Scared of my horse - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 19 Old 06-22-2019, 12:39 PM
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Along with all the above good advice, I would like to also support you in getting a different horse. Horses are not dogs. Although they need good homes, they do not believe you are their family. There are countless people with horses that are simply not the right horse them at the stage of riding they are at. Most of those horses are not getting ridden, or are learning bad habits that will cause problems in the future wherever they end up.

An experienced confident rider might be able to turn your horse around, but your chances are less good, because both of you get scared easily. ONE of you has to be calm!

The simplest and most direct solution to your situation is to sell your horse and buy one that is a very quiet experienced trail horse.
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post #12 of 19 Old 06-22-2019, 07:01 PM
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There is a great deal to be said for having a horse that is calm, and with more whoa than go.


As to fear, and riding against fear . . some people are always somewhat afraid around horses and riding. But, they enjoy horses, and want to grow through the fear, to become less afraid. It's either ride through the fear, or don't ride at all. So, yeah, they get on even though they are scared. But, of course, it's a matter of judgement. Some horses ARE too much for you, and it's not shame to say 'no' to them.
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post #13 of 19 Old 06-22-2019, 08:01 PM
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Owning a horse and having lessons at a school is just not the same is it? ;P First off, welcome to horse ownership. Now you know why even some horse owners tell people to NOT get horses haha. Your boy sounds wonderful and smart. He comes back from his training better. At least then we know it's a you problem, just as you admitted.

Imagine a car. A car is a car.... right? It can be driven by anyone trained and hopefully licensed. Horses are not cars. They cannot be driven by just anyone. If you are nervous and get in a car, the car wont spook at a bird. The car wont ask you if it's safe. The car wont speed off home on it's own. But a horse can and will. At least you sit in a car without worrying if the car is gonna come alive kill you.

Imagine a child. They are scared and unsure. What do children do? Usually run to their parents or responsible adult for support. When a child is nervous it is our responsibility to reassure them isn't it? When a child doesn't know something, it is our responsibility to educate them right? It's the same for horses. You might not realise that your horse is like a child. They are scared - it is YOUR job to reassure him. He is a horse, a child. When you ride him, you are his parent. You can't ask a child to help direct an adult can you? You can't ask a child to help the adult with their fear? It's the adults.. the parents job. If you sit on your horse and pray that he will reassure you - it will never happen. You have to learn to become the parent, the leader. Your horse is a "child" and he needs you to guide him. He is scared, he needs YOU to reassure and soothe him. Your horse doesn't realise how big and scary he can be. He feels tiny and small and needs help navigating the outside world. He needs educating. But you're too scared to educate and reassure him - understandably.

Now the problem lies in the fact that your horse, like any beast, is huge and his tantrums can be dangerous. The second thing you need to realise is that discipline is a part of this. By this I mean when your horse does something genuinely naughty, do you correct it? The way your horse sees it is if you can't discipline HIM then you clearly don't have the strength to face the scary monsters on the trail. You can't even "cope" with his antics so in his mind you're incapable of dealing with the monsters on the trail.

You need to be able to reassure, educate and correct him. Is it better to learn these skills on the ground or in the saddle in the middle of nowhere? Yup, put like that the answer is obvious. On the ground learn how to reassure him. This is just hanging out, taking him for walks and giving him TIME to learn that things wont eat him. Educate him. Teach him tricks - check out youtube. Silly things! Fun things! Lastly, correct him. On the ground does he lead nicely? Does he barge past you? Does he snatch his feet when being picked out? Work on all these things. And by the time you get in the saddle he'll be like "huh, my human actually cares about me. She doesn't just abandon me when I'm scared. My human actually knows something. Maybe I can trust my human and if I'm scared I can ask her for help.

Take a deep breath. Your horse is relying on you far more than you realise. Start on the ground and then work your way up to 5 minute rides. Give yoruself goals and stick to them. Do you ride for 5mins without any faff? GET OFF. Next day, try 10. Next, 15. Lastly... give yourself a plan. When he spooks on the ground, what will you do? When he spooks in the saddle, what will you do? Example for me: mine spooks on the ground - I make sure to stay out of the way and direct her in a circle around me and staying away from her rear. In the saddle I will circle or do a one rein stop. Then when she does spook I am able to react instantly, not having to think "oh, what should I do?!?!?!" and preventing the freeze that would happen otherwise.

