Starting my horse training off with a bang... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 01-02-2011, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Oregon
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Starting my horse training off with a bang...

Hello everyone! I decided to post this thread here because I know it's a topic that I've seen on the boards a lot and since I'm dealing with it so early in my riding training, I hoped a few of you could offer some advice.

First, a little about me. I'm 38 years old and -just- starting formal horseback training. I've always loved horses and wanted to learn how to ride properly. I had a few friends back in school that had horses but my experiences with them were infrequent to say the least. As well, it was more of a " get on and go" type thing instead of learning how to ride properly. Eventually I would like to do competition in equitation and possibly reining...but that's a long ways off.

I'm in my fourth month of training with two very good trainers who have both competed on a national level and I feel very confident in their abilities. I do lessons every week and sometimes twice a week. We've been moving along at a good rate in my training but about a month ago, I noticed that the horse (Appaloosa mare) I have been training on was starting to spook a great deal during my training times. One time it was a barking dog...another time, a chicken strayed into the arena. The horse itself has been a training horse for a long time but she spooked so much that I started getting used to her doing it and just learned to deal with it.

That was until yesterday. I was warming her up in the arena and I noticed the first lap around, she tensed and sidestepped a bit on the far side of the arena. I took note but didn't think much of it because I have just learned to deal with the spookiness. Second time around, different story. She sidestepped violently, which got my attention. She then reared up on her back legs, which really got my attention. As beginner, I did the exact opposite of what I was supposed to do. I gently pulled back on the reins and gave her a sharp 'whoa', in the hopes of calming her down.....which sent her into and more of a panic. At that point, I realized something bad was going to happen and began my attempt to emergency dismount. I got my feet out of the stirups and had begun my motion when she reared up again and we both went over backwards. I landed on my side (yes I had a helmet on!) and my helmet hit the ground. I managed to roll to get out of the way of the falling horse. All in all...a horrible experience for me and the horse. I went to the hospital today and was diagnosed with a sprained forefoot (on crutches for a week) and a mild concussion that certainly would have been worse without the helmet.

Here's my issue: I did what I felt I needed to to recover in the short term. I got back on her and finished out the drill practice, even though she was still extremely edgy and skittish. I was scared to death the whollllllle time...but I did it.

Found out later after training that the horse I was on is a horse that is shared between people to do their own personal riding on and that one of the people had been using a bridle that was very ill fitting and hurt the horse when she rode with it...and had been using spurs on her. Obviously, I can see now -why- the horse was having issues. I trust the trainers to deal with -that- issue now that we know about it...but I have a far deeper problem.

Yes I got back on and finished the practice session...but I feel like I've lost my confidence a bit. I was progressing well and this accident has made me feel like I don't belong in the saddle. How can I learn to trust a horse again? I realize that something I did caused the accident and I accept responsibility ( and if you are wondering, the horse is fine )...but I suppose I'm afraid that there is something about me that is dangerous for the horses and that I'm going to get them hurt. I hope someone can understand what I'm trying to say because I know it's not coming out right.

I can't say enough about my trainers...who told me over and over that it wasn't my fault and tried to keep me in the proper state of mind...but it -was- my fault because I did something that endangered the horse further.

I'm not sure if it was a good or bad thing that my first major spill happened so early in my training...but I really want to put it past me and move on. Any advice?

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post #2 of 9 Old 01-02-2011, 05:17 PM
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Hey, your not dangerous. You did what you felt you were supposed to do and yes we all know we could have done something better to have it not happen like that. It was a reaction and a mistake. But here's the thing: if you didn't make that mistake, do you think you would have learned how to deal with that situation differently?

Glad you weren't to awfully hurt. Your confidence will come back. If you were driving in a car and, God forbid, you got into an accident, you would be nervous of driving again, right? Same thing here. Its going to be ok and now hopefully you'll know better what Not to do! :)
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post #3 of 9 Old 01-02-2011, 11:57 PM
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I doubt you totally caused the horse to go over backward, tho as you said, pulling on the reins when they rear is not smart. But who can think at that speed? That's where time in the saddle helps with all that. You were faced with a very challenging situation very early in your riding career. Too early to be able to deal with it. Heck, experienced riders have problems with rearing.

