Very fearful of cantering - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 03-04-2008, 02:31 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Very fearful of cantering

Okay this is the story. A few years back I got tossed from a tb (almost 16.2hh) who I was told that had done reining (didn't believe it, should have known better :roll: ). Well when I asked him to halt, he sat on his butt, skidded, and when he righted him self I went up and over his head. Ever since than I was okay with the walk (in fact that was aaaaalllllll I wanted to do), and uneasy with a trot no matter how slow it was. I soon took lessons from a CHA certified lesson facility that had a wide range of horses.

I began on a horse (arab gelding 26 yrs old than) who was a reall sweety and cantered for me when my instructor at that time felt that I could, first couple of times was a lounge line, than I cantered off the line. I didn't have to hold of for dear life. He naturally collected himself and went slow. Than went to another horse that did WP (arab mare 21 yrs old) and had won a few championships from what I was told, great for walk and trot, no so great in a canter situation (an arab in a tb's body. She would make them run for their money. but once you have her undivided attention she'd do anything you want. really sweet), than I went to another horse (arab gelding 23 yrs old), and I was on him until he went lame (everyone suspects he meant to aim for a stupid chicken, and not the wall).

Than this is where the story get's real interesting. So my current instructor thought it was a brilliant idea to put me on a horse that will walk, trot, perfectly fine, but than turn into a devil when it came to cantering (he would jump up and down for a few strides, not really bucking, but was really interesting to try and sit), and give a quick check with my reins, a firm nudge with my legs and he would pretty much quit it. I will tell you this, this horse is smart, smarter than most in my opinion. If one way at the canter wouldn't work, than he would just pull something different out of his hat. After the jumping up and down didn't work, he started to bolt on me. No surprise I know how to handle a spooking horse (the 23 yr old spooked several times but we was always in control, do a circle, tell him to knock it off, and make him do even harder work, and he would quit.....until the next lesson anyways).

But with him, he was hard mouthed 14 yr old Qrt horse (former ranch horse that was beaten and abused, but the current owners did a great job with him), that is also about 16.1hh, that if he wanted would just completely ignore you at the canter (yanking on the bit did nothing... :roll:, but if you chocked up on the rein, turn him and if he resisted and you nailed him with your heel, you had his attention, hated to do it, but he wasn't going to blow me off ). Any way one day I was asking him to collect his canter (because we were working on him to respond to aids better, and it was only for supposedly a few strides.

But he was going so well I asked my instructor if I should keep going and she had said yes) and than that is when everything went foul fast (my instructor even told me I was doing so well), than all of a sudden he did a sharp turn, did a full out spook, including the jumping up and down, and well I ended up on the ground again after attempting an emergency dismount that failed (right before I could swing my other foot over he jumped up and down) I ended up falling hard (no broken bones) my butt got bruised, I lost a boot (skidded about three, possibly four feet away), got what I call arena rash on my lower back, and part of my wrist, and jamed one finger. And than when I landed I saw hooves coming at me and I just curled into a ball (well attemped to), my instructor came over and asked me if I was still in one peice. The horse felt remorse, he came down C, head down, looked apoligetic and just stood there. It was like he was saying 'Well you held on all of the other times so why'd you go flying?'

Now I'm some what back to normal, still hesitant now at the canter. I'm afraid I'll take another spill, so far at the walk, trot, and extended trot (I can get the 21 yr old mare to really book it in the posting trot, and she loves it). The 14 year old doesn't have any malice in his body, in fact he always tries to please, he just saw something in the corner (now dubbed the cow corner, because horses spook in this corner a couple of times a month). I'm not mad and I don't hold resentment towards him (but he thinks I'm gonna make him into Alpo or something.....), he is a very good horse at the walk and trot, he is even lazy I would say. But at the canter, like I said he can be a devil. He's lucky I don't down him or I would do resistance free work with him until we're both blue in the face.

