Driving myself round the twist!

squidsin

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Feb 16, 2013
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Since my last bold post about dealing with falling off, I've suffered a massive loss of confidence! It hasn't helped that I've been hormonal all week and whether Poppy is picking up on that, or maybe coming into season herself, I don't know, but we've both been jumpy as ferrets. I've been downing Rescue Remedy like sweeties. These are some of the things I have been worrying about:
- That Poppy will get away from me when I walk her up to/back from the field (which is a 10 min walk from the yard) and gallop right down to the main road and die
- That she will trip over her mats in her stable and die (the ones I bought off eBay turned out to be absolute rubbish, I need to replace them and will do tomorrow)
- That I am not riding her enough and that's why she's jumpy
- That she's too thin
- That I will fall off her out hacking and we'll both die, or I'll be paralysed, like Christopher Reeve
- That I am getting everything wrong

HELP! As you can see I am actually driving myself mental!
 

Mary Poppins

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Confidence is such a fragile thing. I am similar to you in that I go round and round in circles about things which bother me and often drive myself insane as well.

I think that you just need to break everything down into small steps and work on each issue individually. For me, the biggest issue is that you worry about getting seriously hurt whilst riding. This is something that everyone has to consider when they get on a horse. I think that it is all about minimising risk and putting everything into perspective. Yes, you could be killed on a horse - but you could also be killed in a car, be struck down by some random illness, be murdered by someone etc. None of us know what is going to happen, we just have to rationalise the likelihood of something bad happening, and then get on with it.

If you horse is basically safe and you trust her, then I would advise that you get a riding instructor to come and ride with you and give you some lessons. In my experience, this is the best way to build confidence.
 

squidsin

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Confidence is such a fragile thing. I am similar to you in that I go round and round in circles about things which bother me and often drive myself insane as well.

I think that you just need to break everything down into small steps and work on each issue individually. For me, the biggest issue is that you worry about getting seriously hurt whilst riding. This is something that everyone has to consider when they get on a horse. I think that it is all about minimising risk and putting everything into perspective. Yes, you could be killed on a horse - but you could also be killed in a car, be struck down by some random illness, be murdered by someone etc. None of us know what is going to happen, we just have to rationalise the likelihood of something bad happening, and then get on with it.

If you horse is basically safe and you trust her, then I would advise that you get a riding instructor to come and ride with you and give you some lessons. In my experience, this is the best way to build confidence.

I don't completely trust her but she's a new horse and we're still getting to know each other. I have a lesson at lunchtime in fact - it does help but then I need to turn her out, and for some reason, that's what worries me the most at the moment! And I will need to hack out tomorrow morning. I normally love hacking. Urrrgh. Need to get over this.
 

Mary Poppins

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I don't completely trust her but she's a new horse and we're still getting to know each other. I have a lesson at lunchtime in fact - it does help but then I need to turn her out, and for some reason, that's what worries me the most at the moment! And I will need to hack out tomorrow morning. I normally love hacking. Urrrgh. Need to get over this.

You also 'need' to hack if you don't want to. I presume you are having a lesson in an arena? Couldn't you ride in the school rather than hack out if you are not feeling confident.
 

squidsin

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You also 'need' to hack if you don't want to. I presume you are having a lesson in an arena? Couldn't you ride in the school rather than hack out if you are not feeling confident.

Yes, I could do, I've ridden her in the arena all week though and feel sorry for her as it must be quite boring! I overthink things!

On the positive side:
- I caught her straightaway yesterday (a massive breakthrough)
- she sort of lets me pick out her feet now
- she is much calmer and happier in her stable - and generally really
- she likes me grooming and cuddling her and she nosily sticks her nose into whatever I'm doing
 

Mary Poppins

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Yes, I could do, I've ridden her in the arena all week though and feel sorry for her as it must be quite boring! I overthink things!

