Stop anticipating a problem?
I've been riding for 12 years, and I've owned my horse Dallas for 6 years. He's a really good boy and always does his best for me, but the thing is whenever we have an issue I'm the problem. I have anxiety issues, but this normally doesn't bother me when I'm riding, well it didn't for 11 years. Last November I was riding Dallas outside and it was a cold and windy day. That was fine, not a problem. Well then my neighbors starting shooting off their guns, Dallas wasn't bothered but I started getting nervous that he was going to act up. The final straw was turkeys. The guns scared a bunch of wild turkeys that flew up into the brush right next to Dallas and I. The turkeys scared the crap out of me and Dallas then spooked. I wasn't ready like I should have been and I took a nasty fall. I was in my western saddle and took the horn twice to my stomach when he bucked, then it hit my leg as I fell. I landed flat out on my back and couldn't move for a few minutes. A neighbor caught my horse, and my brother helped me up. I was so sore I couldn't get out of bed for a week. Since then I've still ridden Dallas and showed him successfully, but I've always had these nerves since then. I anticipate there being a problem before there even is any trouble, and it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. I panic over something and Dallas reacts.
I know that this issue is all my fault, not Dallas's. I need to stop getting worried about what might bother him and stay calm. It's hard for me to admit having this issue because before that fall I was always very confident on Dallas. I want to get back to having that confidence and stop causing my horse problems by me getting so nervous. My pony Shaymus is always super calm and a total babysitter even when I'm nervous, but Dallas is really in tune with how I'm feeling and reacts based on it.
Any advice and staying calm and not freaking out over what might bother my horse?
Falls are bad. I've done LOTS of riding, & a lot of it alone, but now I don't go out alone any more. It's so much safer to have another person handy. But, now I'm moving so that may be changing. But I'm going to be living in a much less densely populated area, so not as many crazy things will be happenning, but it's also going to be very different for my horses, so not sure what my riding will be like next year. I do have 1 riding buddy lined up, but she will be at work when I want to do most of my riding, & I'm not only going to be a W/E rider, so I'll have to figure something out.
I always have someone down at the barn with me when I ride. But they're not always standing right there, sometimes they'll be doing barn chores while I ride and if I need anything I can just yell for them. I try to ride with friends, but I only have two friends at my barn who actually ride consistently, everyone else is rather sporadic in there riding.
The problem is even with someone else I worry about what Dallas will be scared of, and then in turn make him nervous. My friends are good about helping me work through things while I'm riding. But I need to fix myself, I can turn a good ride terrible when I start to panic over something. I show a lot so I need to be able to tune out all these other things and let Dallas do his job without me worrying the poor boy. Somehow we still pulled off some really fantastic show results this year, but we had to work for it more than ever because of me. I am determined to get over this stupid fear, it's just taking longer than I hoped. lol.
Can you get someone to help you 'desensitize' YOU while you're on the horse? By that I mean, set up a tarp and flap it around, throw balls at you while you're riding, toss things under the horses feet as you go by, stuff like that?
I used to be real freaky about things like that on my old TB and at one show they had a coop jump painted with an angry chicken with her wings all flapped out, protecting her chicks. Every horse on the grounds just about had a heart attack and refused and bolted away from that jump. My trainer went out and bought a bunch of chickens and put crates under an oxer so the horses would get used to them and their noises. Once they were used to that he would sit with a chicken in his lap and toss the chicken in the air as we came to the jump, or he'd toss the chicken in front of the jump, stuff like that. We got over being spooky together. Now, I'm almost as bomb proof as most old horses, LOL!
Thanks for the idea!
Not a problem! I still remember that friggin jump and my "HOLY SH*T, WTH is THAT? OMG OMG" reaction to that chicken and it's been 40 years!
Kind of reverse training but when I anticipate a horse getting spooked I put them to work to keep their focus on me. Doing that might help you instead. Give him something to do so you have to concentrate on him. You'll know he's listening to you and not going to spook. It may help
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Thanks for the wonderful advice everyone!
I had a really good ride on him last night. A friend of mine stood in the middle of the arena coaching me through rough patches and wouldn't let me give up. She made me ride through everything which gave me a confidence boost that I can do it. We're going to work on 'desensitize' me today with tarps, tennis balls, and possible the farm chickens. It will be interesting. lol.
I have this problem.
Monty's great, but being an anglo-arab, he's real sensitive to how I'm feeling. I have a great coach and I used to be a really confident rider. Monty didn't destroy my confidence, a previous horse did, and I guess I never really knew how low it got until I got a horse that reacted to my nerves. And then my defensive riding caused big problems with Monty and I had a very nasty fall and it's all been downhill from there.
It'll be a long road to get back and I'm not sure if I can do it on Monty because when I get defensive it bothers him. He is amazing... it's all me. My coach is helping me quit with the old habits but we all know old habits die hard, and even harder when things happen to reinforce them.
Don't mind me, just thinking into the keyboard. Anyway. I will try desensitising myself but I don't know if I can do it because MY problem is when he gets too forward I think he's going to bolt with me again.
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