this horse. Fear does not confine itself to the bounds of reason.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Oh, dear. I became a re(age 52)re(age 39) rider this last time around. Now I am 55. I got seriously banged up and terrified on several different levels. Even when I was in my forties I had NO fear of getting hurt riding or around horses.

                                        But now I do. I spent a good deal of the past two and a half years having to suck it up every single time I put foot in stirrup to mount because I Was Scared. Only very recently have I been able to get on either of my horses without a little churning burning twinge in my gut...but oddly enough I was most of the time Just Fine once I got on.

                                        Issues got worked thru, I got rid of one horse and made the other one much better, now have two reliable horses who are fun to ride. Get a confidence builder for yourself. Steady and fun doesnt necessarily translate to old and boring. Trust me.

                                        Comment

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