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Terrified to Ride My Horse (Update on Page 7/8)

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  • #21
    Has the type of feed/hay changed?


    • Original Poster

      Brand of feed changed, but the new place kept him on a comparable feed. He's getting less grain, more grass/hay. Hay is mixed grass at both places.
      About my horses and my riding:


      • #23
        I have one who developed similar behavioral problems, especially violent bucking after jumping. The vet could not find anything musculoskeletal, but tested for Lyme and it came back with a VERY high titer for chronic Lyme. She went through a treatment with minocycline, and her behavior has improved IMMENSELY. She still does an occasional crowhop, but nothing, but nothing that puts me in fear of coming off.

        Secondly, yes, horses DO pick up on your fear and tension, and even small changes in your heartbeat. It might be worth working with a sports psychologist, or a hypnotist, or some other kind of therapist to make sure you are not making it worse.

        chief feeder and mucker for Music, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now). Spy is gone. April 15, 1982 to Jan 10, 2017.


        • #24
          Whats the difference in grain? Some feeds can make a horse jump out of their skin. Any difference in NSC and hay? Could you change back to the old feed or change his turnout buddies. He could be body sore and just tired if not in a stall like he is used to. My pony doesn't sleep well unless in a stall and becomes very irritable if he doesn't get his rest.

          Some horses don't like the outdoor life and prefer to be pampered.

          It does almost sound like pain though, cause it appears he tolerates it until he can't tolerate it anymore and blows up.

          Have you seen the Nexium thread? I would start him on that for 30 days (its cheap) and re-evaluate with a pro riding. Plus make sure your saddle isn't slipping or pinching anywhere.

          Something is bothering him though.
          "Anyone who tries to make brownies without butter should be arrested." Ina Garten


          • Original Poster

            I'll have to look into grain difference. He is currently out from 7AMish to 4PMish and in when it's dark, so still being stalled.

            I'll look into Nexium for him. Most likely going to pull for a Lyme titer (should be able to submit through work, or get my vet to do it), and keep saving for a scope.

            My gut says pain, but I still don't know if it's he anticipates pain (today, his meltdown was when he was asked to canter), or if it's been unrelated to saddle fit all along. Three (technically, four if I include my small animal self) have found back pain that resolved with rest and saddle fit change.

            He's such a beautiful boy and an amazing mover that I hate to sell him. I really enjoyed him when he was good.
            About my horses and my riding:


            • #26
              Maybe try a couple months of full training board, with pro-only rides. In the meantime, I wonder if there's a steady eddie you can borrow, to keep in riding shape and find the fun again?

              If his behavior doesn't improve under an unafraid pro, then you have evidence you need to pursue more aggressive vet work. Assuming he goes well for the trainer, the pro should be able to re-install some buttons for you that will make him a more enjoyable ride. How he's ridden of course will influence pain. Light riders can be as hard on a horse's back as a heavy rider if they're tense and jarring. So your fear can very well be a contributing factor.

              Don't beat yourself up over this. There's no valor in sticking with a horse that you don't enjoy riding--just do everything you can to find him a good buyer. A couple months of pro-only rides might be the re-set button you and this horse needs. And if you decide it's just not going to work out, your investment in training will pay dividends in terms of the higher quality home you can send him to.


              • #27
                I second the full training - for the winter at least.

                Find out if this horse can be developed into an amateur horse - while you continue to ride a 'finished' horse under the instruction of the same trainer.

                Be careful. Be smart. Be pro-active.

                Treat others the way you want others to treat you ~ on your threads !


                • #28
                  I agree with everything above regarding pain, maladies, feed, etc. You can transmit your feelings to the horse, including fear. He's had a major lifestyle change, but he it looks like he has figured out that he can get out of work if he acts up enough. Every time we have contact with a horse we are training him, either actively or by a sin of omission, so to speak. If you bail after 10 minutes and the pro gets on him, he has your number. It sounds like you have the riding skills to stick with him but his behavior is aggravating you. Do you have a plan in mind and stick to it, or do you react to whatever he offers?

                  What about adding some ground work? I just got back from Equine Affaire in Mass. and the last clinic I went to was trainer Ken McNabb working with a nice-looking gelding that was a real jerk. His owner had big problems handling him and he wasn't listening to her. Ken worked hard with that horse for about 45 minutes and when he handed him back to the owner, her immediate task was not to let him pass her when they walked on the lead rope. They made a lot of progress in a 90 minute session and she had some tools to continue that work and improve their relationship. I hope things are getting better at home.

                  My own horse isn't dramatic, but like all of them he often has his own opinion about what we should be doing. The question is who is the leader? Today he wanted to do the trail around the hayfield, which we have done most days this summer because the weather has been great. He wouldn't go into the outdoor. It took some discussion, but I prevailed. We'll do it again tomorrow. My plan, not his. I ask him for what I want and don't tell him to cut it out. Well I do, but I try to focus on reinforcing the right answer rather than trying to undo what I don't want.
                  "Providence sometimes takes care of idiots." Agnes Morley Cleaveland, No Life for a Lady, 1977.


