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post #21 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
No worries Dreamcatcher Arabians - your tone was not at all accusatory :) You're absolutely right about my anxiety being a big part of the problem. Yet I think I'd have to be stupid not to be nervous at all about this! That doesn't help the situation though, and I recognize that. Have gotten some good reassurance and suggestions here, and I feel I can keep at it and eventually get the result I want.

Thanks a lot for the great tips on crossing water! The issue is that I have two places I can cross. One is wider (like 4-5 feet, really not any significant water here normally) but shallow, however there is ice on both side of the bank and I don't like that idea. I worry he will break through the ice and that will create more stress (I know, I know, I'm already worrying about something that hasn't happened, but it's common sense! Ice breaks this time of year!). The other crossing, which I am going to try, has no ice, is very narrow, but deep. Also, there are trees surrounding the brook at both crossings, so taking it at an angle is not really an option (I'll be sure to remember that for other crossings though!). It will be straight down and up, but on the plus side, he doesn't need to step in the water - in fact, it would be best not to since it's a lot deeper there. He can easily step over since I can. I will get off and lead him over.

What about taking him to our property along the road because he is fairly quiet going in, and coming back by cutting through the brook? That way we don't backtrack at all. I could vary the ways of getting home too so he doesn't get into bad habits.
Ok, now that you've described it for me, here's how I would do it. Avoid the ice spots altogether until they are thawed and the water has slowed down. I think you said it was "raging" or "rushing" in the beginning? I have had a horse fall through ice in our stock pond, not fun. Didn't hurt the horse but of course, he got soaked and if it had been any deeper, he could have drowned because he was wearing a heavy blanket which got soaked. I had to take him in the garage, use several old wool army blankets and blow him dry to warm him up again. It was during one of our really bad ice storms and it was below zero with the wind chill. Not fun.

So, for the smaller one, I can tell you from practice that it could be problematic. Horses tend to think narrow, dark, lines (water or not) tend to be bottomless and can be very silly about crossing them. So just the fact that you can step over, doesn't always mean it will go smoothly. I'll see if I can find a post about my afternoon trying to persuade Lady B to cross a little crick like that and how I hid in the brush from the rescue helicopter thinking my friends had sent out search and rescue. She did eventually cross it when I threatened to take off all my tack and go off and leave her. She finally looked at me like, "Well, if you're going to be THAT way about it." and stepped over like she had just never really understood what I wanted. She was particular about her pedicures that way.

I would see if you could get a friend to go with you when you first attempt to get him to go over, that way if he stops the friend can give some "encouragement" with a stick or crop or something. Can save you HOURS.

For the road, I would make myself walk up and down it, in the saddle. Maybe only a few feet at the time but kind of an immersion therapy kind of thing. Ride a few feet, stop and force yourself to relax. Walk a few more feet, stop and BREATHE for a few minutes, sing, whistle, whatever works to keep the anxiety down. Once you can do that calmly with no cars, have a friend drive slowly by and you stop the horse and let him watch her pass, while you work on being calm.

Any time you see a car before you are ready, step to the side of the road, into a bar ditch or up on the side of an embankment, wherever you can get out of the road.

Don't worry about him rushing home at this point, just stop him and get off and on in different spots (out of the road way), turn circles, do some figure eights, whatever you can do to re-focus him. Concentrate on calming your anxiety and let him worry about his own for a little while. Once you have gotten yourself calm, then you can go on to concentrate on him and his being silly.

At this point, if you find you're getting too anxious, I would go back to the last place YOU are comfortable and stop there, get off and walk him home.

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post #22 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 05:39 PM
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Arcadian, sounds like you have a nice ride there. A narrow crick (have to remember that, never heard it, its cool) the horse is going to want to jump.

the wide one - take the kids for a walk and break it up, waalaa, early melt (if conditions allow - my tropical winters perhaps don't give me a good insight in to what you are facing!!!)

