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Could i have prevented this?

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    10-31-2011, 02:27 AM
Hi, my body went stiff into defensive mode... dunno why..

In hindsight, I did wonder if I should have tried to soften my body, deepen my seat etc. to have stayed on the horse.. Cos a stiff body makes it easier for the horse to throw off.

But in my fear, my body just automatically reacted that way. I guess it was also in my subconscious to get off a frightened horse who might lead us into danger or fall then crash into me (these were the various thoughts that ran through my mind.. like I was in a car which just wouldn't stop even when I stepped on the brakes)

If I had tried to stay on the horse instead, and softened my body and went with the flow; do such horses usually calm down after a few strides? What can I do to calm them down?

Yes. I agree this horse shouldn't be ridden by novice riders. Gosh, imagine if it was a child on him! But then I think a child might have less reservations and less likely to pre-empt; and therefore have a smoother ride than me..
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    10-31-2011, 02:37 AM
Don't worry - going into stiff defensive mode is absolutely a normal reaction for any person! It usually takes a lot of years and a lot of experience riders difficult horses to develop control over this automatic reaction. I have found that once you can control this instinct and can ride out such behaviour as a spook, buck etc. it is quite easy to get the horse settled again. Many riders will try to overload the horse with aids, legs, rein,, seat all at once while trying to hang onto and correct the behaviour at the same time. If the behaviour was a genuine flight relex, the best thing you can do, is to try and ignore the behaviour. Just sit quietly, relax your knees and thighs, and gently keep your calves on the horse's sides. Give your reins a little, and just let the horse work it out, don't interfere with his balance, just sit and go with it. You are the leader, and if you show that you are scared as well by gripping, pulling or holding your breath, the horse has every right to continue trying to get away from whatever spooked it. Show the horse that you're not worried by continuing with what you were doing, and I promise you, the horse will settle quite quickly :)

In saying this - it DOES take years in the saddle and experience with these behaviours to hone your skills to that level. I also think, that this type of horse is not so bad as a riding school horse. I am under the impression that all riders need to learn how to ride out some 'natural' horse behaviour rather than sitting on an old plodder constantly. Little spooks, humps etc. teach you how to sit quietly and ride a horse forward.
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    10-31-2011, 02:57 AM
Yes, your horse probably would have stopped soon after, had you stayed with him. Absolute worst case scenario, had he taken off bucking or something, you probably still would have had the opportunity to plan a (safer) emergency dismount, bailing off and landing on a less tender region of your body.
    10-31-2011, 11:32 AM
Originally Posted by mavis    
hi, my body went stiff into defensive mode... dunno why..

In hindsight, I did wonder if I should have tried to soften my body, deepen my seat etc. to have stayed on the horse.. Cos a stiff body makes it easier for the horse to throw off.

That's exactly what your body does in a tough situation. And it takes years of riding the tougher horses to get to the point where you automatically soften when you feel the horse first start to stiffen. If you can force yourself to take a deep breath when something happens it will loosen you up just a bit and then you can start getting your mind to think, SOFT, LOOSE and RELAXED. Once you get that far, you can start getting your body to stay loose and soft of the horse. It sounds like it takes forever, and in the beginning it does, but eventually it becomes automatic.

If you stick with a lesson barn for a couple of years, they'll have you riding harder and harder horses and as that progresses so will your seat and you'll start building the necessary skills to be able to ride out any little thing that the horse throws at you. There's no such thing as a rider that can't be thrown but you'll be riding along and one day you'll discover that you have velcro britches or so it seems.

At our barn anyone who does an 'unplanned dismount' and lands in the dirt has to buy everyone the drink of their choice (soft drinks only, we don't allow anything else around the kids) every night for a week. That's another great motivator.....LOL! We go WEEKS and even have gone MONTHS with no one buying a drink.
    10-31-2011, 01:39 PM
Back a number of years ago a friend of mine had trailered her horse out here to go road/trail riding with me and my QH mare. It's neither here nor there that her horse was an Arab-Saddlebredx stallion that she bred and raised. Even though the cross is considered a National Show Horse her horse was not registered.

Any way, we had been riding for about 3-4 hours and were on the last 1/2 mile back to my house when all of a sudden a neighbor's big black Labrador jumped out in front of us with a huge barking episode going on. Both of us riders spooked and our horses bolted to the extreme. I was determined with all I was worth to not come off my horse which could have been a very bad thing. With my determination to not go off my horse's back I did everything I could to bring her head around to one of my knees or the other, which I successfully managed to do.
    10-31-2011, 03:20 PM
This is a great thread! Excellent advice given all ready (I've learned a lot!) and the only thing I would add is that the way I learned to stick like velcro to my saddle was by riding without stirrups. It was terrifying and very difficult at first but it paid off ten fold. It forces you to lengthen and use your leg and to find you balance with your core. So you learn to be more sensitive to the horse's movements which in turn helps you build faster reactions. If you can find a calm horse and a good trainer you might wantt o ask about it! I'd limit riding stirrup-less to the arena for a while.
    10-31-2011, 03:28 PM
I am sorry you were hurt. I hope this hasn't dampened your spirits. I gather you are taking lessons, but you don't own a horse yet. Change stables. It is ALL the fault of the instructor and the location of the lesson. ALL of my beginner lessons were in an indoor arena, where you can control who enters and who exits. When you ride a horse you are fighting gravity at all times. Cowboys used to buckle a short leather on their pommel called a "nightlatch", so that they could grab it when they were on night patrol, in case they fell asleep. Otherwise, they'd just fall off their horse.
It has been my experience that teaching lessons is not a high priority at some stables. They hope that you will become serious, then buy a horse and board it there. If you don't, then you are a customer on the peripheral. You deserve to have your safety taken into consideration. There are places that want you to be safe as you learn to ride. Call around, and ask to watch some lessons before you commit again.
All of us who have owned horses have fallen off, all of us have had horses that spook, all of us have been bitten and kicked--I have never owned a horse that struck at me, fortunately. It all comes with the territory, but you do not need to be exposed to that as a beginner. =D
    10-31-2011, 04:16 PM
Mavis, I hope you realize a horse doesn't see how we see. Think of a camera a bit out of focus. That is more like how the horse sees. His eyes are designed to keep an eye on each side for the predator that will attack from behind. When a dog comes blasting out the horse may have seen it with only one eye and he just thinks he's going to be dinner.
    10-31-2011, 08:17 PM
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
IF you quit riding mentally, you kind of resign yourself to gravity.
This is sooooo true! The second you give into the fact that you're coming off, it's over. Will power has tremendous power where not falling off is concerned.

I'm glad you are trying another barn. Sounds like at your level, they should either have you on safer horses are be teaching you to ride more effectively. Once you're able to act without reacting to a spook, the corrections will become second nature and you will find such things much easier to sit out.
    10-31-2011, 10:15 PM
Originally Posted by catsandhorses    
This is a great thread! Excellent advice given all ready (I've learned a lot!) and the only thing I would add is that the way I learned to stick like velcro to my saddle was by riding without stirrups. If you can find a calm horse and a good trainer you might wantt o ask about it! I'd limit riding stirrup-less to the arena for a while.
DITTO this! I'd forgotten how many hours/day/years I spent riding without stirrups when I was learning to ride. My trainer had us ride a portion of each lesson without stirrups in the beginning and more and more as we developed the skills/muscles needed to do it longer. The posting trot without stirrups is a guaranteed balance builder! And now, I've found that when I get in a tight it seems the first thing I do is drop my stirrups and get waaaaay deep.

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