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Discussion Starter #21
Tinyliny--You make some good points. I don't like to be held back by my health issues, but I do want to be smart about stuff too--so I don't get worse. I will have to think long and hard about this. When I say I want to be able to ride bareback, I just want to be able to--I won't necessarily do it that much. So, am I really saying I want to be very sure of my seat and my balance on the horse--in the saddle as well? Again, I have to think about this. Thanks for the advice! I do appreciate it.



Rhonda--congrats to you--I've never done any riding like barrel racing--that would scare the crap out of me. Do you have pics?



Waresbear--thanks for the kind words!
 

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While I agree with @tinyliny that you should remain safe at all times, I don't think it's unrealistic for you to do brief bareback rides eventually. I like to do this after a good ride on my appaloosa, Rusty. When we have been working for about half an hour, I know he is all tired out, and I can take the saddle off and do a cool-down bareback. I've ridden him bareback at a trot, but just briefly (I'm sure your Icelandic will be smoother). I wouldn't ride bareback for an entire lesson / ride, but it's a way to relax together after a workout, and by then, any antics will have been worked through and the horse is ready to be quiet and steady. So if you're just wanting to have it as a goal to say that you've been able to do it, that would be a good time. Do have someone watching you though, just to be safe when you do this because it is easier to lose balance.
 

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I have had this happen -- and with one of the safest horses I've ridden, too! I'd sat through a couple of out-of-character spooks on a previous ride (it had been on a windy, stormy, weird day), and the next time I rode her in a different situation, it was all I could do to get myself to swing my leg over. We walked about 20 feet, she tossed her head and let out a loud screaming whinny for a her buddies. I made her walk a few more steps (so she didn't *think* I was getting down because of the whinny) and hopped off was like "NOPE!" I can't recall exactly how things ended up. I think I hand-walked her around for a while before eventually getting back on and doing a very very short walk-trot ride. But I remember the fear, and how hard it was to even make myself get on. It took me quite a while to get back to "normal" about it.

I'll third the helmet recommendation. Give yourself every advantage! She may be small but you don't have to fall very far or hard to get a serious brain injury. Knowing that you have a little more protection can help with that fear, because it IS coming from a place of self-preservation. A logical place. We all push down that logic when we ride! If you think about it, getting on a horse at ALL is a pretty stupid idea. But it's a FUN stupid idea. ;) Make it as safe as possible for yourself, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
SteadyOn; I'll third the helmet recommendation. Give yourself every advantage! Just to reiterate said:
that[/I] stupid person. :) I just took the helmet off because I thought I was done riding and my husband showed up so I hopped back on for a minute for some pictures. I knew I was going to be in trouble when I forgot to mention that in the original post. *laugh*
 

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Discussion Starter #26
While I agree with @tinyliny that you should remain safe at all times, I don't think it's unrealistic for you to do brief bareback rides eventually. I like to do this after a good ride on my appaloosa, Rusty. When we have been working for about half an hour, I know he is all tired out, and I can take the saddle off and do a cool-down bareback. I've ridden him bareback at a trot, but just briefly (I'm sure your Icelandic will be smoother). I wouldn't ride bareback for an entire lesson / ride, but it's a way to relax together after a workout, and by then, any antics will have been worked through and the horse is ready to be quiet and steady. So if you're just wanting to have it as a goal to say that you've been able to do it, that would be a good time. Do have someone watching you though, just to be safe when you do this because it is easier to lose balance.

This is exactly how I want to do bareback rides. In my younger days I would go trail riding bareback--without a helmet. Sheesh! We are so stupid when we are young and fearless. Anyway, yes, only after she is more tired out and complacent and only for a few minutes and mainly for my confidence building and building a partnership with the horse. I like "feeling" the horse under me in that direct contact. I would love to eventually do some "liberty" riding, but that's WAY in the future, if ever.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
BTW , tell us about your Icelandic horse. Where did you get her?

I am only leasing her. I live in Wisconsin and she came from Kentucky. The owner bought her and her sister 6 years ago directly from Kentucky. he no longer has the sister as she had some issues that required special training and she was sold to the trainer. The farm was really old and rundown and Draumsyn was 7 years old and had never had a halter on!

She put a lot of training into Draumsyn, who became her "heart" horse. The owner has a medical condition and very busy job that both keep her away from the barn and away from riding--which is why she's leasing. But she said she will never sell this horse. But she's happy to have me leasing long term if I want.



Draumsyn has all 5 gaits (walk, trot, tolt, flying pace, canter) but her trot is a little non-existent--she starts trotting but it goes pretty quickly into a pace. I have trouble getting her to tolt until towards the end of our ride.



