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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I apologize for the lengthy post but I have a serious issue and need your help. I have posted about my rescue horse Sloane a number of times, including one where you all were very supportive of my dilemma whether to stop riding completely. Now I face the moment. Sloane is a thoroughbred paint cross, somewhere in his later 20s, blind in his left eye from an early accident, no front teeth which were extracted due to eotrh, and heaves. I have not been on him in 3 months due to a series of issues including colic, needing to have another tooth pulled, thrush, and most recently an abscess. He has been through a lot. I have been riding a friend's horse through all this, as well as lunging Sloane when possible, but basically he has not been in work at all. He seems to be healed of everything and now I can get on him again, but I am afraid. I am 68 and only started riding in my mid-fifties. My first horse was a lovely older lesson horse, a Selle Francais mare and I trusted her completely. Sloane is also a very mellow, gentle, and sweet horse, and well-trained, but more of a challenge for me. He has also been spooking more lately, possibly due to a developing cataract in his one good eye. I realize that I am worried about getting on him again, because if I come off (which I do at a spook even though I am working on my seat) I risk breaking something more at my age. So my decision is whether or not to ride him or to keep riding my friend's horse, pretty much bomb proof, and just hang out with Sloane. I do miss riding him and the relationship we had developed, but I am reluctant to risk my wellbeing. I don't heal like I used to. Any thoughts?
 

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There’s so much love that transpires from this post... I would follow your gut and keep riding the bombproof horse and focus on spending some quality time (from the ground) with Sloane, giving him a chance to heal and “retire” gently. It sounds like a potentially risky situation. Can you maybe half-lease or would you even be willing to look into buying another horse later on? Whatever you decide to do I think you should put yourself, your safety and your enjoyment first - while still giving Sloane the dignity and the affection he deserves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you so much. At my age Sloane is my last horse. I do not have to lease my friend's horse because she can no longer ride and is happy for me to exercise him. I love Sloane dearly and will care for him until the very end. He was neglected for many years and I got him not so much for riding as to save his life. He needed someone to care for him.
 

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Can you keep riding your friend's horse and have someone experienced ride Sloane? That way they can work through any issues, and if you ride together, you can watch and gain confidence by seeing someone else ride him - hopefully without any major issues. When I had a spooky mare, it helped me to watch others ride her without problems. In my head, I could replace the scary movie I was creating for myself with the new one of someone riding her without anything bad happening.

After a few rides together, maybe you can switch horses at the end of the ride and start getting on Sloane when he is nice and tired so you can slowly get used to riding him again. There are lots of younger, fearless riders out there who might just be happy to get in some riding time!
 

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I'd say, seeing that he is in his late 20s - just love on him and ride the other horse. No need to risk getting injured. You sound like you really love your horse and I am happy that he found you.

I will most probably get flamed for this, but anxiety isn't just a stupid emotion that gets in our way. It is a crucial tool which kept our species alive for a very long time. Your brain is telling you that this situation is too risky for you, even if you cannot articulate precisely what it is that is making you anxious. Your brain has noticed some very small signs which it deems important in the risk assessment. Do yourself a favor and trust your greatest proponent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Can you keep riding your friend's horse and have someone experienced ride Sloane? That way they can work through any issues, and if you ride together, you can watch and gain confidence by seeing someone else ride him - hopefully without any major issues. When I had a spooky mare, it helped me to watch others ride her without problems. In my head, I could replace the scary movie I was creating for myself with the new one of someone riding her without anything bad happening.

After a few rides together, maybe you can switch horses at the end of the ride and start getting on Sloane when he is nice and tired so you can slowly get used to riding him again. There are lots of younger, fearless riders out there who might just be happy to get in some riding time!
Yrs, my trainer said she is happy to get on him before I do and see how he is responding. She has been nothing but encouraging me all along and is the main reason I am stil getting on a horse at all.
 

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Yrs, my trainer said she is happy to get on him before I do and see how he is responding. She has been nothing but encouraging me all along and is the main reason I am stil getting on a horse at all.
That's great! You seem to have a very supportive trainer - you're very lucky! Let her ride him a few times while you watch. Maybe you can ride together. Give it a few rides to make sure Sloane is solid before considering getting back on him. Every activity has risk, but riding horses has significant risk. Make sure you are managing that risk to the best of your ability. And if he acts up beyond what you think you can deal with, just keep riding your friend's horse and hang out with Sloane on the ground.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That's great! You seem to have a very supportive trainer - you're very lucky! Let her ride him a few times while you watch. Maybe you can ride together. Give it a few rides to make sure Sloane is solid before considering getting back on him. Every activity has risk, but riding horses has significant risk. Make sure you are managing that risk to the best of your ability. And if he acts up beyond what you think you can deal with, just keep riding your friend's horse and hang out with Sloane on the ground.
Oh thank you!
 

