How do I, the rider, stop being "headshy"?
 
 

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How do I, the rider, stop being "headshy"?

This is a discussion on How do I, the rider, stop being "headshy"? within the New to Horses forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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        02-12-2014, 03:52 PM
      #1
    Foal
    How do I, the rider, stop being "headshy"?

    I hate to say it, but I'm dreading going to my riding lesson tonight. Mostly because I know that I'll have to groom and tack my horse, which is the problem. See, I have this overwhelming fear of a horse's head. Yeah. The end with the ears and eyes and teeth. I get so scared when haltering my horse in the stall, if they so much as half-heartedly lean down to get a mouthful of hay, I walk out of the stall and have to get my instructor to halter them. It's the same with bridling. Before I rode at my new stable, we never tacked up. At all. The 18-year-old high school instructor did it for us.
    The only reason I can justify my fear is that the horse I used to ride was the most disrespectful thing ever. He nipped when you tried to groom his neck, and was extremely girthy. He even kicked the instructor. I was scared to cross-tie him, and had a legit fear that he'd bite when I couldn't snap on the clip.
    Fast-forward, I still have that fear. I wasn't scared for a long while at my new stable, just a little cautious. Until the day my mare started on her marry way out the stable door and into the barn, with her bridle not on at all, and me screaming for my instructor to come help. Now, I'm nervous if she even shifts while bridling.
    Before you ask, I HAVE told my instructor that I'd never bridled, and the horse I used to ride was a biter. Since the beginning, I've been riding this sweet, sweet mare. She's gentle and calm (until she ran out the door), and hasn't presented me many problems. There is no other horse I'd rather ride, and I've ridden all 4 lesson horses.
    My instructor has helped me, as in staying close and helping as I bridled and unbridled. My only problem now is that it seems like my fear isn't going away, even though I have NOTHING to worry about. Will is just take time? Am I still doing something wrong? Let me know, guys. I need your help!
         
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        02-12-2014, 03:58 PM
      #2
    Foal
    I think it will take time and perseverance, like most fears do.
    However, is there anything that is taking you particularly long to do? For example doing up a buckle or getting a bit in? Perhaps this could add to you nervousness and maybe there might be some techniques some HF members can suggest for you.
    Good luck 😊.
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        02-12-2014, 04:05 PM
      #3
    Yearling
    Yes, I would think it will just take time to get over such a fear. Time and effort that is. Have you ever just hung out with the horse? Maybe if you spent a few minutes before and after each lesson with her? I might sound crazy but I talk to all the horses I would with and usually give them pets before and after the halter goes on/off.

    Are you ok leading the horse or is that an issue as well? Is there any horse you would trust to stroke on the cheek or feed a carrot to?
         
        02-12-2014, 05:36 PM
      #4
    Foal
    Your mare sounds amazing! I agree, time is what it will take. Just stand by her shoulder while she is eating, and stoke her neck (if you can!) try to relax yourself. Chat to her (don't worry I sing to my horse! I can't sing well either so its awful when I sing something from a Disney movie lol) then move your hand up her neck and maybe brush her mane. You don't have to worry about touching her head. Just be comfortable around her. When you put on the bridle keep chatting to her and be calm. She will pick up on that and be calm and not fussed about anything. The horse you got the fear from sounds nasty, but I can tell you with confidence not many horses are like that. Trust your horse and yourself- no harm will come to you as long as you're calm!
         
        02-12-2014, 09:36 PM
      #5
    Weanling
    Ask your coach to point out your lesson barns most docile, friendly, predictable, and loving horse they have, one which they are willing to recommend as one that would be least likely to ever bite maliciously. Most barns, unless yours is a really small one with only a few horses, have one like this.

    Then, after explaining your situation with the BO, come in on your time off, even non lesson days, and spend time with that horse quietly and confidently taking steps to get over your fear. Keep in mind that this horse likely wants nothing more than to be your buddy and although your fears are real, they are not warranted with all horses. Take baby steps, whatever you need to make forward progress, all while keeping in mind that the recommended horse is of no danger.