She is very sweet on the ground, a little stubborn in the saddle, but safe. I am actually riding her bitless. I've ridden with the bit, then a regular flat halter, tried the bit again and now I'm using a rope halter with a braided/padded noseband and sidepulls. This will be our headgear from now on. She does not like the bit---at least not with me riding and I have pretty quiet hands. It was a little scary to try her without the bit the first time, but she actually balked a lot less. I have to use a little more muscle sometimes, but that's ok. At least she isn't fighting me and tossing her head and making bad mouth gyrations.



The owner's other Icelandic (a gelding) came from Michigan. That is apparently a really nice place. If I decide to buy my own Icelandic, that's probably where I would go. She told me you can get a nice horse, trained and ready to ride for about $5000. For an Icelandic that's a really good price. It's more than I initially wanted to spend on a horse, if I bought one, but Icelandics are such easy keepers! They eat very little, don't take up much space, are very hardy in all weather--have tough feet and legs. So their maintenance and upkeep costs are lower than other horses. Draumsyn and Loki have always lived outside--in pasture board and they prefer it that way. She didn't even like riding in the indoor arena at first, she just wanted to be outside. :) But the outdoor arena gets very mushy so I didn't always feel comfortable on wet days.



My husband is actually very happy that I found Draumsyn because he feels more at ease with me being around her. She's small, she's gentle and he feels more confident leaving me alone with her to ride. (he's on the property, just not always with me). I wanted a very large horse to ride--like a Percheron or Clydesdale or at least a large Quarter Horse or mix. I have very long legs and i'm not a petite size by any means. But Draumsyn is working out so well and given the fears I've been having anyway, I'm glad I don't have a huge horse.
 

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I got her out, tacked her up and took her into the arena and got on the mounting block and my heart started pounding and I froze.

Sheesh! Anyone else experience this?

Yup, and I'm much younger than you. No worries. Good for you for getting through it.



I'm 33 and (I like to think) smarter than I used to be. I'm I am getting on a horse that *might* do something, or that I don't know, my foot is pretty sticky to the ground......


Been there done that with starting colts and my brain remembers how much it hurts to hit the ground, LOL.



When I started riding Dexter for the first time last year, my mom gave me a heads up on a couple things he did. Let's just say I rode in the arena for the whole first week. He didn't do anything mean or intentional -- poor guy had been abused in the past and he would shy/spook/scoot away from your left hand when you mounted and/or stuck your hand out. I wasn't taking any chances out in the open, so I stuck inside the soft dirt arena until I felt confident to take him out. I really had to FORCE myself to get on him those first few times. And you know what? No shame. I'm just taking more safety measures nowadays than I used to.



Probably won't be the last time this happens to you!
 

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Just a note on "easy keepers." They are really only "easy" in the sense that if you have them stalled or on a dry lot, you can get away with feeding them less. And you can keep them on poor pastures and not worry about them starving.

I have easy keepers, and two of them are overweight / borderline overweight just on pasture and hay. I worry about the sugar content of my hay and of their pasture, their joints, and of course the dreaded laminitis / founder. I spend money on slow-feed hay nets, and I feel guilty when I can't ride, even though they are on pasture 24/7, because they are fat and need the exercise.

Having said that, there's nothing wrong with having an "easy keeper" (BTW the horse you lease is beyond adorable), just realize that they aren't actually "easy." At least not in my experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Well, I rode yesterday and one of my biggest fears happened. I was riding around the farm--we were both getting bored riding around the indoor arena, so I thought I would ride outside for 10 minutes or so to end our riding time. Draumsyn saw something that just scared the hell out of her and she whirled/spun, sidestepped/backed and took off in the other direction--I think she was at a canter before I pulled her up. For me, it was a little like a car accident--I was in slow motion, and afterwards, shaking and trying to remember what was happening in the moment. I thought I was going overboard! But in that instant, all my muscle memory and training from decades of riding kicked in and I apparently did everything right--did not fall off, got the horse under control rather quickly and stayed on and rode her for another 10 minutes without incident--and without fear! I'm actually glad this happened and I was so happy at the end of the ride--I did it!! I now know I can handle an incident like that without the certainty of falling and injury. (I know there's never a guarantee). But I stayed sane, didn't bail on the ride and turned it into a good experience.

