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Adventures of a re-rider: breaking through the fear

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        10-31-2013, 02:59 AM
      #11
    Super Moderator
    Your journal is amazing. You write so well, and I just read from one page to the next, wondering what would happen next.

    I know exactly how it feels to be an adult returning rider. I returned at 41, with 25 years of no riding. Fear is my constant companion.

    But anyway, can you explain what sort of training was done to get him ready to be backed? It almost seems as if he was backed (saddled with a rider aboard) too soon, without having him really ok with a saddle on his back. I mean him being worried about you picking up a stirrup and such. When I watched a friend's horse go through the backing process, her trainer spent a LOT of time getting the hrose be totally ok with the saddle, whether it flopped around, or slipped or whatever, before anyone actually put their butt in it. However, this horse was a very unflappable horse, so might not be a realistic comparison.

    I hope that you won't blame yourself if you find that selling OB is what you feel is best. There is no shame in that, at all.
    nikelodeon79 and SoldOnGaited like this.
         
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        10-31-2013, 09:00 AM
      #12
    Green Broke
    I've had a bad mounting accident so understand your fear. It is so hard to overcome that fear when we are older & have responsibilities. Your horse sounds amazing-have you thought about riding in a Western saddle for awhile? It might give you more confidence. Or even an Aussie.
    nikelodeon79 likes this.
         
        10-31-2013, 12:30 PM
      #13
    Started
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinyliny    
    your journal is amazing. You write so well, and I just read from one page to the next, wondering what would happen next.
    Awww, thanks!

    Quote:
    I know exactly how it feels to be an adult returning rider. I returned at 41, with 25 years of no riding. Fear is my constant companion.
    Wow! It's definitely nice to know I'm not alone!

    Quote:
    But anyway, can you explain what sort of training was done to get him ready to be backed? It almost seems as if he was backed (saddled with a rider aboard) too soon, without having him really ok with a saddle on his back. I mean him being worried about you picking up a stirrup and such. When I watched a friend's horse go through the backing process, her trainer spent a LOT of time getting the hrose be totally ok with the saddle, whether it flopped around, or slipped or whatever, before anyone actually put their butt in it. However, this horse was a very unflappable horse, so might not be a realistic comparison.
    Well, we're thing that he was backed without a lot of preparation before we got him. My trainer thinks something happened and it's basically "muscle memory" telling him something bad's going to happen, and then when it doesn't he relaxes.

    Once I got him, the first time we saddled him he rodeo bucked 2 full laps around the round pen. We then decided to start from the ground up. We did a lot of lunging (first in a cavesson, and then in the bridle) with the saddle on. We did a lot of ground driving. We did a lot of stirrup flipping up and down, weight in the stirrups, weight across his back, up, down, up, down, up, down. The first time my trainer got on, it was anti-climactic. He was tense, but didn't buck. It was like that a few times. The first time he did buck with a rider I wasn't there. My trainer said one rein came unclipped and she was able to stop him with a one rein stop. He was progressing nicely, with only a bit of tenseness on mounting/the first few strides, when he cut his hock on the fence and needed some time off. Once he healed he went back into training and Deb was feeling like he was making some nice progress (instead of one step forward, two steps back). There were some very cold spells where she didn't ride and it was no big deal when she put him back to work, which is why she felt he was ready for me.

    Then he cut his hock again and required a couple months off. When he went back to work this time he was still doing overall well, but then the bucking episode happened the first time I rode him (thankfully with the trainer, not me). Since then it's been hit or miss, but he's always tense at the start... feels like a coiled spring. Even me, as a novice, can feel it and can also feel the dramatic difference when he relaxes.

    He's never been bad for the actual mounting... has no problem with people putting weight in the stirrups and getting on, it's after the butt gets in the saddle that he gets tense. That's why this last episode was so strange... he's never shied off when anyone tries to mount. Now he's done it twice.

    Quote:
    I hope that you won't blame yourself if you find that selling OB is what you feel is best. There is no shame in that, at all.
    Thanks.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cacowgirl    
    I've had a bad mounting accident so understand your fear. It is so hard to overcome that fear when we are older & have responsibilities. Your horse sounds amazing-have you thought about riding in a Western saddle for awhile? It might give you more confidence. Or even an Aussie.
    We actually are riding him a western at the moment. When I'm on the school horses, I've "graduated" to an English saddle, so definitely understand why my trainer thinks I need the security of a western when I ride Obie!

    I guess what I'm looking at now is whether there could be some sort of physical reason for his issues. Someone mentioned kissing spines but he doesn't show any other signs, and once we get past the initial tenseness he's fabulous. I am going to call the vet to ask about pricing for an x-ray, though. Praying it's not that... not sure I can afford surgery, etc.