Riding in an arena is only boring if you make it boring. As long as you keep her active, alert and interested in what you are doing, then I don't see a problem. I think that it is better to ensure that you are safe and settled in the school before hacking out together. If you are both jumpy and lacking confidence in each other, and if you don't really want to go hacking, you are setting yourself up to fail. You have the whole summer ahead of you to hack and do everything that you want to do - You don't have to do it all at once.
 

squidsin

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This is an excellent point, thank you!

Riding in an arena is only boring if you make it boring. As long as you keep her active, alert and interested in what you are doing, then I don't see a problem. I think that it is better to ensure that you are safe and settled in the school before hacking out together. If you are both jumpy and lacking confidence in each other, and if you don't really want to go hacking, you are setting yourself up to fail. You have the whole summer ahead of you to hack and do everything that you want to do - You don't have to do it all at once.
 

Mary Poppins

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I would also add that it takes months to really get to know and trust a horse. I have owned my boy for almost a year and a half, and it's only now that I feel gelled with him and feel that I know him inside out. It all takes time. Take the pressure off yourself.
 

squidsin

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I would also add that it takes months to really get to know and trust a horse. I have owned my boy for almost a year and a half, and it's only now that I feel gelled with him and feel that I know him inside out. It all takes time. Take the pressure off yourself.

You are right, that is what I need to do. I know it'll take time to get to know each other properly.
 

Trewsers

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Almost every one of your worries I can relate to! Going back about 6 years before I brought our pair home to live (well, it was when Joe was alive I have Chloe now - Joe was a potty tb:tongue:). I used to imagine the worst of everything happening, one scenario that used to keep me awake was how on earth was the farrier going to shoe them - when our stables were a walk away and the track was muddy? I was convinced that by walking them up the track they would either escape and die by running into the nearest cattle grid, get shot by the grumpy horrible neighbour or just trample me to death. And never get their new shoes or get trimmed.:wub: I just couldn't imagine being able to hold them for the farrier outside the house - I was convinced they would escape and nobody would help me:redface: I once lay awake all night worrying about this but I am pleased to report it NEVER happened!
For years and years I have worried about falling off horses and that is one of the reason I didn't come back to it until I was 34. How silly of me, if only I'd realised that even good riders come off - and when it actually happens most of the time it isn't the end of the world. I have come off RS horses and been hurt the most - good "steady" cobs even!lol. Most of it was my own fault for being unbalanced but there was one cob that was particularly cheeky and bucked which equalled me ending up on the floor often and one time it hurt, and I could hardly walk up the stairs and was very badly bruised. After that my phobia about cantering really kicked in and I have to say that it's taken almost 7 years to cure..............
I could go on...........I guess what I'm trying to say is that there aren't many people who haven't had the same worries in one form or another and we all have to work hard to un-learn the worries and get them out of our heads. On a practical note, I think surrounding yourself with help is the best way if you're on a yard then you'll have access to trainers and fellow riders - there must be somebody positive who can help? Is there somebody you trust not to laugh and can you off load your fears to? You might be pleasantly surprised - sometimes just getting it all off your chest to the people around you that you like and trust on the yard helps.
 

Trewsers

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Riding in an arena is only boring if you make it boring. As long as you keep her active, alert and interested in what you are doing, then I don't see a problem. I think that it is better to ensure that you are safe and settled in the school before hacking out together. If you are both jumpy and lacking confidence in each other, and if you don't really want to go hacking, you are setting yourself up to fail. You have the whole summer ahead of you to hack and do everything that you want to do - You don't have to do it all at once.

YES YES!!!! This also with knobs on!^^^^
 

Rubic

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You are overthinking these things far too much ;)

At my old you we were in the same situation as you - at 5-10min walk to the field and at the end of the yard road was a busy main road. Never did any of the horses run down the yard road to the main road. Plenty of the horses got loose and ran from their owners but 95% of the time they would run straight up to the stables because that is where they felt safe and comfortable. The other 5% were the ones that used to bog off and roll in the muck heap or try to visit his or her friends in another field. We had one incident when the horses at the yard down the road escaped from their field and ended up on the dual carriageway. Everyone rushed to help and the horses were caught and taken back to the yard. Only one horse had a very small cut on her leg the rest were totally fine. The chances of anything like that happening are slim.

