Age, weight, loss of confidence and pony issues

Essie Mae

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Apr 14, 2021
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Hello, I'm hoping for some advice. I'm now 58 YO and I currently weigh 15 stone.

I was having lessons to learn to ride about 10 years ago (a lifetime ambition) and had an accident and ended up being catapulted into a fence, unconscious, ambulance to hospital with concussion. Never got over it really. Lost all confidence.

I later bought a lovely 14.2 Connie to have at home and ride but never really got started. He's a great personality and I won't be selling him but he has some soundness issues. He has a large bone chip in one joint of a front leg (a very old chip, prob from when a foal) and the vet says his other front leg has club foot, prob due to having to carry weight because of the bone chip. He's pretty fit but he does have this odd limp when he's trotting, due to the bone chip. He is on arthritis meds and vet says I should be right to ride him. He's now 16 and has had an easy life, started under saddle at 7 and owned by me since he was 8 and had little riding at all.

I've had a few rough years recently (and my weight has ballooned) but aiming to retire soon and hoping to lose weight and get back in the saddle.

Now do you think it would be ok to ride him, walk only, for say 15-20 minutes at a time? That's all I can manage anyway and I hope it would be ok for him. He gallops around etc in the paddock. I feel bad about wanting to ride him but I really would like to be able to just get on him sometimes and go for a short walk. No ambitions to do anymore than that. Do you reckon that would be alright? I'm really just itching to get back in the saddle.

Opinions please.
 
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Jessey

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Hiya, personally this doesn’t sound to me like an ideal situation, not because of your weight or even the lameness (if the vet says he’s ok who am I to judge) but you are talking about someone lacking confidence getting on a pony who is just green broke effectively. The old saying green on green = black and blue comes to mind I’m afraid.

Now that’s not to say you can never get on him, just that it may need doing with some preparation and caution. He will not necessarily remember everything he learnt 8+ years ago, so you might need to get a trainer or someone more experienced to do the first couple of rides just to make sure he doesn’t object. In the mean time it would be great for you both to go for some walks in hand, so he sees the trails where you will ride, and you both increase your fitness, and improve your working bond. You can start taking him wearing his saddle to get him used to carrying some weight and this will also give you time to assess how his lameness holds up to the change in work.
 
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chunky monkey

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Hi and welcome. If the vet has recently given him a check over and says its ok to ride then i cant see why not. Im sure if the horse wasnt sound you'd stop riding. Some horses can even benefit from being ridden even if they have arthritis.
However I would perhaps make sure that to help your confidence at the beginning you have someone walk at your side to help relax you. Maybe even ask an instructor if they could come and help and give pointers to help your position in the saddle. Also if the horse hasnt been ridden, strongly suggest you get the saddle fit checked before riding. As he horses shape may have changed and you could do alot of harm from an I'll fitting saddle even just walking.
 
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Huggy

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Nov 11, 2018
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Hello and welcome. Agree with both the above. I've had my cob nearly 3 years, he's now 15. When i got him he'd been a field ornament for 2 years, and I hadn't ridden for about 7 years. I led him out (with a friend for back up!) for about a month, then pootled around bareback (Just didn't have a saddle!) for another couple of months. When i got the saddle fitted, I led him out for a few go's with saddle, then finally got on. We only go out for 40 mins to an hour, and it suits us both, and we just meander, mainly walk and trot. Take it slow and yes, definitely have someone with you until you're happy to go it alone. Last but not least, he's a lucky lad to have such a thoughtful owner - he could so easily have been passed from pillar to post and had a lousy life, and you've given him a great one instead. Good luck, please let us know how you get on, and pics of your lovely boy please!
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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I believe that ground work is really important. While you are losing some weight there are many things you can do from the ground to train his attention and get his compliance but also to build your own confidence. Poles if you have them are excellent for this.

My great love was a Conemara. They are prone to foot/hoof problems but they are also nippy little creatures, bred to jump. I got run away with more times than I like to remember. Although on paper they can carry a good weight, my experience is that they go more easily with a lighter rider. I have just started on Slimming world to get some support in losing my Lockdown weight gain and it may be easier for you too, if you have some guidance and support from your GP or the NHS.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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Welcome to the forum!

Like @Skib I love a Connie, my first pony Ziggy (that's him in my avatar) was one such. He died two years ago of laminitis. He was the sweetest soul in the world but we had endless hiccups when I began riding him as a novice - like Skib I was run away with umpteen times. Connies can be whizzy. I would have given up for sure if I had not had the support of a good riding instructor to help me get on top of Ziggy's confidence issues and my riding.

