Gained confidence and what a difference it makes! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 06-13-2011, 01:16 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Virginia, USA
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Gained confidence and what a difference it makes!

I started taking riding lessons 2.5 years ago, in preparation for a 40th birthday trip to a dude ranch. My husband and I are now addicted to riding. It took us a while, but in March, we found two horses to lease at a farm about 20 minutes from our house. The price was amazing and the farm has great trails and three outdoor arenas. The first few times I rode Anna it was wonderful. I have learned now that it was the honeymoon phase. After the first few weeks, Anna tested and tested me and she was winning. I ended up in tears a few times and even got hurt pretty bad when I was leading her across a creek and didn't give her enough lead rope and she landed on me when she jumped. (Totally my fault but it completely took away the last ounce of confidence I had)

I started talking to the farm owner (who happens to own Anna as well) and asked her if she thought she was too much horse for me. The owner didn't think so and explained that Anna had figured out what she could get away with and she would continue to do so until I showed her who was boss. When we went on our regular trail ride and she spooked at cows she had seen 100 times before, I realized she had to sense my own feelings when I saw the cows. They were standing closer to the fence than they usually do and I remember being worried about it. There is no doubt she sensed my hesitation and decided it was spook worthy. Even though I knew I was causing the problems between us, I didn't know how to fix it. I thought I was being assertive when she would attempt to graze while we were riding. She would stop at a trot and bend down to grab a bite to eat, almost sending me over her head several times. I would give a kick and yank up on the reins, but I couldn't fool her. She totally had my number.

During the 3rd week in May, my husband and I spent a week at McGinnis Meadows Cattle and Guest ranch, in Libby Montana during their horsemanship week. On the first night we were asked what we wanted to accomplish that week and I said I needed to gain confidence as a rider.

They put me on a tried and true ranch horse for the week and we learned the Buck Brannaman style of horsemanship from the ground up. We spent about 8 hours a day, in the saddle, working cattle and doing things I never dreamed I could do on a horse. In addition, we learned ground work and in the saddle techniques to help us become better riders. When I left there, I felt like a different person/rider.

I have been home for a few weeks now and the difference with Anna is astounding. I don't feel like I am doing anything different from before...but my confidence is so much better and she must sense it. Before we left for Montana, I had been trying to get her to get up on a huge tractor tire that is part of the Parelli Playgound at the farm. (The middle is filled in with dirt) She outright refused and I was always too scared to push it. Friday night, I decided she was going to get up on the tire and I walked her right to it and she climbed up without a moment's hesitation. We went on a trail ride this Sunday and came to a ditch that she once refused to cross. It once took 15 minutes to get her to cross and this time she went right up to it and didn't blink an eye. In addition, since we have been back from Montana, she has not attempted to graze while I am on her back...not even once.

Our "relationship" is far from perfect and we still have some issues to resolve but I am no longer thinking about terminating the lease. Her owner says that she can tell that Anna is enjoying me now and she can tell by seeing me ride her that there is a new found respect on Anna's part. I am actually looking forward the the days we ride again.

I decided to post this for two reasons. One, if you ever get the chance to go to McGinnis Meadows, I highly recommend it. It was one of the best experiences of my life. And two, it is so true that horses can sense hesitation and lack of confidence from their rider. It is amazing how much different a horse can be when they realize you are confident in what you are doing. I still have so much to learn but I am looking forward to learning it with Anna and I would not have said that a month ago.
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post #2 of 9 Old 06-13-2011, 01:24 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Vidor, Texas
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Thanks, I will have to look that place up! It's true, if you won't or can't be the leader then the horse will. My horses get away with murder when my hubby rides, but they know better with me!
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post #3 of 9 Old 06-13-2011, 01:59 PM
Join Date: Dec 2009
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I'm so happy for you and your new confindence! I completely understand about the confindence. When I first got my OTTB thats one thing I was lacking was confindence for a long time. So when ever we would go to do something new he always was very unsure because I was unsure. Now that I gain confindence it makes our rides alot more enjoyable! Sounds like a neat place!

Chad Barnes 6-16-85~7-22-13
Hero Act - Thoroughbred Gelding ~ Gunner - Quarter Horse Gelding ~ John Deere - Mini Gelding
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post #4 of 9 Old 06-13-2011, 02:50 PM
Join Date: May 2011
Location: New England
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What a great experience! I'm glad you were able to find that well of confidence in yourself. I know it makes a huge difference with the horse I ride - it was exhausting dealing with his constant challenges until he realized that I meant Business. Now he listens to me (mostly) and it's ever so much more enjoyable to ride him!

I hope you and Anna continue to develop a rewarding relationship & thanks for the tip about the ranch. Sounds like a blast...
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post #5 of 9 Old 06-15-2011, 03:04 AM
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Chino Valley, AZ
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That's awesome!

A friend of mine had a similar experience with her arab mare. Bought her from a rescue, got her home and realized she couldn't handle her, sold her to a friend who owns a stable, and regretted it every day for the next almost year. She just bought her back about a month ago after working extensively with her on the ground and taking lessons from our friend. Now people at the stable she boards at now (where my horse is) can't believe they haven't been together for years. All it took was a little confidence and realizing that she needed to listen.
Do not tell me I can't...because I will show you that I can.
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post #6 of 9 Old 06-15-2011, 07:37 PM
Join Date: May 2011
Location: northeast on one of the Great Lakes
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As a rider, just coming back after almost 40years, I soooo totally relate.

We bought Big Al, our bomb proof horse and the other day I took my first trail ride. Tacked him up without my husband even there, and just said, it's now or never.

Had the best ride of my life. My confidence soared. I am so happy for you. It isn't fun having that feeling in the pit of your stomach.

When all is said and done, down the line, I don't want to have wasted a moment being nervous around my horse. When they prove to you they can give you a good, safe ride, run with it.

That is what riding is all about.
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post #7 of 9 Old 06-15-2011, 07:50 PM
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Iowa
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Just wanted to add something the water crossing incident. Do some research on sending your horse through things and not leading them. It is common in the natural horsemanship world. It is not unusual for a scared horse to try and jump on top of you. Sending them will help with many things like trailer loading also.
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post #8 of 9 Old 06-15-2011, 08:53 PM
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I think that is wonderful! Congrats on your accomplishment and keep up the great work!

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post #9 of 9 Old 06-15-2011, 09:24 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Virginia, USA
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Thanks everyone! I really am excited about the progress we have made and can't wait to continue to learn and grow as a rider. Churumbeque, I did look into what you suggested and totally agree that I should have made her go first. I always wondered if she jumped on me on purpose because I really thought I had given her enough line. But even at the time it happened, I knew I would never do it that way again. Over two months later, I still have a huge painful knot on the bottom/back of my leg. The doctor said it may be painful for another 2 months. I never want to have that happen again.
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