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New horse and wanting to give up
23

Delamero · 10/05/2020 11:02

I’m having a complete confidence crisis, to the point even the thought of having to go to the yard makes me want to cry.
I bought an ex eventer in September of last year; 16.2 evented to a reasonable level and very well bred. History known and my instructor rode him etc etc. I can ride well but my confidence has meant any skill I have is pretty useless. He was a handful for my OH in the school and watching it literally, in that moment destroyed any confidence. My fear is not being able to stop and he tripped and then scared himself and bolted round the school. Since then any trust I had in him is zero. Of course he picks up on my nerves and even a walk round one end of the school and I feel like he is going to spook.
Luckily he is on schooling livery and my OH rides him (when not in lockdown) but even so I feel hugely guilty that I should be enjoying him more. That he is wasted with me, and I’ve let him and his previous owner down. People at the yard must talk about how it’s a waste of a good horse. He is generally really good but he, like most horses, can be spooky.
I’m in the process of trying to get some help (NLP or similar) but wondered if anyone has got some confidence back after feeling similar?
Mid forties and this situation has taken a toll on my self esteem. Unfortunately work is very stressful which I don’t think helps. Generally feeling very down about it

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maxelly · 10/05/2020 11:57

Sorry to hear you are feeling like that Sad

First things first, is your boy physically OK? Tripping and bolting would scream pain issue to me, especially if it was a true blind bolt rather than a pissing off... At his age and having worked pretty hard over his life I'd be surprised if he doesn't have a few nagging issues even if he is sound to the eye? Have you had the vet out for a full MOT, his saddle fit checked, physio, dentist? I know it sounds awful using your DH as a 'crash test dummy' (maybe wait til after COVID!) but if you can capture some of his bad behaviour on video to show the professionals that might help.

I have had confidence issues over the years as I think many riders do, although probably not to the extent you are talking about. I think they are overcome-able but you need the right background circumstances as well as the desire to work quite hard yourself at it, by 'background circumstances' I mainly mean the right instructor that really gets confidence and how to build it - they certainly don't all! They have to know when to push and when to back off etc. You also need good understanding personal support, some achievable but stretching goals and the right horse as well. I have to say I think I might question whether this horse is the right one for you (if he is sound and this is just how he is)? You don't say what you bought him for, ie are you wanting to BE/compete yourself at a reasonable level or were you wanting more of a fun all rounder? Unfortunately with well-bred competition horses that have been used to near daily hard work at a high level, however much their bodies might be ready for a step back and an easier time/lower level competition, their minds aren't always. And if they have always been ridden by pros it takes some adjusting to get used to an amateur - nothing to do with your skill level but a lot of pros, especially men (political incorrectness alert) ride in a forceful/dominant style which most amateurs (especially women!) don't and the horse can be left puzzled or just constantly pushing the boundaries.

And also, some horses just don't click with some riders. I occasionally sit on my friends lovely teenage warmblood dressage schoolmaster, he's wonderful to ride when going well which he always does for her, but if he was my horse I'd be a quivering wreck by the end of a week because although he's probably no spookier overall than my mare who also has her 'issues', he is so big and powerful that when he does do a little sideways leap or sudden snort and prance it feels enormous. Plus he is the kind of horse you have to ride exactly correctly, he does not respond well to being asked a muddled question or pushed when he doesn't understand what you are asking for, nappiness and spinning around are his go to but if he was a pisser-offer instead like my mare is, and perhaps your boy too, he'd be frankly terrifying. So if this horse is not the one for you then I think there's no shame whatsoever in admitting it and changing to a horse you do enjoy riding, its an expensive hobby at the end of the day and life is too short to be miserable. Don't worry about what others think, liveries will always find something to judge/gossip about so that's just something you have to live with! And as for 'letting him down', that's just silly, the horse only cares that he gets his grub and somewhere nice to live, he has no concept whatsoever of being 'wasted' Grin

Overall, I think I'd give him a little break while COVID is ongoing and your work is so stressful, maybe just get the yard to lunge or hand walk him if you don't want him losing too much fitness, but take the pressure off yourself completely. Then when you can, get all the pros to look at him. Then if all OK maybe get your NLP and some intensive support from an instructor you trust, and if things just aren't improving consider swapping for a different horse?