Like others here, I would suggest that you do lots of groundwork to get your pony back into the swing of things and get you used to each other. Practice leading, rope circles, obstacles, backing up - basically whatever you expect to do with him. If you have someone to teach you you could learn to long line him - it's very enjoyable and excellent for getting a pony back into practice going out if you want to hack.

All of this will fitten you up and help with your weight loss, as well as building a strong trusting relationship when you are out and about with your pony. You can start riding him in the school or a secure area after a while, maybe with an RI or friend walking with you. And if you long line him out and about in full tack, then you can start hopping on him for a bit whenever you feel like it.

If you just take it slowly I am sure you will get a better outcome and build your confidence. There really is no rush.

Please would you post a picture of your Connie? I do love them :)
 
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Trewsers

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I have a mad connie who is now 25 and completely retired due to injury. I brought her home to live and for a while things were fine. I lost my confidence (for no real reason) and struggled. My biggest regret whilst she was sound was not getting professional help with her under saddle. I could have ridden her a lot more. She wasn't the kind of horse you could ever just plod on really - she needed lots of work and I couldn't give her that. I did plod, but it was sometimes a bit hairy and dented my confidence quite a bit. Looking back getting an impartial instructor would have helped me. Mr t is horsey but too close to home and despite him being patient and a great coach I still couldn't face up to a lot of my confidence issues. So yeah, echoing what's already been said, get help if you can, specially if you're not the most confident. And yes in hand walks are good too. In fact in hand is always something worth doing. I do quite a bit with mr t's horse whilst he's not riding him.
 
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Essie Mae

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Apr 14, 2021
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Thank you all for your advices. It's really the weight and soundness that worries me :rolleyes:; the rest is manageable👍.

He's not actually green broke, in the first 2 or 3 years after I got him he went on short leases to pony club girls (two diff girls, 2 diff leases) who rode him out with others on trail adventures, he was used in a riding school and he went to Pony Club a few times where he was used as a catch mount. He's considered very quiet, in fact my riding instructor said she would not be able to find me a quieter horse unless it was dead. I have a list of pony club people who love him and will buy him off me if I ever decide to sell him. Riding Instructor always tells me she has first dibs.;)

I have ridden him quite a few times but mostly for short periods and not recently, and some of my confidence has returned as a result. I would not be riding him out of here, only in 1 paddock and I have an experienced rider who will ride him once or twice for me first, plus I will make sure someone knows every time I get on him if I'm on my own. My husband and I were taking him for long line walks down the park but my husband became unwell and then died last November. So I have not had pony out for walks for a long time. He lives here on site with me (3 acres) and is yarded at night so he gets plenty of other interactions with me inc regular orders to back up, being tied, washed and feet picked up.

I'll try to get you some photos :) , thanks again! I much appreciate your advices.
 
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Jane&Ziggy

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I am so sorry to hear about your husband's death, you have had a lot to deal with. But your pony's life sounds idyllic, he is a lucky boy! I'm sure he will enjoy getting out more with you.
 
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Jessey

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Ah yes he’s done much more than I thought from your initial post, sounds like he’ll be a great partner for you 🙂 I weigh 13 and a half stone and there’s some 14.2 I’d ride, and some I wouldn’t (depending on how well built they are) due to my weight.

My new boy is rising 3yo and currently standing 15hh but he’s a bit scrawny (380kg currently) so I’m hoping in the next 6-12 months he’ll chunk up a bit and I can loose a stone and a half so we meet in the middle before I get on him, we’re doing lots of trail walking to help us both.
 
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Huggy

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So sorry for your loss. You sound like you have a good plan - and a fab pony! Good luck and enjoy.
 

Doodle92

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A lot of people go by the 20% rule. A horse can carry 20% of their weight (including tack). But in my head that is a fit healthy and sound horse.

My horse is big and I was within the 20% but I was very over weight and my Bmi was scarey. While he was fit and healthy it was ok. However he now has hock arthritis (now treated and doing well) and had various other issues over the winter making him really poorly and not be ridden for 5 months.

It gave me the kick up the butt I needed and I decided I was too heavy to ride him when he was now NOT fit and healthy and has an issue which not causing him an issue currently but will not go away. I have lost over 3 stone which puts me to 11.5% which in my head is much more suitable for bringing him back in to work. Odd how I could not do it for myself but could do it for him!

When he got the all clear from the vet I spent 5 weeks walking in hand. Making us both walk up hills. This helped so much in so many ways.

I am not trying to be nasty and it is coming from a heavier person myself but I think I would be trying to loose a little weight before you get on. I know it is not easy and I’m not being flippant. Like the others have said lots of inhand work will help.
 
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