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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,

I made an account so I could get some words of encouragement. Things were rough at my lesson today. They've been rough for a while, but today was a breaking point.

For context: I've been riding for a year and a half. I'm an adult, I work at the barn where I take lessons and am comfortable on the ground and have been consistent with lessons for a good bit. It seemed like I was ready to half-lease, and the time finally came two or so months ago where a horse I was confident on was available.

Fast forward to the present, where I've lost all confidence on this horse because winter came and she decided she didn't want to work in the cold, thus giving me a heck of a lot of attitude. I want to make it known that the first month of working together was perfect; we were a great team and I was happy. Now I panic on her because I get scared that at any moment she's going to try to buck me off or take advantage of me- things that a month ago I was confident telling her 'no' to. It's gotten to the point where I'm nervous to ask her to trot, and when she does I get more nervous because she wants to go too fast, and I should mention that when I say 'fast' I don't mean any faster than normal/than she should. In fact, before I lost my confidence I loved when she would go fast and would often let her gallop when we were riding alone; I'd laugh when she would sassily swish her tail when I'd ask her to do a transition. It's frustrating and upsetting because I was doing so well not even a few weeks ago and now it's like I don't even recognize myself. Somewhere along the way I lost my nerve and recently most of my lessons have been ending in tears no matter how much I try to stay positive and push forward.

I should also note that I've had my trainer get on and school her multiple times even when she wasn't doing anything bad, like today, and it still didn't help my nerves seeing her behave well. I don't even know what I'm scared of- I just know that I don't have the same feeling I used to when I ride her.

All this to say that today my trainer suggested that I switch to leasing another horse for at least a little bit. He's a kind and gentle older gelding who doesn't have a mean bone in his body. Granted, I've never been the best at riding him since he's a bouncy boy but it's not about improving my riding at this point so much as it is restoring confidence that was once there.

I suppose I'm asking for some sympathy and some words of wisdom, and some reassurances that I am ready to be half-leasing and have just hit a rough patch. I'd ask the family but they don't understand anything horse related and are only saying that I was never this upset when I was just taking lessons.

Thank you in advance <3
 

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When your trainer gets on and schools her, how does she do?

Regardless, if the trainer is suggesting you lease a different horse, and that is possible, I don't see why you wouldn't. Your confidence is not an infinite resource, y'know? And you want to enjoy riding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
When your trainer gets on and schools her, how does she do?

Regardless, if the trainer is suggesting you lease a different horse, and that is possible, I don't see why you wouldn't. Your confidence is not an infinite resource, y'know? And you want to enjoy riding.
When my trainer gets on her she's perfect; she behaves the way she does when I'm confidently riding her, which doesn't happen anymore. And to her credit, she hasn't even behaved badly the last few times I've gotten on her; I've just officially psyched myself out.

Yeah, as soon as switching leases was recommended I knew it was the right move. I definitely haven't lost my passion or motivation at all, though <3
 

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I’m sorry. That is a tough one. Sometimes a horse just gets your number. I don’t care how talented or experienced you are, because I’ve seen it happen to the best of them.

I rode a horse for several years called General. Arguably, he was the best horse I’ve ever made. He didn’t put a foot wrong by the end of my riding him, and when I started letting my husband (he’s handy, I’m just not a sharing type) and kids ride him, they just adored him. He was as push button as a horse comes.

Yet, when he was young, he got my number. I don’t know why exactly. He was a horse who would fight a person, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Somehow he was in my head. I worked through it obviously, but it wasn’t ever particularly fun for either of us. Here was the perfect horse, and many peoples’ dream, and he was never my favorite. It wasn’t fair to him, and it wasn’t fair to me. I half dreaded certain days on him, and I had no reason.

Work became just a job. I started looking for something else, and I was much happier with the next colt I started. Nothing against General. He taught me more than any other horse, hands down. I haven’t had anything comparable before or since to the level he came to. Yet, I was happier and he was happier when I turned him over.

Sure, we should all get over our hang ups, but honestly, I’m not sure it’s truly possible. Some people we click with, and sometimes the nicest person just rubs us the wrong way. I think it’s okay to accept that, and especially in your case. You don’t own her, nor do you owe her anything. Maybe you’ll decide to come back to her when your confidence is back up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I’m sorry. That is a tough one. Sometimes a horse just gets your number. I don’t care how talented or experienced you are, because I’ve seen it happen to the best of them.
Yeah, that's the thing; she's a great ride and I love her, but she's also got a great big attitude that's gotten to me. Our trainers don't even let us do our lessons if they find out we haven't eaten/hydrated recently before getting on; they wouldn't let me have her if they didn't think I could handle it. On paper our partnership makes sense, but I think we all forgot to add my crippling anxiety flare-ups to the equation😅

All that to say: I'm sure everything will go well with the pony I'm switching to, and I'm definitely interested in coming back to her but I'm not going to pressure myself into it. You're right in that I don't owe her anything; that's the beauty of half-leasing as a beginner :)
 

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I’m a devoted part-boarder for this reason. No need to struggle. Try switching to the other horse, build back your confidence and maybe try again later or leave it be. The one thing I would flag is to clear your mind and work on some meditation exercises as sometimes patterns can repeat and subtle things can be picked up by different horses.

I privately part-boarded two horses - one was a four year old gelding that I rode in Western tack and the next horse was a 12 year old mare that I rode in English tack. They were so different and yet interestingly, over a couple of months both horses went from being calm and happy to stressed. Various behaviour issues came up that i didn’t have the skills to manage on my own and the owners didn’t really have time to troubleshoot with me. I realized that part of it was my anxiety about being alone in an empty barn or on trail or in the arena on my own with someone else’s horse, which the horses picked up on.