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Honeyroar · 10/05/2020 12:09

Don’t be so hard on yourself. This is your hobby. It’s ok to admit that you’ve bought the wrong horse and aren’t enjoying yourself. It sounds like you could easily sell on this horse and then start again with something more suitable. I used to teach a lady who had a very flash, ex competition horse. She was scared to bits of it. I persuaded to sell it and find something more suited to her, but she part exed it at a dealers for another flash competition horse that the dealer told her was easy going. To be fair it was quite easy going with a confident rider onboard, but got worried, and then a bit whizzy, when not being told what to do. Innthe same way, I expect if your horse had had someone who got hold of it post stumble and told it “you’re ok, come on, we’re doing a circle now. “ it probably wouldn’t have shot off afterwards. With my lady, I told her I wasn’t sure that this wasn’t the right horse either. She ended up having lessons with someone else as I couldn’t do the times she needed, but I bumped into her a year at a show on a much smaller, less flashy cob. She was having a whale of a time and looked so much happier. It was lovely to see.

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ChewChewIsMySpiritAnimal · 10/05/2020 12:11

Id sell him and look for one that's more suited to what you need.

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Delamero · 10/05/2020 12:44

Thanks so much for the replies.
Yes he has had all the checks, we had a period when he was out of work with suspected ulcers. But seem to come through that after treatment. Teeth done etc. Flew the vetting. I know of him tripping 2/3 times not sure if that’s a lot?
I’m probably doing him a disservice, this is where my nerves come in, probably with an experienced rider who picked him up after the trip onto a circle he would have been fine. He is very big moving and so I often feel unbalanced when apparently we’re not going forward enough.
I bought him to do dressage on. But given we can’t even trot round the school it’s a tall order. I guess my fear is I’ve over horsed myself but I want to give it one last try to see if we can overcome this.
I think like the suggestion above I’ll take the pressure off for a while and do some walking etc. He is being worked but of course, being ridden by a professional is very different to being ridden by me. And also we have no idea what he’ll be like with the spring grass...

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Honeyroar · 10/05/2020 12:53

That’s exactly what the lady I was talking about did. She bought an ex eventer to do dressage with. But while most eventers can do a lovely test, they are generally eventers because they love to jump and gallop. Just doing plain dressage for them can often be frustrating and boring. Not always the case, of course, but they’re often not the easiest dressage horses.

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GuyFawkesDay · 10/05/2020 12:57

It's ok to say "too much"

If you'd feel better, sell him on and buy something you can trust. A full up 15.2 Connemara or IDx with a sensible head on its shoulders that can do dressage and a bit of jumping. Depends what level you want to do dressage to? If it's just to novice/prelim then you don't need a flashy horse. But you do need one you can trust.

My friend swapped her competition horses for two ponies, a Connie and a Welsh Sec C and she's loving them.

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Ariela · 10/05/2020 13:22

My daughter's dressage horse was a bargain from a dealer - past owner thought too dangerous for a 14 year old - but suits my daughter. So don't worry about selling if not the right horse for you, he'll suit someone.

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ApplestheHare · 10/05/2020 17:57

Sorry you're going through this, it sounds like you've been hit by the triple whammy of low confidence, guilt for Dhorse plus self consciousness. How many times did you ride your horse before you bought him? He just sounds like the wrong fit for you tbh, and that's ok. He'll easily find another home.

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lastqueenofscotland · 10/05/2020 19:31

I had an instructor who said she would rather see a rider hold their hands up and say they were overhorsed than see a rider seriously hurt/horse lose its confidence.