    Also looking into saddle fit. My trainer does not think it is the saddle. The saddle may have been a touch wide at first but now it fits even better than it did before.

    So I guess we'll see. I'll keep this thread updated (especially now that I know people are reading it, LOL!). I actually found myself dreading updating because things were left on a positive note (despite the illness) the last time.

    I have one more update to post but I'll start in a new post so this one doesn't get too long.

    Thanks for the input!
    L8rg8r likes this.
         
        10-31-2013, 12:41 PM
      #14
    Started
    This past Sunday was the playday at my barn. There have been two other playdays since I've boarded there, but I missed them both due to other commitments. Nothing was going to keep me away from this one.

    After Obie's behavior the day before, I'd pretty much ruled out riding him in the games and didn't think anyone else would, either. My trainer talked to me about Helen, the apprentice trainer, riding him in the afternoon. I told her that was perfectly fine to me, but I was just concerned because I didn't want Helen to get hurt.

    I ended up helping out with the games (timing, writing down scores, setting up barrels/poles, etc.) and had a blast. I used to organize a 4-H fun show, so my trainer (she's also the BO) was happy to have my assistance.

    We had a good mix of riders, despite the cool weather. Most were in the walk/trot category so we ended up splitting that one into two groups and combining novice/open into a third group.

    We were in the middle of one of the events when I happened to notice a girl coming up the road to the arena riding her horse bareback. I thought it was odd, since Deb is all about safety and I've never seen anyone ride up to the arena before, so I always thought it was prohibited. We always walk our horses up and get on when we get there, as there's a large stock gate that you have to go through before getting in to the area where the arena is.

    Since it was an odd occurrence I was watching her out of the corner of my eye (I wasn't timing at the time, just taking down the scores). She arrived at the stock gate and my jaw dropped as I watched her lean over to try and un-chain the gate while still mounted. I remember thinking, "this is NOT going to end well!"

    Before I could say anything, her mare gave a giant spook.. I actually think she hit the hot wire on the fence, and riders that were closer to where the incident happened told me they thought the same. She went flying off her horse and landed in the middle of the hard packed gravel. She kept hold of her reins for a few moments and actually got drug across the width of the road until she let go and the mare went galloping back to the barn.

    Luckily, one of the dads watching the event was a firefighter and he went to check her out. After examining her, he determined most of the problem was in her tailbone and her ribs. He felt her spine was not affected so it was safe to move her. They brought a minivan up and loaded her up to take to the hospital. Luckily, she was wearing a helmet.
    L8rg8r likes this.
         
        10-31-2013, 12:46 PM
      #15
    Started
    I'm right there with you - I quit riding for nearly 20 years and have been back at it for 18 months. My parents never bought me a horse but sent me to riding school for 6 years. Would you believe 20 years later, I remembered how to post the trot correctly? Those lessons DID pay off. I'm not the daredevil I used to be though. Now it's all about being careful and accurate. Back then it was about who could go the fastest without falling off :)
    nikelodeon79 and L8rg8r like this.
         
        10-31-2013, 01:01 PM
      #16
    Started
    The games continued without further incident and it was soon time to break for lunch (chili: yum!!!). By that time, Helen had arrived from work so after lunch we went to get Obie. Some of the horses were getting ready for the costume contest. The two in Obie's barn were dressed up like giant sheep, with white sheets with cotton balls draped over them. I thought it was super cute.

    Obie did NOT.

    He looked at them wide eyed as we walked through the barn and once we got past one, he decided he'd had enough and bolted forward. I figured it was no big deal and just gave him a bit of lead rope to work with... then I saw the small child directly ahead of us.

    I planted my feet and cranked on the rope to stop/turn him. Thankfully he listened and the only one worse for wear was me: with a sprained/bruised pinkie finger from the lead rope.

    Whew!

    Obie is Helen's first big training project, other than her own horse, so I think the fact that Obie got unnerved by the sheep made her a bit nervous herself. Still, we made jokes about giant sheep while we led a still wide-eyed Obie to the groom area to tack up.

    He was good, if still a bit nervous, for tacking up and we walked to the indoor arena, deciding to remain hidden from the horses in sheep's clothing until their costumes were removed.

    Helen lunged Obie, walk-trot-canter in both directions. When it was time to mount, I grabbed the mounting stool and said a little prayer.

    I think Helen did, too.

    She mounted and he tensed up, but after a few seconds she moved him out and he relaxed. It was the best I've seen him do in awhile. She worked him for awhile at the walk and trot. Her first words as she trotted him were, "His trot is HUGE!!!"

