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Underconfident around horses after 15 years away from riding

Discussion in 'Horse Riding and Training' started by JoGards, May 17, 2011.


  1. JoGards

    JoGards PetForums Newbie

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    Hi Everybody,

    I'm looking for a bit of horse-rider relationship advice!
    I rode when I was younger and loved it but after my parents divorced I quit.
    I have always loved and admired horses and have always kept up with eventing as a spectator.
    Now at the ripe old age of 26 I want to rekindle my relationship with riding. I went out on a 2 hour gentle ride at the weekend at a local trekking centre and was quite pleased with my rising trot. But unlike other people my worries are not about the riding itself (I know there are risks, but almost everything has risks right!) Instead I am nervous about getting up close and personal with horses again. I keep having visions of a horse swinging round and biting me or kicking me. I really want to be confident and calm around them but my fear of their strength is getting to me.

    How can I build my confidence around them so that they have confidence in me?

    Thanks and Best Wishes

    Jo
     
  2. Melx

    Melx PetForums Member

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    Hi Jo,
    I had the exact same problem after taking a 3 year break. Anything over 15hh frightened me. It is very very hard to be confident around them when you know that you really are not then you tell your self "they can sense my fear, they will definietly do something" Which then makes your fears 10 times worse and it is like a viscious circle.

    I found it quite hard to get over and if I am totally honest I am still not 100% like others with certain horses which I know can be a handful but I am 100% better than I was!

    The best advice I can give, asd rubbish as it sounds, is you just have to get on with it! Riding schools didnt help me as I was conscious of people watching and it becoming worse so instead I took on a saturday job as a groom. I explained to the yard owner that I had serious confidence issues and she was wonderful, helping me each Saturday to overcome something else. This did not et rid of all my fears though and after having an accident with one of the horses (unfortunately for me it was while I was leading the horse from the ground so didnt help me at all) and I decided to go back to my lessons. The lessons hepled slightly but not a lot.

    After this decided if I was going to learn I would need my own horse and to do it in my own way and time. I had the knowledge so wasnt like a novice buying something to ruin, but knew that if I had to do it I would!
    Luckily I ws at a yard with help, I went out and bought a 16.3 TB mare. She was a project and needed work BUT she was placid and a total confidence giver, I decided that we could learn and grow together. That is exactly what happened!!
    Yes ot start with it was embarrasing asking people to lead my horse to the field if she was having a bit of a fizzy day and I didnt feel I could do it but once I explained the problem they were more than happy to help! I had many people helping me, to start with I had to be led around the school while riding her by my boyfriends mum! But it is worth taking the time to start again, less chance of an accident.
    Star has built my confidence up amazingly and now I wont hesitate if someone asks me to do something with their horse for them, if they are naughty I will tell them off and show them whos boss (obviously nothing over the top lol)

    A lot of it is to do with how u act, the body langhuage you give off. A good bit of advice I was given was when riding and leading and you feel nervous, sing! Singing paces your breathing so you dont come across as nervous to the horse. Also check how you body is when approaching the horse, if your tense, drop your shoulders and loosen yourself up, you will notice the chnage dramatically! Dont go up to the horse all guns blazing but act confident but yet gentle.... It works!!

    I really hope I have helped a bit and make sure you let us know how you get on! :D
     
  3. JoGards

    JoGards PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks so much Melx! It's so nice to know someone else has felt the same way; most people are worried about falling off a horse where as I am more worried about mucking one out LOL!
    I will defo keep you posted with my progress I'm hoping that with time and bravery (on my part) I will make friends with horses again!
    My goal is to eventually get a horse to build and grow with; just like you and Star! Good Luck with your training and thanks for the singing tip I'll definitely try that if I feel like I'm freaking out.

    All the best
    xx
     
  4. Melx

    Melx PetForums Member

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    It is nothing to be ashamed of, Lots of people have that problem at least once in their life, but in the true horseman way no one will admit it! For some reason people think it is embarrasing to admit you have a fear.

    Just make sure you explain to everyone you meet that you have a fear and want to overcome it, most people would welcome you with open arms!! Try working with non riding school horses, they are very placid and wont help u much with a horse of your own, attitudes are totally different!

    Maybe put an advert out, asking to help someone in exchange for riding, think this would be the best thing you could do! People love help without having to pay lol and 9 times out of 10 people would enjoy helping you!!

    Good luck :D
     
  5. Shrap

    Shrap PetForums VIP

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    I'm the same too :(

    I rode when I was younger but stopped after a few years. Absolutely loved it. Then I went to uni and there was a riding club, so I signed up. That was okay, but only when I got put on one particular horse. He was lovely!!

