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OldFrayedMare 02-01-2011 11:33 AM

Trying to get started again,
Hi there, this is my first post, so forgive me if I seem a little awkward.

I came to the forum to get some advice on basic riding. Some history:

I've had some technical lessons before, basic riding. As in, can ride at a canter (and a few scary gallops to which I will pass on ever again, likely!) However, finances have limited me from doing any more....much of it also has to do with the distance of the riding places from me, as I live in an area pretty far away from the big city (or stables).

I do have a few horses myself on my property. A mare Candy (mid teens), and an old mare Thunder (mid 20's). Supposedly Thunder is dead broke. I say supposedly because, I have been on her......well......once. :oops: The other I am leery of getting on as she is very herd bound and takes every op to run back to her buddies (too scary for me). We also have a few boarder horses.

I have taken a few bad falls in the past, and a few almost falls. I am not exactly young myself, so the idea of getting hurt and losing my income is scary. I don't want to lose my horses because of a stupid fall.

What can I do to just start over again? I don't have the funds to take more lessons, and usually cannot find anyone around who is also horse savvy, so I am going it myself. I can have a spotter in case something bad happens, they are just not riders.

Should I just sit on them and get off, to relax myself? My stomach tightens in knots just at the thought of me falling. What a wimp I am, but I love them so much and want to ride, I just can't get the oomph to get going again.

We have snow right now, so maybe its a good time to restart as the snow will cushion my fall....:wink:

A knack for horses 02-01-2011 12:17 PM

My best advice for you is to do what you are comfortable with, and then a little bit more.

I would start by picking the horse you feel most comfortable with. Saddle her and then do some ground exersizes with her. (Lead her around, back, flex, lounge, etc.) Once you feel that your horse is listening to you, just mount and sit. If you are comfortable with that, make your horse take a few steps while being led by another person. (if you are using a tie down, they can hold onto that or the reins, as you get more comfortable, just have them walk next to the horse.)

And yep, depending on how much snow you have, you can fall and not even feel it. (2-3 feet is needed for that, but a good 6 inches will help break a fall).

Remember, it will take time to get back into riding. Do what you are comfortable with. Then push your limit. If you've sat on your horse, but your a bit afraid to go forward, just take a few steps. your progress will go faster if you try to do this every session.

If you ever reach a point where you mind and body is telling you, "I can't do this, I have to stop," its ok to stop. While it is good to push yourself, there is a point where you can do more harm than good to your confidence.

You can do it!!! I believe in you, and don't be afraid to ask questions. The Horse Forum will be here to answer them.

Hope this helps!!!

tinyliny 02-02-2011 12:02 AM

what a nice post, Knack for horses! I think you said it all, really.

I just wanted to add that there are quite a few members who started or restarted with horses in their middle age and deal with the fear of injury to their not so young bodies. So, I know where you are comig from

I do listen to my inner voice if it starts telling me "not so good idea . . .", especially if I am alone at the barn.

While you head out on this personal challenge, try to keep the idea that this is an adventure , your secret adventure, and it is good to keep a sense of humor handy. I have found that the large majority of times I have fallen off I gained no more than a bruise. And, that if I jumped up, got on and did alot of laughing, the bad feelings were purged from my body, like literally laughed OUT.

So, keep in mind falling isn't a death sentence, nor an excuse to give up. It's a reason for a good belly laugh and you can even post it on the forum and get lots of sympathy from us guys.

