Lacey had a kid fall off...reassuring her? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 2 Old 02-13-2012, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
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Lacey had a kid fall off...reassuring her?

This is less of a "training" issue and more of psychological issue, just so you know.

Anyway, in the time that I've had her, Lacey has always been excessively worried about people falling off of her.

For instance, after the last time someone fell off her (nearly 4 years ago, ill-fitting saddle, bad rider: buddy-sour Lacey took off bucking after her BFF and this dumb girl who was riding her, without my permission, fell off quite dramatically), Lacey spent the next few weeks with her head constantly turned to the side while being ridden to, I guess, make sure her rider was on securely. If the rider got off balance at all, she would stop and refuse to go, no matter what you did, until you fixed yourself.

Since then, Lacey has had an excellent track record with falls. She had zero falls in about 4 years, being ridden daily, until yesterday. Even the times when she herself fell, her rider was always safe and still on her back.

Yesterday, however, she was being ridden by one of her favorite kids, a little 7 year old. The girl was riding bareback and we were practicing turning and focusing on where we were going.
There were these kids in my neighbor's yard jumping on a trampoline and screaming so naturally Lacey was a little distracted by that. She was focused on her rider but she was also keeping an eye on the kids. Then, Lacey had a little tiny "jump forward" spook about something one of those kids did, then a back foot slipped in some mud, and her rider fell off.
The girl was/is completely fine and she got right back on Lacey and rode for a bit more, but now Lacey is basically a nervous wreck. Yesterday, she refused to go back to the spot where the girl fell off and no amount of coaxing was making that spot less "made of evil". I rode her today and she was doing the "watching me on her back" thing as well as the "slam on the brakes if I got unbalanced" thing.

I appreciate how contentious Lacey is about keeping her riders on but really, this is a little far.
I think a lot of it probably stems from an incident with her previous owners that ended in her being retired for years because she fell down on asphalt (causing some serious injury to herself), after rearing off her rider and seriously injuring him. She was completely in the right for that incident (that guy was a poo-face and he was being a poo-face to her) but I'm sure they were none to gentle with her after that, not to mention the injuries she gave herself and how badly they probably hurt.

I didn't get after her at all for yesterday becuase, really, there was absolutely nothing she could have done. If she had just spooked, the girl would have been fine. If she had just slipped, the girl would have been fine. It was just the combination of both events.

But anyway, barring repeatedly throwing myself off her back to desensitize her, is there anything you can think of doing to reassure her that everything is fine? Or is it just one of those "give her time and pretend like nothing is wrong" situations?

We're supposed to have a lesson on Thursday and I'm going to ride her at least once more before then. If she's not better during that ride, I may just have Thursday's kid do on the ground stuff because Thursday's kid is a nervous rider and with Lacey's current nerves, I can't see that ending well. Friday's kid is brave and very competent so I think she'll be good for Lacey if Lacey is still nervous.

And of course, I'm slightly nervous (which I'm sure you couldn't tell, at all ) because Lacey just doesn't let people fall off! I know it's not anyone's fault and I'm not blaming her in the least, but still. It's scary to see a cute little child flying off your horse, even when they do pop up off the ground crowing "I have to get back on! I'm a real cowgirl now!"

Thank you ahead of time for any advice! :)
And holy cow, sorry for how long this is! I'm literally baking cookies right now so I'll just throw a few extra of my special "Internet recipe" into the oven. :)

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #2 of 2 Old 02-14-2012, 02:56 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Australia
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Yes, it can be very worrying for a horse to have someone fly off without warning! I have experienced horses who were relatively 'bombproof'(in as much as I believe in that term) until a rider came unstuck & the horses become quite edgy. The way I handle it these days is to get in first with the preparation training if possible, but have also got a couple of horses over it after the even in the same manner.

I use a feed bag, firstly full of straw so it's not heavy. After teaching the horse to be ground driven/lunged, and desensitising to stuff generally, so the horse already trusts me & is not put in too confrontational of a situation, I put the bag onboard in such a way that it won't easily fall, but on a string that I can pull it. I teach the horse that when the bag falls, that is also a signal for the horse to stop & wait. I also do similar exercises with the bag being dragged from a stirrup and also add weight to the bag, etc.
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