    Changed stables because that one was just TOO far away.
    They put me on an ex SJ horse about 16.1hh and I just did not feel confident.
    No balance and he was very bouncy, a bit head strong. I felt totally out of my depth and knew that the horse could sense it :/
    From there it just got worse and now I can't ride them anymore because I'm too scared.

    Wish I could get back into it. I really did love it :(
     
  6. Melx

    Melx PetForums Member

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    Shrap, please dont think you cannot ride again because of being scared! The problem is that most people are too ashamed and embarrassed to ask for help so just end up giving up, But you CAN get over your fear, Just needs hard work, dedication, and someone to help every step of the way!!

    Where abouts are you based? If you are close to me I would be more than happy to help you!

    Maybe do some of the things I suggested to JoGards, I know they work because I done it myself not so long ago. It is very hard but eventually you will get there in the end!

    I know its hard to believe but trust me, I was probably the worst person you would ever meet for having a fear of horses and people could not understand how I was so scared but yet they are my main love in life! Go to a good riding school, explain exactly what is wrong and dont be scared to speak up. If the horse is too big ask for something smaller to ride, as to do some yard jobs and some help takcing up, grooming etc so you are learning all aspects.

    But PLEASE dont give up :)
     
  7. Shrap

    Shrap PetForums VIP

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    I'm actually a bit fat to go back to riding atm so as soon as I lose a bit of weight I'll try and get back into it.

    I'm Glasgow, so probably nowhere near you lol!

    Wish I did know someone with a horse though. I love being around them. Just get really panicky when riding. I spooked a horse last time I was on one. Forgot I had carrots in my pocket and they came flying out when I was cantering. Horse veered off to the side still in canter so off I went lol!

    I did do a rather cool ninja roll off though I have to say lmao!
     
  8. Melx

    Melx PetForums Member

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    Maybe put out an advert for somneone with horses who is willing to help? Unfortunately you arent near me (I am in kent lol) otherwise I would be happy to help!
    You need to start on the ground. As much as riding in the fun part you need to know how to gain a horses trust. When I buy a new horse I wont get on it until I have established some ground work so there is some trust between us as a basis, Like lunging, long reining and leading, feeding, grooming, this all helps with a bond between you and the horse. I wont ride a friends horse until I have a cuddle and a stroke on the ground so the horse has more chance of trusting me.
    Its a lot about body language. Once you establish that you can only get better with your confidence :)
     
  9. Shrap

    Shrap PetForums VIP

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    Yeah I just don't come from a horsey family so don't really know about all that stuff. I know how to feed/groom/tack up etc. from my earlier years. But never done any lunging etc.
    I think tbh, it all stems from going to bad school. They just stick you on a typical school horse that follows the one in front or whatever. And then for the first time stuck me on one that had a mind of it's own after being out for ages.

    I do like to get to know the horse first to get a handle on his/her personality etc. Maybe give a couple of treats.

    I don't really like school horses either. I just feel like they've been broken... Always having to force them to work etc. (Oh just give him a smack he's being lazy) All the time? Seriously? I know horses can take the piss, but I'd rather ride a horse that's enjoying working?

    Then there's the fact that nobody ever actually taught me HOW to control a horse. All I got was. Kick to go. Opposite leg/rein etc. Pull back to stop.
    That's honestly it!
     
  10. Melx

    Melx PetForums Member

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    Dont worry, I came from a non horsey family and started in a school with exactly the same attitude! Riding a horse from a riding school and then a horse owned independantly is totally different. Yes some are total kick and go rides but not many! Riding a horse with an attitude (and a soul some could say) is a lot more hard work but also a lot more rewarding!

    You learn things along the way, thats what I had to do. Your best bet is to put out some adverts and and try and meet someone with horses who wouldnt mind helping you learn!

    Also once you are more confident on how to do things with the horses, whether it be lunging, riding, feeding, grooming, You will be a lot more confident to carry these out without worrying what may happen and then feel as though you have more control.

    It takes a long time but if you persist you will get there! :)
     
  11. JoGards

    JoGards PetForums Newbie

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    Hey,

    Just an update on my horse/rider confidence building.
    I have been riding a few times and helped out at a race stables. One of the horses tried to back into me because he didn't like the rain and wanted to turn his backside to it but with a firm hand I held him steady and I have been leading horses to the practice ring...Yikes! Also I'm doing some work on the lunge. So I'm feeling a lot better, I'm still not confident enough to go strolling up to any old horse but I am feeling like there is hope for me and my friendship with horses. I'm kind of in love with one of the horses he is so gorgeous but a bit of a wild one so I'm loving him from a distance at the mo LOL! I know I'll have cracked it when I can get up close to him without getting scared.

