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  #1  
Old 07-03-2012, 09:59 PM
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Starlight Express Starlight Express is offline
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Riding confidence problems

Hi all,

My friend is having some serious problems with her confidence. She had a nasty fall a few years back which left her with some broken ribbs. However the fall was not when riding her own horse. She owns a 8 year old 14.3hh Welsh D gelding. He is generally a lazy boy much like my own horse and I have ridden him before and he's super safe even out on his own.

Problem is my friend, we go out on a hack twice a week together, and when ever she thinks something is likely to spook her horse she gets off and walks. But really her horse is not likely to spook at anything. Also when we try a canter she panics! This makes Winston speed up big time. Once she does get him to stop usually by me slowing Star and her turning winston in to us. She dismounts in a terrible state.

I feel a shame for my friend, she gets so upset with herself as she knows she can ride. She was a great show jumper about 5 years back and would get on any horse. I have tried talking to her and all i get is excuses why she needed to dismount. I really don't want her to give up on her riding or sell her horse which she threatens often. I just don't know how to help her. as anyone any ideas?
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Old 09-03-2012, 10:35 AM
Shady Shady is offline
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Re: Riding confidence problems

I'm probably no help, but I tend to use tough love on these occasions. I have been out with people before who insist that they cannot do something, or their horse wont do it, and I've literally shouted at them to stop being stupid and just get on with it (only if I am absolutely sure that the horse and rider CAN actually do it) I don't know, I guess you could try reassuring her throughout? Remind her to relax and tell her, her horse is being such a good boy? Try little canters to begin with, like find a area where there is a natural stop, and just suggest cantering to the end? In situations where she thinks her horse will spook, maybe take your horse past it first and encourage her to just have a go? I don't know really, it's a hard one. I mean if she's lost her confidence she just needs to find a technique that helps her regain it. I am very much a "Ok don't know how he'll react, but lets try it anyway. If he ends up bolting I'll deal" Kind of person, so it's hard for me to fully comprehend the fear she has :/

I do hope that you are able to help her, because there is nothing worse than a horse lover losing their confidence. Good luck and keep us posted <3
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Old 09-03-2012, 12:09 PM
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Re: Riding confidence problems

How would she feel about hypnotherapy?

I had riding fears that frequently caused me to go in to a blind panic over nothing. It's incredibly frustrating because you know your acting stupidly but no matter how hard you try, when that panic decends...

After trying just about everything over a period of years, in desperation i eventually went to see a hypnotherapist. I was very skeptical (and my riding instuctor even more so) but the results have been quite amazing.

After just a single 1 hour session my instructor said ''it's like teaching a different person''. Like everyone, i can still get a little apprehensive at times but i'm now able to control it and have not had a single blind panic episode since the hypnotherapy.
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:01 PM
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Re: Riding confidence problems

Thanks for all the ideas. I don't think she would respond to well to me shouting at her though. I'm about the only person helping her at the moment. All her other friends at the yard have left her to deal with it and won't ride out with her anymore as they think it ruins their fun not being able to canter or wait for her if she has to get off and walk.

I'm helping as much as I can. We went out today for a short ride. I made her plan the ride. So we were out for about 30 mins. Walked most of the way with little trots. Everytime she said about dismounting all I said was "do you know how pleased with yourself you will be if you get all the way home staying on" and just kept chatting trying to keep her mind off what she was doing. She made it back in one piece! Couldn't get that big grin of her face.

Although this could only be a good day tomorrow things could be different. Her horse does hold his head really low, he pulls you over leaning on the bit and you can't sit quite upright. Although he is in a waterford snaffle and shouldn't be able to lean, it seems to scare her making her feel unbalanced, and not in control as she can't hold the reins in contact. Don't know.
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Old 22-08-2012, 01:28 PM
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Re: Riding confidence problems

Oh i deffinately know how your friend is feeling, i had issues with jumping my boy (v. green and jumped huge) so sold him and got something else, after a week i got bucked off everytime as soon as i got on (turned out he was only 4 and just backed) so we swapped them back as i had been told he was a confidence giver to help with my jumping. I know i should have stuck with it but i was totally petrified of even getting on this horse. Even when i got my horse back who i know can go about 6 weeks off work and not so much as twitch a muscle getting on, i was having panic attacks of "what if" Now i have a new boy that i got last week and already i feel so much better doing things, i actually asked for the jumps to be put up alittle last night!

