Needing Advice/Motivation - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 02:25 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Canada
Posts: 400
• Horses: 1
Needing Advice/Motivation

Guys, I'm in need of some motivation, or advice. Things have been a little tough lately.

Basically, I have a now 9 year old TB gelding who is amazing. He's super sweet and will do anything I ask him to and loves to play around at liberty.

However, when it comes to riding, we have some trouble. Where I currently board him at, he's in a outdoor paddock so that he can still move and stretch his legs when I'm not around instead of a stall. However, the indoor arena is tiny. Like, it's the size of 3 or 4 standard roundpens put together in an oval instead of single roundpens. Or is about a quarter of the size of a regular arena.

Due to how small the arena is, I feel like it's both frustrating me and my boy. He's 16.1 hh so he has long legs and eats up the distance from one end of the arena to other in less than 10 strides. If cantering, I'd say it takes him maybe 3 - 5 strides to get from one end to the other. So while it works for liberty type work, ground work, and that kind of stuff, it doesn't work so well when it comes to riding.

He's also had a lot of time off this winter since a month and a half after I got him, he lost a lot of weight so I stopped riding him and worked on getting him to gain weight which also included a visit to the vet to get his teeth done and also got see chiro. All in all, it took 2 months for him to gain enough weight to be able to be brought back into work. I rode him for literally 4 days before I got incredibly sick where I couldn't even go to work. So he had another 2 weeks off before I was able to lunge him a bit and got about 2 rides on him before we got extremely cold temperatures of -50 C so again, he had 2 weeks off.

The weather had finally warmed up but I'm not even interested in going riding just because I know things aren't going to change. With him feeling a little fresh from the warmer weather and inconsistent work along with me being a bit of a beginner and a tiny arena just does not work. I can feel his displeasure at doing the same thing every time we go in and I also feel a little claustrophobic with it. I want to branch out and do more, but there's only enough space for a few ground poles and that's it. Maybe one jump. And there's no room to remotely attempt barrel racing or pole bending just for the fun of it.

Also, due to the fact we haven't done many rides, we haven't been able to properly connect in saddle either. What I feel needs to happen for us to get on the same page, is be in a big arena, and just work it out. I've worked with a horse in the past that the way for us to get along and make progress, was for me to canter him down the arena and for the first bit, he'd always buck when going into the canter (no health reasons, he just got so excited he didn't know how process it at first) so by going down the long end and letting him get out of his system, he soon settled and with each ride, there were fewer and fewer bucks and we became a great team. And this is what I feel my boy and I need to do. Go to a big arean, and get the bucks out so to speak.

It's not really about him throwing a fit or me trying to be the boss, but where we can lay everything on the table, say this is who I am, I want to be your partner, so lets just lay it all out there and start working together.

The tricky part is that I have 2 horses. And there are two places to board at in my town. However, to go to the other stable means that they would have to be in stalls, but could use a much larger arena. So basically, I stay where I am and have out door paddock for them to hang out in and tiny arena that restricts us, or go to a stall and a much larger arena where we have space.

And I do have a trainer I work with in case any of you are wondering about that.
So, what would you guys do in my situation? Move to the stable with larger arena, or stay where I am at? Or perhaps split the two horses and take my big guy to the larger arena, and keep my youngster where he's at since he doesn't need much work as he's young and is better off in a paddock where it's alright if I can't work both of them everyday? Or do you guys have other options I'm not seeing?

I just need to figure out something because riding is starting to become a chore at this point and I don't want that to continue.
Also, hauling Sam into the bigger arena won't work as I don't have a truck or trailer myself. So if I move him, it's a long term type of move.

Pic of my big guy, Sam.

SummerBliss is offline  
post #2 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 02:31 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Texas
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I would bring this up with my trainer and try to come up with a workable solution!
txgirl is offline  
post #3 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 02:40 PM
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Personally I would err on the side of the horse. In my opinion it’s much better for the horses to have access to a paddock than be stuck in a stall. Riding comes secondary to the horses living conditions. When life happens, at least with a paddock they can move around on their own. Whereas in a stall you’re not leaving the horses much option. With spring on the way, the ability to ride outside will come in a few months. Just my 2 cents
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Saigold is offline  
post #4 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 02:47 PM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Vermont
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First, I'll say that last winter I rode less than a dozen times because of temps, ice, and no indoor. Around here a lot of horses just get the winter off, because the inconsistent work can sometimes be worse than no work!