    Both Helen and Deb love riding my horse. I sure wish I did!!

    I was watching out the door for the costume contest to be over and after a small incident where someone got kicked while removing a sheep sheet (horse was getting shocked by static electricity -- dear God how does Deb deal with the stress of playdates?!?), it was time for us to go to the outdoor for the rest of the games.

    The first one was pole bending. We weren't sure how Obie would react to the poles and flapping ribbons so Helen led him around the arena for awhile before she mounted. She walked him through the course and he did beautifully... just one solid spook at the far end.

    Spooking I can deal with... especially Obie's style of spooking. It's quite comical.. just like a cartoon horse.



    He sort of just splays his legs and just plants and stairs. I'd MUCH rather have that then a runaway or a horse that bucks or rears when they spook.

    After a few more riders went, Helen decided she could try trotting him through and ended up taking fifth place. :)

    He also did great at the keyhole (no place). She walked him through the pennant race because we weren't sure how he'd handle the flags.

    Bobbing for apples was last. Since it was so cold, we did not use water but had a deep tote with apples in it. Riders were to ride down, dismount and get their apple with their teeth, and then somehow make it disappear before they crossed the timeline. Most of the competitors decided feeding it to their horses was the best plan... but the horses didn't realize it was a race and certainly took their time chewing, when they bothered to eat the apple at all. Most riders were confronted with a slobbery, dropped in the dirt apple trying to figure out what to do with it so they could cross the finish line.

    One girl actually took a bite of hers after it became clear her horse wasn't going to finish it. Now THAT'S dedication!

    Soon the competitors figured out they could utilize the horse standing out in the pasture observing to eat their apples for them. I think bobbing for apples is now Turner's favorite game.

    By this time, Helen had been dismounted for quite some time so she led Obie back in the arena to mount when it was her turn. He shied away from mounting so had to be worked from the ground for a bit, but then when she did get on he softened almost right away. Obie is a champion apple eater, so they ended up getting third.

    All in all, it was a great day, but left me in confusion once again. I'd all but decided to sell him the day before, but now I'm not sure.

    Should I sell him, or not?
    L8rg8r likes this.
         
        10-31-2013, 01:02 PM
      #17
    Started
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by frlsgirl    
    I'm right there with you - I quit riding for nearly 20 years and have been back at it for 18 months. My parents never bought me a horse but sent me to riding school for 6 years. Would you believe 20 years later, I remembered how to post the trot correctly? Those lessons DID pay off. I'm not the daredevil I used to be though. Now it's all about being careful and accurate. Back then it was about who could go the fastest without falling off :)
    Me learning to post the trot was pretty funny (well, for everyone but me!). I'd only ever ridden western and could NOT figure it out. My trainer ended up using a rather lewd comparison and it was even MORE embarrassing when I ended up figuring it out after that!
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        10-31-2013, 01:15 PM
      #18
    Super Moderator
    I think getting more nervous of falling of as you get older can happen to most any rider - you know its going to hurt more, you know you are more likely to break. I look at some of the older competition riders myself and wonder how on earth they keep going at it
    I had a lovely mare here a few years back that had been trained in WP but she soon picked up my English riding style, I loved her to bits but every now and again she would have a really odd turn and rear, buck. Run sideways or backwards into the fence, nearly went right down with me a few times - as my DH put it - 'nobody at home' moments because she didn't seem to listen to anything I did to try to ride her out of it and that made it worse. I didn't even have a fall off her but every time I got on I was expecting something bad to happen and I wasn't enjoying riding her. In the end I decided to send her back to the dealer I had her from and exchanged for another horse - who was also far from perfect but at least I could ride her through her problems and the things she did I saw more as a challenge than as scary moments.
    I think maybe its time for you to sit down and make a decision and then live with it.
    I would ask myself the question - "Am I enjoying doing this?" and go from there
    nikelodeon79 and L8rg8r like this.
         
        10-31-2013, 01:28 PM
      #19
    Green Broke
    Sounds like you had a great day, even with the sheep in mind! I'm a little jealous of the party, myself. ;)

    Have you started the process of selling him? Or no?
    nikelodeon79 likes this.
         
        10-31-2013, 03:10 PM
      #20
    Started
    I've told people at the barn my asking price and that he's for sale, but haven't officially listed him. We are going to get some videos soon and work on an ad.

    The person who sold him to me has right of first refusal but I doubt she wants him at the price I'm asking. I'll offer, though.
    Posted via Mobile Device
    L8rg8r likes this.
         

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