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The tack room

Bad experience

21 replies

Bubblesthefish01 · 18/02/2016 18:54

Had my lovely mare for about 3 years now ( is my first horse ). I know now that she was the wrong horse to get but at the time she was perfect. She does have a few issues one being she gallops of on EVERY ride!!! I don't think I have had one good ride on her without bolting. Anyway I am having riding lessons now and the instructor keeps telling me of for not pushing on when we have to canter or jumping, says I'm scared and need more confidence tbh I thought I had quite a bit of confidence with riding but he is probably right. So just wondering if anyone has been in this situation before and how they got got past it.

OP posts:
mrslaughan · 18/02/2016 20:09

I would say get a new instructor.

mrslaughan · 18/02/2016 21:08

Sorry that was a bit short, but I think it's completely understandable, not wanting to push a horse on , that has a habit of bolting with you. I think a really important part of teaching and learning is having empathy and also understanding of where a student is coming from, what might be holding them "back"....... Though I have to say I see this as not so much a mental barrier, but a training issue, which you or or instructor may not have the skills to sort.

Gabilan · 18/02/2016 21:24

I think in that situation a trainer should be helping you sort the issues out. It sounds dangerous, and I would be taking you back to basics, not asking you to jump. You may well be tensing up and it is easy to lose confidence when a horse tanks off with you.

Take it you've checked back, teeth and tack? You need to rule out pain as a cause of her behaviour.

bimandbam · 18/02/2016 21:34

Bolting is up there for me with rearing.

Why does she bolt? Is she actually bolting or just responding to you tensing up and going too fast for you? There is a world of difference and if you have had her 3 years and she hasn't killed either of you yet I would say she isn't bolting just going too fast!

One reason an instructor will push you out of your comfort zone in a controlled environment like a school is to give you more confidence. So you get more confident and stop tensing up, your mare stops responding to your tensing up and stops tanking off with you. Plus if you are more confident going up a gear you are more able to deal with it.

Bolting is just galloping off in a blind panic. They will go through any and everything and have no concept of danger for themselves let alone a jockey.

Tanking off is just evasive or responsive action. She is either just doing it to get out of doing something she doesn't fancy or is doing it in response to the aids she is receiving.

What bit/bridle do you have? Is she opening her mouth to evade the bit? Have you had her saddle checked? When does she do it and in response to what?

Impossible to advise you without more information but I would ask your instructor why she/he is doing what they are doing. Quite often they have a.perfectly legitimate reason.

Floralnomad · 18/02/2016 21:44

Has someone else taken her out to see if she tries to run off with them as well ? If not I'd try that first so that you know whether the problem is with you or the horse , assuming you have done all the other things previously stated ie checked back , checked tack .

Bubblesthefish01 · 18/02/2016 22:04

Sorry I should have put in the first message that I don't have the riding lessons on my own horse ( there isn't an arena and she has never been on a trailer before )

I think it's when I start cantering ( in the lessons ) I get worried that the horse I'm riding is going to do the same as my mare and run of so I slow down. or if I'm about to jump that the horse in going to stop or put his head down as I lean foward ( only ever jumped twice )

bimandbam - When I hack out with her there is at least 2 other riders with us and she won't settle at all then as soon as she steps on a bit of grass that it we go for a run. ( I keep her in the middle or next to the other horses ) I've tried not letting her go on any grass but that doesn't work.
we almost ran into a 5 bar gate but she stopped luckily at the last possible second. Even if the ride is walking she will barge past and go for it. I try not to tense up at all when she starts doing things like that.
I have had her teeth and back checked and she is fine. she wears the tack I brought her with because I wouldn't know where to start with new tack. she wear a grackle nose band ( not sure what type of bit ) she never opens her mouth but does always pull her head down to her knees if she feels a bit of contact, can't be because I am to rough on the reins I couldn't be any softer without dropping them.

OP posts:
Bubblesthefish01 · 18/02/2016 22:08

Floralnomad I did ask a few people to try and take her for a little ride...they asked if I was serious Confused

OP posts:
bimandbam · 18/02/2016 22:16

You need lessons on her! Your instructer needs to assess her and you together to see what is going on.

If she is dropping her head she is evading contact. Her mouth is strapped shut with the grackle so she can't open her mouth to do it hence dropping her head to snatch the reins.

Definitely book a lesson on her.

Floralnomad · 18/02/2016 22:24

No offence intended but you sound really quite inexperienced , I agree that you need to have the lessons on her although it sounds like any confidence you may have had is shot . Could you pay your instructor to take her out and see if she does it with them .

