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New pony and losing my confidence

Discussion in 'Horse Riding and Training' started by laurenandgeorge, Mar 19, 2019.

  1. laurenandgeorge

    laurenandgeorge PetForums Newbie

    Mar 19, 2019
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    I've had my boy for 2 months now, he is an 8yr old Irish cob and he is 14hh (and rather round in structure!), and we bought him as my second pony. First was incredibly lazy and cheeky, (had him for 3yrs) whereas George is much fizzier and I'm quickly losing confidence :( He goes nicely on my lessons in the indoor and I'm much more confident there (he is used 5 days a week on the riding school), but as soon as I take him outside hacking/in the outdoor he is much stronger and acts like a 4 year old (especially when ridden with a crop (I don't use it on him but carrying one gets him in a more constant rhythm). He has run off with me twice (and also with my friend) and is rather spooky, and when speaking to my instructors they said I should be 'pulling his face off', but surely that's only going to make it worse (he is ridden in a simple snaffle). The first time was down the bridle paths and it gave me quite a fright, he only stopped when we ran into another rider (gave her and the pedestrians on the other path quite a scare aha). Did ask about a martingale as he lifts his head up and then yanks it down, giving little me no control at all, but my instructors said it isn't necessary so not sure what to do there either. Finally, he loves his jumping and gets excited and tends to rush (which I can cope with as it just needs schooling) and I would love to go out and compete but am afraid of what he would be like in that environment, especially in open spaces, he is also bolshy and cheeky in the stable and in hand, but a real sweetie at heart! I've been told to be tougher but that's not who I am and I worry that we are an accident waiting to happen (I'm honestly tiny compared to him!). He was on sale at my yard so I'm not 100% on his background, but he came over from Ireland and seems to have hunted in the past, pretty sure he was then left in the field for a while before he ended up here. He is a super pony and his footwork is beautiful, he is honest and nice to jump (minus the rushing) but I just can't enjoy him currently because of my lack of confidence and his behavior at times :(

    Any advice would be appreciated, I'm not sure what to do at all, I really don't want to let him go as I love him to bits, but worry that we just aren't made for each other and that I'm going to ruin him and I need to look for something else :cry:

    Thanks for reading :heartbeat:
  2. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

    Jan 5, 2013
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    Tbh I’d be looking for new instructors.

    Pulling a horse’s face off isn’t my idea of good schooling/training practice.

    If he’s raising his head then he will evade the bit and you won’t have control. Using a martingale with the snaffle will prevent that and you can use softer hands and encourage him to round and engage his back end, rather than him tearing ahead.

    You need to be safe out hacking so maybe consider a different bit for then.

    I rode my mare out in a Mullen mouthed Pelham with double reins, using the top rein but with the bottom rein as back up if she became over strong.

    It gave me the confidence that I could be in control and was kind on her mouth with no need for pulling or tugging on her.

    Riding her into the bit with my legs made her much more balanced and lighter and hacking was enjoyable for us both.

    Try to ride in company for support and avoid fast paces for now but use hacks as an extension of schooling to get him engaged.
    niamh123 and kittih like this.
  3. Teddy-dog

    Teddy-dog PetForums VIP

    Nov 2, 2017
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    Firstly, you’ve only had this horse two months. Give it a bit of time as likelihood is that the horse is still settling in and will become calmer with time when it knows it’s home and it’s hacking routes.

    I would look for a nice confidence giving instructor who can help you with your schooling and hacking out. Perhaps they can ride him hacking out to get him used to it and see how he is. Have you hacked out in company? It sounds like your horse might be lacking a bit of confidence, not unusual with a new owner as you are just getting used to each other, and riding out with others may help him gain confidence with his hacking. Were there are triggers as to what set him off when he has run off? Was it more of a spook or a ‘I want to go fast’ reaction?

    Rushing jumping can also be a sign of an underconfident horse. I’d be inclined to go back to just polework and get him used to working nice and calmly over those.

    In Ireland they tend to back them pretty young and hard (not saying all like this but they are usually backed then sent out hunting), not much time spent on education in the school etc.
    niamh123, Lurcherlad and kittih like this.
  4. danielled

    danielled Guest

    Agree. From what I’ve read I prefer my old instructor back when I had my old girl Copper who was easily spooked, look at the time she cantered off with me at a horse show just a few calm gentle whoa there Copper steadys got her to stop.
    Lurcherlad likes this.
  5. Ringypie

    Ringypie PetForums VIP

    Aug 15, 2012
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    Just to add to the excellent advice you’ve already been given, when you hack out does he bog off with you in walk? Or are you trotting / cantering? On your own or in company? Mine used to be awful to hack (he had a hard time in Ireland before I bought him but has turned out to be a really useful sort). I had to make hacking really boring - no trotting until he could walk everywhere sensibly. Once he could walk I added little trots but bringing him back every time he tried to snatch the bit and run. And again with the canter, just a few strides, back to walk before he charged off. Never cantering in the same place as he anticipated! We did lots of schooling while hacking, neck bends, leg yields (if on a quiet lane!!), transitions.
    I had to pick my hacking buddies with care - he had to be in front or got over excited. Couldn’t cope with a horse jogging or trotting behind to catch up. A lot of hacking was done on my own in the end until he calmed down as other horses were a trigger for him being unruly!
    Also you say your problems are mostly in the outdoor - can you have your lessons there with a GOOD instructor? (Not one that just tells you to yank on the pony’s mouth!). I wouldn’t jump for now, not until you have really established the controls and feel really confident on the flat and over poles.
    2 months really isn’t long with this pony so don’t lose heart!
    niamh123 and Lurcherlad like this.
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