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The tack room

Have any of you lost your nerve riding and managed to get it back?

9 replies

Pixel · 15/02/2009 21:36

I was never the bravest rider as a teenager but I still got on and did everything, jumping, hair-raising gallops, riding bareback, you name it. I didn't ride for quite a few years as my pony had to be retired but have now got a new horse.

Of course I don't expect to be as brave as when I was a kid. I'm not as agile now and I have my own children to think of so wouldn't want to take unnecessary risks. Also, I'm much more limited as to where I can ride, no school and no more straight out onto the Downs. But I've been surprised at just how scared and pathetic I am. This darling little horse hasn't really put a foot wrong so far and I'm so nervous of him, whereas my old pony was an absolute terror and I still rode him for miles in all weathers!

We've had this one 18 months now and I thought I'd be feeling quite brave by now but I'm not. Ok, we have been taking things very slowly because we found out that he was only 2 when we got him, not gone 3 as we were told, so the fact that I haven't cantered him yet isn't solely due to my lack of nerve but secretly I'm relieved that I've had an excuse. But he will be 4 this summer so the excuse won't hold for much longer .

Anyway, we haven't done much with him at all this winter as he is still young, but we haven't turned him away completely as he loves going out. Any work he has done has been for my benefit really otherwise I feel I might never get on him again! Once a week (weather permitting) I have a lesson which consists of riding him out round quiet roads with my instructor walking with me and working on getting me to relax, not grab at him all the time (not helped by his amazing walk which makes me feel we are flying along) and remember to use my legs instead of freezing up. When the paddock dries up she is going to lunge him with me on too.

I do feel I've made progress. I'm more relaxed than I was and am starting to have more faith in his steadyness instead of imagining he is going to shy at every little thing. It just all seems so slow and such a waste as he is really gorgeous and is going to be the perfect family horse if I can only get over this. I should be able to ride out with my sister on her pony by now but have only done it twice and she got fed up with me panicking all the time.

Very long post, sorry it wasn't going to be!
I just thought it would give me some hope if anyone else had experienced the same and managed to come out the other side and enjoy their horse again.

OP posts:
fortyplus · 15/02/2009 21:44

Good grief, woman!

Get yourself some old schoolmaster to get your nerve back! I'm 47 and usually ride a 13 year old schoolmaster. Occasionally I ride a friend's youngster and my sister-in-law's just-broken 4 year old and they both make me feel 100!

I'm promising myself a little hunter trial on the schoolmaster this autumn after a gap of 16 years. Wish me luck!

StudentMadwife · 15/02/2009 21:44

dont panic and dont beat yourself up about it. its going to take time on both your parts, hes still very young so dont feel your wasting his potential, take your time to build up your trust in him and your'll be fine and riding out confidently in no time! have you got someone with a 100% horse you can ride out with as that will help too x

fortyplus · 15/02/2009 21:49

Agree - and for what it's worth my other friend's 'baby' is seven and only just started jumping. They're growing in confidence together and he is going to be a horse and a half I can tell you

Pixel · 15/02/2009 22:48

Good luck for the hunter trial Fortyplus! (you mad thing you ).

Well yes of course we should have got an older one. We did look for one but we had much fruitless traipsing around the countryside looking at ponies that turned out to be nothing like their adverts and we were very limited in what we could actually afford unfortunately. We all fell in love with dhorse's sweet face and reasoned that an unspoiled youngster would be a better prospect than something that had learnt every trick in the book, after all we weren't complete novices. My mum was brought up with horses, and as a family we'd had our own horses for 25 years. I was given my old pony because his owner couldn't sell him because of his reputation. I had him for 23 years and did everything on him, so I figured, how hard could it be?

I just didn't expect I'd be so feeble!

Studentmadwife, I know you are right, we have plenty of time yet, but I imagine all the other people at the yard thinking shouldn't have bought him, they are a very judgemental lot!

