New Horse Owner Looking for Advice - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 05-24-2016, 10:30 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: East Norriton, PA
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Red face New Horse Owner Looking for Advice

Hey everyone! I'm a new horse owner and was hoping to get some feedback from some more experience folks.

First, some background information. I've been riding on and off since my twenties (I'm late thirties now), but mainly on lesson horses. A few years ago, I leased a very well-trained gelding for about a year and had a great experience with him. Trusted him completely. Then someone at the place I rode was offering a horse free to a good home and I naively took him without much thought. Turns out he had not been ridden in several years and was an unsafe trail horse for me. I had him for three months before I finally had to rehome him. In that brief time he turned me into a anxious rider however, lacking in confidence.

Fast forward to today, about a year and half later. Decided I needed to get back into riding so I started looking for a horse that would be a much better fit. Ended up adopting a young mare from a rescue. Her name is Pearl and she's about 7-8 and believed to be a Tennessee Walker. She needs some work but she seemed very responsive to me during our test ride. I've only had her for a couple of weeks and haven't ridden her much at all during that time. I've mainly been doing ground work with her.

I guess I should get around to a question. :) How long will it take for me to build up my confidence with her and how long does it usually take to really bond with your horse? I know for some people it's love at first sight, but that's not how it was for me. I chose her because she's young, healthy, enjoys trail riding, and I was assured she would be a safe mount for me. I would really like to learn to love her, but part of me is worried that my anxiety is getting in the way of really bonding with her and learning to trust her.



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post #2 of 15 Old 05-24-2016, 10:43 AM
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: The boondocks of Kansas
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There is no timeline for every rider to regain that lost confidence since each of us is an individual with unique traits, experiences, expectations, attitude, and a host of other variables. At this point, I suggest finding an instructor to work with you and your mare to help you overcome your fears and assess exactly how well she's trained, find the holes in her training and get them fixed, and give her a refresher on her training. Between lessons, working on groundwork and riding in a controlled area are good confidence builders if the mare is a good beginner horse. Good Luck and enjoy your new mare!
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post #3 of 15 Old 05-24-2016, 10:48 AM
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Really that business about, "Oh we saw each other and just instantly fell head over heels." is a load of nonsense, both with horses and men. Most of the time you start hanging out because you have the same interests and goals and values and then the bond, or love, develops. I can honestly say I love all horses. I've met several I didn't LIKE however. When that happens, it's not a good match and you need to move on. It sounds like you both love and like this horse, so time will develop the bond.

And what is the bond? It's not fairy dust and unicorn f*rts. It develops slowly as you get to know one another. She will learn that you are firm, fair and consistent through your training and she'll start to really trust you and will look forward to her time with you (or maybe she won't be terribly demonstrative, some aren't) and you will build confidence in her abilities and know her issues. I had a QH that I'd had since he was a 2 y.o. If that horse looked at something and didn't want to go, we didn't go. There was always a good reason. Others, I will figure out if there's a good reason or if they're playing or lazy or just bratty that day. That level of knowledge takes time to build.

Right now, just hang out, work her, groom her, ride her and build your confidence together. One day you'll find that you two have made a really good team or you'll figure out that you don't fit and you'll find another horse to try with. If you are having anxiety, she will feel it and it will make her uneasy, and neither one will trust the other. So you need to figure out WHY you're so anxious and get past it. Will it be resolved with a few lessons, are you just having a little buyer's remorse, do you just need to take her and you out on a nice long trail ride and get some sweaty blankets for both of you? All just food for thought.

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post #4 of 15 Old 05-24-2016, 10:54 AM
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Location: Indiana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitorikiri View Post
I guess I should get around to a question. :) How long will it take for me to build up my confidence with her and how long does it usually take to really bond with your horse? I know for some people it's love at first sight, but that's not how it was for me. I chose her because she's young, healthy, enjoys trail riding, and I was assured she would be a safe mount for me. I would really like to learn to love her, but part of me is worried that my anxiety is getting in the way of really bonding with her and learning to trust her.
Well, first of all, nice looking horse! Second, I'm really happy to see your list of "why's" for getting this horse. You made an educated, responsible decision and I think it will serve you well. Are you planning on having a trainer work with this horse at all? That's what I would recommend. Send her to a trainer for at least 30 days, preferably 60 and WATCH the trainer work with your horse and ride your horse. About a year ago I found myself super anxious and had lost all my confidence just by lack of riding. So I sent my mare out and watched the trainer work with her, he also worked with me. After about three weeks, all the nerves were out and NOW I have the relationship with my horse that I've always wanted.

Don't worry about "bonding" yet. That will come. Focus now on your leadership abilities and establishing your confidence again. The bonding will follow.

Good luck...and HAVE FUN!
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post #5 of 15 Old 05-24-2016, 10:55 AM
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^Love at first sight is totally a thing ;D!

But! Back on topic--firstly, congrats on the new mare! She's lovely!
Are you working with a trainer presently, OP? I think that's your best bet in really building your confidence. A trainer can suggest exercises that will be beneficial to you. Plus, it's always nice to have another set of eyes around! <3
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post #6 of 15 Old 05-24-2016, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitorikiri View Post
I chose her because she's young, healthy, enjoys trail riding, and I was assured she would be a safe mount for me.
I guess my first question is: Who exactly was it that "assured" you she would be a safe horse for you?

