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Not how I envisaged horse ownership - please be kind

(61 Posts)
bandito Sat 04-Mar-17 10:32:02

I guess I'd just like to share and get some unbiased views and advice. I've had DHorse since last May, he was sold to me as riding club type, 9 yrs old native, easy to do etc.etc. I had 5 stage vetting, teeth, saddle etc. done. He is very easy and polite to handle, look after etc. and this has not changed.

However, he has a tendency to spook sideways sharply when ridden and sometimes then runs if the rider becomes unbalanced. This has gradually got worse over the last 6 months. If the rider is good enough to catch the spook with the leg and keeps balance, he can be gathered up and carries on as before. His previous owner is in touch, although not local, and said he never did it with her ever, in fact they used to take him out as a nanny for young horses. He doesn't do anything else, buck, rear, kick, bite, spin, nap etc.

I have fallen off him many times ( I know that this won't have helped his confidence), and currently I am in plaster having broken my arm and fracturing a bone in my spine coming off him a fortnight ago. There is hopefully no long-term damage. I feel a bit sick when anyone gets on him at the moment as i am afraid he will have them on the ground. He did it yesterday with a new rider but she was able to sit to him - I had to leave as I couldn't watch.

I am having him professionally schooled 3 times a week currently and have been once a week since September when it started to bother me. My instructor is extremely competent and can sit to him. She says that the spooks are sharp, but as a whole, she's ridden far worse and she thinks he has a lot of potential to be a nice horse with work.

To be honest, I can't imagine getting back on him (or anything else) right now - I could end up in a wheelchair, or worse next time. My DS 13 was supposed to be sharing him with me but there's no way I'd let him get on again.

I've got another 4 weeks in plaster and my instructor advises not to make any decisions until then. I am paying someone to ride him and someone to care for him and I'm having to get a taxi to the yard as I can't drive due to arm so feel like I am bleeding cash right now. If I did want to ride him again, I'd have to have lessons at a riding school horse before getting back on him as well as paying for him to be schooled.

It all feels a bit hopeless - has anyone else been through similar and did you persevere or try to rehome? I bought him with the intention of having him forever - apart from this, he is lovely.

floorboard Sat 04-Mar-17 10:51:39

Have you had a vet check him for something causing pain?

Seems odd that he has just started doing it. That suggests a specific underlying cause rather than just badness.

bandito Sat 04-Mar-17 11:01:22

He passed the 5 stage vetting with no issues and doesn't appear stiff or unhappy when ridden - I am starting to be a bit suspicious if this is new and not a recurring issue. Still, I may as well get the vet out again if it might help. My instructor thinks it's lack of education and me keeping falling off, so it doesn't get properly corrected when I ride and has become a habit.

kingjoffreyworksintescos Sat 04-Mar-17 11:31:28

Hello , I'm sorry to read about your difficulties regarding your horse.

I would expect that in the time you have had him he has realised that you are less experienced and more nervous that his previous rider/ owner , and although you are currently having him schooled a few times a week it's not really enough , your lack of confidence and experience has made you nervous ( and not unexpectedly with a nasty injury like you have ) of getting back on him and having time out with an injury only usually makes it harder to get back on once you are fit again .

I would honestly take a long hard look at what you might expect to achieve in the coming months and I probably be tempted to cut your losses and sell him on to a more experienced home whilst you regain your confidence at a riding school .

you might find that your person schooling him will try to suggest continued schooling but in all honesty it's probably only their pockets being lined rather than your confidence being restored

mrslaughan Sat 04-Mar-17 13:59:45

I feel for you. I am going to tell you about my experience with my sons 2nd pony.
We bought him , know he was "spooky" but to start with it never worried my son, although the spooks were fast and sharp.
As time progressed my son got more nervous, this made him spookier and sharper. After about 9months - I decided enough. Although my son loved him and wanted to keep on riding him, I could tell he had no confidence in him. My DS pony was not naughty, just a nervous soul who needed his rider to tell him it was all going to be ok. The deciding factor for me was , I actually hadn't seen my son have fun in a very long time. Lots of people thought we should have persevered.
I sent him to someone I trusted to be sold. The daughter is a very accomplished rider and I was pretty sure that with her on board he would start feeling more confident and therefore give him the confidence, which she did. When we sold him , we were very clear about his spookiness, and what sort of rider he needed. He is in his new home, doing well - out competing and loving life.
My son has a new pony - who is rock solid , very confident in himself, and they are loving their partnership.
I think there is no shame in saying that your current partnership is not working.
Personally I would sell him, and move on, as I don't think you will ever trust him, and he probably senses that.

