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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In may I received a beautiful mare as a gift from my father who I found out a few days after receiving her, was terminally ill.

After finding out the news, I have felt so much pressure for us to “work” due to the sentimental value and meaningful gift she was for me. I don’t feel like I have given her the effort and time she deserves because I have been occupied with issues at home. Even with my lack of effort, this mare is all heart, loves to work and has a few quirks but nothing of concern.

I also had major surgery and took 8 weeks off riding over the fall. When I returned, my confidence was gone. And when I say gone, I mean, nearly crying at a trot. Absolutely terrified of riding.

Since my last ride, my dad has been given a few more weeks to live, and has commented multiple times about how happy he was to give me my mare, and how he hopes she’ll help me heal once he has passed.

I feel this immense pressure to make this partnership with my horse work, so much so that I think I have psyched myself out of riding completely. I have been going out to the barn when I have time, and have just spent time grooming her, but have not given riding another shot.

Does anyone have any tips on how to find that confidence to get back on the horse? Do I go back to step 1, and begin lessons at a walk? I’m kind of at a loss here. Please be nice!
 

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Going back to step one never hurts.

But I just wanted to say, you shouldn't be putting pressure on yourself to ride her. SHE doesn't mind not being ridden, I'm pretty sure. Why not just keep going out and spending time with her on the ground? Personally I think it's great to build a relationship before you start riding someone anyways. You could do fun things like trick training, or just hang out with her while she grazes.

Your father wanted to make you happy, not put pressure on you to do a particular thing. Or so it seems to me. Honestly I think the best thing you can do right now is to take all the pressure off yourself and just try to enjoy your horse however you want. You associate her with your father and right now that's a difficult association, obviously. If it were me, I'd give myself time to grieve before pushing myself. You don't want to associate forcing yourself to ride her with your father's situation.

Also, welcome to the forum, and I'm really sorry about your situation.
 

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I can relate to what you are going through completely! I am dealing with something similar with my new mare. I suggest getting help from a trainer. It’s more comfortable when you feel supervised by a professional that can recognize if there is a true reason to be afraid or if it is just a confidence issue.
 

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I feel this immense pressure to make this partnership with my horse work, so much so that I think I have psyched myself out of riding completely. I have been going out to the barn when I have time, and have just spent time grooming her, but have not given riding another shot.
It's OK NOT to ride. Your Dad's comment about her helping you heal when he is gone could very well apply to just spending time with her. Maybe you'll eventually ride her again; maybe not. Either way is OK ... just spend time with her now. That alone is worth it. If/when you are ready to try again, agree that finding a good trainer (one who is patient but knows when to push a little) to lesson with would be a good thing. Be kind to yourself. It's a difficult time.
 

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Is part of your fear the possibility that you may get hurt because of your surgery or of trotting? I would think that to take your lessons at a walk until you feel confident enough to build to a trot. Or is it more of a fear of letting your father down? If it is the latter you maybe so badly physic out that you are having trouble relaxing . Take you time and if you can only spend time with your horse and groom and bond that is not wasted time and may help you build towards riding her.
 

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Honestly, there's so much more to horses than just riding. I love to ride, but on days I don't ride, I enjoy them even more. Groundwork, liberty work, just being with them can be so fun & relaxing. :) I think once you continue building a bond on the ground, really connecting with her even more, you'll be able to start riding again. But take it step by step, day by day. There is NO rush. Do what you feel comfortable with. But, starting with her on the ground will give you confidence.

And hugs to you, I am so sorry you are going through this. :(
 

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Honestly, there's so much more to horses than just riding. I love to ride, but on days I don't ride, I enjoy them even more. Groundwork, liberty work, just being with them can be so fun & relaxing. :) I think once you continue building a bond on the ground, really connecting with her even more, you'll be able to start riding again. But take it step by step, day by day. There is NO rush. Do what you feel comfortable with. But, starting with her on the ground will give you confidence.

And hugs to you, I am so sorry you are going through this. :(
I’m being totally honest here too. My mare I just got ended up being much more green than planned. I’m at a different barn than planned. The cost of board is more than double what I planned on paying and now I need 10x more help with her than I thought I needed. So now my goals and my plans have had to change and are very long term and it will take a lot of repetition and time with her to get her where I thought she was when I purchased her. But I’m using it as bonding and therapy. The entire reason we purchased her was for therapy for me because I am also in therapy with a therapist because I have what’s called complex ptsd from childhood abuse. I have had horses for years but my last one I sold to get her could still be ridden by kids but I was too heavy for and I was not going out to the barn often because no one would be there and I couldn’t ride anyway. So new barn and new horse has been hard but she and I are doing better each day and I have only been on her back in lessons at a walk. She is green but safe at the same time if that makes sense. She isn’t dangerous but is just younger than they said and needs time and training. So I totally get how you feel and how the horse can help heal the emotional pain. Im definitely taking the advice from this as well. Hugs!
 

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My uncle (like my dad, lived with all my life) gave me a game before he passed suddenly. Skyrim - a disc back then. It sat on my shelf for years the weight of it bearing down every time i walked past it. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to be in your position of how it is now and what it will remind you of in future and the expectations. Even harder because this is a living creature and its more than just a run through.

For the record I could never play the game. I couldn't even bring myself to unwrap it. But I gave it to someone who was very poor and got a lot of enjoyment from it. That consoles me and as each year passed the guilt faded. Maybe one day I'll try it but even thinking about it now I can't. But I also can feel what I imagine is his disappointment that I still haven't. It gets easier though.

Whatever you do, no rash decisions. I think it's JUST fine you doing as you are taking it day by day. Also for the record I was a riding addict but when I got my mare I suddenly found that despite having the option to ride whenever I found myself falling in love with ownership in full. We are in the middle of re-doing her training to help her physically carry herself better, building muscles up that have been neglected or atrophied for years. It means not much riding and I'm OK with that because its on MY terms. And I'm having a blast. Because its not a matter of if, just a matter of when. And she being 10 years old there is plenty time. Saddle your mare up with no expectation of getting on. Just see how you feel. The best rides for me have been the spontaneous ones, actually, where it just feels right.

It takes time to build a relationship with anyone, even a horse. As long as you trying bit by bit that's good enough by my book. Take care x
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you everyone for the supportive messages. I appreciate all the replies. I went out tonight and groomed her and gave her treats, and it was a really nice night. I also had a conversation with my trainer, when I’m ready, we’re going to start with ground work and eventually lessons. I’m hopeful in time I can get back to where I was
 

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Go for a professional riding instructor who can see where you are at and go from there.
There is no shame in having a trainer or riding instructor...when I competed, I had both.
Now I'm old so I grill my kids on their ****ty seat or hand positions etc...fun fun...🤯
Most safety in riding horses comes from confidence and ability...with a greater ability comes greater confidence.
 
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