I just want my confidence back!!
Sorry this is going to be very long!!
I've posted a couple times in other areas of the magical horse-forum-dom, but I just had a really bad ride yesterday (but in retrospect was probably a very good ride) on my 13 year old mare, I just started training her western pleasure and trying to get her to slow down and relax.
Now for a bit of background, I used to be a fantastic rider, you put me on the worst horses and they would be whinnying my name after one day. My instructors said I had a real fined tuned ability to feel what the horse was doing and was about to do. So my first big fall happened during a lesson and I was trying to pick up the canter on this big OTTB, he was flat out refusing to canter and I could feel his back tighten up real bad like he was in pain, I asked the riding instructor if we could stop because I didn't feel like he was going to do it, her reply was to just kick him because he was being a butt, so I did and I was thrown over his head. That day I got out of that stables because I wanted to move somewhere where I could actually progress in my training (we were in a big rut) little did I know I would not find another place to ride for 6 months. When I finally got back, I was helping a woman break her 7 year old arab, so we would have me just sit on him to get used to people on his back (can you see where this is going?) so one day he took me for a bronco ride and 3 weeks later I bought my first trail horse. She was really good on the trail and got my confidence up some at the walk but then she crowhopped one day and I got super freaked out and did not ride her for a year. We did mostly groundwork which got my training confidence up a little but I still couldn't ride. To sum up the very end I worked with several trainers to get my confidence up via lunging and training again. Now I can actually ride my horse faster than a walk, she even crowhopped a couple of times at the jog and i sat through it and got her to stop. And we've started working on the canter recently, she really has a kicking up problem but we've been working on it.
Now my trouble arises from a few days ago, normally me and my girl are super in sync with each other but recently (after I got a bunch of stress from school and couldn't ride her for a week) she and I are just totally disconnected, she'll swing her hip out when we stop, she bends the wrong way, I can barely sit, and shes started snorting and dipping her head down fast like "I'm on drugs! I'm on drugs!!" all of this coupled together is making me feel like I have no confidence again! I'm scared to even put my leg on her again! Its so frustrating and I dont think theres a horse at my barn I can ride to get my confidence up before I ride my horse. What is wrong with me?!
get someone else up on her and watch them ride. you may have to sell her and get somthing else if you dont think you can work through her issues. if you are having a stressful week, and go to ride already stressed, your horse will pick up on it. try for baby steps and eventually you will get where you need to be.
Your riding ability has little or nothing to do with the alarmingly large # of unruly and unfinished horses out today. You'd think that bucking broncs were popular, judging from people's bad experiences. It is plain WRONG for a lesson horse to be allowed to buck you over his head. No amount of arguing will change MY mind about this. MY lessons horses--I taught with my own string--would never buck, rear, or bolt. You cannot become confident and you lose your confidence when this happens.
Horses are just TOO big to misbehave like this. And, fixing their problems PERMANENTLY takes a lot of time, great patience, and the wisdom to assess and reasses whether THIS horse is worth YOUR time. I've been there. It's taken fully 8 years for me to trust my 3 horses, and, in 2008, when I bought her, I still didn't trust my babysitter mare, now Almost 14yo.
Sometimes I think that riding all the nastiest horses in the world will only make you a good rider - not a good trainer. To have confidence you have to be able to know what you're going to do when a situation arises, and trust that you have the ability to work through the situation - not just be able to hang on. Trust me, nobody can or wants to ride through bucking, rearing, bolting, etc. So instead of waiting for those things to happen, which they inevitably will, you have to start thinking of training your horse so those things don't occur.
Firstly, unless I have been riding every single day, I do ground control before every ride. I lunge, then I flex, then I do hip disengagements, then I do pivots, and I can basically tell from there what I need to fix before I get on. If a horse won't relinquish her hip from the ground, I can promise you she won't from the saddle. So that's an area you should diagnose and work on. If she's fresh on the lunge, let her lunge, etc. When you're on the ground you can develop a doctor's sense of diagnosis. Take the time to diagnose where your problem areas will be before you put yourself in a dangerous position.
The same goes for in the saddle. When you're warming up is the perfect time to diagnose problems in the saddle. And by warming up, I mean walking, flexing, pivoting, turning on the forehand, leg yielding, sidepassing, hip disengagements - and ALL that before you even trot. Then you do your transitions and work up to the trot. If there is a problem in an area, you need to devise a plan to deal with it and "train". Once you realize you have a lot of power over your horse - because you are smarter, not stronger - you will have confidence again because you're in control and not a passenger.
I have only once fallen during my 5 year riding lessons. I ride a Thoroughbred/ Purcheron cross who is 14 hands. He often bucks, bolts, and does anything to get me frustrated! I fell off him once because I was jumping a 3' jump and was ready for takeoff when he suddenly jumped to the side. I had to get right back on him and jump him over that jump about 10 times before he didn't do it again. My thought for regaining confidence is to shake it off, and get back on. The longer you wait, the longer it's gonna take and the harder it will be to get back on. I was 11 when i rode a horse for the first time bareback, i had NO lessons at this point, and i even went over a small jump, but if i would have fallen, i would have gone right back on and did it again!
It is no fun to ride a horse that will buck you off. You need to get one that won't.
thanks for all of your great advice, made a huge breakthrough today! she was having trouble stopping straight so i started to push her hip over and she walked off so i would stop her and keep asking and she did it!!! :D she even did a real nice jog for 3 loops around the arena with her head down!
The saying is "get back on the horse that you fell from"
"get back on the horse that buck and threw you off, or shied sideways and unseated you, or reared and you went off of backwards or bolted and smacked you off running under a tree limb."
KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.
I don't know what to tell you other than don't ride out of your comfort zone for awhile. I'd like to smack your instructor around a bit, the one that told you to give the naughty TB a kick. I know from experience, when they are curled into that rigid ball of frustration, the last thing you want to do is pick a fight.
I don't get it. My Hunter instructor would have us dismount, then get on and fix the problem immediately. None of us got thrown, ever, in my 3 years of lessons. What is wrong with riding instructors who are more interested in the horse than the paying customer. =/
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