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Gaining Confidence Back/Getting Over Fear

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Hey everyone!

I used to be a super confident rider, I was never scared or anything like that. I worked for a cutting horse trainer and would ride anything! But I no longer work in the horse industry full time and have an office job - so I've put on a little weight. I also have a 7 year old QH gelding that will sometimes be a little cold backed when he has had some time off.

I use to ride basically every day, I'd give my horses one day off a week. Now I rarely want to ride but I want to get back into it how I used to be. I have a couple good friends who will push me and make me ride when I'm being stupid about not wanting to ride. When I'm up on him I'm pretty good, I can usually handle him pretty well and a buck here or there if he's fresh won't really bother me, but I need some advice on get my confidence back. I can't get on from the ground, I have to use a mounting block which doesn't really bother me. But my big problem is I feel like I have forgotten how to get off the horse lol. My horse I have now I get so nervous and it makes him all nervous so when I get down sometimes as soon as I step down onto the ground he'll buck or hump up or just be super nervous. Being around my friends that push me helps a lot but I also want to be able to ride alone and not rely on them to make me ride!
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I’m not sure a horse who’ll buck as you dismount is what you need to get back into things. Also, a mounting block is better for the horse, doesn’t mean you’re less of a rider for using one.
Exactly what I was thinking. I've had him for a year and just started to overcome some ulcer issues and get back to riding him. He is staying at a friends house so we can ride him everyday for a couple of weeks and see if he'll get out of it. If not I think I'm going to sell and get something I can build my confidence back again.
 

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So little update, I rode again last night. I worked him on the ground and got him nice and tired before I got on. I made him stand still while I got on and if he moved away from the block then I made him go back to work until he realized that standing at the block was much easier then moving around. I got on and just worked on flexing his head both ways until I was nice and relaxed then I asked him to walk off. I would let him walk a bit, turn him in a circle, continue walking. I did that walk/trot/lope and he did great. When I got off I kept his head turned and he didn't move a muscle. I got back on and got off a couple more times just to help build my confidence back up and he did great. So overall a really good ride with him! I'm thinking a lot of the problem is me being nervous makes him nervous so I need to work on my nerves and confidence!
 

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I am riding a horse right now that is not good to stand while mounting and I am working on it and like you after a ride we to back to the mounting block and just work on him standing there while i scratch him then put foot in stirrup and out again a few times and then get on and off, get on the far side as well walk around a bit come back and get off. It is working with him.
One thing I will mention but you probably already know this, when getting off with a western saddle if you lean forward over the horn and have loose clothing you can get caught up on the horn and if you try to get down you will find yourself kind of hanging there, not good on a horse that doesn't stand well.
I found out that that is why western shirts have snaps instead of buttons, never knew that.
I'm sure most western riders already know this but thought I would mention it.
 

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My neighbor has trouble getting off his horse. Luckily, his horse stands real steady so he manages OK. When I dismount, Western or English, I take both feet out of the stirrups, lean forward kind of a bounce and toss the right leg over quick and slide down fast. It all happens really quickly before the horse can take a step. My neighbor, who rides only Western, says he has dismounted his whole life by stepping down with the left foot still in the stirrup, and he simply cannot adjust to just sliding down. It seems much safer to me to have both feet out and coming down than hanging up there with one foot still in the stirrup.

@Woodhaven , I have torn more than one shirt and jacket trying to dismount Western. Sliding down like that makes you a bit more prone to tearing up your shirts . . . or getting other things caught (I'll bet you know what things, ha ha). I try to push away from the saddle, all one quick motion, before the horse can think about moving away.
 

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The best advice I have even gotten for improving your confidence is to spend time in the saddle, it sounds so silly but repitition and time are your friends. You have to make sure its a confidence building horse though so that you have productive hours in the saddle, it sounds like you are totally getting there with your guy. Keep up the good work.
 

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Someone here described gaining confidence like putting your good rides into a confidence account. You take care to develop those rides by setting yourself up for success. Sometimes there are withdrawals, but to keep adding to the account so that you gain more and more confidence as time goes on (like more and more saddle time).

You will get there!
 

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I think of it as rewriting the movie in my head. Unfortunately, when you have a bad experience (or several, when you're dealing with a horse that tends to have issues), it takes about 10 good experiences to erase that movie. It sounds like you're well on your way!

Great job on that ride - seems you've figured out a way to solve the problem so keep that up! And really, the only way to fix something is to do it over and over again. You managed to get this horse to stand quietly as you dismount. Keep doing it this way! Dismounting, unless done very poorly, should be a good thing for the horse. Mine love it, lol.

And yes, the mounting block is not something to be ashamed of! It is better for the horses to use one since the twisting motion on their backs when you mount from the ground is very hard on them.

I also just kind of swing one leg over, both feet out of the stirrups, and hop off. And I am quite short so it's a little ways down for me, but I don't have a problem doing it. I don't slide down the side of the saddle, but I do stay close to it with my two hands on it at first.
 

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My neighbor has trouble getting off his horse. Luckily, his horse stands real steady so he manages OK. When I dismount, Western or English, I take both feet out of the stirrups, lean forward kind of a bounce and toss the right leg over quick and slide down fast. It all happens really quickly before the horse can take a step. My neighbor, who rides only Western, says he has dismounted his whole life by stepping down with the left foot still in the stirrup, and he simply cannot adjust to just sliding down. It seems much safer to me to have both feet out and coming down than hanging up there with one foot still in the stirrup.
I dismount by taking both feet out of the stirrups, then pushing my hands down on the front of the saddle and vaulting off to the side. Not because my Pony has any issues about dismounting, but this has always just seemed the easiest way to me. I don't know if that might help at all in your situation.
 
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