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hen10 · 10/05/2020 21:47

Absolutely get what you're saying about lunging / inhand work for a bit, but I would advise that you get some time in the saddle on another horse if at all possible because otherwise there is a danger that your confidence will decrease further and also set a deadline for yourself, for example, I will be confident walk/trot/canter in school by, say, August. Otherwise it's really easy to tell yourself that you are making progress and he"s lunging excellently or whatever when in actual fact you are no nearer to actually riding him. No shame in selling if the fit isn't right.

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britnay · 11/05/2020 10:06

Can I ask you why your bought this horse? How was he when you tried him?
Did perhaps your instructor encourage you to buy this horse?

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LesleysChestnutBob · 11/05/2020 10:11

You really don't sound happy about keeping him for one more try - "we don't know what he will be like on spring grass" makes me feel nervous at the thought! There's no shame in admitting you don't gel - I'd sell him and buy something I could trust even if it meant curbing my dressage ambitions slightly

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maxelly · 11/05/2020 12:10

Yes for lower level dressage you absolutely don't need something flash, my hairy cob mare of unknown breeding competes at prelim/novice and can do all the elementary and some of the medium moves at home, at our level we have quite often beaten much nicer types of horses purely because she is obedient, relaxed and supple (well, on a good day Wink) where they are stressing, tense and naughty, she'll absolutely struggle to win prizes at any higher level because she just isn't built for it, she can't really collect and extend to the extent needed and her paces lack quality, but she probably would still score in the low 60s just for doing the right moves in the right places which would be ample for me! My other little cob who is out on full loan flies around 80-90cm showjumping with her teenage loaner despite being only a shade over 13.2hh and not built for the job at all!

Not saying you have to get a cob of course despite sounding like a bit of an evangelist (!), but just making the point that sometimes a horse that is never going to be a world-beater but you click with and are able to put lots of work into because they work with you rather than against you, is worth 10 of one that should be miles better on paper. I do try and live by the mantra that it isn't the winning but the journey/process to get to the competition in the first place than counts, easy to get sucked into feeling that anything less than a 1st place is useless and unless you come home with prizes everyone will think you are wasting your time (and trust me when you have a non standard dressage horse amongst all the warmbloods you know what it is to feel judged, especially if yours is the one being naughty!), but down that road madness and frustration lies, horses are there to be enjoyed not relentlessly hammered in pursuit of that area festival qualification or whatever, none of that ultimately matters after all!

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notquiteruralbliss · 12/05/2020 09:32

I think the idea of taking the pressure off sounds good. Walking in hand and not pushing yourself too hard when you do ride sound perfect. Your horse sounds a genuine sort.

I am old, creaky and not an especially confident rider but I ride big competition bred WBs because they are what we have (and I like the way they move).

Things that help me are walking in hand round the arena chatting to my horse for a few min before I get on (it gets us on the same wavelength and I find it relaxing)), always using a neck strap (my horses have learned to slow from a neck strap aid and if I do need to grab something to sit a spook I would rather it wasn't their mouth), lots of relaxed hacking at walk and not having huge expectations of what I can do as compared to younger fitter riders.

I also have a trainer who is on my wavelength and is fine with me saying 'I just want an easy gentle ride tonight, can we work on stretching'.

I am sure a nice Connemara cross would be way more suitable for me on paper but I have really enjoyed the process of learning to ride the horses I have.

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RatherBeRiding · 12/05/2020 15:55

In your shoes I'd sell - a decent ex-eventer will find a good home easily enough. There's absolutely no shame in saying you've made a mistake and over-horsed yourself.

Confidence, once lost, is very, very hard to get back I think, and competition horses are - let's face it - used to being ridden by ballsy riders who take no crap.

If he's not the right fit for you then you'd be doing yourself a disservice by persisting.

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Booboostwo · 15/05/2020 07:35

He sounds like the wrong horse for you. If he is scaring you then it will be a very long and uncertain road for you to find your confidence on him. I'd call it a day.