I think what you are doing is brilliant, its a mix between the tough love and the "you'll feel great if you do it" talks. although i felt really stupid in myself taking things slow because i knew i could do all of this no problems before, loads of encouragement and praise from my friend helped me soo much.

can you lead another horse from yours? if so this might be an option with the cantering issues just to give your friend that added confidence that if she cant stop him..you can. Also could you put a neck strap of some kind (old stirrup leather) or that around his neck so that she can hold onto, this helped me so much when i got tense i would hold this and take REALLY deep breaths to relax instead of tightening my grip on the reins accidently.

I was at the point of thinking of giving up horses completely and if it wasnt for my friend at the yard i probably would have done. Thank you so much for taking the time to help your friend in this situation it says alot about the type of person you are and we need more like you.
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Old 28-03-2013, 10:36 AM
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Re: Riding confidence problems

I think your friend absolutely right to dismount if she feels unsure. Fear needs to be worked on slowly and gently. Flooding really doesn`t help. IMO.
I`m wondering if she could maybe find a riding school who would work with her on this. |I think if she worked on riding a quiet horse on a lunge in a school, and moved to the next step when she felt ready, it would help?
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Old 28-03-2013, 11:13 AM
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Re: Riding confidence problems

firstly fear is personal - there are many ways of coping and dealing with it, but at the end of the day its down to the individual x does she accept she has this fear? does she understand that its her fear thats causing the issues? if she does then she can start to move on with things - I am a big believer of starting from scratch with fear, she could go right back to the start with the ground work etc and then longline then lunge then ride in the school and slow hacks etc, then canter work in the school (I imagine she is probably popping forwards when in canter due to fear) so she needs to ride in the school and brick wall her shoulders and lift her hands, she needs to get hm used to respond to the halfhalt so when out if she does pop forward a small HH will ask him to comeback and help her feel more secure, also nothing wrong with popping on a hunting breastplate (I call it the oh! ****! handle) great for grabbing if you need to grab something (helps not to take too much pressure to the mouth and will put pressure on his chest and help with control for both) x

a good thing for removing fear is to take one step at a time, write the steps down on a piece of paper and as soon as they are comfortable and achieved to burn them x
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Old 30-03-2013, 08:01 PM
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Re: Riding confidence problems

I don't know if this is something you/her would consider, but leading from your horse could help? I used to ride and lead a friend when she had a confidence loss, not that she or the horse required it, but she was reassured that her horse was up the inside of mine and that I had hold of the lead 'just incase'
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Old 03-04-2013, 02:45 PM
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Re: Riding confidence problems

I am sure Yoga could help your friend. It strengthen the body and mind. It will help her to overcome the fear.
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:17 AM
wannabe dogowner wannabe dogowner is offline
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Re: Riding confidence problems

as you feel super he is super safe on his own, have you considered going out yourself on foot? Walk next to him, but carry a lead rope. If she gets scared encourage her to stay on top, clip the lead rope on and lead the horse past the perceived danger.
As she practises and finds him steadily walking past, you can decrease your involvement and walk further from him, eventually allowing him and her to walk a little way in front of you, with you just a back up if things get sticky
I wouldnt consider cantering atm! It is freaking out the poor horse and not helping your friend in the slightest.
Do the walk thing first. Then take both horses out together, just in walk. Add trot in small amounts as her confidence increases. Start with you as the lead, then side by side if possible and progress to her going in front in both walk and trot. Only when she is absolutely ok with this should you consider canter. Again in small amounts, with your horse as a very steady lead (although many a lazy horse is damn slow as lead - use your judgement!). Aim to practise very regular transitions so that she learns he WILL stop when asked and dont allow the horses to stride out until all the above are met without concern
It will take a lot of time and both horses will probably need extra exercise ( dont want them too fresh!) while she does the early stages. If you have a school that is ideal as she can practise faster paces in the safety of the arena
good luck

Last edited by wannabe dogowner; 05-04-2013 at 11:21 AM..
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