OP posts:
frostyfingers · 16/02/2009 08:57

I rode almost every waking moment as a child and was utterly fearless. Then moved to London and still rode when I went back to parent's home - still galloped and jumped. As soon as I had children I was slightly less brave, instead of jumping hedges I went for the timber, and if it looked scary through the gate which I never would have done before. I got my own horse when we moved out of London, not a plod, but not a fiery young thing either, which was wonderful. I'd had him about 3 weeks, was hacking on our local common when he got frightened by a dog and leapt sideways and I didn't go with him. I landed on my bum, back against a tree and was completely stunned. Tried my mobile to get help - no signal so hauled myself back on, horse was wonderful, he didn't gallop off into 900 acres of common, just waited there and we plodded slowly home. Passed out in kitchen waiting for DH to get back from church and spent the rest of the day in hospital. Anyway, very long story, after 2 shoulder operations and countless days of physio, acupuncture - five years in fact, I do still ride, but I am definitely a happy hacker. I won't jump anything but a small log, and nothing at all if I'm alone. I was in so much pain for such a long time, and unable to drive for 3 months (disaster round here), that I'm just not prepared to take the risk anymore. My sister offered me a day's hunting on her lovely horse and I turned it down, I'm just too frightened of hurting myself again. Ironically, she called me wet and chicken, then fell off, hurt her shoulder, realised how awful it was and rang up to apologise for calling me names! Find your comfort zone, and stick with it. Past a certain age, falling off is not a good thing, and with the responsibilities of children it's too risky for me to do anyting other than potter about - I do fun rides which are great. If you think you need help bringing your horse on then get it, and take lessons for yourself - nothing wrong in needing help! Good luck, and remember it's meant to be fun....

Owls · 16/02/2009 09:23

Totally agree with Frosty. Stop beating yourself up. He's your horse and what you choose to do (or not) is totally your choice. Ignore the people at the yard.

This is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby not something to stress you out. Let somebody else canter him first time - doesn't have to be you. If all you want to do is hack him out at a walk and trot, then so be it. Comes back to the same thing - he is your horse to enjoy at your own pace.

I have a youngster and am in my forties so do know where you are coming from btw. I would keep on with the lessons as long as you can, sounds like you have a good instructor who you trust.

So what if it takes you two years to canter him yourself - what's the rush?

Nekabu · 16/02/2009 13:31

Can you hire a school anywhere so that you can have a 'proper' lesson rather than your instructor walking alongside you on a hack? If your sister won't ride out with you on her pony, would she let your instructor ride it so that she could hack out with you?

As for the cantering. I have a very green youngster who I'm now teaching to canter and I've had him for a year! He simply wasn't ready for it before as he was too unbalanced. I'm hoping to get it pretty much cracked before I have to come clean about being pg to my instructor and then he can be turned away for a few months whilst I hatch and hopefully it'll all sink in. I could have got there sooner if I'd had more time to put into him but I didn't so we just have to go with what is available and as it turns out a slow, non rushing approach suits him. What does it matter if you take a similar approach with your boy? He's your hobby and you are both there to have fun with each other. What does it matter if you don't canter him until you feel ready to have a go?

BTW if you were riding him at 2 and 3 then that's another reason it's good that he wasn't doing much!

Pixel · 16/02/2009 19:55

I know Nekabu, we were horrified when we found out he was so young, and also glad he had come to us, not another family who might have been galloping him about and jumping him. I don't think there are any proper schools near us at all but we will have a paddock to ride in soon when the ground dries out so will be able to concentrate more on the finer points! It's a pain not having a school but I thought that gentle hacking out was much safer for his joints than lots of circles anyway.

Frostyfingers, I certainly wouldn't call you a chicken! At least you have a reason for being cautious, I've hardly ever fallen off as it happens (please don't say I've jinxed myself!) which is why it's such a mystery why my courage has just evaporated.

Owls, yes I've been really lucky with my instructor she is fab and very patient. She backed dhorse before we got him (she was told he was 3 as well) and he absolutely adores her. She does encourage me to push myself a little bit further but doesn't make me feel guilty if I don't want to do something which is great and the reason why I'm thoroughly enjoying the lessons. I do feel like I'm learning a lot.

Anyway, thanks everyone for making me feel better. You are right of course, he's my horse and I should do what I want. Tbh, most of the people who poke their noses in don't do much with their horses either and ours look in much better condition (so there! ). We had a lesson today and I was actually more confident so maybe just writing it all down here has helped!

OP posts:
Nekabu · 17/02/2009 08:47

Schooling doesn't need to consist of lots of circles! It may be worth asking around to see if anyone has a school and seeing if you can hire it. If you have people 'poking their noses in' then I presume you have horsey people around you so maybe one of them would know someone who has a school you could use.

You didn't say whether your instructor would be able to borrow your sister's pony and hack out with you. Would that be a possibility?

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