mrslaughan Sat 04-Mar-17 14:00:51

Oh - and also out of interest , how old is he?

Rollingdinosaur Sat 04-Mar-17 14:02:06

It sounds like you have been through it. What a horrible situation for you! It is entirely possible that the spooks have not been noticed by his previous rider. I have noticed how what is a big issue for one rider, can be dismissed as a non issue by a more confident or experienced rider. Unfortunately it sounds like you have got yourself into a negative cycle with this horse, where the more he does it, the more you fall off, and so the more he does it. It is easy to see how this could have destroyed your confidence in each other.

I have been in a similar situation, when, if I'm honest, I took on a loan horse, who was more than I could handle at the time. Having been a confident rider all my life, I ended up a nervous wreck, with a horse I was scared of. I had to let him go back, and it was the best thing I ever did. My next horse had his quirks, but nothing I couldn't handle, and my confidence came back in no time. Having a horse is meant to be fun. It costs far to much time and money to carry on if you are not enjoying it, not allowing for how dangerous it can be. It sounds like it would not be too hard to find a more suitable home for this horse, and would almost certainly be the best thing for you, and the horse.

EmmaC78 Sat 04-Mar-17 14:05:59

Oh - and also out of interest , how old is he?

It states in the OP that he was 9 when she bought him last year.

EmmaC78 Sat 04-Mar-17 14:08:33

Horseriding is meant to be a fun and enjoyable hobby. It shouldn't be stressful/frightening. There will always be some horses you don't gel with. I would get back, teeth etc checked again as something could have happened since you last had him checked and then if this does not uncover anything I would sell on to be honest. He sounds like he could be a nice horse for someone but just not for you.

MrsderPunkt Sat 04-Mar-17 14:17:27

It's sometimes difficult for experienced riders to realise that the horse that they're riding isn't suitable for a novice. Doing All Of The Things that are required to ride become automatic, and maybe the spooking was always caught before it happened. When I came to sell my old horse, I said he was very suitable for a novice but I was very wrong. When people came to try him, those that had little experience struggled to get him away from the gate. This always sounds pissy, but riding school horses are very different from 'normal' horses.
In your situation I would think about moving him on and getting something that you can enjoy and be safe on. You're not doing him any favours by falling off all of the time, and it sounds like he's maybe learning to simply dispatch his rider whenever he feels like it. Someone else will probably get along brilliantly with him, and you can get something to love.

Gabilan Sat 04-Mar-17 15:31:00

It's sometimes difficult for experienced riders to realise that the horse that they're riding isn't suitable for a novice

Yes. I used to ride on a yard where they did some dealing. A very nice but rather green and sharp lightweight cob came in. I did a bit with him and he was very straightforward for me. The yard owner found him easy and sold him to a novice. Before she sold him I warned her he was not a novice ride although he was easy for experienced riders. YO ignored my advice, in fact she was very dismissive of it. The horse was back within a week having wrecked the new owner's confidence.

No shame in selling him, OP. He's hurt you badly and I wouldn't want to risk that again, although someone else might well be fine with him. I bought my current horse after his previous owner had an accident on the road. It was the last straw as he'd become too much for her although she's an experienced rider. 5 years later, I love him to bits and he's fine with me. I'm just a different personality and I figured out the issue on the roads.