Don't worry about it but take simple precautions. Personally I think trying to mess around putting a bridle on over a headcollar or trying to change the bridle over to a headcollar in the field will only cause you extra bother. Why not take her in the school and work on leading her. Make sure you are walking shoulder to shoulder so she isn't dragging you or tanking off or falling behind. Ask her to halt on occasion and stand quietly and when she can do that well (eg the minute you stop she stops without you having to take a pull to stop her) ask her to back up a couple of steps. If she gets worked up about something I find circling my horse, scratching her withers and talking to her softly is usually enough for her to calm down and for me to get control back. If she is really bolshy to lead then perhaps a chifney would be easier to work with than fiddling with bridles and headcollars or a simple headpiece like you would use with a chifney with your bit on instead might be easier rather than a full bridle.

I also think getting regular lessons with an instructor will help you too.

Owning your first horse is scary. I remember practically having a breakdown when I had taken my horse into a field for a gallop around and when we came out my friend pointed out that she had over-reached and cut her leg. On further investigation she had luckily just skinned herself and it healed in a couple of days and it didn't even appear sore to her! I was so worried I'd broken her by being stupid and taking her in a field for a yeehaa. At the end of the day she could have done the same in the field without me being there! The chances of her getting loose and injuring herself or tripping up on her mats (lets face if look at the rutted fields that you see horses in - they can deal with much worse) or you falling off and paralysing yourself are very slim and if you take precautions (work on leading her, change the mats and wear a body protector etc) the chances are even more slim!

Try to relax a bit more and enjoy it.
 

Flipo's Mum

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Aug 17, 2009
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Right.

1. Your horse spends around 1 hour in the school? If he is bored, he has another 23 hours to be 'not bored', so dinnae worry so much - put it in perspective!:tongue: I remember feeling this way with my boy when I lost my confidence. As if I wasn't beating myself up enough for not being able to do certain things, I added extra weight on my shoulders by worrying it was hurting my horse. Just have faith that this is short term, and long term he will be anything but bored!

2. Get someone else to walk with you. Everything feels more manageable and safer if you've got someone with you. If you're terrified of walking her out in hand just now, get someone to walk along side you. It instantly makes things less terrifying and you can work up to doing it alone. I couldn't take my horse out of his field at one point, and walked him round in hand in the field for a few sessions before I had the confidence to get out and about. You will get there.

3. Small manageable chunks. Concentrate on one thing at a time otherwise it will feel overwhelming that you have so much to do to get there. Its not the case. If you break it right down, you'll end up making faster progress than you expect. Don't worry!

I always find that I feel ok after a fall, but give it a day or two and the nerves creep in from nowhere. I just have to be persistent and push through it for a few days and eventually I get back to a less nervous place again. Give it time mrs. You'll get there. Enjoy!
 

squidsin

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Thanks so much for all your supportive comments - brilliant advice. I've just got back from the stables where I had a fab lesson on my horse - she did some beautiful transitions and we even popped a little jump (jumping and cantering aren't amongst my own particular set of demons). No spooky moments apart from one tiny little one. Then I walked her back in hand and put her in her field - actually pretty much had to drag her there, as she didn't seem mad keen on going, but she was fine and so was I. Then I caught her again just to check I could and gave her a scratch under her fringe, which she loves. Then I just messed around in the yard doing some little jobs and it was peaceful and lovely. My mood has swung back to 'up' again - this may well be TMI (sorry) but I get bad PMS these days and I really think Poppy picked up on that. I've had three days of being a hormonal maniac! Now I feel normal again and Poppy was absolutely fine!
 
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