    There are a few horses I know that I'm cautious around because I know they're cranky...but there are others that I trust a whole lot and will comfortably do things with that I'd never do with other horses...here's a good example photo below that my daughter snapped last Sunday where Clyde decided I needed a big smooch - I humored him because I've spent a lot of time with him, know him well, and have a lot of trust in him. Would I do this with any horse? Heck no...but finding "that" horse to work with and gain that level of trust is where you need to start.

    Good luck. I think you know it's mostly in your head, but finding the right trustworthy horse to work with on your own timeline and comfort levels is going to be an important part of getting past it.

         
        02-12-2014, 10:17 PM
      #6
    Weanling
    I agree with other posters that it's just going to take time. It's not an irrational fear, horses are a large and somewhat intimidating animal especially if you have had prior bad experiences. Just keep at it and I'm sure it will get better :)
         
        02-13-2014, 05:36 AM
      #7
    Trained
    Agree that you need to give yourself time, but I don't think you should put yourself in that pressured position, where you have to get stuff done yet. You're paying for the lessons & they're meant to be fun & progressive, so don't be shy to tell the instructors how you feel.

    As with horses, the best way of getting over fears is to take it at their pace & not be too confronting. Push past your comfort zone, but only in 'baby steps' for very short periods. With repetition & good, easy experiences, things improve & you can do more & more, but force yourself to 'just do it' now & you may well get worse. The other prob is that your attitude/fear will rub off on the horse & affect the rest of your relationship.
    Ninamebo likes this.
         
        02-14-2014, 06:14 PM
      #8
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by QueenCheval    
    I Until the day my mare started on her marry way out the stable door and into the barn, with her bridle not on at all, and me screaming for my instructor to come help. Now, I'm nervous if she even shifts while bridling.
    A quick tip: Before you take your horse's halter off, put the reins of the bridle over their head. If your horse ever did decide to walk off again, then you would at least have some control.

    Others have given you good advice. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience at that other barn, but remember when you are working with your current horse that she is not the same horse that you worked with before. Trust your instructor - if she's a good instructor, she won't ever put you in a dangerous situation. You can do it!
         
        02-14-2014, 09:01 PM
      #9
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by faiza425    
    A quick tip: Before you take your horse's halter off, put the reins of the bridle over their head. If your horse ever did decide to walk off again, then you would at least have some control.
    I thought this was status quo for bridling/unbridling. I was taught to NEVER relinquish control (aka, you should never be in a situation where you don't have either the bridle, the halter, or at least the REINS of the bridle on the horse) during bridling or unbridling - before the crossties are undone you should be preparing to get the reins over the head while holding the horse via the halter, and before removing the halter you should have reins around the neck. Likewise when untacking, reins stay around the neck until the halter is back on and you can grab it by hand, remove the reins, and clip the crossties.

    I know if anyone ever "lost control" over their horse at any barn I've ever rode at we would have been spoken too as it would be considered a huge safety issue to have a horse wandering free in an aisle. Being in constant control was always stressed as a key part of tacking anywhere we've ever rode, and it's something I believe in firmly.

    It's always worked for me, and I passed that knowledge onto another youth rider whom I was helping tack/untack last week at our lesson barn.
         
        02-16-2014, 07:00 AM
      #10
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by faiza425    
    A quick tip: Before you take your horse's halter off, put the reins of the bridle over their head. If your horse ever did decide to walk off again, then you would at least have some control.

    Others have given you good advice. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience at that other barn, but remember when you are working with your current horse that she is not the same horse that you worked with before. Trust your instructor - if she's a good instructor, she won't ever put you in a dangerous situation. You can do it!
    The funny thing is, the only way I kept her from galloping to the pasture was that I had her reins around her neck! But, being a newbie, I didn't realize I could hold them really tight and use them as a lead line
         

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