A few thoughts:
1. Is the outdoor paddock large enough to ride in? Could you swap the young one into the tiny indoor and ride in the paddock?
2. Do you have room outside for lots of long walks along roads, fields, fencelines, etc? Even walks in hand can help you and your newish horse get to know each other better. Doesn't solve your under saddle challenges, but still time well spent, in my opinion. Also easier when the temps are really cold.
3. I don't have my own trailer, so I get the trailering challenges. But that might not necessarily mean you can't get out to the big arena sometimes. E.g., through a local Facebook page, maybe you can find someone with similar riding goals that you might be able to catch a ride with sometimes. I got really lucky in that I found a riding buddy who didn't mind trailering me out sometimes using a local FB horse group.
4. I personally know my horses wouldn't do well being stalled, so I wouldn't consider that option. Works great for some horses though, so could be an option.
5. When I was boarding, I often trail rode with someone who boarded her trail horse where I did but kept her youngster at her neighbor's house. It seemed like she always felt pulled in too many directions because she had to see horses in multiple locations. But if you're really organized and only riding one of them, maybe it could work.
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egrogan is offline  
post #5 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 02:53 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Arizona
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Hmm. I've never had more than a round pen and no arena at all so take this with a grain of salt.

Can you round pen him pretty good and then ride him out? Maybe round pen, saddle up and ride a little in your "arena" and when he seems nice and responsive, ride him out? Do you have a place to ride out or someone to go with? I would guess not or you would have mentioned it. If you do ride him out, if he is spooky at all, it might be nice to have someone to ride out with just to see if he is okay with it.

I don't know what your situation is, so it's hard to recommend anything. Those are just the thoughts that come to mind. Certainly if you don't think it's safe to ride out, don't. But if it you have dirt roads with reasonable drivers or a nearby forest to ride to, that is what I always do. Lots of stimulation and never boring!

They DO tend to act a bit hyper when given time off, mine always have. But I know of no way around it other than trying to burn off some of the excess energy either in a pen with them loose or under saddle if they can be trusted that way.
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trailhorserider is offline  
post #6 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Canada
Posts: 400
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Thanks guys for some of your input.

I can't swap my young guy into the arena and ride in the paddock, as the two are pretty much the same size, paddock being slightly smaller, and the ground is not good enough for decent riding due to the snow and rain we're getting.

My boarding situation currently is a large outdoor arena that is completely burred in snow so it can't be used as it hasn't been maintained in the slightest. Can't use the round pen for the same reasons. Only trails I have are one that goes into a large park a block away where there's tons of other people and kids and the other goes along a walking trail and I don't know where it actually goes since it does cross streets and such but with no directions. I know it's supposed to lead into some type of forested trail but you have to cross a road or two and I don't know where those are since the walking trail isn't that clearly marked. So I might be able to ride a block or so, then be stuck with turning back.

I don't have anyone to ride with as I have no friends in this town. I know a few horse people but that's purely because they run or maintain the barn and grounds or deliver hay but that's it. Everyone sort of has their own group and they come out during times that I can't. So I haven't been able to make any horse related friends so I have no one to ride with. So working with the horses can feel quite lonely due to this.

I also agree it is a better situation to have the horse in an outdoor paddock versus a stall. I believe the other stable does have out door paddocks as well, but when I inquired about them a month or so ago, they were all booked up and only had a few stalls available. I might ask again and see if anything's changed since then.

