Confidence lost... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 08-17-2014, 06:01 AM Thread Starter
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Confidence lost...

Have you ever lost your confidence in riding? If yes, how did you get it back? In the last few months, my confidence has taken a hit on three separate fronts. Although I've been riding for nine months without major incident (fell off once at fairly low speed,) I have had several close calls, mostly in the paddock and then with more experienced people and their horses.

I've watched a woman who has been riding all her life be tossed off a gelding she described as 'perfectly safe', and who she had owned for almost a decade. I mean, he bucked her right off, no qualms about it. That really shocked me. It's one thing to say beginners mess up horses and end up being thrown because they do it all wrong and ruin the horse, but when you see experienced people being thrown by horses they swear are gentle and safe, it makes you question not just people's judgement, but the safety of horses in general.

I don't own my own horse, and obviously I am not ready to, so that means school horses. The place I've been getting lessons at makes you get the horse in out of the paddock and then put it back all on your own. They also have electric tape strung in triangular fashion a few yards back from every gate. So basically, there's sort of an 'airlock' when you're getting horses in and out. Which sounds great in theory, but in practice, if something spooks the horse (like getting an unanticipated shock from the fence) you're now stuck in a tiny triangle with a panicked animal. I've also had a near miss where I have been putting one horse away and another one decided to come and give it a nip, putting me between horse and fence, ie, the wrong side of 500 kgs.

So that's another factor which has been keeping me away from lessons. I don't want to deal with the sole responsibility of situations which seem to put me and the horse at risk. I am also concerned that the lesson horse I'd been riding was lame for an extended period of time, and frankly, didn't want a bar of being ridden. If I'm to ride, I want to ride a horse that is content to be ridden and is definitely sound.

I was wondering if anyone had similar experiences? I don't want to give up, but at the moment I feel like the situations I find myself in aren't any good for the horses or me.
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post #2 of 34 Old 08-17-2014, 07:05 AM
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Riding is a risk sport. Majority of falls are more damaging to the ego than the body. There are falls where you do get hurt, break something or have a concussion and then there is the fall that can kill you, often these are innocuous ones that just go wrong.

Handing I horses can be equally as risky. You can get knocked over, toes trodden on kicked, bitten barged into and anything else you can think of.

It is fact, horses can be potentially dangerous. They have their own minds and occasionally, even the best, can do something untoward.

So, weighing up all the risks, why do we still wish to ride? I can only speak for me and say that it has been part of me. Yes'm I have had some pretty bad injuries, broken most bones, concussed so many times that when concussed I know i am! When I was injured and arrived home my wise mother would say, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen."
I learned from mistakes, I learned from experienced horsemen, I learned from watching horses in the fields, I learned from experience.
The good far outweighed the bad, the joy of working a problem out with a horse, the feeling of riding and being as one with the horse. The aching of muscles as I worked a racehorse wanting to go faster than he should and the exhilaration of having kept him at the correct pace until it is time to open my fingers and feel him surge into a full gallop and stride away. Following Foxhounds and taking all sorts of fences in the way not knowing what might happen should you or the horse make a mistake, gets the adrenalin flowing to the point that you really do not care.

You do not appear to have been taught how to deal with situations like when the other horse came over to nip the one you were leading, that is up to the instructors to not only tell you but to also show you how to deal with these incidents.

Any horse can go lame for a variety of reasons, you have to accept that. When I was teaching at a riding school I would frequently change what horse a rider had so that they learned to ride different types.

You need to speak to the people that are teaching you, explain your worries and if they are any good they will show you how to take control.
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post #3 of 34 Old 08-17-2014, 10:03 AM
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I agree with Foxhunter on her last part. If you don't know how to handle the horse you need to be taught and not pushed into getting shocked and shoved by a horse.

I have lost confidence. I purposely fell off my horse, I mean, what inexperienced rider on a galloping (or maybe cantering, I have no clue) horse wouldn't? And it was on the first time I rode him at our place. After that whenever we'd go to ride, I'd have my brother ride first to get Roman's "jitters" out. Then when it was my turn I'd get nervous before getting on. Once in the saddle, if Roman pawed because he was impatient, I'd freak out and want off immediately!

I'm not sure how I got over it. Maybe lots of riding.

I bet your best option is to talk to the people at your barn for help.
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post #4 of 34 Old 08-17-2014, 10:32 AM
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When I first started being around horses, I was (secretly) terrified of handling them on the ground. I was a bit embarrassed to see my 5 foot nothing trainer handling 17hh warmbloods when my 5 foot 9 was so nervous. Once I got on their back... My confidence was back, no matter how hot the horse. I've ridden out plenty of bucks and bolts in the saddle, but there's something so much more intimidating about a horse doing it beside you on the ground.

Horses are risky no matter whether you're on their back or beside them on the ground. Being experienced and knowing what to look for can prevent unnecessary accidents, but it's also not a guaranteed safeguard. Your job is to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks...