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I am in my 40's and gave away the horse I raised from a foal that was just too much horse for me. It's not like he was wild, or that I was unskilled, but I came off him riding (from spooking) enough times that I was filled with anxiety and riding him just wasn't fun for me anymore. I would pretty much break down into tears every time I rode. It broke my heart.......but it was definitely the right decision. The guy I gave him to loves him and brags on him all the time! The horse I am riding now I really enjoy........no anxiety, no tears!

So.....I vote to ride the friend's horse that you feel safe on and just enjoy Sloane on the ground. That's not to say you can't get on him once in a while just to sit there and enjoy the moment. But he's a older horse that doesn't NEED to be ridden. And you have access to another horse that you can ride and enjoy. So I say go with what's comfortable. Neither of you need to prove a thing!
 

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It sounds like you have a great trainer to help you figure this out. I will only add that I bet you can have a really great relationship with Sloane on the ground too. I just hung out with my horse for a few months before selling him. With my decision made and anxiety gone, I could just enjoy him and I felt the difference. I think he did too. So great you still can ride, whatever you decide!
 

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I agree with what others have said about riding the friend's horse and just spending time with your horse on the ground--doing groundwork for exercise, walking him in hand, etc. I had a lease horse that was unrideable for a few weeks so I would bring my dog, grab the horse and walk them both "on leash", one on each side LOL. :)

As for the anxiety, I feel you there. I have found my enjoyment of horses is much better when I am not anxious. I can work on some of the anxiety, when I'm pretty sure it's unsupported and just messing with me. But if the horse trips a couple times, or slips on a wet area, or spooks once, I usually end my ride. My fear ratchets up and then the horse may key off of that too. And I feel that my anxiety IS sometimes smart and keeping me safe. If a horse is tripping--there doesn't seem to be a good reason to keep going given the chances of a bad trip and a tumble have just gone up. I am 50 and have fibromyalgia and an autoimmune arthritis disease and I DO NOT want to fall.
 
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So many great comments in this thread. All I can say is that I agree with them all! Ride however you can most enjoy it, and love your old horse from the ground as much as you can. I'm pretty sure Sloane won't mind one bit.
 

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I agree that Sloan has it made and not being ridden certainly won't do him any harm!

I'm a generally anxious person and I can't always tell if my anxiety is warranted or not. When I'm worried about getting hurt, I know that worry can transfer to my horse and it can be like a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, when I'm anxious I wear my air vest and stay away from rocky trails :) Then I go over what I'll do if I fall - imagine tucking myself into fetal position and landing on the air vest and rolling. Works for me.
 

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I apologize for the lengthy post but I have a serious issue and need your help. I have posted about my rescue horse Sloane a number of times, including one where you all were very supportive of my dilemma whether to stop riding completely. Now I face the moment. Sloane is a thoroughbred paint cross, somewhere in his later 20s, blind in his left eye from an early accident, no front teeth which were extracted due to eotrh, and heaves. I have not been on him in 3 months due to a series of issues including colic, needing to have another tooth pulled, thrush, and most recently an abscess. He has been through a lot. I have been riding a friend's horse through all this, as well as lunging Sloane when possible, but basically he has not been in work at all. He seems to be healed of everything and now I can get on him again, but I am afraid. I am 68 and only started riding in my mid-fifties. My first horse was a lovely older lesson horse, a Selle Francais mare and I trusted her completely. Sloane is also a very mellow, gentle, and sweet horse, and well-trained, but more of a challenge for me. He has also been spooking more lately, possibly due to a developing cataract in his one good eye. I realize that I am worried about getting on him again, because if I come off (which I do at a spook even though I am working on my seat) I risk breaking something more at my age. So my decision is whether or not to ride him or to keep riding my friend's horse, pretty much bomb proof, and just hang out with Sloane. I do miss riding him and the relationship we had developed, but I am reluctant to risk my wellbeing. I don't heal like I used to. Any thoughts?
Have you considered liberty work with Sloane? Be fun for both of you without riding. Or indeed it may give you the confidence to get back on.

Sent from my Lenovo TB-X606F using Tapatalk
 

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If you are uneasy about riding him, then don't. :) Riding is supposed to be enjoyable, and if you are getting enjoyment with working with him on the ground, then do that.

You don't have anything to prove to anyone else, and neither does he.
 

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You have the best of both worlds. So lucky to have a horse to ride as often as you like and still keep your beautiful Sloan who probably deserves to be retired from riding anyway.
 

