Horsey Trauma
 
 

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Horsey Trauma

This is a discussion on Horsey Trauma within the Horse Talk forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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        02-24-2013, 01:02 PM
      #1
    Weanling
    Horsey Trauma

    My mom used to have a boarding barn with plenty of her own horses before I was born. When we lived on enough land to have them again, she surprised me with a horse to help me get over a dog bite on my hand. I was supposed to be using it some to keep it from turning into an unusable claw after it healed. We brought home Romeo, a 16.1, 16 year old TB with the habit of rearing while he was being saddled, formerly a lesson horse and before that, a hunter/jumper champ. I had to use my hand, despite the pain, to brush him, scoop his feed, do basic things like that as I learned to care for him. Together, my mom and I broke him of rearing and we were buds, we would do trails once my hand healed, and hop over small jumps in my western gear. Sometimes a friend would take his standardbred mare and we would go to the training racetrack next door and race. Great times!

    After that, I got/trained a barrel horse, then got 2 yearling paints and trained them to halter shows, and after they were 2, I started saddling and riding them. This was all from about 12 - 14 years old. I'd dealt with one dangerous horse, and my yearling mare kicked a few times, but nothing worse than a bruise.

    Well, it ended up that someone else's horse kicked my mom right in front of me, double barrels to the ribs. Crushed her ribs, collapsed her lung, I watched her go into shock and get loaded into the ambulance. My mom and I lived alone on a big piece of land in the middle of nowhere. All the animals became solely my responsibility and so was cooking, cleaning, and even had to sleep in her room with her so I could help her go to the bathroom if she needed to. I noticed the fear right away. Every time I saw horse bum I dodged out of the way, even though they were relaxed/had never tried or even thought of kicking.

    So the babies were the first to go, first the filly, then the colt. I'm an adult now, and while I will still climb on that unknown horses back, it is with a huge amount of anxiety. Even now when I ride my mares, I will push them and make them do what I need, they don't get away with anything, I know we are butting heads and the anxiety skyrockets again. I have no intentions of sticking to the 18 year old schoolmasters although for my first rideable horse in 2 years I did get a 15 year old, reliable but rusty trail horse, this is something I need to overcome and I think I've spent enough time being a sissy. I trust most of my horses now and have no problem being behind them, but I make sure I carry something with me when I have to feed, because I know they kick at each other and they can't act like fools close to me or around me.

    So, that's where I'm at. I would really like to ride my mare around the neighborhood but I'm afraid if she spooked (she is the type to freeze) that anxiety comes right back and I while I push her, I feel like I'm not giving off big, reliable leader vibes.

    Sorry for the novel. Tl;dr- Mom nearly got killed by a horse in front of me as a kid and I get easily spooked by them, despite knowing the right thing to do and have trained/worked a dozen horses.
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        02-24-2013, 01:08 PM
      #2
    Weanling
    Just to add, I find babies easier to deal with than tried and true big horses. After my TB diedat 22-ish, I gave away my barrel horse because I didn't want him to be alone. I went a few years without horses before buying a weanling colt. I know it is silly but I have more confidence with babies, even yearling studs, than I did with the mare I borrowed for a month.
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        02-24-2013, 01:21 PM
      #3
    Started
    Your anxiety is perfectly natural. I'm not an expert but I would guess that your problems could be classified as symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder form your mum's accident. Whatever the label to put on them, you have fears and you need to control them.

    I suggest you might want to try therapy. The therapist doesn't need to know anything about horses because this is about helping you confront, deal with, and move on from your fears - it's not about teaching you how to ride better.

    I speak as one who has been in therapy for PTSD and depression. I certainly came out the other side better, stronger and more ummm balanced.

    Whatever you choose to do I wish you luck. Remember - we do horses for fun and enjoyment, not to beat ourselves up.
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        02-24-2013, 02:55 PM
      #4
    Weanling
    Thank you. I know I have PTSD from a non horse related incident but the feeling is totally different. With the other incident I just turn into a sobbing mess. With horses I am very anxiousand I realize now that it is fear. I have always pushed myself to keep going and keep trying. When I moved in October I got a few, horses that were essentially pasture puffs. I love horses and for a while, being around them, brushing and mending them was enough. But I slowly got up the urge to ride and slid on one that supposedly had training 3 years prior. Probably not the best idea but we did fine ambling around the yard until I bought a horse to ride. I just get frustrated because I'm not fearless anymore. Prior to my mom getting hurt, I'd had a few kicks, a bite, and a nasty mare that smashed me into a barb wire fence from the ground. None of that really bothered me. I guess it opened my eyes to the real ability to bring a swift and instant death, had my mom been in a better range for optimum kicking. I could deal with rearing.and crow hopping at one point and not think twice.

    I do enjoy riding. Maybe I'm just afraid of unpredictability.
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        02-24-2013, 03:59 PM
      #5
    Foal
    It is unpredictable what a horse can do sometimes, but for me, realizing that I truly love riding helps me overcome the fear of falling off again. Sometimes you just have to weigh your options. Like if you fell off and got injured? Was it worth it? Most people would say no, but we're horsey people and for me, the answer is yes or else I wouldn't get that feeling of being free while cantering!
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        02-26-2013, 03:44 PM
      #6
    Weanling
    My own bumps and bruises have never really bothered me, and I have never been afraid to fall. I have bailed once, but I was bareback, not even a halter on him, friend decided to clank his tractor bucket behind us to startle us, horse spooked, and we galloped around the pasture. I couldn't get him to slow down, so I bailed. He stopped right after.