Get your trainer to teach you to jump. Low jumps are all you need to work with. But IMO at some stage on a trail your horse is going to jump something and you need the confidence to know its all right. Your daughter as well, she knows enough to start low jumps. You already do cavaletti yes?

Your first jump will be the cavaletti on high setting, the horse may barely jump it, almost step over. You will likely love it when you can jump. But I do think it is essential for when you go trail riding. If you don't have jumps available, all you need to collect is three 44 gallon drums (200 litre) or three bales hay/ straw or a pile of tyres (put a pole on top). Use drums on their sides to start, remember to put a pole or fence batten on each side so it doesn't roll too easily.

Even if your trainer isn't into jumping she should know enough to get you both competently going over 2' jumps.
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post #23 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 06:02 PM
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Miles, miles, and more miles.

Just keep at it. Overall, I'd say your first venture out with him ALONE was a great big success!

Pretty soon it will be no big deal.

I do agree with the others to make sure that YOU do not focus on oncoming traffic. Honestly, don't even look at the cars. Look straight ahead on the trail where you want Harley to go, and pretend the car isn't even there. Continue singing if you need to to keep your body languaged relaxed.

Most of the time when horses spook, is because they feel the rider tense up and then they believe there is something to worry about. But if the rider is relaxed, the horse will be inclinded to be relaxed. So you just have to figure out a technique to keep yourself relaxed.

∞*˚ Βгįťţαňγ ˚*∞
It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.
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post #24 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 07:23 PM
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I agree that you'd be weird if you weren't nervous - you've not had the horse long and you've only recently started riding again after a long break (I think that's right) plus you're amongst that group of us that aren't getting any younger so know that the floor's going to hurt more if we hit it.
There's no way that I will leap into situations the way I used too and I haven't had a break from riding as such - I've just gradually eased down over the years and I don't feel like I need to be the hero any more
Just take things a step at a time and if its feeling 'wrong' then take a step back - there's no rush, you'll get there in the end and preferably not via the ER
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post #25 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Whinnie View Post
Dream, you are the only person besides myself whom I have heard use "crick".
I grew up in rural upstate NY, and my family says "crick" too. We lived right off of "Crick Road" so I eventually had to figure out how to explain directions to friends in a way their parents could understand ;)
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post #26 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 08:31 PM
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I think you had a great first ride. It sounds like you have a good horse. I'm remembering now how terrified I was in the early days when a car came up while I was riding my big guy on the road. Since I live on a busy state highway, one of the resolutions to that issue was to move winter feeding out to the end of our driveway. Twice a day the horses are standing out there for hours watching a continuous parade of tractor trailers, motorcycles, emergency vehicles, boats or snowmobiles on trailers covered with flapping tarps, and more. Now if they are lying down when sheriff's car goes by at 90 mph running lights and siren, they don't even get up. it's been a many years since my big guy reacted to car when I'm on the road. I realize that isn't practical for everyone. Anyway, he will be less excited after the trip becomes routine. Meanwhile, positive mental imaging can enable you to fool your horse into believing you aren't scared.

One other tip on the whole car thing -- what is the worst that could happen? What did you previous horse do to inspire such terror? The one thing that helps me remain calm and confident now is I know my big guy will respond to a one-rein stop RIGHT NOW. No matter what spooks him, (and he will always be a little spooky, you can't desensitize a horse to everything) I know I only have to stay on for 10-20' of excitement and he'll calm down. Even I can stay on for 20'.

As far as rushing home, I don't like the idea of trying to ride past the driveway. One of my first rules of horse safety is never start a fight with your horse that you aren't sure you can win. Here are two suggestions that will solve the problem without the drama. First, when you get back to the barn, instead of taking off the tack, do some work right by the barn. Some trotting in circles, backing, leg yields, etc. or if you've had your fill of excitement, lunge him for 5-10 minutes.