On the other hand, I'm a little concerned about how nervous Draumsyn is, sometimes about every little thing. Apparently she's not like this for her owner (but I don't think her owner has ridden her regularly for at least a couple of years--she had another leaser before me). Anyway, I do not want to take this horse out on trails until she's more calm. We had plenty of space yesterday, for her freak out, but if that happens in the trees or other narrow space between buildings or whatever--it could be bad for both of us. I even did some Reiki on her before I saddled her up and played my Native American cedar flute and she was still explosive.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Question--about my spooky horse who wasn't always spooky. Could her anxiety be nutritional? She's only been at this boarding facility for a few months and her owner mentioned that she worried about her horses getting fat because the pasture there is so rich compared to what they were used to. Could there be more carbs/sugars in the pasture and now the hay (which I think is grown on the farm)? If so, I'm not sure what I can do about it, except talk to the owner about giving her a calming supplement. Anyone have any recommendations? I am an amateur herbal healer, a shamanic practitioner and former Veterinary Technician. I prefer to try natural things and I'll have to look up what herbs and supplements are safe for horses. I also want to start giving her MSM for some stiffness and creaking joints. Any other recommendations there too, I'm all ears.
 

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Could be a few things that you could look into:

-Ulcers (can cause major personality changes, definitely including spookiness). If she's going long stretches without hay during the day, that alone can cause them. Even horses on a diet need constant forage -- they just need it managed by being fed in slow feeders.
-Magnesium deficiency in the diet
-Vision problems
 

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Is there any way you can ride with someone else outside the arena? Someone with a calm horse that isn't going to spook? Seems like spooky type horses go so much better with a companion.
 

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Also, keep in mind that most horses are a bit silly when cold first sets in. If that is the case with her, she should settle down in a few weeks.

“He is a bit fresh today” is often heard around the barn these days, whilst the rider is fluttering in the wind, holding on for dear life and swearing like a sailor hoodwinked by a “belle de nuit”.
 

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Discussion Starter #35
Is there any way you can ride with someone else outside the arena? Someone with a calm horse that isn't going to spook? Seems like spooky type horses go so much better with a companion.

Yea, that might be a good idea, except that this boarding facility is always deserted when I'm there. I've met two other people who board there--but one is a young girl who does hotshot stuff on her Western horse and I've only seen her once briefly and the other I've only seen twice while she was there brushing out her horse and then putting him away. The next time I see her I'll ask if I could meet her there for a ride someday. Honestly, this place is totally deserted most of the time, even the property owner is usually not there and the barn manager doesn't get there until close to 5PM--long after I'm gone. I could drive up with a trailer and steal a bunch of horses and tack and drive off with no worries. haha. My husband had to run to the gas station one day and it felt a little unsettling to be completely alone on this 80 acre property with 3 barns and indoor and outdoor area, trails and lots of grounds. I didn't ride until he got back. On the other hand, it's wonderful having both arenas to myself all the time!
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Could be a few things that you could look into:

-Ulcers (can cause major personality changes, definitely including spookiness). If she's going long stretches without hay during the day, that alone can cause them. Even horses on a diet need constant forage -- they just need it managed by being fed in slow feeders.
-Magnesium deficiency in the diet
-Vision problems

Interesting, I'll look into these! She has very weepy/crusty eyes. That's how the eye condition that led to my vision loss started--and animals can get it too. And from what I can tell, they get fed hay in the morning and maybe at night. I've been out there as early as 10AM and there has been no hay, and as late as 4PM and there was no hay. And there is no feeder in their paddock--so the hay just gets fed on top of the absolute muck and puddles in there. They don't get fed in their shelter.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
I have had the idea to start riding obstacle courses with my Icelandic. I don't think she's ever done this before. But both of us are very bored riding around in a circle in the arena and she's too nervous and spooky right now to take on the trail. The farm where she's boarded has a lot of obstacle equipment I can use to start building short obstacles and build up her confidence--and start using some scary items when we're ready. I will also need to see if she will sidepass, and/or if I can teach her to. And turn on the forehand. I feel really good about this. It's specific stuff to work on, rather than riding mindlessly around the arena--it's pretty safe if I don't introduce too many scary elements at first, and it's a discipline that is not hard on an aging horse, and not dangerous for an aging rider! LOL I am very excited to ride tomorrow and set up a short path of poles, some barrels and some cones and maybe a pole to step over. As of a month ago, her owner did rider her over a large teeter board in the outdoor arena and she did great. I've walked her over it in hand and she was great. I may try riding her over that if it's not too mushy tomorrow. But i'm going to start indoors. I feel like this will really hone my riding skills and give me specific things to focus on/work on and help her relax and focus on me--and become less spooky overall with me as she learns to trust me and has fun at the same time. Woo Hoo!
 
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