Gabilan · 18/02/2016 22:25

Yes, you need lessons on her. To be blunt, I'd be reluctant to hack with you * If she wore a grakle when you bought her, it's an established problem. And the tack she came with might not fit, especially after 3 years.

  • Although my horse is very good at shouldering naughty horses into the nearest hedge.
Bubblesthefish01 · 18/02/2016 22:43

Floralnomad - No offence taken I really am inexperienced and she wasn't the best sort of horse to get for me ( nothing bad against her, I love her to bits, needs a experienced owner though ) yep think your right though I still try to pretend I'm confident. I will ask my instructor at the next lesson.

Gabilan - I have never asked to go on a hack with anyone because I know what she is like, must be horrible to have someone barge you over and run of, but people still offer. When I first brought her someone on the yard told me not to change the bridle because she is used to that one and it would take her ages to get used to a new one ( they knew the horse before I did. I also don't like the bridle because of it holding her mouth shut )

OP posts:
Coldwatebay · 19/02/2016 07:30

Bubbles, i would get a good experienced instructor to hack your mare. There's a big difference between bolting and being silly and running off because she's competitive. If it's confirmed she's a blind bolter she's dangerous and personally I wouldn't hack her again. Ever. Is she an ex race horse?

cherrytree63 · 19/02/2016 07:41

Is there any chance you could move to a yard that has got a school?
Then you could have lessons on her and also school her on your own.
The better schooled a horse is, the more responsive and balanced they become out hacking.
What is she fed, and how much turnout dies she get?

OhShutUpThomas · 19/02/2016 07:55

You need to have an experienced person one and see you on her, and ride her. She needs her tack, back and teeth checked.

Could be naughtiness, fear, pain - anything. It's impossible to tell from here.

bimandbam · 19/02/2016 07:59

Does she get plenty of turnout? Is she good on the ground? What do you feed her? How old is she? What did she do before you?

There is nothing wrong with being a novice and asking for help and I actually think you have been quite brave to do this for 3 years and still love her! I am probably more experienced than you and would have given up by now!

There is probably lots of reasons she is doing it. You need to go back to basics with her.

Firstly I would look at her daily routine. If she has a bucket feed only feed fibre. No pony nuts or mixes. Ask in the feed shop for something like fastfibre, the lowest one for horses that are at rest. You feed it slightly soaked. And some graze on or ready grass. Or some high fibre nuts and ready grass. Just this for now so she is getting a bucket feed. Plenty of hay.

Then if possible out all day. With company.

Then either ask someone who will know what type of bit she has in. If she is dipping her head I expect it's some kind of pelham. Do the cheek pieces fasten to a little ring on the bit then the reins to a different one? Or I wonder if it's some kind of gag?

I won't advise on your bit as I haven't seen her or her mouth confirmation but definitely ask your instructer.

Is she polite on the ground? Does she tank in a headcollar or.pull you about at all? I suspect not which is why you love her still lol. If she does then look at some of the training halters like a dually. Ask someone to show you how to use it and get manners established on the ground.

She doesn't sound like she is bolting proper. She just sounds hot. Which if you have coped with for 3 years you might be able to get some manners established and work with her. She will possibly always be hot but she needs to learn not to tank you around. Definitely, definitely get a good instructer to come and help you.

Fwiw the best horses I have had have all been hot and required a certain way of riding and management. But when I was younger and braver I didn't enjoy riding a sedate cob I wanted fizzy and responsive. But you have to be able to control that energy.

Get some help and if you have done 3 years I bet in 6 monthe you are happily hacking out and everyone is jealous of her.

Booboostwo · 19/02/2016 08:31

She's not bolting, she's taking off with you. The difference is that bolting is extremely dangerous as the horse is running blind and if chronic, can't be fixed. Taking off is something most horses do at some point or another.

Depending on the horse different things work.

You should always look at your tack, a different bit or bridle might make all the difference.

Identify when she takes off and avoid such situations. I've had horses take off if they were not the lead so keeping them first kept everyone safe. Or on the way home in which case you only walk/trot home. Or when they hit grass in which case you put them in the most uphill bridleway you can find and make them walk until they chill. The solution depends on the situation.

Most horses will stop if you regain control by sitting up and half-halting. Some need space to circle them. A small minority panic at the feel of the bit and need you to let go of the reins, but I'd bet your mare needs you to sit up and give her a strong half-halt.

You really need lessons with her. Teach her to load and get help. Alternatively if you have a very nice instructor she might be willing to come out and school your mare on hacks to identify the problem and then accompany you on a hack on another horse or bicycle to talk you through what to do.

Gabilan · 19/02/2016 09:51

Bubbles I wasn't meaning to imply that you were nagging people into riding with you! FWIW I think you've done well to persist with her for so long it what must be at times quite a frightening situation. And I think you've had good advice here.