    Riding again on Friday...Can't wait!

    For anyone who has lost their confidence I say just get back to being around horses I was soooooo scared a few weeks ago and slowly I'm starting to feel confident again. The only way to overcome it is to actually be in contact with the beautiful beasts!!!
    Will update with my progress

    Thanks for all the advice and sharing.

    :) xx
     
  12. Melx

    Melx PetForums Member

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    That is brilliant news!! :D I am so glad you just went for it and got stuck in as like you said there's not much else you can do tbh! Its just a matter of understanding them I think! One thing that I read whilsy trying ot get my confidence back which really helped was that horses are flight animals, any sign of danger and they will run but this does not mean they wish to hurt you at all! So staying calm and solving the situation will not end in them trying to hurt you either! This made me realise that just because they may be a bit flighty in say wind of spook at something and take off they arent trying to hurt you, They are just doing what is natural so there is no need to panic!!

    Keep us updated on your progress and add some pictures!!!! We all love pictures here :D
     
  13. victoriaaa

    victoriaaa PetForums Senior

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    Helloo.

    I was exactly the same, after a fall i totally lost my confidence, and basically was wasting the horse, so stopped riding for about 4-5 years, like you i kept up with the horse world but never really got hands on with it until a year ago. Like you i learnt on basic riding school horses, but really all they do is learn the basics, and when you get to 'real horses' its kind of like ohhh dearrr, abit daunting, but seriously when you spend time it becomes the norm. Like someone else had said, i used to hum and sing when leading the horses from the feild or brushing, and when they span around or slammed feet down during grooming i used to get all nervous. It takes time but its worth it.

    Advertise yourself maybe to help out with someones ponies? start small work your way up, i know families normally want help mucking out, grooming etc.

    Dont over horse yourself, do it at your own pace, and just simply enjoy it :)
     
  14. JoGards

    JoGards PetForums Newbie

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    Another update.
    So riding is still going well I'm getting more confident.
    On the horse/rider relationship I'm making progress. One of the horses tried to give me a cheeky nip Whilst I was leading him from the stable on Friday but a firm but fair yank soon told him he can't mess around with me (even though I was a tiny bit scared).
    I have been in the stable with a couple of horses tacking and untacking; at first it felt very claustrophobic to be in such a small space with such a big animal but I am gaining in confidence every time.
    No doubt I will experience a few more nips and such like but things are just getting better and better :)

    I will post some pic's on next update.

    Thanks again for the good advice
    x
     
  15. Melx

    Melx PetForums Member

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    Glad to hear its going so well! :D
    Also another good and handy tip is to one day when you are with one of the horses i.e leading, grooming, tacking up, schooling, take a look at how your body language is. Body language is a very big part on how the horse will react to things you do. For example, I was given this tip whilst free schooling at a yard I used to work at when my nerves were at there worst and the yard owner told me to stand tall and raise my arms and tense up, the horse sped up, then she told me to relax and lower my arms and almost slouch, the horse practically went to a standstill!! It really is amazing when you stand and watch yourself or others just to see what you or they are doing and how the horse is reacting to their body language. It will help you to control how you come across to the horse too!

    Hope this is something else you can use along the way :)
     
  16. Keelyrose

    Keelyrose PetForums Newbie

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    Hi im having the same sort of problems i had a fall 16 years ago and broke my back( i must say it was not the horses fault ) any way a very horsey friend of mine has managed to bring me round to starting again i am now 45 lol i used to break horses for riding and driving without any confidence issues but that was a long time ago so i decided to start from the begining ie: mucking out,poo picking all yard duties etc i have also had some riding lessons i am fine in the saddle of a riding school plodder but obviously my body is heavier and not as fit as it used to be so more lessons needed lol x however my confidence on the ground is somewhat dodgy in finding myself being jumpy and nervus and i hate it i have never been like this so i decided to get myself my own project as i have never actually owned my own i found a 3 year old cob type that when weaned from mum had been head collered and turned away so was totally un handled i then spent 3 weeks trying to catch him which i did with a little help he is now stabled and gaining weight and looking a lot healthier .i have had hin now for 5 weeks and i have bonded with him i can scratch him and kiss him within reason as he is very nervus i can get in the stable with him and hes happy for me to stroke him and he even grooms me when i groom him but i feel that i am still giving off to many nervus vibes to orogress sorry to be long winded but i really love this little boy and really want our relationship to grow any tips would be much aprieciated i dont want to spoil what i have with him i am a very patient person although i do hope to ride him one day that is not as imoortant as having a friend in him thanks for reading x
     
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