I'm also just really struggling to even want to do anything with horses because I am so alone with them and the feeling of not making in progress in my own riding or what I do with them. A couple years ago a fight over the fact I had to take care of my horses led to me losing a friendship and so instead of horses being an escape for me, they've become an isolation and judgment thing. My family judges what I do or don't do, and I've had that happen at the stable I'm at as well with some of the people there. I'm struggling most of the time to not give up on being with horses. I've had some really good memories and accomplishments with them, but it's like no matter where I turn, there's someone pealing another strip off me and the fact that I'm in a cramped riding space where Sam and I can't even get on the same page under saddle is like icing on the cake.
SummerBliss is offline  
post #7 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 04:02 PM
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 400
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I understand where you're coming from. The arena (though outdoor) where I board is also tiny and sometimes frustrating. My horse doesn't like it, and she also has a huge stride. At first, I had absolutely no clue there were any trails at all near my boarding facility - until the barn owner mentioned "If you cross the road, there are some trails and a river you can ride through," and we rode them together so she could show me where they went. At first I thought she was crazy for expecting me to ride my horse across a busy road - now I do it at least a few times a week!

What's there to lose if you go out on one of those trails that crosses roads/may or may not lead anywhere? Worst thing that could happen is you saddle up, walk a short ways with your horse, get a few minutes of fresh air and scenery, and then turn around. Best thing that could happen is you find a whole expanse of wooded trails you never realized existed! If you don't feel confident about riding your horse alone in a new area, you can walk it on foot first, to see how far/where it goes. Or, ask around with the other boarders/barn owner to see if they know any trails, or even ride on some with you.
Aprilswissmiss is offline  
post #8 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 04:23 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: MD
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I understand your frustration. But, good thing is, you CAN make it work, without moving them. I also wouldn't recommend keeping them stalled!

At the private barn I'm at now, I don't even have an arena, so I just ride in my horse's pasture. There's a roundpen as well, but it needs sand, so it's kinda outta the question at the moment.

There's also trails in walking distance, so I don't have to haul even though I do have a trailer, but still - it's nice to have them nearby. We literally go exploring all the time - we found a new area the other day, just by wandering about. I say go for it!

It's nice to get them out a bit. Even if it's not a long ride. The trails in walking distance for me aren't HUGE or anything, but they are trails nonetheless. No matter how short the ride is, when you're exploring new areas, who cares?! It keeps them busy & they will enjoy it, trust me.

So, that being said, I would try to venture out of the barn & explore the trails a bit. It would get the both of you out of the arena. You can handwalk at first if you are concerned about riding. Or check them out with a friend. Riding in the winter is frustrating. I don't ride as much as I'd like, because it's dark at the barn & even though I have a flashlight/headlamp, I still just don't like riding in the dark. I do sometimes, but I am dying for the clocks to go forward so I can enjoy my sunset rides again.

I always ride alone, so I understand, but it's nice to get away from everything & everyone, & enjoy the horses. Make it fun!

Ride more, worry less.

Last edited by PoptartShop; 01-27-2020 at 04:30 PM.
PoptartShop is offline  
post #9 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 06:24 PM
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Southern OR
Posts: 88
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Don't feel bad if you can't ride every day. I don't have an arena and my trailer has an electrical issue so I haven't ridden in weeks. :'( I agree that staying where you are is probably the best bet for your horses, especially the big guy. If you think he's fresh now, imagine if he was cooped up in a stall for most of the day. Riding is nice but IMO it's better for their mental state to be turned out and able to pick and choose when to move around, even if the paddock is small.

You said the arena is small. Would it be possible to use it to lunge or free-work him before riding? If he can get some shenanigans out on his own he might settle down to work better. Even if you can't ride him at a fast gait or do any jumping, there are always exercises to help him focus. Walk and trot is better than nothing, and sometimes focused work at a slower pace is better to calm a horse down than just balls-to-the-wall until they tire out a little and are willing to pay attention. You mentioned you have a trainer - does the trainer have any suggestions?

I get the alone thing. I get that horses can be frustrating. But hang in there! Try to remember all the reasons they are a joy for you and focus on those.
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ďA bad day of roping beats a good day raking.Ē ~Buck Brannaman
RIP Ben 04/01/1998 - 02/28/2017
dustywyatt is offline  
post #10 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 09:58 PM
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 140
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I did something crazy and posted an ad for friends. Lol. Well more like someone to go riding with. And I had a few people reply and one lady is a good friend of mine now. We met in person at a horse clinic less than a week after talking online. At the clinic people asked how we knew each other and we’d tell them that that was actually the first time meeting, they would look at us like we lost our minds lol.
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