gottatrot 02-02-2011 05:22 AM

I don't know any horse person who doesn't have fear at some time or another. Beginners have fear of falling or losing control. Then as they get better, they have fears over different types of situations: large group rides or shows or beginning to jump, etc. Even very experienced riders have fears of different things like footing giving way at a gallop or having a horse roll over an eventing jump. I think fear is something we all deal with. The key is learning to manage your fear so it doesn't hold you back from what you want to do.
For me, I try to ask myself if what I am thinking about doing is stupid for ME on THIS day. You will have days when you feel brave, and those are the days you can push yourself a little bit. The days you feel insecure are the days you can work on what you feel safe doing already. Any time I do something with horses for the first time, I have a little bit of adrenaline. This is normal. The first time I jumped, I felt a thrill of fear. The first time I galloped, I felt the same thing. But I try to tell myself that people jump out of airplanes in order to get that feeling, and I try not to let it hold me back. Soon the things that used to scare you become comfortable.
Everyone has to decide at what level they are comfortable with the risks involved. I personally don't want to jump over anything where there is a good chance of me coming down upside down on my head. That's just me, some people are fine with that but wouldn't so some of the things that I do.
I try to use logic to tell me what to do instead of my emotions. If what I am doing is logically safe, then I try not to let my fear hold me back. If it is logically unsafe, then I feel my emotions are a good thing, helping me stay safe.

MyBoyPuck 02-02-2011 08:29 PM

I got my first horse at age 40. I'm single, so it's just me making the $$ to live on. I can completely identify with the fear of getting hurt and losing the paycheck in the process. I was very careful about the horse I chose. I picked a horse with a good mind, and that has paid off very well for me. He's not the best mover, but I know he'll never knowingly to anything to hurt me.

I agree with the other posts. The biggest thing is to take everything at your own pace. You'll know when you're ready to push your limits because you'll suddenly find yourself either bored or feeling silly that you were afraid something that now looks simple to you.

While I was a fairly experienced rider, I was brand new to trail riding when I got my horse. For the first year I had him, every time I headed to the barn to go trail riding, I had butterflies in my stomach. Due to the above mentioned good horse mind, I ended each ride loving my horse for being such a trooper and taking care of me. Fast forward 3 years, we're now tearing across fields like to idiot peas from the same pod having a ball.

The biggest confidence builder/useful tool in your riding tool box is the one rein stop. Learn it. You'll find gobs of confidence from everywhere once you realize you can stop your horse anytime you want at any gait. It's gold. Just take it in steps. You'll do fine. Welcome back to the horsey world.

QOS 02-04-2011 09:57 AM

I am a returning old beat up chick rider myself. Got a horse 2 years my butt seriously busted trying a horse that turned out to be crazy...but still wanted a horse (hummm...who was crazy?!)

I know about being scared to get hurt. After getting hurt I was a very timid rider and it would really upset me because I had been a very confident rider as a young person. I take it slow...I have a calm laid back horse and I am going slow. I do canter or trot some but I do tons of walking. I did take some lessons which helped my confidence.

My horse is good as gold on the trails but is a little hyper when we go into the arena at first. (He was ran in the ground by a former "trainer" and was harshly treated too boot) I hadn't had him in the arena in awhile and went to ride him in the arena last Friday. He was wound up like a little wind up toy - I went 20 feet and got off. I am totally into self preservation. I was alone so I thought the best for me was on the ground.

Don't be afraid to even be afraid. If something is bothering you - get off until you feel confident again or get over the nervous feeling. I want to have fun and I do and it is called baby steps. I am still taking them and having a great time. Start slow and build up. Work with the horse on the ground and lunge too.

Let us hear how you are doing and hope to see pics of you on a trail ride soon.

trailhorserider 02-04-2011 09:09 PM

Is there anyone who is willing and able (and preferably experienced) to ride one of your horses? What I would suggest, is get someone who is comfortable riding, pick your best horse, and let them ride it around for a while and make sure it is on good behavior. Then get on yourself.

I think, if it were me, my biggest worry would be the fear of the unknown. Will the horse run, buck, be barn sour? Those are the kinds of thoughts that would go through my head. But if someone else rides the horse first, even for a few minutes, and the horse does well, it will give you confidence to get on and ride. And then of you have a successful ride, you will be confident next time to get on it yourself.

So that would be my suggestion, if it's feasible. If not, make your first ride in an enclosed place. Then you will rest assured that even if the horse acts up, it can't really go anyplace. Then if all goes well, you will have confidence to ride outside the enclosure next time.

These are really my strategies for any horse I don't know. Like for instance, if I am looking to buy a horse, but I don't know anything about it, I get the owner to ride it first so I get an idea of what the horse is like and what it's behavior will be before I get on myself. :-)

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