The only thing I would say with spooking is that an ill fitting saddle can make them uncomfortable and sharp. They're much more confident if their tack fits. Otherwise, maybe you just don't get along with each other but he could be fine in another home and you could be fine with a different horse.

bandito Sat 04-Mar-17 17:34:21

Thank you for your comments - I've had his saddle checked twice in the time I've had him so it's not that. I think that he's just not for us and I've worried about 'giving up' on him when really I should be positive about finding him an experienced home where he can work hard and be loved.

Garnethair Sat 04-Mar-17 17:59:17

Sell him. He's not right for you. We all need different things from our horses and sometimes it takes a few horses before you find 'the one'. I know it did for me. Life's too short to own a horse you don't feel comfortable riding.

Gabilan Sat 04-Mar-17 18:08:12

really I should be positive about finding him an experienced home where he can work hard and be loved

Yep. Don't feel guilty about selling him or be a martyr about keeping him. I have my lovely, lovely horse because his previous owner found him too much for her and didn't get on with him. She was scrupulous about making sure she got the right home for him and it's worked out better for all of us - her, me and the horse.

Booboostwo Sun 05-Mar-17 20:52:05

When does he spook? Does he have a trigger? Do you trust his previous owner who says he never acted this way before?

At 9yo and with a decent past, e.g. in work and, reasonably well schooled, I would suspect a physical issue. In my experience the vast majority of behavioral issues have a physical cause. I'd get an experienced horse vet to have a good look for possible lameness, sore back, etc. Even if you do decide to sell him you need to make sure he is not in pain.

MotherFuckingChainsaw Mon 06-Mar-17 20:25:19

I think Gabilán is right. There is a world of difference between an easy ride for an experienced rider and a novice ride.

Puppymouse Mon 06-Mar-17 20:32:54

Oh bandito so sad to read this. You were massively supportive for me when I was dealing with similar first horse troubles last year.

When I was hacking my boy out early on and he used to do these cat jumps and skitters at the slightest thing, one of my friends said "you'll either learn to deal with it or you won't."

I have kept that in my head ever since. If you have hurt yourself, can't use him as a share for your DS and are paying a fortune for someone else to school him what are you getting from this? If as your instructor says, she's ridden worse spooks perhaps he could be sold on to another loving home with someone who felt the same way as your instructor? It's meant to be fun but you've really had a tough time I feel so much for you. flowers

Patriciathestripper1 Mon 06-Mar-17 21:24:10

You will never feel the same on him again after injuring yourself so badly.
Cut your losses, sell him on and get yourself something more suitable that dosnt need constant correction. Riding should be a joy.
Your current horse dosnt sound very joyous to ride.

Frouby Thu 09-Mar-17 14:59:37

It should be fun. And I don't think you will have fun with him for a long time.

The only thing I would say is check his feed and management haven't changed dramatically from his old home. Less turn out and different feed can fizz up the quietest of horses. Especially a native. Is he a section d by any chance? Welsh ponies can be a bit sharp at times and do seem to react to changes in feed more so than say a tb.

But there is no shame in cutting your losses and moving on.

Garnethair Fri 10-Mar-17 16:29:26

How are you getting on Bandito?

bandito Sat 11-Mar-17 20:27:41

Thanks for your messages (hi puppymouse!). We have decided that he's going to have some time off until the vet can give him an mot, then we'll decide whether to spend a couple of months playing with him in hand and then try him ridden again, or sell him this spring to someone as a project. This is my plan today, but I change my mind every five minutes as I am so stressed out with the whole thing.

finagler Sat 11-Mar-17 20:33:57

Is he bad enough to be a project? When and why does he spook?

bandito Sat 11-Mar-17 20:36:49

He's a Connie by the way, frouby, and lives on thin air. He's not a fizzy ride at all, the spooks just come from nowhere, are random but usually at walk and trot rather than canter and far more frequent in the school than out hacking.

Garnethair Sat 11-Mar-17 20:40:18

How old is he?

Garnethair Sat 11-Mar-17 20:41:39

Oh sorry, just seen he's nine. Presume he was backed at four/five then. Old enough to have got over the Kevin years. Has his sight been checked?

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