To answer the question in your OP I think you can get through this. You must have some sort of partnership with her and you clearly love her so with the right professional help there's no reason why you can't get to the stage where you both enjoy hacking out safely.

My horse can be strong but he's got his head screwed on so doesn't (generally) do things that are unsafe. His back, teeth, saddle and bridle are all fine, he just finds cantering exciting at times, as do all horses. He's an Irish Draught cross and I'm quite a slight rider but as a partnership it generally works because we trust each other. On the moor I get a choice between walk and canter because, it's fun mum and I don't see the point of trotting. (My excuse is that on rough moorland it's easier to balance in canter than int trot!) But, if I need to stop him then he will stop because he knows when I really mean it and he's relatively well schooled.

Good luck and I hope you get the help you need. One thing to watch - don't choose an instructor who goes for quick fixes. It would be easy to slap a pair of draw reins on so you can pull her up quick but it won't get to the root of the problem and it sounds as if you're not experienced enough to use them. Ask someone who will examine all aspects of her management as well as seeing you ride her. Often stable management is the key to having a horse that's well-mannered to ride!

mrslaughan · 19/02/2016 18:41

Bubbles - whereabouts are you? It sounds like she needs some education and you need some lessons on her (but maybe some lessons on a schoolmaster first?)...... I know an outfit I would recommend in Hertfordshire, son does the riding and re-schooling, Mum gives lessons. I have see them help a lot of people......I have also seen them be brutally honest when they can't help and will tell clients if you are throwing good money after bad. Pm me if you are interested.

Pixel · 21/02/2016 00:19
  1. I must admit alarm bells ring when people say they are just blindly using the tack the horse came with. Often sellers will palm you off with a saddle that doesn't necessarily fit but they wanted to get rid of it! You don't really have to know 'where to start' with a new saddle as the saddler will help you. They normally turn up with a van load of different ones for you to try and give you fitting advice (make sure you tell them your budget and if you want second-hand or new). It might be that the one you have just needs adjusting but I would definitely want to get it checked.
  2. I wouldn't worry about changing the bridle if you feel you want to try something different. It won't 'take her ages' to get used to something new as long as you are sensible about it. We had to try a few different bits to find one our horse got on with (didn't want to strap his mouth shut as he was only young and it wouldn't be solving the problem) and when we found 'the one' he took to it instantly. Have you ever tried her without the grackle? It might even be that she finds it irritating and is trying to evade that rather than the bit. Some horses do object to being strapped up.
  3. Agree you would ideally be having lessons on your own horse, or paying an instructor to come and ride her out for you (I have done this as we haven't anywhere to school either). Also agree that if you are having lessons elsewhere then you shouldn't be worrying about jumping and fast work until other issues are solved.
  4. Well done on sticking with it, you are much braver than me! Your horse is lucky to have you, many people would have got rid by now.
RatherBeRiding · 22/02/2016 17:17

First thing, I would change yards to somewhere with an arena, and somewhere you can hack without going on grass - I assume she only gallops off when she's on grass?

Second thing - I would get an experienced instructor and start at the beginning (easier said than done, I know but it's amazing what you can achieve with a "difficult" horse if you manage to find an instructor who can pin-point what is going on and help you work through it.)

Third thing - I very much second those who say it won't take a horse long to get used to different tack, especially if the original tack is part of the problem. Grackles have their place, but I only ever use one for those times I need one (jumping/XC a couple of hot-heads). Otherwise these same "hot-heads" hack out very nicely in a snaffle/cavesson noseband. I would never ride them day in - day out in a grackle. Cos they don't like the grackle for pootling about in and I only use if when I really really need brakes! Again - find a good instructor and take some advice re tack.

Biggles398 · 22/02/2016 19:43

I'd suggest getting someone in to ride her out and see what the issue it. Or even send her away for some schooling / hacking

I'd also try and move yards to one with a school and get an instructor that can work with you AND the horse (although your instructor now should be more sympathetic and helpful if you've explained the issue to them. My daughter went back to a riding school after a nasty bolt/fall on her pony, and I've got to say the instructor was fantastic with her, and knew when to push her and when to be gentle!)

And I don't think anyone has said it, and it's most probably not what you want to hear, but is it worth considering that she just isn't the right horse for you? Horses cost so much time and money, and you want to enjoy the time you spend with/on them! She might not be right for you, but might be perfect for someone else, likewise, there will be a horse out there perfect for you (again, we've just been through something similar with my daughter, and while she loves her bolting pony to bits, they're just not well suited, so she has a new pony who is just perfect for her!)

Good luck with whatever route you take, and keep us posted!

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