But now my instructor wants me to canter my mare, she can be a speed demon, but like I said, if you have her undivided attention, she'll go fast, go medium and so slow it's really nice (can get her to trot so slow, it's almost like she's walking, but two beats not four). And one time I did canter her on a nice sunny day, but that was after we spent almost the whole lesson on getting her to collect. Now I'm just fearful of actually giving her back the reins after I have taken them from her. She's a good old pony and I would highly doubet she would do something stupid. But I'm just afraid that if I lose it (I tend to freeze, bounce, and from time to time squeeze with my legs) that I'll crash and burn yet again.

I'm one tough cookie, and I don't give up easily. I have dreams of becoming a horse trainer and instructor, so falling off isn't going to detour me. I'm just afraid of falling off wrong one day and I end up paralized, or a coma, or popping up daisies (I'm not stupid people can get seriously injured or killed in this sport). This is the reason why you should always wear your protective head gear. My instructor tells me that I have gotten my fall for the year, but still, I probably still have a good one this year.

I really just need to beat the fear money with a malet, so I can enjoy cantering instead of dreading it. I also want to try jumping in the future and do dressage, and I can't do either if I can't go faster and sit correctly a canter, even if it's slow, and smooth like a rocking horse. Ever since I have fallen my instructor keeps trying to get me to do it. Last week I did canter my mare, but I was bouncing up and down. A few times I sat in the saddle, but after five small circles, I asked with my aids and my voice for her to trot, which she did almost instantly. Now with cantering I look at my instructor like you want me to do what? Of course if I really don't want to, she won't force me. She'll keep trying to nudge me out what I feel is safe (walk and trot)

Please note: Even when the horse I fell off was abused, he didn't act like it. He was smart, and always tried to out smart you. I was never mean to him. I even haited the idea I would have to pull harder on the bit than normal (I'm very soft handed, and hate to get rough with a horse.....have seen too a many get spoiled by rough handed humans........) I always try and remember to breath and relax, and try and separate from my bad experiences. I also try and do as many ring fingures as I can at the walk, jog, and posting trot, to get the horse to focus on me, and so I can also mess with their horse brains as well . Does anyone have any good ideas on how not to freeze and freak out???? I'm sick of not being able to canter, but fear of bodily harm.......

Give you an idea. The horse I fell off of....... Nice and relaxed at the trot, a devil at the canter..... he liked to go but wouldn't collect unless you got after him......

Not collected........

Bad picture but you can tell he is definately collected.....well to me he does.......

The other horse I can ride..... No worries here....... Not all bad moments...

Abuse is never the answer.
Think before you act.
Never act out in anger.
horsestar8100 is offline  
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post #2 of 6 Old 03-04-2008, 05:49 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Australia
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Hi Horsestar,

Yes I have had around about the same issue with my galloway who has stolen my confidence.

A few things to remember:

The horse does not remember what he did. He can't remember throwing you off. He doesn't replay the moment in his head and plan to do it again. The first major thing I've learnt is to understand that the horse has no intentions to get you off when you jump on him every lesson.

Try not to ride the same horse. I trained a really difficult pony for someone after a very bad fall I had on the galloway, and for whatever reason (I guess because the pony wasn't as powerful) I didn't have much fear on him, so my confidence grew and grew and I was able to hop on my galloway and walk and trot comfortably.

I understand your fear of being paralyzed or potential death. Horse-riding is very dangerous no matter if you are on an XC course going a million miles an hour or sitting on a horse in a stable. They are wild animals and unpredictable with the strength to really hurt you.

I'm only 15 and my back is pretty much screwed. About three years ago a horse went rodeo with me and I cracked my back the wrong way (I stayed on!) and when I stopped I just went into shock and couldn't feel my legs. They had to keep me on the horse until the ambulance arrived then carefully get me to the hospital, worried I had struck a nerve and was paralyzed.

My VERY lucky day I had flipped a disc out in my back and my muscles around the area had gone into shock and started spasming, so I was fine within about a month although I still get pains nearly every ride still today. I'm just grateful I can feel pain and still walk.

Then start of last year my new horse bucked me off and I also injured my back, and they also suspected I had been paralyzed, another big scare but nothing more than a muscle injury.