After that I transitioned to a barn that offers lessons and has a number of boarders and frequent group trail rides so there is always someone experienced and helpful around. I part-board there now and still work with the horses independently but just knowing that there are people around to help me or just for comraderie makes me secure, which in turn helps the horse relax.

It may be helpful for you to think about what your triggers are and how to overcome them as they could come up with any horse. As in my case where I realized it’s not them, it’s me and though I like the idea of being alone with a horse, it’s a trigger for me to worry too much unless I am just grooming or tacking up so I plan to be at the barn when I know others will be there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I’m a devoted part-boarder for this reason. No need to struggle. Try switching to the other horse, build back your confidence and maybe try again later or leave it be. The one thing I would flag is to clear your mind and work on some meditation exercises as sometimes patterns can repeat and subtle things can be picked up by different horses.
It's interesting that you bring up recognizing triggers because it's something I've already started doing, and I've found that a big one is that I get wayyy more anxious in lessons than I do riding alone. It seems we're opposites in that way 😅 However, it's not as simple as stopping lessons right now since I'm so new. With the horse I'm moving away from, we notably did better while being alone. I didn't feel half as scared to bully her back when she started arguing with me. To remedy this, I've started taking either private lessons or lessons with one other person. I think the problem is that I'm so scared of doing something my trainer won't approve of (which is ridiculous because she's taught me everything I know so far), but when I'm alone I don't have to worry about being reprimanded. Also, when I'm alone I'm responsible for myself. I have to take care of myself and the horse because no one else is there to tell me what's not working.

I dunno if any of that made sense, but that's my initial thoughts in response to your comment.

Thank you all for your comments and kindness so far! I'm looking forward to riding the new guy on Friday!
 

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Lol I know what you mean - lessons are scary too in their own way … but a good coach/instructor makes it all worthwhile! In either case, being present in the moment and not worrying about who is/isn’t there is probably the key - easier said than done though.
 

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Yep, switch. I am very much like you, lots of anxiety, lots of frustration. I also prefer to ride alone to this day - which is very counterintuitive in riding because both horses and people are herd animals.

Just to give you a bit of encouragement: I was an adult beginner and I also struggled a lot with anxiety. I still do to an extent but rarely. What I did is I found a horse I trusted and I also stopped pushing myself. If I don’t feel like riding that day, I don’t. If I don’t feel like cantering that day, I don’t. If I don’t feel like jumping that day, I don’t. This is a bit more difficult to pull off in lessons but if you find an instructor which understands you and stops pushing you when you say stop you will likely get there. I have been riding for eight years, have my own horse now - and yesterday I actually looked at my phone while riding - that isn’t a very safe idea and it was unthinkable for me due to my fear - but I am now so relaxed on my horse that I did it without thinking. I was both shocked and proud of myself.

Best of luck.
 

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Honestly I would ride this gelding. Confidence is perhaps the most important skill when it comes to enjoying your ride and sucseeding. Yes we all want the perfect position but that's no use of you don't dare to ride. And in many disciplines a confident less skilled rider will beat a nervous but better rider.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yep, switch. I am very much like you, lots of anxiety, lots of frustration. I also prefer to ride alone to this day - which is very counterintuitive in riding because both horses and people are herd animals.
My instructor's actually great about never pushing us; there's never a rush to get anywhere, even when we'd like to progress faster than we are. And when I tell her I can't do something or I'm nervous, we stop and back up. Plus, it's not like it's show season. There's really no pressure in the winter!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Honestly I would ride this gelding. Confidence is perhaps the most important skill when it comes to enjoying your ride and sucseeding. Yes we all want the perfect position but that's no use of you don't dare to ride. And in many disciplines a confident less skilled rider will beat a nervous but better rider.
100% - it's just so frustrating that I was so confident galloping not even a month ago and now I feel nervous at the thought of a fast trot, but such is life with horses I suppose. At least I know I have the ability to ride that way when I feel ready again.

Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hey everyone! Just wanted to give an update: the new horse was a good boy. I was a hot mess because he's bouncy as heck, but he was good. I went from riding the smoothest horse ever to riding possibly the bounciest horse ever, so I was expecting a bit of a struggle but geez I was sweating!

To be honest, I miss the old horse, but I'm going to give this new guy a chance because it was nice not being nervous or having to fight to stand still at the mounting block for the first time in a couple weeks😅 And I think I might be blocking out the bad memories and only thinking about the good ones. Plus, we're getting a new horse at the barn who sounds cool, so I don't want to be so quick to go back to the other horse when the one coming in might be perfect.

Ugh, why does this have to be so confusing?
 

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Ugh, why does this have to be so confusing?
Welcome to the club! I’m confused most of the time, ten years later :)

And just wait until you get into hoof care…

Just kidding, well done. Being confused is very much a part of learning about horses but also finding out what you personally like in a horse, which is difficult and tends to fluctuate. Enjoy being confused, it’s great once you un-confuse yourself.

And again, don’t pressure yourself into anything. Olympics can wait.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Update for anyone interested!

The new horse came in two days ago and I was fortunate enough to be able to try him out in my lesson yesterday. I haven't felt that safe on a horse in months, so much so that I cantered for the first time in weeks, so needless to say he's my new lease buddy :)

Funny how things always work out in the end!
 
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