Second, when you've finished with all that, tie him to a tree and let him stand there for an hour or two. It's very good practice for him anyway, and it's the perfect time to do it. The idea is to take some of the attraction out of getting home.

Good luck. I think repetition will solve most of your concerns.
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post #27 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
I grew up in rural upstate NY, and my family says "crick" too.
Actually, there are bodies of water that should only be called cricks, and they are quite distinct from their aristocratic kinfolk, known as creeks. The main distinction, as explained by outdoorsman and humorist Patrick McManus, is that a crick is a creek with cow manure in it.
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post #28 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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Dreamcatcher - thanks for the detailed description of you trying to get your horse across a crick (a word I've heard in Eastern Canada too)! I'm on my own doing all this, unfortunately, but I will arm myself with patience and carrots. I could ride him over on the road abd go home across the brook. If his sense of orientation tells him we are going back to the barn, he might be more motivated to cross.

ShirtHotTeez - The whole brook is really messed up at this other crossing so breaking up the ice may not just be difficult, it may not solve the footing problem. It's hard to describe, but during the spring thaw, the brook spreads out and new streams form, some making their way underground. The freezing and thawing then forms a crust that may look like solid ground, but is not. So until this crossing thaws and dries up a bit, I don't feel it's safe.

As for the jumping, I agree, I need to know how to do it. I guess I had always thought that I would just watch from the sidelines and watch my daughter jump, but I admit, I'm kind of excited about it! We have jumps and our trainer is a jumper so it's certainly doable. Guess it's never too late to learn!

Beau - Good point. I will try not to look at the cars. I do need to find a way to reduce my anxiety. On the plus side, the outdoor riding ring runs along the road so we will have lots of exposure to cars from the safety of an enclosed area.

Jaydee - correct on all counts and I certainly don't feel I need to be a hero. But I also feel there are certain things I need to work through so I can enjoy riding more fully. For me, that means riding trails. Funny how life throws your fears at you until you conquer them.
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post #29 of 49 Old 04-06-2016, 12:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Joel Reiter View Post
Actually, there are bodies of water that should only be called cricks, and they are quite distinct from their aristocratic kinfolk, known as creeks. The main distinction, as explained by outdoorsman and humorist Patrick McManus, is that a crick is a creek with cow manure in it.
LOL! Joel where I was at the time, the Mojave Desert, everything was a crick. I remember the first time I saw the Mississippi, up near IL. I was STUNNED. I never knew a river could be so wide.

Here's the biggest "river" I grew up around. I never saw water actually in the river channel. I understand that in 2005 it actually had water in it and it was quite deep.
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post #30 of 49 Old 04-06-2016, 02:53 AM
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lOts of good advise, and kudos to you, on that first ride out of your comfort zone
You have two things going on at the same time, far as making your horse somewhat anxious, and the fact that you handled it pretty well, is an accomplishment!
You worked him in an unfamiliar place, and then rode him where he wanted to go, taking him back to where he lives
Far as traffic, esp as Harley sound like he is used to it, only having fed off of your tenseness on the way back, there is a way to ride a horse past traffic, so that the only place he can go, is into the ditch, versus out onto the road, should he spook.
If you ask for his poll, take light contact, use legs to keep forward,and also use outside leg (next to road ) to bend ribs towards ditch, and then flex his neck so that his head is towards the road, thus shoulders towards the ditch, only place he can go, is into ditch.
Yes, vary up the routine, including riding past laneway (staying safe), tie him up when he gets back, etc.
Far as streams, cricks , ect, I don't allow my horse to get in the habit of jumping them There are several reasons for this, one being I really don't wish to ride across country course, and at times we have ground on the other side not safe to launch into, like boggy ground
You can feel when a horse is thinking about jumping. I will then really take ahold of them, making them give me their face and poll, while telling them to 'walk;, asking for one step at a time, getting down into that water, then give them aloose rein. They can't try to jump that way
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