                  • #29
                    Does the pro you've mentioned primarily only see the horse in lessons with you and hop on if there's an issue, or have they been doing training rides to supplement lessons? If you can afford it, perhaps they could get on a regular schedule with the horse, at least for the time being.

                    I would like to commend you on being honest with yourself and with others! Everyone has their threshold for what they're comfortable with. I have a lot of respect for folks who can put any ego aside and admit when they need some help. I've witnessed many a time where a behavioral or pain-related issue presents itself under saddle. The rider, either intimidated or inexperienced, doesn't seek help to curb whatever the problem may be and the issue either continues as is or worsens. Horses have a way of humbling everyone.

                    Best of luck with this. Try not to let it completely annihilate your self-confidence. Do what you are comfortable and confident doing with your horse, and continue to enlist the help of professionals (trainer, vet, etc). You have had success with this horse previously, so I really do not think it is out of your reach.


                    • #30
                      OP, have you tried adding aloe juice to your horse's feed? You can buy it by the jug at Walmart or Whole Foods. I give my horses about 1/4 cup at each feeding. One of my mares was acting out - rearing, kicking out when leg was applied, bucking in corners, and being snarky on the ground. The vet suggested scoping her, but I decided to try her on aloe first, as it's been used to heal ulcers in both the fore and hind guts with a lot of success. Best of all, it's cheap, natural and harmless. It made my mare very happy!! Hope you find something that helps!


                      • #31
                        To me it sounds like the pain issue isn't resolved. I'm a little unclear how the saddle fitting happened - did someone come out, do tracings, adjust the tree, and then come back, retrace, and do the final rweaking on site? It sounds like you sent it out and they adjusted it without actually meeting the horse.

                        Honestly, at this point, if you go into a panic when he does very minor things, it doesn't sound like it is going to work.This isn't a judgment - fear is real even if it isn't always rational. But he's a flight animal who got drafted into whatever activities you decide to work on today. If he can't even swish his tail or play up a little without you freaking out, it's just not a fair situation for either of you.
                        The Noodle
                        Boy Wonder
                        The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!


                        • #32
                          Pay for a pro to ride the horse daily for a month. Then listen to what the pro tells you about the horse.
                          Also continue having vets check out everything about the horse's health.
                          A combination of your fears and riding and the horse's changes in living and maybe his health, may be the causes, several causes, of his behavior.

                          Since you've had problems with more than one horse over the years, you might need a very calm horse who does not react to a nervous rider. Not a criticism of you, but sometimes riders don't need a reactive horse.


                          • Original Poster

                            Haven't had problems with more than one horse? For whatever reason I tend to gravitate towards quirkier horses- just giving examples of behaviors I've dealt with and been okay with in the past. Heart horse's bucking and stopping resolved with consistent work (by me), lease horse reared twice- once with a pro and once with me- when pushed. I wouldn't call it problems so much as I had a horse give me an inappropriate response and I dealt with it without panicking.

                            Sent in photos of the saddle to VTO who had helped me fit in the past.

                            Obviously, I'd prefer to do vet work and saddle fitting (in person) than sell him. If I can get the horse back that I had in lessons and when I first bought him, I would love him. He's fussy and sour with the pro as well which makes me think it's not just me. It's that it doesn't feel playful; a little "up" tail swishing or bucking out of happiness would be different, and hopefully not startle me as much?

                            For whatever it's worth my anxiety is out of control in general and that's not helping. Just frustrated and sad.
                            About my horses and my riding:


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by KandC View Post
                              Haven't had problems with more than one horse? For whatever reason I tend to gravitate towards quirkier horses- just giving examples of behaviors I've dealt with and been okay with in the past. Heart horse's bucking and stopping resolved with consistent work (by me), lease horse reared twice- once with a pro and once with me- when pushed. I wouldn't call it problems so much as I had a horse give me an inappropriate response and I dealt with it without panicking.

                              Sent in photos of the saddle to VTO who had helped me fit in the past.

                              Obviously, I'd prefer to do vet work and saddle fitting (in person) than sell him. If I can get the horse back that I had in lessons and when I first bought him, I would love him. He's fussy and sour with the pro as well which makes me think it's not just me. It's that it doesn't feel playful; a little "up" tail swishing or bucking out of happiness would be different, and hopefully not startle me as much?

                              For whatever it's worth my anxiety is out of control in general and that's not helping. Just frustrated and sad.
                              We tend to invest so much of ourselves in our horses, why most of us have them.
                              That makes it harder to manage when things are not working between us.

                              Maybe you can eventually make this horse work for you, maybe not.
                              Trying to keep that in mind without fretting about it is hard for anyone.

                              I have a friend that was given a mare in foal, raised the foal.
                              He is trying to make him work as his working horse because of the long history together.
                              He really likes the horse, but he is just not the kind of horse that will ever be what he needs, a sensible cooperative horse that will work with you.
                              He is hot and flighty and maturing now is getting worse, stronger and less accommodating yet.
                              They already had one wreck because of that, luckily no one was hurt.
                              I expect he will keep trying until something serious happens that makes it clear it is not a good enough match.

