Controlling My Emotions
I am, and have always been, prone to anger quickly. When things get stressful, I either shrink into the shadows and let someone else handle the problem head on, or else I get mad. I'm ashamed to say that this has carried over into horsey endeavors.
My horse is the most kind, forgiving animal on the face of the earth, but she's still young and it would be unrealistic of me to expect perfect behaviour from her 150% of the time. When she does misbehave, I can feel myself getting more and more and more frustrated until finally I lash out. The horse, who already is stressed and uptight, has no clue why she's being reprimanded and all my anger succeeds in doing is making both of us even more worked up. I know I'm a terrible person for doing this to her-she gets stressed and into a situation where it's time for me to step up to the plate and show my true colours as a strong leader for her, but all she feels is me getting just as worked up as she is, and she has no one to fall back on. I imagine it's terrifying for her to know that in really bad times, I'm not there for her.
It's only much later, after I put her away and sit there and begin to think about it, that I really realize what happened, and what I've done. The thinking side of my brain kicks in much too late to stop the reaction side. Funny, that we all want to get our horses to think before reacting, and really that's what I need to train myself to do. I always feel like an absolute piece of crap after, especially because just stopping and thinking for a while gives me the answer, and what I should have done instead of acting blindly out of anger. However terrible I feel about it, the damage is already done, and there is a period of awkwardness between us because I've betrayed her trust. She trusted me to be there and to lead her through difficult times, and I did the opposite. To the outside eye, I'm sure everything looks fine and dandy, but when you know your horse that well, things aren't right at all, and to know that she wants nothing to do with me really sucks. I remember a long time ago when I'd get angry, she would come back to me and we'd feel right again within the span of a day. It's been more than a couple days since our latest blowup, and still we are not...good. Each time something like this happens, it takes longer and longer for me to win her back again.
I know I'm getting better at controlling it all the time. Everything that happens gets cemented into my memory vault, and when a similar situation arises, I never ever react the same way again, but not every circumstance is the same and this just happens all over again. I know we went through the same thing doing groundwork-at first I was unsure of myself and was prone to fits of anger, simply because I didn't know what else to do, and over a long time, it's gotten to the point where absolutely nothing rattles me. I'm sure we'll get there with riding eventually, but I'm afraid that by the time I get my act together, her trust will have run out and she won't give me another chance because I've betrayed her so many times.
I want to know what I can do to control my emotions. I'm ashamed to be asking this, but I'd rather be ridiculed here, briefly, than to learn the hard way and ruin my horse. Oftentimes whenever I get frustrated, I'll stop everything and just sit there for a couple minutes, pulling myself together, but usually I am angry and reacting before I think of doing so. I'd be grateful to hear anything you have to offer.
How old is your horse? What are you teaching her presently? Don't be too hard on yourself. At least you can admit to it. What do you do when she is bad? Do you beat the crap out of her? Is she being bad or is it that she isn't doing something right?
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Patience is a difficult thing to learn. I used to beat the crap out of my horse with the whip for doing something wrong, not anymore though. What I do if something isn't going right is taking a deep breath and don't lash. Cause your horse might not know what you're getting so mad at. Be patient with the horse, talk to it, keep working with it. If it's misbehaving keep working it safely, and know your limitations and your horse's cause you nor it should get hurt
I'm teaching her a variety of things...usually when we're working on something and both focused on it, I don't get angry when she acts up-not that she really "acts up" anyways. Like, for example, I'm teaching her to turn on the forehand presently, and when she gets upset and a little frustrated, I always just let her chill out and calm down before we go back to it. When I'm teaching her something, I know exactly what I need to do so even when she does get a little agitated, I'm always able to stay calm. It's when she's just arbitrarily being difficult that I get angry.
I can say that I've never beaten her...I get hard on her mouth, though, I'm sorry to say, and I get tense and aggressive, which only feeds her more stress and anxiety. It's confusing for her, because she doesn't know why I'm doing it.
The most recent occurrence that caused me to have a blowup was working away from home. We'd ridden down the road about a quarter mile, and on the way back she was nuts. This is completely unusual for her; never before has she jigged and carried on and acted up on the way home, so I was getting frustrated because I didn't want her learning this behaviour, and I was nervous because I was afraid she actually would learn to do this every time we came home. I got frustrated and angry, and she was more stressed out than I've seen her in a long time. I had no idea how to handle it, and I think that's what made me more upset than anything.