Good luck :)
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post #14 of 19 Old 06-22-2019, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Kristi Harms View Post
I need some advice. I have a 9 yr old appy gelding. When I bought him we rode a few times but then winter came and he had some time off. In the spring he started spooking and I started jumping off because I am scared due to having some injuries from other horses. We sent him for a month refresher and he did great.

Iím still very nervous and he will still spook on the ground, which makes me get worked up. I canít afford to take many lessons and I really donít want to sell him.

How do I regain my confidence? How do I make him into the trail horse I want? Please help
So, several posts with good advice in it, but I think we need a bit more information to understand what all is happening.

First of all, are you an experienced rider that lost her nerve after some bad falls? A beginner rider that has come off different horses and doesn't really know why or how to stay on? Or somewhere in between.

Do you board at a stable where other people could ride with you? Having someone to ride with might make both of you calmer.

Is this your first horse?

Did the trainer you sent the horse to teach you how to ride the horse?

Also, it is ok to jump off if you are frightened. If your horse is sensitive, he could easily pick up on your fear and become more jumpy. Once on the ground, you can calm your horse down then remount when ready.

@Kalraii had some good suggestions, namely try to do everything as slowly and methodically as you can. We do the same thing when we are training a horse, one step at a time.
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post #15 of 19 Old 06-23-2019, 03:01 AM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
If you can't ride him out with confidence, try leading him out. If walking a horse is what you can do now, accept it and build on it later.
I second this approach, as a good technique in general (not as a specific prescription for the OP's situation; there's more than one way to skin a cat) - and make sure your horse doesn't come loose or have mechanical advantage over you if he spooks while you are leading him. You've got to be able to hang on to the horse. Ground work first - in familiar environments - before gradually taking him further out of his comfort zone.

One simple trick for hanging on to horses better on the ground in touchy situations: Loop the lead rope over the nose - threaded through the halter - but make sure the metal clip doesn't dig into the jaw; if that happens, use a clipless rope and make an appropriate knot instead (e.g. bowline). I've not had horses get away from me with this arrangement, even when I was a child - here I am below at age 10 with a horse who was notorious for wanting to take off on you when spooked:



The rope trick works as well for me as a stallion bit - make sure the rope sits correctly where the nose band of the halter should be - not so far down that it's on the soft tissues - but not so far up on the face that it confers no mechanical advantage to you either (you can click repeatedly to enlarge the photo to see the relevant detail). Having said that, I'm not afraid of horses and I know where to stand to have mechanical advantage over a horse on a rope. Stand in the wrong spot, and you're water-skiiing on land. An angle of 45 degrees to the horse's head works well, either in front or behind. That way, you make him slightly off-balance if he pulls.

I grew up helping to educate harness horses, as well as saddle training my own riding horses from scratch. For harness horses, led and long-rein work is standard before they are hooked into a cart, and the technique we used was to have a "babysitter" at the horse's head, on the lead, and the other person behind, while teaching long-reining, or later when hooking up the cart etc, until the horse knew what it was supposed to be doing and was confident.

I was usually baby-sitter, but sometimes I was in the cart as well, such as here, as a teenager, with a yearling Standardbred filly called Classic Juliet.



The babysitter technique works very well for initial harness training, and also for the horse's first 10-15 minutes with a rider on its back. Harness to saddle is low drama this way - after 10-15 minutes with a babysitter, I'm generally riding the horse independently in an environment with which it is familiar - in the case of harness horses, I did their initial riding on their home training tracks, and then ventured further out.

The filly above had a colt called Classic Julian after her racing career (birth family's best race mare), and he also raced successfully. When he retired, my husband and I adopted him a couple of years ago. He now lives on our farm, with our other horses and donkeys, and I'm now in the early stages of re-training him to saddle. The main preparation I do is to lead him all over the local trails where he's going to be riding later, so that he's confident in the area. We walk him when we walk our dog, and it's great fun for all of us:













You'll notice he's not in a nose loop in these photos - he doesn't need that anymore, he's so cool and calm now. In the photo below, I've let him off the lead, as I often do when we're back on our own property at the end of an extended walk. He's then free to walk beside, behind or in front of us. As we're his "herd" this is just what he does. Here he is walking ahead of us - and because he's a harness horse, he still feels like he's "in touch" with me there - as this is a normal place for a handler of a harness horse to be.



Often, other horses and donkeys will tag along with us too:



Julian is now such a cool cucumber around our local area, with cattle, machinery, kangaroos, emus, crackling in bushes etc, that I won't have to worry about him spooking when I start riding him on these trails later this year.

