Dealing with the Timid Rider
HELP! About a year or so ago, we got a new girl start boarding at our barn. She owns an off the track thoroughbred, but she is about 10 years old, and VERY mello. I have never seen her buck, kick, or rear. Anyways, this girl started riding with us last summer, and it was immediately obvious she was a bit green. She had trouble controlling her horse, and anything she did wrong as a rider she blamed the mare for. This year we have began trail riding on trails around the barn. The first trip we went on, this girl tagged along and ended up complaining the whole time about how her horse hated trail riding, and how he was misbehaving, and how we need to go back to the field. The second time, she wouldn't make him cross the creek because she was afraid the water was too deep for him, even though I crossed it easily on my 14 hand gelding. We all had to turn back because she kept making all of these excuses. We suggested that she swap horses with somebody who is stronger, but she refused, so none of us could go where we wanted because she wouldn't cross. The third time, she wouldn't walk in water any deeper than her horses ankle deep because she claimed her mare didn't like it, she wouldn't go up steep hills because her mate couldn't make it(even though my friend did on her pony), and she wouldn't go down steep hills because she said the saddle hurts her horse going down. She has made up various other excuses too. She finally let someone on her horse this third ride, and the mare was an angel. Did EVERYTHING right on a posse rein. Even lead, followed, and walked in the middle of horses. This girl keeps such a tight rein on this horse all the time for no reason and she has a dry severe bit on her. Any help? I don't know what to do. I wish I could just stop bringing her on rides, but she always gets to the barn the same time as us, and she just tags along and makes us suffer for her fear. I was a timid rider once too, and understand her fear, but I always made sure that nobody else suffered from it.
has anyone tried riding with her one on one. maybe if someone got to know her to where she felt comfortable admitting that she's scared
i have no idea, im just throwing things out there. no experience or anything behind my suggestions lol!
No you're right! Thank you for the suggestion, she probably just needs a confidence builder.
All you can do really is try to encourage her to be a little bit bolder and offer little suggestions like "I think your mare would be a little more relaxed if you would ride her on a looser rein". It might also help if everyone wasn't so quick to alter their own course just to accommodate her.
As mean as it may sound, I would take the trail that I wanted to take and if she ran into trouble, then I would offer to help or offer suggestions. If she continued to refuse and whine about everything her horse "couldn't" do, I would politely suggest that she should maybe head on back to the barn. Then, I would continue on the trail that I wished to ride. That would leave her with the choice of either heading back or growing a pair and pushing to stay up with the rest of the group.
You guys aren't doing yourselves or her any favors by just accommodating her shortcomings. Offer to help as much as you can but if she keeps on with the whining and the excuses, just leave her behind.
I pretty much agree with the above, though I would make it clear to her at the outset that you aren't turning back at the creek, so she can make the decision to not go with you or do so, knowing what it entails ahead of time.
Also, the more you demonstrate good horsemanship in front of her, the more she may, (and I mean might) look to emulate your successful way of riding.
yea it may be better that way. the only thing that would keep me from doing that is pushing a kid to do somethin they arent comfortable with and if they ended up hurt from it.
is it just the water that is bothering her? wonder if she cant swim and is afraid of water. im 24 years old, cant swim and i wont take a horse thru water deeper than a couple feet.
Maybe I missed this somewhere, but how old is the timid rider? If she is going out with riders of her age group, I agree with smrobs... she knows what she is in for on a trail by now and should welcome the challenges or find something else to do. On the other hand, if there is an inequity in terms of age or experience with the other riders, she may be reaching for a learning experience but not handling it well due to fear or something else. This would IMO require compassion, but not at the expense of the group. I think someone suggested going out one on one with someone who would encourage her.
This situation brought to mind some trail rides I did in the hill country in Texas a couple of years back. I did the advanced rides with a guide from a dude ranch and there was a 15-year old daughter of one of the men who began crying about 10 minutes into the ride because she was so scared. We had only done a couple of dry creek crossings with steep inclines at that point. The horses cantered up the inclines and there was mostly trotting. Of course, some talk about wild boars to make it all more fun :twisted: I offered to have her ride beside me, but the guide was a real dear and took her on up front, riding with him.
She was terrified the whole ride that lasted about 3 hours (and not without incident :-)) but she made it. After that I wonder if she is still riding horses and doing trail rides.
Bottom line... compassion and encouragement when a rider gets in over their head is appropriate, but only once. After that, it is best to be honest and let the rider know that there will be creek crossings and inclines so they had best not come along until they are comfortable because the group will not wait up for them. OP is probably like most of us who live for the next trail ride and the last thing we need is a ninny whining about a creek crossing!
You could always let her know what route you're taking before you go, then if she say's she'll come, great, but if she wants to turn back or not do something remind her that before you went you told her where you were going and you're not turning back.
I can imagine this being pretty annoying and frustrating for you, but she might just lack the confidence in herself and her horse, so maybe some of the rides stick within her limits, try make it fun and encourage her to have some fun too!
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