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you and I are in a similar boat! We have 3 horses (all Arabs) one is 28, the other is 23 and the other is 18. The 18 year old was supposed to be my DREAM horse. I've had some really bad wrecks on other horses that were ill trained and I should never have continued to ride them. We no longer have those. They went to people who could deal with them. But we're talking bucking and bolters. Something at my age (61) I do NOT want to deal with anymore. So.... my 28 year old is my go to horse and we've had her since she was 2. She did spend quite a few years with a friend of mine who bred her a few times and rode her. I got her back about 4 years ago. So my fear level is HIGH. I feel comfortable on the 28 year old (Hollie) and the 23 year old (Windy). But the 18 year old (Boo) is a different story! She was WONDERFUL for several years and a FUN horse to ride. I would NEVER ride her alone tho. Then this past winter she was NOT rideable! She was a different horse. She thought about bucking, she reared up just a little. SPOOKED at everything. There was something VERY wrong. My husband rode her and she did the same thing and with a really hard spook, dumped him on the ground. I said, "that's it!!!" Took her to the chiropractor since the regular vet found nothing. She was extremely painful up on her poll and under her jaw - she said if a horse gets headaches, I'm sure she's having migraines! Who wants to be ridden in that much pain. So after 2 adjustments, I was not comfortable getting on her so my husband did and she was back to her normal self. She still sees the chiro every couple of months to make sure everything is good. But I'm afraid of her now. She is the type of horse that has a lot of forward GO. Not uncontrollable. She's a fast walker and a fast mover. That's what makes her FUN!! But I don't trust her now. My first time trying to get back on her was a few days ago and she had me in tears. it wasn't her fault. Sheep were in our riding area and our horses HATE sheep. Windy (who my husband was riding) was doing fair but Boo was just bouncing around but NOT doing anything wrong. Any "normal" rider would have been FINE on her. But my fear started to get worse and worse and it was not helping her at all!!!! I got off and we walked back to the trailer. I was mad at myself and sad because I want to ride my dream horse. My husband is fine riding her - not his favorite as she has a lot of go and he'd rather ride the 23 year old that moseys along. But we are attached to her. Super friendly horse and I KNOW one day I will be able to ride her again - I just know it but not now. I used to be a SUPER confident rider but I think some people when they get older, well, we don't want broken bones!!! So we are more careful now.
My husband tore his inner thigh muscle walking the dog of all things. So he's out of commission for a while til it heals. I NEED to get out and ride. There is no one else to ride with. NO one I know in our area that rides. I used to ride by myself all the time. On both Windy and Hollie. So now I have to deal with it and just do it!!! NEVER on Boo. But tomorrow I'm taking my 28 year old out alone. She doesn't show her age. She's NO DEAD HEAD!! But she's safe and I'm comfortable on her. But for the past several years, I've always gone with my husband - not alone. So I'm hoping everything goes well. I gotta do this! As for your situation, if you really feel the fear, don't do it. Do what you feel comfortable doing. Keep riding your friend's horse for now. I've thought about selling Boo but I just can't do it. She really tries to do her best and she trusts us. I couldn't stand the thought of someone coming unglued with her and beating her for spooking or not trusting their judgement on the trail. She's one that you HAVE TO work WITH her and not against her. So even if neither of us rode her, she'd stay with us. Here's another thought with yours..... I've done this with fear issues. Can you take her out and hand walk her, then get on and ride just a small way and then get off and hand walk again...... they don't know why you get on and off - so you won't be teaching her a bad habit. Just make sure you don't get off when she stops or thinking it's HER idea. Try and catch it when she wants to keep going but it's your choice :). Getting off and walking gives you a chance to breathe, relax, and still be with your horse as a partner. I will probably start doing that with Boo when I can even get back on her. I want my husband to ride her a few more times and NOT with sheep around. If the horse is picking up on your fear, that's not good but when you get off like it's NO big deal and start walking and when you decide to get back on for a bit more in the saddle riding, you will feel how relaxed you BOTH are. Pretty soon, you're going further down the trail in the saddle.
 

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If you are uneasy about riding him, then don't. :) Riding is supposed to be enjoyable, and if you are getting enjoyment with working with him on the ground, then do that.

You don't have anything to prove to anyone else, and neither does he.
This is VERY True!!! I've given a bit of history of me in my post you'll see :). And when you are not having fun, then it's time to re-think. I almost gave up riding completely because of my fear issues after being bucked off and injured so many times from a horse that I should have gotten rid of a lot sooner than I did. The one I have now who I ADORE, I don't trust. So I'm not riding her right now. Right now I have enjoyment at home with her grooming her and giving her attention. But right now is NOT our time to ride together. You can have a scared rider and a baby sitter horse or a nervous horse and a very confident rider but you can't have both scared and basket cases at once. Buck Brannaman told me that. It doesn't work.
 
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