I'm guilty too. I used to ride a horse that had a bad habit of trying to snatch the reigns out of my hands. Constantly tugging and yanking, he was worse with me on his back than other people because I don't have the experience to deal with that and he was yanking me forward out of the saddle and yanking my hands forward where my instructor was telling me try not to move my hands forward so he wasn't succeeding with his yanking antics. i couldn't do it. But I got so frustrated that I would snatch the reigns back after he would yank on me. I know that's totally the wrong thing to do and horrible for the horses mouth but I was so frustrated with it, that was my reaction.
Ya. I get what your doing. I can't help you. The reason I say this is because you need to find what, why and how to deal with this. I can tell you what not to do or what to do but I think it will all come down to if you will do it. Once someone has learned to give in to their anger it is SOoooooo hard to stop! I say this out of my own experience.
I have never done this to my horses but I do have other outlets I've vented on and its just as bad! If not worse! I just learned to let go of my frustrations and if something goes wrong or if I find myself stressing, I go with it. Honestly, I start to smile, and laugh.
Getting that pissed off that you loose yourself isn't helping you or the situation. And what a mess to have to clean up afterwards. Not worth it! There's no time to keep going back. I would make 2011 a year to work on your frustrations and anger.
Turn it around and make it a positive result. Like I said, I can't help you. No one here can. Only you can help you. If your horse jiggs and gets stupid work her harder. Circles. Make it not such a great thing to do. Stay consistent! If anything, take a break away from riding or working her and just love on her instead.
I really hope you can find it in yourself to be the person you want to be.
ATPH: I know that good, happy person is waiting to burst out of you but you need to find the key to unlock the door to that person.
Good luck and I will be here to listen if you need!
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To be honest - My way out of this situation was to buy a different horse. I just had a personality clash with one horse and I would just go crazy with anger sometimes. It seemed like he knew what he was meant to be doing and would refuse just top bait me - Completely ridiculous, I know, but that's just what happened.
Put me on Latte, a young, reactive Arab who doesn't get things right most of the time, and I can deal with her all day without losing my cool.
I had just found that one horse who set me off, so I sold him for the good of me and for the good of him.
Mbender has good words.
I could say a couple of thought regarding the riding itself. I may or may not be on base here.
when you are working on a skill, I woner if your horse doesn't kind of get frustrated by too much repetition? Might not seem like much to you, but maybe your horse needs to be rewarded for smaller goals achieved.
I mean, say you are working on turn on the forehand, when you get two steps or whatever part of the total TonTHF that she can do successfully, you quit right then and there, "good girl" her and go do something totally different.
In horse training, knowing when to quit is really crucial, and in this case, quittting earlier than you think is best might be better. You neve get to the frustrating stage. Try to do less with each training day and change frequently, and when she does it right, don't revisit it at all for an hour.
When she is jigging on the way home, turn her around and make her walk away from homeward. Once she settles, turn her back to home. If she jiggs, repeat. If it is obvious after a couple of attempts that she will not settle when faced homeward, then go back, get a few settled walk steps and then stop and get off, walk toward home. You are rewarding your goal;; a calm horse that walks, not jigs.
Later, you can see if she will give you some calm walk steps in the homeward direction
I can see myself getting scared in the situation you described and fear creates the desire to lash out in self protection. I can totally identify with the rage that can surface.
I've thought in the past about selling her. We used to clash SO bad, and I didn't even want to ride her most days because it was just a huge battle. I don't know how it happened, but we're slowing coming together. I look forwards to riding now...I really want to see what happens and where we are in another year, but truth be told I might end up selling her anyways. She's such a good, honest, non-spooky horse, but has a lot of spiff and fire. For someone a bit more experienced, she'd be the horse of a lifetime. I think eventually if I can continue to work her and ride out all her protests, she'll settle down and learn that being difficult doesn't get her anywhere...I just have to work on my anger in the meantime. I think I will make 2011 the year where I really work on controlling my anger and other emotions while riding. Thanks everyone for your input. It's probably bad to say, but I'm a little relieved that others have gotten angry just as much as I have at their horses. And I'm even more glad to hear that you've worked through it, 'cause that means I can too.
You need to control yourself and how you act with her. Not only physically but emotionally! Horses are very sensitive creatures and will act upset or afraid if they feel a situation is out of their control. If they feel threatened they will use their reacting side of the brain not the thinking. What you think and do will have an impact on how she will behave.
Take your time with her. I think if you get rid of her you will loose out on a very good horse.
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