I got bucked off a horse a month ago that first started rearing and I haven't dealt with rearing much, so I was not happy to feel him go up. Rearing is one of the most dangerous of horse behaviours

Anyway, back to you. You may have know intellectually that horse riding is a dangerous sport . . .now you know it viscerally.

But those things happen RARELY, thank God. It really comes down to chance a lot of the time. And having a trainer that will help you learn how to navigate the risks with your best odds of success.

Maybe you can take lessons on another horse. I think that might make you feel better. Anyway, hang in there. It's all uphill from now on.
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-03-2011, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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Mbender - You said exactly what the main trainer told me. He said that people never learn on a horse that doesn't do anything so now I know what to do if that situation ever happens again. I didn't create the 'perfect storm' of circumstances leading up to the accident, per say...but my actions were the thing that took her over the edge....and now I know not to do that. I'm just worried that it will affect my riding from this point on. I got back on the horse, knowing she was still wound up and that I was still wound up, which probably wasn't the smartest idea but I didn't want the situation to get the best of me. I continued to have problems with her the whole time, probably due to the fact that she was feeding off my insecurities by then and I was skittish because of the accident and her state of mind.

Tinyliny - I did find out yesterday that because of the revelation that the person had been using spurs on the horse incorrectly (which the trainers didn't realize until they looked into the situation ) that they are taking that horse off the training grid for a few months to help her regain her trust and work with her. I will be on another horse, which I think is a smart thing...although I know that I need to deal with the mare that threw me or else I won't be able to move on. I'm going to the stable later this week to spend some time with her, even if its just sitting quietly with her. Once my foot heals up a bit, I'll probably lunge her a bit or walk her on the ground...groom her. Just spending time around her. I think that might help me. I suppose we shall see.
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post #5 of 9 Old 01-04-2011, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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Ughhhh...I'm so bored. =-( Thankfully the pain is gone from my foot but the swelling is still there. I wanted to call my trainer and tell her that I would be okay for training this Friday but I was advised to take the whole week off just to make sure.

But, but....I miss the horsesssssssss. It's like torture being away from the stable. I'm trying to replace being out there with reading and getting as much info on horses in general as I can out of this site and others. I think I'm a lost cause. =-)
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post #6 of 9 Old 01-04-2011, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Oregon
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• Horses: 0's probably a good thing I've not hit the required post count to get into chat else I would be annoying the people to death there.
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post #7 of 9 Old 01-09-2011, 06:20 PM Thread Starter
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Enter into the Insanity!

So, an update. I got off the crutches Wednesday and started putting weight on my foot. It was a little sore but not bad. I didn't think that I was going to be able to have training at all last week but I decided to put up with the soreness and train Friday morning.

I was switch to another horse for emotional reasons...which I agree with. Luckily this horse is rather bomb proof so there wasn't even a second where I felt in danger. However, all horses are different and I was used to the other horse's abilities and antics. This horse is much more sensitive to leg pressure and as such, I found myself going in circles for the first little while as I tried to figure out what was going on.

(Cue picture of horse turning without command and going in a circle...then going in another circle...and rider looking at trainer with a bewildered expression on her face!)

The trainer finally cued me in and we worked on leg yields and some patterns. I'm still struggling with the one handed rein hold and figuring out how to adjust the reins as needed in a quick and non-clumsy manner.

Besides that, I've been doing a lot of research and studying. The trainer wants me to be a co-leader for the 4-H group that is starting up and while I'm excited about it, I'm also a bit nervous. Never have done anything like that before.

My OCD seems to be coming in handy at the stables in general. I clean and sanitize the grooming tools on a regular basis, wash blankets/lunge ropes/lead ropes/halters, organize the common areas and cross ties, etc, etc.... I know that the owners laugh at me and my antics but they seem appreciative of the effort. I've done a lot of grooming on the 2011 show horses and since I'm very attentive to small details, I tend to do a lot of the basic health care (applying ointments for saddle sores, infections, fungus's...thrush treatments...that sort of thing) and am always looking for new projects to take on. Currently I'm researching first aid kits and knowledge because I've learned that knowledgeable people aren't ALWAYS around and someone that works around horses needs to have at least some basic knowledge of how to deal with emergencies. Horse first responder type stuff. I am in the stable a lot of times by myself at night and there is no one to rely on. I figure it's a good use of my time to find out as much info as I can. I'm going to be talking to local equine vets and see if I can volunteer with one at least once a week and learn what they are willing to teach me.
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post #8 of 9 Old 01-12-2011, 03:45 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Oregon
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So, a new week and new challenges!

