Mental Block with ONE horse
Okay, I apologize in advance for the novel, but this is a complicated situation that is part rant and part looking for suggestions.
First, you need to know that I have started many horses over the years, both mine and for other people. I have done OTTB retraining, corrective training, etc. I've run up against buckers, rearers, rollers, biters, kickers, the list goes on. I've always used a heavy dose of caution when working around these horses, but fear was never a problem. There was only ever one horse that I was actually afraid of. He was a Paint stallion that lived wild in a field until age 8, when my BO at the time bought him because he was pretty. This is the horse in my avatar. In exchange for part of my board, I agreed to work with him. He learned ground manners VERY quickly, but under saddle he was a terror. He tried all the normal tricks, okay, I could handle that. One day we had been riding for a full hour and while I was cooling him out, he dropped out from under me with no warning, and pinned my leg. Then he launched up and managed to kick me three times in the back and thigh before I could get clear. The doctors said it was amazing he didn't break my back. The BO sold him before I was able to get back out to the barn, (our mare was already bred to him.) 6 yrs later we found him nearly starved in a mud lot, and bought him back. I was determined that I would get over my fear. Long story short, he passed away of colic before I could get him healthy enough to back on.
Flash forward, we have his colt still, who is now an 11 yr old stallion. I have raised this guy from birth, and I know he isn't his father, but for some reason, whenever I ride him (and ONLY him), I am truly afraid he is going to hurt me like his sire did. He has never offered to do anything, except plant his feet and shake his head a couple times when he is being stubborn, but I still have issues. He's beautiful and talented and has a great mind, but some of his mannerisms just make me think of his sire. I loved that horse more than I could have thought possible, even though I was afraid of riding him, and I love Dragon, I just wish I could get over this fear. His training is done in fits and spurts, in the meantime, I've worked dozens for other people. I know it's all in my head. I was on him the other night and three deer ran through the arena, and all he did was freeze and look. He's such a good boy, I feel like I'm cheating him, and I'm angry with myself for being silly. Any suggestions?
I don't know how to get over the mental block. Just keep in mind the differences between the two horses.
His sire was wild in a pasture for 8 years & then broke to ride.
This baby has been with you since it was a little. You've probably worked with him, handled him, and everything from the get go. Even though they have the same temperment, there's no way they could even be close to the same horse because of the difference in how they were handled in their early years.
My sister has my mare's (Mona) filly. The baby (Lilly) was imprinted at birth and has been handled since she hit the ground. Even though the 2 of them have extremely similar in personality, there's a huge difference between them.
Lilly is extremely trusting & willing where as Mona is willing but not terribly trusting.
I think the key here is for you to recognize and release the fear. There really isn't any other way around it.
If you bring fear with you when you work with a horse the horse will "show" you that fear by doing what it is you fear most. I've found this to be true, without fail.
Try this - if you find yourself "overthinking" the what if's... redirect your thoughts, take a moment to clear them away, and then proceed. Try not to think about the "maybe" and only deal with what comes.
Other than that, I can't offer much else.
I can completely understand where you are coming from with that fear and I hope that you are able to rationalize it and move past it. I raised my last horse from a teeny tiny baby and rode and showed him for several years. When he was 6 we had a very bad accident (I hit so hard my helmet broke into three pieces) and I couldn't bring myself to ever get over the fear. From then on every time something happened in the saddle with him I would freeze up, all my equitation skills went down the tube, and my mind would go a mile a minute with what if's. For 3 1/2 years we had never had any problems under saddle and I knew that what happened was not the norm for him, but I just couldn't get past it and my riding and nerve began to suffer. It wasn't fair to him, the tenseness after that about made him jump through his skin, so I ended up selling him. He now is a very successful jumper in his local circuit and is just a sane as he always was. The problem was with me, not him. I now have another TB and have my complete confidence back. Sometimes fear can be our worst enemy. I sincerely hope it all works out for you because I know how you feel.
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