So end of my lifestory :) I pretty much developed a fear of trot-canter transition.

Walk and trot confidently (get him right up and collected, show him your boss and he's got to understand you), then ONLY when you are ready, give a good reminder to keep that head in place, sit back and deep and PUSH for the canter rather than a quick ask. Push him into it and canter in small circles, then make your way out until you are in a large circle.

The biggest issue will be getting over that fear of what he's going to do when you ask him for the canter. Try have an instructor or even a friend there to put a bit of pressure on- if you are by yourself you are more likely to chicken out.

This sounds stupid, but I actually used to watch Spruce Meadows before hopping on to give me some adrenaline and drive. Then I'd be really determined and just suck it up. Close your mind to the fear and think about how you are handling the horse, how your position is, how the horse is moving, if he's listening to you, etc etc. Don't think about what you're going to do if he flips. Just ride in the moment and concentrate on getting a perfect transition and then when you totally ace it (which you so will) keep pushing him forward into a nice canter and act like its no big deal.

Hope I've helped- let me know if you need any help sounds like we're in the same situation!

Coastie is offline  
post #3 of 6 Old 03-04-2008, 11:32 AM
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Location: New York
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I've seen that happen many times. There will always be that one horse that spooks, bolts, hates cantering, hates trotting or something else. Sadly, there is no way of escaping it. Start out again on the horses that you feel comfortable with. And continue riding them until YOU think you are ready to go on to another horse.
And don't push yourself...if you don't feel like your ready to canter a horse again, don't do it. The worst thing you can do is rush into something that you don't think you are ready to handle.

We had one young girl that took lessons with me for a while, and she fell in love with this black and white gelding named Heart. Our trainer said she was ready to ride him because she was an intermediate rider. No one forced her to ride Heart. She wanted to. The first two times, Heart spooking and listened perfectly. But one time he bolted twice on the young girl, and it scared her to much she was in tears. So, I got off the horse I was riding and we switched...the horse I was riding was behaving perfectly, so I thought the girl would be fine on him. The girl was so nervous and frightened that the horse she was now riding picked up on her feelings and tried to take advantage of her.
Her confidence was shattered, she had none left at all. We started her out on the beginner horse again, and kept her on that horse until she was okay with riding someone else.

Work on what you are comfortable doing. If walk and trot is all that you want to do, just do it. Also don't keep making a horse just go around and around the gets boring to them. keep the horse busy. The more you keep them busy, the less likely they'll act up due to they won't know which way you want them to turn next. Also, keep the horse collected. To me, the dun horse doesn't seem to be collected at all.
Also you are leaning really far back on the saddle. Try sitting straight up, that will let you have better control of the horse.
Also, are you neck-reining? (using one hand to control the horse like cowboys do). If yes, then use both hands. Both hands will make it easier for you to control the horse and to do evasive action if need be.

When I rode a bolting horse, I found that if he acted up, I'd put both reins in one hand, lean up and grab the rein on the one side, and make him turn quickly into a circle. That would take his mind off of whatever he was bolting away from, and put it back on me. It worked perfectly and I'd be able to get him under control every time.
SonnyWimps is offline  
post #4 of 6 Old 03-05-2008, 02:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Alliance, Ohio
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Could it be your equitation? You either lean forward or backwards. Sit up straight, put your legs under you, and ride with confidence. A horse can automatically tell when your fearful, and if your scared, its pointless.

"Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness."
Harlee rides horses is offline  
post #5 of 6 Old 03-05-2008, 05:23 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
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i guess i have the same question as Harlee ... it looks to me as though you sit far back with your leg fwrd in your saddle and maybe that is why ... just a thought .. i can tell you that LOTS of practice and repetition will help :) keep taking lessons, a good trainer is great for you!

:: Karley ::
Tucker WB/TB- 11 yr
Speedy QH/TB- 22 yr
kchfuller is offline  
post #6 of 6 Old 03-05-2008, 10:44 PM
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Do you have a trainer to work with? I think you just need to take it easy with yourself. Go back a few steps and go back to where you are confident and build up your confidence again.
my2geldings is offline  

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