    With new horses, it takes me a little while before I been want to lift their back hooves to pick them. Once I'm comfortable and know them, I'm fine. I could never be a farrier, that's for sure.
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        02-26-2013, 04:01 PM
      #7
    Weanling
    When you were 12-14 you probably were absolutely fearless, just like lots of young kids/teens. Now your older and you know there are consequences to things and you've seen with your own eyes how much damage can be done. We're all involved in a dangerous sport with unpredictable animals. We would be crazy not to feel atleast a little fear or anxiety every now and then when we're dealing with our horses. I fell off last week, landed in hog fuel, no damage done, but even so, I felt a little nervousness before my next couple of rides.

    The main thing I'm getting from your post that you seem to want help with is you want to take your mare for rides around your neighbourhood. I would start with maybe just leading her around the neighbourhood and seeing how she reacts to the different sights and sounds. Do that a couple of times, or for as long as you need and then when you're ready, move on to the next step. If you have someone knowledgeable who is willing to help you through your fear, you might consider riding while your friend walks along beside your horses head, ready to grab the bridle if you get nervous. Then I'd find a friend with a steady trail horse and go out together.
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        02-26-2013, 06:29 PM
      #8
    Trained
    You don't have to ride or work with horses at all if you aren't enjoying them any more. You could take up another hobby.

    As I have gotten older, I have lost interest in training crazy youngsters. I still ride, but I sent my horse out to a trainer. It may be that your survival instinct has kicked in and you have more sense than you once did.
         
        02-26-2013, 07:21 PM
      #9
    Green Broke
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kenda    
    When you were 12-14 you probably were absolutely fearless, just like lots of young kids/teens. Now your older and you know there are consequences to things and you've seen with your own eyes how much damage can be done. We're all involved in a dangerous sport with unpredictable animals. We would be crazy not to feel atleast a little fear or anxiety every now and then when we're dealing with our horses. I fell off last week, landed in hog fuel, no damage done, but even so, I felt a little nervousness before my next couple of rides.

    The main thing I'm getting from your post that you seem to want help with is you want to take your mare for rides around your neighbourhood. I would start with maybe just leading her around the neighbourhood and seeing how she reacts to the different sights and sounds. Do that a couple of times, or for as long as you need and then when you're ready, move on to the next step. If you have someone knowledgeable who is willing to help you through your fear, you might consider riding while your friend walks along beside your horses head, ready to grab the bridle if you get nervous. Then I'd find a friend with a steady trail horse and go out together.
    This is excellent advice - I live in a very wilderness area, do not have an abundance of people to ride with. Although there are miles and miles of forested, sandy two-tracks adjoining my property that I often hike, there's no way I feel safe riding alone. My QH is prone to looking around and snorting @ the woods, and will bolt for home. She did this once when I took her on a short trail ride with another rider when she was still boarded, and although I didn't fall/get injured, it was scary enough! I simply will not take her out alone! (she had been shown in halter for 6 yrs primarily before I got her) I'm not one who needs to "be in the saddle" every day, and loooove the daily interactions/grooming/groundwork with my horses (just aquired my Morgan this summer- she's very calm) and just ride around on my property/or use the pasture as an "outdoor arena" per say. I can totally relate to your fear/reluctance to ride alone, and agree that taking little steps at first, leading up to someone walking beside as you ride, etc. I've taken some extra steps this past fall, by walking both horses on the lead all the way down to the end of my road (long dirt road) and back up to the house, and have walked them down to the mail box every day (when it's not a blizzard! Haha) this winter. Doesn't sound like a big deal - "down to the end of the road/ or to the mailbox", but I literally live in the middle of the Nat'l Forest and it is remote! I'll tell you, Nightside, I have such a sense of accomplishment in successfully doing this "outside of their/my comfort zone" of the pasture and yard! Definitely take those teeny steps and pat yourself on the back each time! Those are big steps for us who are in such circumstances! :)
         
        02-27-2013, 12:39 PM
      #10
    Green Broke
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Shropshirerosie    
    Your anxiety is perfectly natural. I'm not an expert but I would guess that your problems could be classified as symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder form your mum's accident. Whatever the label to put on them, you have fears and you need to control them.

    I suggest you might want to try therapy. The therapist doesn't need to know anything about horses because this is about helping you confront, deal with, and move on from your fears - it's not about teaching you how to ride better.

    I speak as one who has been in therapy for PTSD and depression. I certainly came out the other side better, stronger and more ummm balanced.

    Whatever you choose to do I wish you luck. Remember - we do horses for fun and enjoyment, not to beat ourselves up.
    Definately sound advice here also - I re-read your original post, (I had replied about also not riding my horses off my property) and what an obstacle you've been overcoming all these years! Anyone would have trauma after seeing a loved one injured like that - the responsibilities of helping your mom, taking over many adult tasks, the two of you alone, and shouldering so much at such a young age. You are one tremendous lady! Kudos to you for being determined to stick with the horses you love so much despite it all. You've already come so far, and good for you! I'd get some counseling for the PTSD, and find someone to ride around a little with off the property (like what I'll be doing this spring!) for sure. The very best of luck in this - keep on being the strong gal you are, enjoying life and all of it's richness with your beautiful horses :)
         

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