Help. I’m turning into a high maintenance hacker(8 Posts)
😫 in a nutshell: recently (past year or two) retired the strong, enthusiastic but uncomplicated horse of a lifetime and acquired the TBxID of my dreams, all I want to do with him is hack out a few times a week and take part in pleasure/endurance rides. New horse can sometimes be a tricky ride (not dangerous but exasperating) and I’ve had problems disentangling myself emotionally from old horse fast forward >>> a year or so on I’m finally riding new one regularly and for the most part thoroughly enjoying him. The problem is I barely recognise myself as a rider these days, I need someone to lead and ideally someone behind, but not too far behind. On a track near the road I need someone between me and the traffic (fiiiiine on an actual road) we need to move briskly all the time where possible, then we’re both relaxed and it’s all good.
Difficulty is riding out with some of my most cherished friends on their ponies who prefer a more relaxed pace, I don’t want to stop hacking with the very people who have been so supportive and reliable but how can I stop being so neurotic about ride orders, pace etc? Hope this makes some sense 🙏
Is it you or the horse that needs company, and in the right order, and at the right pace? If it's you and the horse is actually fine hacking on his own then you just need to crack on. Go for short hacks, then build up to longer hacks.
The only way to get more confident and less neurotic is to actually make yourself go out on your own. Once you see that nothing terrible is going to happen then hopefully your nerves will calm a bit.
Frankly you do sound very high maintenance!
Your horse needs to learn to go in front at the back etc and it is your job as a rider to teach him. Start of small perhaps leading for the last few hundred metres home and gradually increase the distance, make him walk rather than trotting/cantering everywhere concentrate on a relaxed straight swinging walk perhaps on a very long rein encouraging him to stretch down if traffic isn't involved.
Having said this I used to train endurance horses and therefore had a reasonably quick pace or at least liked to trot/canter miles instead on 300 m I would always tell people if they came out with me they would need to be prepared to trot a lot but they never believed me so mainly went out on my own. Most people do just want to potter along.
Thanks Rather, it’s him really. Used to hack on my own all the time, there was no better way to start the day. I do have a pony (technically my daughter’s) who is really happy to go out alone so I’ll test myself on her first, in case it is me. I’ve definitely changed and I hate it.
Thanks happy too, walking (relaxed, straight) is exactly what we are working on (had our first lesson in a big open space this week because me and horse both too neurotic to work in the confines of a school 😳😳😳) I’ll experiment with leading, staying behind etc - generally things are fine unless there’s someone lagging miles behind, when they change pace to catch up with us all control is lost temporarily and it’s stressful. Trying to stand and wait on the way home for someone is the absolute worst. If everyone is moving forward together, in any pace, it’s great. The bigger the group the better. But when it’s me and him plus one pottering pony things happen which are bad for my nerves - although the unexploded feeling, the anticipation, is far worse than any actual explosions.
It was nice to get all that off my chest anyway so thanks 😊
You sound a bit like I was a few years ago. My old horse was PTS and I got a new youngster, who was arguably actually a lot easier and less spooky to ride that my old horse, but I found myself overthinking things a lot. Pretty similar things to you - wanting a horse between me and traffic, not wanting to go first on new routes etc.
The two things that helped were just persevering by keeping hacking out and making myself more relaxed and secondly getting lessons so my general confidence levels when riding were better. Is there somewhere you could get lessons?
Good to know I’m not alone 😀 how did you make yourself relax?
Had my first lesson last Tuesday (not my first ever but first for ages and in a new place, had one booked today but it was cancelled) it did top up my confidence, do get to ride others (and I’m having him hacked out once a week with someone a bit more professional on board) so I’m making a point of doing that alone to help figure out what’s me, what’s him and what’s us as a pair.
To be fair he’s never been as difficult as when I first tried him and he was up for sale, so I think the worst is behind us. It’s just keeping my head in the right place!
I sympathise with the unexploded bomb feeling - I hate that too. I often wish they'd just get it over with!
That said, I think you need to stop pandering to your horse - if he doesn't like horses changing pace behind him? Tough - it's a part of life. Make sure you have control (bit him up / whatever you need - even if you have to put a pro on to do it) and have horses trotting and cantering behind him until he learns that his opinion on these things is irrelevant. I know that sounds a bit hardline and dictatorial, but I do think that horses need to learn basic manners for their own sake as much as anything. The more you avoid things, the worse they tend to get - but I would caveat that with common sense; pick somewhere safe to get into this discussion, and make sure you have the time, skill and whatever you need to deal with it. The refusal to stand on the way home is also a concern - he really needs to learn that it's not acceptable to fidget or dick about in those circumstances.
If you want help on the psychological side, I'd recommend looking up Karl Greenwood at the Centre for Horseback Combat. They do rider confidence courses among other things, and he's quite active on facebook too.
I know him! Well not actually but a friend does, she went on one of his day courses and goes to his talks whenever he’s in the area etc., encouraged me to get his book but I haven’t yet.
I think you’re right about pandering to him and I’ll think about where and how to desensitise him to ponies catching up with us. Really don’t want to change bits, he’s always been ridden in a snaffle. I’ve asked the pro to have a go at taking him out on his own, this is the best time of year before the hedges start to fill out. He’s genuinely terrified of traffic when it’s on the other side of a hedge, completely fine if he’s on the road.
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