2-3 trips would definitely mean a physical issue in my book but it would probably mean spending thousands at the vets to find out what it is.

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midnightstar66 · 15/05/2020 07:51

I know how you feel, I've spent my life riding race horses and being the one who was put on the difficult ones but now at 40 with 2 dc I'm too scared to even ride my friends (albeit quite quirky) Connemara pony. I'll take her show horse out but even then I tend to stick to the roads and walk and trot. I do think perhaps you've over horsed yourself - eventers main love is rarely dressage and he'll probably need a lot more active work to be settled in the school. Don't see it as a reflection of yourself, he might have seemed quiet but a rider who is regularly competing in eventing is going to be strong, fit and confident in a way a casual rider generally can't manage. You say he's on schooling livery but is anyone hacking him out? Letting him get a run? He's used to galloping and jumping so will get very fed up just going round a school.

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Dragonsanddinosaurs · 15/05/2020 08:06

If the horse is not right for you it doesn't matter how long you give it. Things will only get worse, and you risk getting injured. I've been where you are. Over horsed myself on a lovely, well bred competition horse who was just too much for me. I tried for three years to make it work and ended up getting injured. Horse is now sold to someone who can enjoy him and I'm looking for something straightforward I can have fun on.

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Sally7645 · 15/05/2020 09:03

It's sounds like you are over-horsed - I've been there and it's not a nice situation! I bought a 6yo extremely well bred SJ gelding who i was frankly too novice for, I could ride but he was a lot of horse. The first two years were great we did a bit of everything but then I had a bad fall off him- wasn't his fault but the fall itself was bad and I was injured and I just couldn't get past it. This is turn affected him and he became a real handful and too much for my level of confidence. It was awful, I spent years feeling like a wimp and a constant failure, soul destroying

He then went lame and I ended up keeping him for 11 years :D the day he had to be retired was such a relief and he was turned out for 5 happy years before he was sadly pts.

Sell your horse - this is meant to be a fun hobby and there's nothing fun being terrified.. I've been there and jt sucks! Sell and get something you can enjoy x

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puppymouse · 15/05/2020 12:45

I don't know if it helps but I bought a horse (my first actually) four years ago. Every single person told me he was too much for me and that I should sell him. I was a wreck. I used to swig spirits to give me courage whenever I had to get on. Even leading him frightened me. Ex eventer, ex racer, totally overhorsed.

Then he got injured really badly 8 weeks into me owning him. Tendon related and a massive wound etc etc and had to be box rested for two months. I was devastated. But also relieved. Secretly.

That was when I started down a bit of a different path and I attended equine confidence courses, had some hypnotherapy to deal with some of my fears and then sat with him in his stable just hanging out every day. He had to be led out in hand twice a day so that gave us just enough to keep sane and funnily enough by the time he was allowed back out and I got back on we were light years ahead of where we were. Just from having got to know each other a bit. It wasn't plain sailing and he still gets worried hacking alone sometimes but only tense...99% of the stuff that was an issue has gone.

I strongly believe that this time changed the path we were on and that just stopping, reassessing and working on ourselves while just spending time with the horse can create a trust and connection that settles the fear on both sides and means you can get back on comfortably in time.

Just my perspective. Thanks

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HesSpartacus · 16/05/2020 20:03

The problem with being overhorsed is that they can sense your nervousness and then act up, and it becomes a vicious cycle. Before you know it, the rest of your confidence will be gone.

It's an expensive hobby, and is meant to be fun! I'd let this one go and find a horse you can enjoy properly, not fear.

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Bigsighall · 19/05/2020 14:36

Honestly just sell. It’s meant to be fun. Been there, done it and after selling (after 2 years and my confidence being in the gutter!) I’m now back riding something that I enjoy.
Sell!

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ITonyah · 10/06/2020 19:18

Sell him and don't feel bad about it! You sound overhorsed and that's a nightmare.

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