Scared of Horses
I am new to all things horses but for 3 months I have been volunteering at a horse rescue. Since beginning I have been in a few situations that I felt nervous like on my first day while doing hay a horse began to buck only a few feet away from me. Well for the most part I got over that until the last two visits to the farm when I got hit by a horse with its head, reared at, and bit. After spending some time on the forum I thought I would go back and just have a I'm not going to take any BS attitude. For the most part everything was fine until I was trying to get a pony to eat his grain which had meds in it. Well he had a new pasture mate that was very pushy, but I didnt know that until after the fact. The pasture mate was not responding to me at all and kept on pushing me until she let out a very "Im P.O.ed whinny" and I got scared and ran away. When I got out of the pasture she made the same noise and then kicked the pony I was trying to feed. That whole incident has made me very scared and I dont think I want to go back. Im not sure I want anything to do with horses.
So I was wondering is this normal behavior? Am I overreacting? Are these behaviors occurring because its a rescue farm?
To be honest this is making me rethink everything about horses. So please let me know what you think.
I think it's normal for normal people. ARe you normal? I am. I get scared when a horse buck right next to me or bites me. I think what is what makes me keep going back for more is that I learn better and better how to keep myself safe. I learn how to read horses better and know when I need to move over, or need to preempt a horse who is thinking about biting me or pushing me (preempt means that I get there first and I push him before he does me and that interupts the bad behaviour before it can happen.
At a rescue I think you are dealing with horses that come from all kinds of situations but many of them no doubt have been treated poorly or have never been properly trained on how to respect human beings. So, you are in for a more challenging experience.
When it comes to feeding ponies, I would have had concern before hand and seperated one from the other. Horses become real "animals" when it comes to their food. If you are new to horses you will lack the skill to be able to handle this now. The rescue should be giving you work that is in keeping with where you are now. I would wish for a kind soul there to give you a little bit of one on one guidance in how to read and be around horses and minimize the chances of bad experiences. No gaurantee, though, and if you don't have a strong feeling of affection or fascination with the eguine animal, then you might not be in the right place.
Thank you for sharing your situation.
I agree that rescue horses can have baggage or problems, and might not be the best place for someone who is inexperienced.
Are there any therapeutic riding facilities near you? They usually have quiet, gentle horses, and are a great place to volunteer.
There are certainly people out there who love horses but remain nervous around them.
Don't give up on them just yet, but perhaps find a place more suited to your comfort level. :)
I would be very sad to give up being around horses but I think a therapeutic riding facility would be a good idea. Thank you for your advice, it has given me the confidence to continue to try but maybe just slow down for now.
It very well could be the horses not knowing how to interact with you; you're new to the herd and you need to be placed. It's also perfectly normal. I find my heart racing when one of the horses tries to take a bite of me, or when I've been kicked. It's self-preservation reactions, if you ask me.
I was never around a horse (outside of minor stroking from the other side of the fence) until early last year. I'm now, less than a year later, in the slow beginning processes of becoming a starter trainer (teaching the horse the fundamentals of riding). It's all in your demeanor that matters with horses.
As for me, it has been noticed by many people that I have a calm, yet assertive personality that doesn't propose a threat. Because of this I'm able to safely interact with our worst horses. (Including the monster pony.) I've been bitten (on the arm, the breast, the hand, hip, etc.), I've been kicked (on my lower legs and once on my thigh). Horses have bucked around me and, outside of double-checking to make sure I'm not in the line of fire, I don't give it much thought. Was the bucking horse bumping up out of excitement (yay food!) or malevolence (meanness)?
By running away from the horse you submitted to her; she's now your boss and will continue to push you around until you gain your ground back. When feeding loose horses in a pasture I feed all of them at least 10 feet apart.
I suggest your first order of business is this: Talk to your supervisor. Let him/her know where your comfort zone is, what your capabilities are, and stop letting them put you in such situations. It may seem as a harmless task to them, but is obviously very dangerous for you. I think you should "shadow" one of their experienced volunteers for a week or two; stick with them until you get the hang of things.
Just remember this:
Whoever's feet moves first loses. (Equine Trainer Clinton Anderson)
That quote isn't telling you to stand under a horse that rears; by all means keep yourself safe!
My only example is myself with the pony, before she turned sour to every person imaginable. She was notorious for chasing, biting, and kicking people who reacted to her. One grown man she began to chase -- he ran away, so she continued to chase him. Since then she has no respect for him and has continued her abuse. Myself and my boss, on the other hand, would hold our ground as she would pace towards us. Several times she's even stood about 5 feet away and crow hopped (reared up a tiny bit). Not getting a satisfactory reaction from us, she left us alone and wouldn't pick on us.
Respect from the horses doesn't happen overnight. It's something that's constantly changing and needs to be adjusted (the horses will test each person multiple times; it's our job to justify that we're still in charge). Don't mess with a horse's food, especially if you don't know that horse well, especially rescue horses, because you don't know anything about them. They may be extremely food aggressive and react horribly to your presence. Others could give a crap less.
Again, talk to a superior. Voice your concerns. Don't put yourself in dangerous situations because they're overestimating your abilities.
Keep trying find someone who has horse knolage to help you hands on. It is well worth it.
I probably made it sound like these people just let me loose and said good luck but that was not the case. Every situation that I have been in I have been told the right way to do it and the wrong way. When the colt reared and I was in his stall changing the water I was told how to correct him but I was still in shock so I walked out and let somebody else correct him. Im only 5'0" so everything seems to be a bit scarier to me.
I think I need to work on my confidence but its not easy with these aggressive horses.
I wish I was near you. I am very good with busting confidence. I have had many students come to me scared. I wish I could talk you threw it. It is not easy to do on computer.
I can understand about your confidence. Mine was nearly shot when Creampuff bit me for the first time. It hurt! Most horses don't "just act that way." It's something in your body posture, or a sound you make, that triggers their fight reaction. (Remember, these guys are prey animals and don't pick fights just for the hell of it.)
Obviously you're doing something right, you haven't been seriously injured. Hopefully you can learn plenty of things from people here involving horses to keep it that way without you losing your love for the animals.
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