                              Be sensible, if he is not the right horse for your safety, everything else he is so great may just not be enough.
                              You will figure that out as you find more about him, you both are really still new to each other.

                              Just stay safe,


                              • #35
                                I hope you are taking care of yourself. If your anxiety is an issue elsewhere in your life, you need to address that. Counseling, meditation, medications, whatever. Hope you find some relief.


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by KandC View Post
                                  If only it were that, HungarianHippo! I started riding him in March (in KY). Antics started in September (still in KY). He's also not "up" energy-wise; no fire breathing dragon. Just hits a point in the ride where he is *DONE* and starts ignoring aids, bucking, and scuttling sideways. And I just don't have the grit anymore to make him cut-it-out.
                                  Horses fully mature (physically and mentally) just about the age of your horse. A few make it earlier, a few later, but most right about then. What you're seeing now is the adult behavior they will show until they get to their "geriatric" age.

                                  I once, inadvertently, taught may mare to be a "head shaker." One day she started shaking her head for no reason I could see from the saddle (I'd properly bridled her, I thought, and there were no other tack issues nor any "environmental" issues in the arena that would account for the behavior). So I got off and checked everything; it was OK. I got back on and few minutes later she did it again; I again dismounted to inspect and it was OK. I got back up and it happened again; and I dismounted again. Three times, right? How long does it take for a horse to form a habit? Three times! ;( Then the fun started. She did it again and I said, "no, not this time." We immediately commenced on "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" as she used every "intimidating" trick she knew to get me to stop and get off as that gave her a "break." She's a terrific riding mare and has an excellent temperament so we didn't get into any bucking or rearing, but sort of threatened it.

                                  So now head shaking is one of her "resistances" when she get fatigued or just decides she's worked enough. that comes between 30 and 35 min. during a work period. Each and every time. In the arena, on the trail, anywhere else that "clock" will go off and we'll have 5-10 min. of her running through her repertoire of "tricks." Ride her out and she'll be fine.

                                  Two years ago I took her to the National Cavalry Competition but was unable to ride her as I got "drafted" to run a complex event. The head of the Ft. Riley Mounted Color Guard needed a horse as her's had a problem. I offered the mare to her and she tried her out in my tack and liked her. She was up less than 15 min. As we untacked her I told her what would happen when she took the mare out after lunch. Later that afternoon we met up and she was laughing hysterically as she described that well known, to me, resistance repertoire. She then rode her in the final Pass In Review and made was just letter perfect (after one more try at "resistance).

                                  As I said, no bucking or rearing or anything really stupid. At my age (about 70 then) I'd ride her out. If she was a bucker or rearer she'd have gone to a professional to address the issue as getting tossed at may age would be a Bad Thing. You have the same problem (a horse deciding enough is enough) but engaging in much more dangerous behavior. If you have eliminated physical issues (and it sounds like you have) then you have a behavioral issue. This will likely require a solid rider to teach the horse that this behavior is not acceptable and will bring dire consequences if engaged in. That will likely require a lot more than just "riding it out."

                                  This can likely be dealt with but will take some time, effort, and money.

                                  Good luck as you go forward.

                                  Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                                  • #37
                                    Would it be possible to send the horse to a different barn that is more structured like the first barn you bought the horse in, at least for a couple of months? This would help you eliminate the possibility of the current boarding situation as the issue. If you can send the horse to a trainer for a couple of months of riding this too could eliminate if its just a bullying behavior that the horse has picked up on. It seems you have done a lot regarding vet work and while there are other things to check out but since the behavior occurred after the move, then something changed with the move that the horse is reacting too. It may well be that turnout with buddies has brought out another side of his personality that never got a change to surface in the old boarding situation.

                                    Do a careful elimination process to see what exactly is effecting your horse. Go back to old feed (even if you have to buy it yourself for a while, just to eliminate one cause). Move to another boarding situation, even if temp to see if that has an effect. Start with the simplest of things and work your way thru other things that might be the problem. Have the vet out to eliminate pain or health issues.


                                    • #38
                                      You could try working him on the ground, lunginging for respect. If he doesn't respect you on the ground he won't when you are in the saddle. There are many ground excercizes that you can do to get him listening. Just a thought.


                                      • #39
                                        sorry, lunging for respect...


                                        • #40
                                          Would you consider letting your trainer longe you on the horse?
                                          Not the longe-w/o-stirrups/no-reins-work-on-your-seat lesson, but longeline giving trainer some ability to control horse.
                                          That way trainer has some of the control & you might be able to relax a bit.

                                          You don't say horse has bucked you off (or did I miss that?) in lessons, just threatened.
                                          Which is when you tense up & telegraph your anxiety to horse & the circle gets vicious.

                                          IIWM, I'd give it a try this way & if I could not relax, then consider selling.
                                          As nice as he may be, no horse is worth ruining your enjoyment of riding.

                                          JINGLING for you to find a solution that makes both you & horse happy!
                                          *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