Regaining confidence in my horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 01-02-2014, 09:19 AM Thread Starter
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Regaining confidence in my horse

I know there are many, many posts regarding confidence, but I really wanted to share my current situation and see what others thought.

I have had one of my horses for 5 years, he took me to my first show, has moved to many barns with me, and he was more or less a horse that I was quite confident in. He was like any other horse, there are one or two things that could spook him, but he remained controllable and recovered quickly. He taught me a lot over the years. In the first 3-4 years, I rode consistently and he really didn't have an extended amount of time off.

last winter, I kept my horses at home instead of taking them to a barn, so he had 8-9 months off. In the summer, when we started back up with lessons and riding, we found that he was far more spooky than before, and would buck when spooked. I was thrown 3 times, and after a long discussion with my trainer about how to proceed, we switched to doing groundwork to help build his confidence and to see just where this problem is coming from.

Now, we are at a barn with an arena, he has come along way with groundwork, and I know logically that at this point I need to get back to riding and start getting him back to his old self. Though very confident on the ground, and quite confident riding other horses, I must admit to being a bit nervous on him particularly. Not because I worry of being bucked off, I'm more anxious about the moment when he spooks and I'm unprepared. kind of like when watching a scary movie, though you might not actually be scared of the monster, you're anxious about the upcoming moment that he jumps out at you. If that makes sense?

I'm sorry for the length of this post, but hopefully a few of you can relate or can give some advice as to how to deal with and overcome this confidence issue

" If the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason." ~ Hugo Cabret
Lonannuniel is offline  
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post #2 of 6 Old 01-05-2014, 08:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2014
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I get what you mean. My horse bolted only once but when I rode him in the paddock again I was nervous and I could feel he wanted to just run. I think you should stay in an arena to be safe. I'm trying to get one too! What does your horse spook at? Maybe you could get him used to the things he spooks at..... E.g if he spoooks at plastic bags blowing around get a bag and get him used to it. I hope this helps (: Just be patient!(:
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post #3 of 6 Old 01-05-2014, 08:39 AM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Central Western NSW, Australia
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I too know the feeling, and am suffering from it as we speak.

Is there a more experienced rider that could get on him for you first? Not saying that you're not good enough, but perhaps it will reinstate at least some of your confidence seeing that he can be ridden without incident.

Don't be afraid to go back to basics. Just walk around the arena, take it easy for the both of you.
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-05-2014, 08:42 AM
Join Date: Jul 2013
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I think you have answered your own question. 8-9 months off is a long time for him to turn his brain off. Horses are fight or flight by nature, without consistency they tend to get flighty. Going back to groundwork for a few weeks will get his head back in the game and get him on track again. Horses need concentrated training, wet saddle pads and long rides in equal doses to stay broke and sane. I am sure once you get him back on a program he will go back to your old mount.
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post #5 of 6 Old 01-07-2014, 02:46 PM
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If I were you, I think what I would do is just unsaddle him, lead him around, then have someone else hold him while you wave a plastic bag on a stick all around him, doing that everyday until you can move it all around and on his body without a flinch. Then, move onto other things, like dragging a tarp over him or blindfolding him and making loud noises, things like that and do that every day until it doesn't phase him and you will have a bomb proof horse!
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post #6 of 6 Old 01-07-2014, 04:02 PM
Join Date: Dec 2012
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I think you did the right thing...going back to groundwork. Densensitizing to plastic bags, tarps, etc will help also. Clinton Anderson has some great exercises for the trail too. I think all these things helped me along with having someone with more experience ride first. For me this was my trainer with my last mare and this put my mind at ease and eventually I would ride first. It really help me build my confidence though. I was even bucked off my new horse recently and was able to get right back on. I was a bit nervous the next time I got on, but only because I realized my horn was broke worse than I realized and my horse was stiff. I just softened him up and off we went. Having said that though, I know where my limitations lie and when I feel like I need to enlist shame in that either, though I'm not saying this is the case with you :)
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