Was back on the new horse today, who I might add was really feeling funky and fine this morning. The one thing that is interesting about new horses is figuring out their "things". I almost had my old training horse figured out before she decided to dismount me with extreme prejudice. The old one (Duchess) was -very- lazy and I had to constantly be on her to go, go, go, go. Not so with Miss Scooter. She wants to go, go, go, go....but that's not what we are working on so I'm constantly reminding her that we aren't supposed to be loping. She's also extremely sensitive to leg yields but drifts in and out of corners in whatever direction on a whim so I have to be very vigilant with her and make sure that my corrections are timely. I've always been pretty good about feeling when she's going to do something other then what I want her to do....I have usually a good second or two as her muscles are twitching...but sometimes by the time my mind registers the transgression and my hands move, I'm too late.'s a work in progress.

She did manage to spook on me rather well...and this is not a spooky horse. I thought she was bombproof but apparently black labs getting into a fight with the neighbor dogs -right- outside of the undercover ring wall is enough to make her do it. This time, I still pulled back but it was because she spooked forward instead of back or to the side. I think it scared my trainer more then me. I was one of the first major falls she's had and I noticed her eyes go really wide when Scooter started her motion. It is now the running joke at the stable that if anything is going to happen on the property, it's going to happen next to the arena and while I'm on the horse. I swear...dogs fighting and the suicide chicken that comes rambling into the arena looking for things to eat when I'm on the horse. The dogs even decided to kick my trainers big pink rubber ball into the arena one day when I was on a horse.

By the way....horses don't like neon pink rubber balls. =-)

I had to comment to the trainer today that I do get a bit frustrated when I see all these horses I ride train with the young kids and they are perfectly calm and happy....and then I get on and its psycho horses! I just don't get it!

Alas....maybe tis not for to know the reason why!
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post #9 of 9 Old 02-13-2011, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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It's been awhile since I've blogged so I thought I should update anyone who is interested in the past couple of weeks.

So, the last time I wrote, I was still dealing with the after-effects of my first fall. I had a check-up with my doctor about three weeks ago and found out that I indeed had a hairline fracture in my foot. Had to put the walking boot back on for another few weeks (with the exception of when I was riding). It was rather hysterical for people to watch me hobble around the stables with a garbage bag over my walking boot so it wouldn't get dirty. =-)

That's the physical part of it. In some ways, the emotional part has been the harder road.

Shortly after the fall, the main trainer came to me with an amazing opportunity. He had a client that had a fully-trained reining horse (among many other horses) that wasn't doing anything at his stable. Since I want to learn reining, he thought perhaps there was a deal to be made. I soon found out that the owner was more then willing to 'lease' me this horse and as long as I trained with my trainer and keep the horse at our stable, he wouldn't charge me anything for the lease. Of course I would have to pay board at my stable, but it would be ridiculously reduced due to all my volunteering.

I went to see the horse and everything went great right off the bat. He is a friendly horse and seemed healthy (although I didn't have any concerns about him being anything but healthy as the owner is very good to his horses). My only concern was getting attached to the horse, knowing that he is for sale and possibly could get sold during my training. I went to see him twice while he was still at his owner's stable and thought I had a pretty good handle on my emotions.

Annnnnd then he arrived at my stable....and now I'm totally smitten by him!

He's the biggest dork ever and makes me laugh with his antics. In addition, this horse is a gorgeous mover in the ring. He's not been ridden with any great frequency in the past few years and as soon as he stepped in the ring with my trainer, it was like he had been in training all this time. I only got to ride him for about 15 mins at the end of the session, but it was soooooo much fun. He's been a pasture horse for awhile so he has some cosmetic ouchies from other horses, fences and such....but we will take care of those soon enough. I guess once I got him to where I could spend real time with him just one on one, I found out what an amazing horse he is. I think he is the perfect horse to help me through the issues created by the fall....

But now I'm left with a situation where I thought I was being responsible with my decision to lease a horse so I could figure out if I would possibly be ready for horse ownership in the future...and a great horse just plopped into my lap. Now I have to consider the possibility of having to buy a horse before I had planned on.....but then I could just be worrying about nothing.

Ugh...the life of an adult.
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