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tips for dealing with scary end of school!

Discussion in 'Confidence Club' started by sophie33, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. sophie33

    sophie33 Well-Known Member

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    Well - as it is summer the big 'window' at the top our indoor school is permanently open. Flicks has always been a bit cautious of it, but a couple of times recently she has suddenly seen something and turned tail and fled! She is always spooky up there at the beginning of a session but I have - to a very limited extent! - but my brave pants on and made sure every time I've ridden her that she is fine going past it in walk in both directions. However, I have not always taken her up there in trot, if I'm feeling nervous I've tended to use the bottom two thirds of the school. And the first time she took tail and fled I then chickened out and only rode her down the other end of the school for the rest of the session. When it happened this morning my RI insisted - correctly - that I got back up there and dealt with it. She was very spooky but I eventually got her going past okayish (still rushing a bit). However, when it came to canter I didn't attempt it but kept her in the bottom two thirds!
    So I've agreed with my RI that my task - when I'm riding solo - for the next week is to get her going past the scary window in walk and trot in both directions and not chicken out! I'm determined to ride tomorrow and Friday and crack this!
    Now I am not responsible for her being spooky up there, both times she turned tail and fled I was feeling relaxed. But I do then escalate the whole situation by tensing up when we attempt it again. I know that I need to:
    a) relax and don't think about it
    b) keep my inside rein down and relaxed (ie don't let my shoulders scrunch up round my ears!)
    But knowing what you need to do and doing it are two different things. So can anyone give me any tips? Sorry I've written a book about not much.... but tips would be appreciated all the same
     
  2. Mary Poppins

    Mary Poppins Well-Known Member

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    My instructor gave me a very valuable tip in my last lesson. We were riding in one of the xc fields at the riding school and there were some new XC jumps out. My instructor told me to go for a good canter around the jumps (not over I might add!) but Ben keep spooking at some of the logs. She told me to absolutely not look at any of the jumps and just focus all my thoughts on where I wanted to go. This completely worked, when I didn't look at any of the jumps, he didn't spook at them. When I looked at them, he spooked at them!

    My advice would be to completely ignore the window. Don't look at it at all. Just pretend it is not there and ride as you normally would. If Flicka spooks, just ignore the spook and carry on. I know that it is easy to say and hard to do, but just by you not thinking or focusing on the scary object (the window) and putting all your brain power into looking where to want to go and concentraing on something else (my instructor gets me to leg yield when I am nervous) this can make a huge difference.
     
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  3. Trewsers

    Trewsers Well-Known Member

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    They used to put a Christmas tree up at old yard on a ledge in the arena. I was worried about it and so was madam - until OH just said to ignore it, focus on the long side and think about getting her into canter at the corner. It worked because after the first few days neither of us bothered.
     
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  5. sophie33

    sophie33 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks MP, that is a very good tip. I will try it tomorrow
     
  6. sjp1

    sjp1 Well-Known Member

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    Agree with above, but make the spooky side of the school a place to rest as well.

    Lots of work in the safe side - rest in the spooky side to make it a more pleasant place to be.

    They catch on quite quickly.
     
  7. sophie33

    sophie33 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks sjp1 that is a good idea as well. It is true the safe side is always where she gets to stand around while I chat and generally chill. No wonder she doesn't like the other end!
     
  8. Flipo's Mum

    Flipo's Mum Heavy owner of a Heavy

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    Vicious circle. The more scared she is, the more scared you are of her being scared and so it becomes that you are both scared of that window.

    BUT ITS JUST A WINDOW. Take your horse hat off, and put your human head back on. Its nothing to be scared of. You now need to take the lead and convince her that its nothing to be scared of. Help her realise this. See that as your mission and focus on being her educator. I have to detach from my own fear and focus on protecting my horse in these situations and often that helps me cope with the nerves as well.

    I know this is really difficult to do, but seriously, just take a step back and think logically about it and how you can help her. My tactic now, is to put on the school teacher voice, tell my horse that he's being an idiot and its nothing to worry about, and to reinforce that, I avidly DONT focus on the source of concern. To even glance in it's direction would be to give my horse justification that there's something there to be worried about.
     
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  9. sjp1

    sjp1 Well-Known Member

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    You have summed it up. Horses usually take the path of least resistance, if she gets to stand on the safe side,she will prefer it. I would almost guarantee that if she gets to stand on the spooky side whe will ultimately make a bee line for it.

    Horses, almost always love the gate, as thats the way out!!!
     
  10. sophie33

    sophie33 Well-Known Member

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    I really think it was all me! So I didn't manage to ride last Thursday as planned, but I did last night. I kept all your advice firmly in mind. I didn't do my normal i'll just go round the 'safe end' of the school for a turn or two until I relax, I got on and went large. I didn't glance at the window once. Throughout the time I was riding I kept thinking about what I was going to do in the corner just past the window - whether it was just make sure she went right into it, change pace or whatever. We succesfully walked, trotted and cantered past scary window and - apart from sometimes going a bit tense and sticking her head up in the air - she ignored it too!
    And I did also take your advice sjp1 and do some chilling up the scary end. Although as my RI was sitting watching at the safe end we did do some stopping and chatting down there too. When I 'm solo on Wednesday I'll make sure we only stop at the 'scary end'. Thanks all!
     
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  11. sophie33

    sophie33 Well-Known Member

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    Well I think I went in with an equally determined attitude this morning, but Flicks went past the scary door fine on one rein but was then a bit spooky on the other one. I kept at it though and she didn't do anything worse than rush a bit. And I explained to my friend who was riding with me about trying to rest at the scary end so we finished off by standing about up there and chatting. Hopefully flicks will begin to get the idea!
     
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  12. sjp1

    sjp1 Well-Known Member

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    Well done you. Resting causes horses to like whatever area they like, as they, like us are fairly lazy and bored when it comes to schooling.

    Always when my horse is worried about something when I bring him in morning and evening for feeds (our yard is full of odd bits of machinery, or pallets or something different day by day )and he shows a reaction, I always put him on the other side of the scarey thing and get on it. For leading, this always works. If I get on it, he is fine - it proves it is not horse eating!!

    In a school, resting in the scarey corner and working in the rest causes him to really like the scarey corner - because it is easier resting. Often horses (or mine anyway) choose to be scared, rather than actually being scared - they might prefer it by the gate, as its the way out and schooling is boring, but they are actually having a game about the scarey side, and often, it works for them. We don't take them down there, but stay nearer the favourite area - the gate. I have never, ever ridden a horse who is bothered about the gate, or the area near it.
     
  13. Mary Poppins

    Mary Poppins Well-Known Member

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    Such a lovely update to read. Well done, you did really well.
     
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