I took about 6-7 years off. During that time, I "settled down:" got married and had a baby.
My son is now 2 years old and I basically jumped back into riding with both feet. Rather than simply taking lessons like I planned, I bought a very green 16HH, six-year-old gelding (Oz).
I bought Oz in September of last year and he's been in training with a very good trainer since then. At first I assisted in a lot of it but life got in the way (new job, tons of overtime hours). There were a couple of periods where he wasn't in training (he injured himself twice, then we had a hot spell).
I rode him for the first time last weekend. It was good... but I find myself being super nervous riding him. He's very sensitive and has BIG movement. He also has a history of bucking: the first few steps he's pretty tense and if you don't let him relax he might buck.
Saturday he bucked for the trainer for the first time in months... of course I was there to see it and of course it was the day I rode him for the first time. The trainer calmed him down in short order and after he'd settled I got on. I made a few mistakes but nothing major happened and all in all it was a good ride.
The thing is I dealt with stuff like this all the time when I was young and foolish. I'd never had any real training or lessons... I basically just got on and rode. I even did some "training" myself though now I realize that I got real lucky that the horses I worked with were so forgiving.
I've been taking lessons since I bought my new horse and am really learning how to ride now. My trainer is happy with my progress and she was the one who made the decision about when I was ready to ride Oz.
I think there's something about becoming a mom that makes a person feel a lot more mortal. Suddenly there's this little person who depends on you and loves you with all his heart and soul. My trainer put it this way, "You have a LOT to live for."
In retrospect I should've taken some lessons, been patient and waited for the right, TRAINED horse to come along. But.. now I have Oz and I've put a lot of time and money into him. He really is a sweet horse and really seems suited for the direction I want to go (Dressage clinics and maybe some small shows).
I've been honest with myself and with my trainer in that I haven't decided what the future holds. I plan to work with him and my trainer over the next several months and then make a decision. I will either decide to keep him, lease him or sell him. My trainer thinks I can get around $3,000 for him (or at least start him at that price).
I'm much more confident riding the lesson horse but he's been there done that. On the other hand, Oz is "a whole lotta horse."
Any advice on how to regain my confidence would be appreciated.