Are you working with a trainer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitorikiri View Post
Ended up adopting a young mare from a rescue. Her name is Pearl and she's about 7-8 and believed to be a Tennessee Walker. She needs some work but she seemed very responsive to me during our test ride. I've only had her for a couple of weeks and haven't ridden her much at all during that time. I've mainly been doing ground work with her.
Ground work is fine and gives you an opportunity to get to know your horse, and of course work on any ground manner problems. But if you bought her to ride, well, as some point you'll need to saddle up on a regular basis!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitorikiri View Post
How long will it take for me to build up my confidence with her and how long does it usually take to really bond with your horse?
I've been riding horses for almost 30 years. For myself personally, I don't really like the word "bond" to be used to explain the relationship between a horse and a human. I think horses can certainly learn to trust and respect their human handler, but in my mind, they are an animal with certain instincts and their own personality characteristics.

Rather than the word "bond", for me it's more of a matter of how long it takes to me to get to know the horse inside and out and know how the horse is going to react in situations. With my current horse Red, I'd say it was a good year before we got over some of our issues and I knew I could trust him. With my aunt's horse I borrowed last year, heck, I was sending him over jumps on a loose reins in just a couple weeks, trusting that he would go over them and not balk and/or refuse even though it was new to him. Every horse is different.

There's no way to answer how long it will take. You'll have to progress at your own pace. Not only will you have to get to know your horse, but you are going to have to overcome your previous bad experience. Do realize, if you want to progress, you HAVE to push yourself out of your comfort zone. No one ever learned anything by staying comfortable!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitorikiri View Post
I would really like to learn to love her, but part of me is worried that my anxiety is getting in the way of really bonding with her and learning to trust her.
Not only does anxiety affect you, but it will negatively affect her too. If the horse senses that you are anxious, they will be less likely to trust you. So it's a two-way street.

You will have to find a way to manage or eliminate your anxiety. Again, impossible to say how long that will take because it is different for everyone.

∞•*˚ Βгįťţαňγ ˚*•∞
It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.
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post #7 of 15 Old 05-24-2016, 11:51 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the replies! I am taking lessons with her but I was reluctant to put her in training without me because I tried that with the previous horse and although he was great for the trainer, he was awful with me. During my lessons, the trainer has shown me some groundwork techniques to use as well as in-saddle stuff.
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post #8 of 15 Old 05-24-2016, 03:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitorikiri View Post
I am taking lessons with her but I was reluctant to put her in training without me because I tried that with the previous horse and although he was great for the trainer, he was awful with me.
It is true that a trainer has to train BOTH the horse and the rider. Yes, you can send your horse for training if need be, but still continue to take lessons once a week while your horse is in training.

If a trainer will not allow you to do this (take lessons while the horse is in training) then that's your first clue to find a different trainer. Any reputable trainer understands the importance of training the rider, along with the horse.
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∞•*˚ Βгįťţαňγ ˚*•∞
It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.
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post #9 of 15 Old 05-24-2016, 04:14 PM
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Another option, if you can find it and have the time to do it this way is to find a trainer that will train both of you.

(This was a "green as grass" horse) For half an hour to an hour, my trainer would ride the horse, teach it a few things and then I would ride directly afterwards and repeat the same things he was doing. That way, I had an eye on me to make sure my cues were correct and that the horse was understanding them as I was presenting them. Then I would work the horse just on those things for the next two days on my own, then the trainer would come back (to my house) and check progress and if we were both ready, move on to teaching the next cue to the horse.

I liked it because it built my confidence up to work on my own, to see that the horse was not a demon under saddle and I could watch what the trainer would do to "fix" any problems that cropped up (along with an explanation as to why it was happening) and then get a chance to do the same thing with some guidance before going it alone for a few days.
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“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer


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post #10 of 15 Old 05-24-2016, 05:16 PM
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I'm no expert and am quite new to all this, and I know every horse is different - but here's my experience for what it's worth:

- Rode my friend's bombproof horse casually for a few years (after never really riding in my life, though always wanted to). **All sorts of confidence! On top of the world!
- We decided I needed my own horse when this one became unrideable due to arthritis. ** Sad but exciting
- After a long and cautious search, thought we had bought me the perfect horse a year ago February...
- Realized this wasn't going to work and we needed to 'break up'. Sold her. **Demoralized, confidence shot.... anxious but decided to try again.
- bought my current mare about 4 months ago. She seemed solid, but I was the one who got 'spooked' easily every time she seemed to do something 'wrong'... as is obvious by my overreactive posts on this forum for the first couple of months ("she is jiggy when saddling! she slowed and looked at the gate! the sky is falling!!!"). Every time, some wise posters on this forum calmed me down and gave me a few simple things to try... and low and behold, with this very willing horse every issue has resolved so easily and often it was something I was causing. We are learning the 'dance' together. (though I'm sure I'll be posting more anxiety-fueled posts in the future..!).

I realized about 3 weeks ago that suddenly my anxiety has mostly melted away, and I'm truly crazy about her. She seems to get pleasure out of being with me and is calm and gently friendly. We've had opportunities to find ourselves in startling situations, and I was very comfortable with her level of reaction (and she seemed to trust me as well). I'd call that the beginning of a nice bond.

I'm a mid-lifer finally making time for horses... Having a blast, but there's soooo much to learn -
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