Sunsmart was the same - I re-educated him ten years ago, and he's a very relaxed horse to ride - after a rather spooky first half year, when he was first in the "real world" post harness track.


In case you see a resemblance, they are both by The Sunbird Hanover, a son of the famous US pacer Albatross.

However - I totally agree with @QtrBel that you've got to work on your own fears first. If you're nervous while handling or riding, it's going to be hard to make progress - you'll be infecting your horse. Work in your comfort zones, and slowly stretch out from there. Good luck!
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Last edited by SueC; 06-23-2019 at 03:16 AM.
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post #16 of 19 Old 06-29-2019, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avna View Post
Along with all the above good advice, I would like to also support you in getting a different horse. Horses are not dogs. Although they need good homes, they do not believe you are their family. There are countless people with horses that are simply not the right horse them at the stage of riding they are at. Most of those horses are not getting ridden, or are learning bad habits that will cause problems in the future wherever they end up.

An experienced confident rider might be able to turn your horse around, but your chances are less good, because both of you get scared easily. ONE of you has to be calm!

The simplest and most direct solution to your situation is to sell your horse and buy one that is a very quiet experienced trail horse.
Basically, THIS ^^^^^.

Sticking with your horse could turn out to be a wonderful learning experience. It worked for me, but it was literally years and a lot of time researching methods that mostly taught ME how to accomplish goals with the least stress to both of us. One trainer says, "It is never the horse's fault" and for the most part I agree with that. It can be a blow to the ego to admit that WE are usually the problem.
If you are determined to work through this get some experienced help for both of you together. Members have given some very good advice. But do keep in mind that a calm, well-mannered trail horse will do a lot to give you more confidence as a rider, and will give a much more pleasant ride.
Wishing you success with whatever you decide.
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post #17 of 19 Old 06-30-2019, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by mmshiro View Post
Well, that's going to be tricky, because you now taught him how to terminate the ride on his terms. Moreover, your being nervous does nothing to make him less nervous. I am saying this without being facetious or with intent to troll: Try a moderate amount of alcohol or a Xanax before riding. Your horse needs you to be a leader. You cannot afford to abandon him when he is scared - that's exactly when you need to be in the saddle to show him how to get to safety.
Booze & pills are my go to
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post #18 of 19 Old 06-30-2019, 03:43 PM
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Op, joking aside with the booze and pills, you do have to be confident. I have one student who always wanted me to lead her on her horse, not when she took lessons here on my quiet horses but on her Tennessee Walker who tended to be a little hot for the first 5-10 minutes. I told her no, she had enough skills to calm him down. I was a little tough on her and said forget about being afraid concentrate on calming him down and you being calm you want the feeling like you get when you ride my horses. She sort of looked at me funny, I said you have to do it otherwise you might as well go to Walmart and ride the horses there. She is a respectful girl but I could see she was a little bit ticked with me, but it worked. Because she was ticked at me, she didn't have the fear and passiveness anymore, she had a little bit of aggression which translated to confidence for the horse. He started listening to her, he started calming down. She said that was the best lesson she ever had. Push past the fear of getting hurt, think of only using your skills to make the horse behave. Bailing off is usually more dangerous then trying to ride out minor spooks, also as others have mentioned, your horse learns that you get off when he acts up, so he will continue to do so. Lunge your horse quite a bit before you ride him so he's a little bit on the tired side and won't be so fresh. Set up obstacles where you ride, like a narrow L shape of poles, walk through those, then trot through those, then back through those cavaletti at a walk, then at a trot. Practice your side passing, mix it up so the horse doesn't have time to spook, he's thinking about what you are going to make him do next.

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post #19 of 19 Old 06-30-2019, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kristi Harms View Post
I need some advice. I have a 9 yr old appy gelding. When I bought him we rode a few times but then winter came and he had some time off. In the spring he started spooking and I started jumping off because I am scared due to having some injuries from other horses. We sent him for a month refresher and he did great.

Iím still very nervous and he will still spook on the ground, which makes me get worked up. I canít afford to take many lessons and I really donít want to sell him.

How do I regain my confidence? How do I make him into the trail horse I want? Please help
The number of lessons you have is less important than the quality of the lessons and how they meet your particular needs.

Is there a trainer in your area who is able to address your fears?

Training a horses is one thing. Training a rider may be something significantly different.

The trainer you would be looking for is one who understands human emotions as well as horses.
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