Agree with the others on the handling issue... Definitely ask your instructor what to do in those situations that are making you nervous. I think the "airlock" fence is also a bit of a bad design, if it's really that small... I don't like to go out of my way to be in a small enclosed space with horses, particularly when it's electric fencing with horses on the other side!

"I would rather die of passion than of boredom." –Vincent van Gogh
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post #5 of 34 Old 08-17-2014, 05:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone, you all made a lot of good points, just wanted to mention that I have no issues with the horse going lame in itself. My issue was that I was riding that horse for several months and it never seemed to be better. I was moved off it for a while, then bought back onto it, and it's only a pony, maybe 5'1 hands if that, and I'm a full sized adult 5'6 weighing 168 pounds. And the horse never seemed to be having a whole lot of fun.

I mean, shouldn't the horse be enjoying the process too? It seems to me that a whole lot of horses are just waiting to get their rider the heck off their backs - and that's what bothers me the most. At the very least, you'd want the horse to be okay with what's going on, not actively hating it's life, surely?

My instructor tends to think that everyone who doesn't do everything right at the outset is an idiot, which doesn't encourage questions. I think I'll try another riding place and see how I feel. When it was fun riding horses, it was great, I just had a several month period of seeing horses do the ****edest things to people who seemed to think that was normal.
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post #6 of 34 Old 08-17-2014, 05:40 PM
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Oh yes. I've been riding seriously since age 6, had my first pony since age 2 and when I really started riding I immediately started on bigger ponies and small horses.

My first riding horse was a retired Standardbred. My mother and I were meant to share her, but I didn't have a connection with her as much as my mom did, so I was 7 years old when I got my first own horse - a 17 year old thoroughbred mare that was bred and raised on an equestrian centre for disabled children. The only thing the owners didn't mention (probably on purpose) was that this horse was anything but used for the disabled riders. Funny, because she was absolutely great during the test ride and the first week when we got her.

She was a really nice horse but under saddle, it was a pocket rocket. She'd get spooked by literally nothing, and would do great until she decided it was time to race.

I was crazy about her but after an ugly fall (to which I ended up in the fence and got a kick back because she was spooked) I lost all my confidence to ride any horse again. It took 6 months, with help of my instructor and her sister, to get that confidence and trust back - but after that, I felt as though we were ruling the world.

Probably every equestrian has lost trust once and if they didn't, they most likely will in the future. At the end of the day you're still working with a living being, that has a mind of it's own.

Lord, if we should stumble, my horse and I, pick my horse up first for he has carried me through both heaven and hell.
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post #7 of 34 Old 08-17-2014, 07:34 PM
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I agree with most in saying that you take a natural risk when riding, but of course this is true of many sports. Do remember that any fear that you have will transfer to the horse.
It simply sounds like you like the idea of riding, but are a bit timid at this point. Nothing wrong with that, but you have to have a level of confidence in yourself and your horse to be successful. You will fall on occasion , but typically will just get back in the saddle. I have fallen several times and just feel like it is part of the sport.

You just need to ask yourself if you really want to ride and don't overthink your answer. Riding is the very best part of my week and I spend about ten additional hours each weekend just to clean tack, clean and muck. I don't have to, but it just love being with the horses. Always asking questions and always learning. I view it as a gift to myself.
There are so many things you can learn without evening being on a horse.

Just relax, think good thoughts and ride !

My best to you.
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post #8 of 34 Old 08-18-2014, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by FerrumEquus View Post
. I think I'll try another riding place and see how I feel. .
I agree, try another place, riding is supposed to be fun, and if you feel like you can't ask questions then you have the wrong instructor.

Questions should be encouraged, and the answers should be clear and understandable!
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post #9 of 34 Old 08-18-2014, 11:24 AM
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yes, I did. Rode a couple bad horses in a row and was too stubborn to give up. It was so bad that I would go get a horse from the pasture that was well broke, brush it, tack it up, walk 20', get off, untack and put it out. That was the most I could do without panicking. And just months before I was galloping ottb's down crazy trails fearlessly.

I starting slow, had some good people help me out and slowly put things back together. It took over a year.
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post #10 of 34 Old 08-18-2014, 01:00 PM
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I agree with you and PP's, riding should be fun and find an instructor who is knowledgeable and also doesn't make you feel stupid for learning the ropes! I have been taking lessons and I can honestly say that a lot of my confidence comes from my instructor. She 100% tells me what I am doing right and corrects what I am doing wrong in a non-chastising way. Anyways, maybe look for another one :)


I look at horses like this: every day I go to work (in a cubicle farm) and wish that I was outside somewhere riding, grooming the horse, soaking up some sun in the saddle, making little jogs around the arena, etc. THAT outweighs the fear of getting hurt. I have two medium sized dogs, that are really playful and rambunctious. Even though they are trained and listen to my commands, sometimes they step on my pinky toe or jump faster than I was anticipating and grab the treat (and my fingers) with their teeth! It hurts! Horses are no different, just on a larger scale. They WILL do something that causes a sting, but don't let it shake your confidence. Any time you're dealing with animals on a regular basis, you're dealing with a level of unpredictability.

The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire. ~Sharon Ralls Lemon
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