I need a serious talking to

Nimbus65

Active Member
Aug 15, 2005
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Feeling so discouraged. Kal has been at his new yard for a month now. He is much happier being in his stable now, ties up nicely, stands still to be groomed and tacked up, is affectionate, relaxed and is generally a nice person to be around.

Except.

He is still VERY antsy in the school . . . very looky, quite spooky, sharp. And I can't hack him . . . he is so backwards thinking, very sticky, very nervous and anxious to go back to the safety of the yard. Because of our disastrous hack, I am very nervous and he totally feeds off me . . . he is VERY bonded to me now that I am the only person who handles him . . . he is even sticky when we go out with someone else on the ground. When we were at our previous yard we hacked out alone all the time with NO issues . . . I can't figure out why he's so unsure at the yard.

In addition, with all the hooleying and rearing he did after we moved him, he tweaked his back and began going disunited behind in canter on the left rein . . . as I lost my job money is tight so before I got the back man out to him, I rested him . . . dramatic improvement but it's yet another reason for me not to ride and it's getting me down.

Before I bought him, I was confident in walk/trot/canter . . . would jump if pushed, competent at low-level lateral work (leg yield, shoulder-in) could ride simple changes and a flying change on a well-trained horse. I was happy to ride in the outdoor, indoor school or a field.

When we bought him, I spent alot of time getting to know him, was comfortable with him in the school and out hacking . . . with the help of my instructor we improved his balance (he came to us very green), worked on getting him to lighten his forehand (quarter turns and lots of bending) and yield his hindquarters. I was loose-schooling him over jumps and a friend jumped him in a couple of times - he was good as gold and always very chilled (he only spooked in the school once in five months).

I feel like we've gone backwards. I haven't ridden properly for at least two months. I know I just need to get a grip, but I'm really struggling. I suffer from depression and it's all just getting to me. All I'm managing to do with him at the moment is bring him in, groom him, feed him, reapply fly spray and sunscreen and then turn him back out. He loves it, but he's losing all that lovely muscle we had worked so hard to build up . . . and the longer I don't ride, the harder it is for me to actually get on and do it.

I'm thinking that today I might take him for a walk in hand after I've lunged him . . . he's a donkey when led . . . but I know I should get on him.

Oh, and when I went up to the yard on Saturday, I learned that he and his fieldmate got into a kicking match . . . as no'one saw it happen we don't know what went on . . . whether it was aggressive or whether it was play that got out of hand . . . but poor Danny (fieldmate) came off much worse and the vet had to be called. I felt terrible (had a little cry while I poo picked). It seems so out of character for Kal to be a bully though . . . at his previous yard he went out of his way not to kick other horses - even when they tried to mount him. I know he's playful . . . and he's much younger and fitter than Danny (and bigger), so the play could have gotten out of hand. Before this, he and Danny were often grazing side-by-side or standing nose-to-tail. Sigh.

How do I get out of this nasty rut?

Cookies if you got this far . . .

N
 

eventerbabe

Well-Known Member
Dec 16, 2004
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Get your walking boots on and take him out inhand to familiarise him with his new hacking routes :) A change of yards can be hugely unsettling. If he's good on the ground take advantage of this and get him out inhand. How do you react when he gets spooky in the school? if you are getting wound up he'll just feed off that and you are in a self perpetuating circle of fear. Are you confident enough to ride him through the spookiness in the school?

As for the kicking the fieldmate, kal's maybe now top dog and just asserting his authority. My mare was always bottom in the herd pecking order, but if it were just her and my other horse she was top dog and would beat toby up at every oppertunity.

You really are not alone, i'm sure all horse owners have experienced this at some point. I know i have! chin up
 

Lobelia Overhill

New Member
Oct 14, 2004
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my lad can be spooky in the school, I found if I walked him around on a long rein and kept sighing loudly he calmed down and didn't spook so much...

YMMV
 

Trewsers

Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2004
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On an island
Its awful when you feel like you've gone backwards - I do sympathise. All I can suggest is small steps and building it up again. Its annoying I know, OH is currently having to go back with Joe (his suspensory is playing up again, so no more trotting - back to walk - and a shapeless horse to boot!). Thats a good idea exploring in hand as eventerbabe says - worth a try too.
 

Skippys Mum

New Member
Nov 25, 2007
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Get him into the school with you leading him. Walk him round and round and round, lots of wee circles, back him up. Stop dead and expect him to stop when you do (he will get the hang of all this rapidly - you might have to start with a bit of a tighter rein but eventually you should be able to do this all with a loose rein).

Ignore any bad behaviour - just change direction and keep on going. You can walk him over poles, over tarpaulins, through cones - anything to keep it varied.

He will start to settle. Once he is settled on the ground, you can do this then pop on and do it from his back. I had half my school that was a total no go for years till I started doing all this - now we dont even think about it:D

As for the hacking, you'll find, as you take control again on the ground, he'll start to trust you hacking and things will improve (at quite a rapid rate of knots once he gets the general idea). Dont be afraid to go on foot and do all the exercises you do in the school out on your walk - lots of backing up, circles etc.

this happens to lots of us with our horses so dont get too despondent - its pretty normal:rolleyes::D
 

fairlady

New Member
Jul 14, 2007
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I have to say I think its a place everybody reaches at some point in their
horsey lives, but then you have to decide how to deal with it, so far you have stayed within your comfort zone and have now reached the point that you
know inside cannot continue..........

I know you say money is tight, everybody is feeling the pinch:eek: Go without something else for a couple of weeks and get your Riding Instructor
back, if money really is too tight for that at the moment, a close confident
friend who you admire as a Rider to help get you back on track...

Its a 'double edged' sword at times when you are closely bonded, you know
them so well and know what will 'set them off' lol, and it is difficult sometimes to see something that you know is going to be a 'trigger' and
attempt to stay calm etc., DON'T LOOK AT WHATEVER IT IS, spot it and
then totally ignore it (I KNOW it sounds easy, lol, but it DOES work) sing, hum, and then if he spooks STOP and try to get him over to whatever the
'problem' is so that he can have a good ol' look and realise 'oh is that all
it is'. I totally agree with Skippy's Mum that you need your confidence
to return on the ground before feeling the confidence in the saddle so work with that and then get your RI in to help you thro' the next steps if needed.

As for the 'bullying' its Horses and a fact of life that one will come out as
'head' of the herd. Its horrible if your Horse is the one being kicked and its
just as horrible if your Horse is the one doing the kicking, but it IS Horses I am afraid and they have to find their own way, once they understand the
pecking order it all settles down. x
 

Cleanboots

Active Member
Feb 3, 2010
1,712
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Do you think it is probably because you get depressed that this situation seems much much worse than it probably is Nimbus?

Have you got any friends you can hack out with, dont bother schooling for a while, just get out and have a relaxing hack.
It sounds like you have lost some confidance along the way and the horse WILL pick up on this as i am sure you know!

Dont try too hard to achieve anything, just enjoy riding the horse at your pace, you have nothing to prove to anyone except yourself.

Once you are feeling better about yourself, the riding,schooling and all other horsey related stuff will come easily without you even having to try.
 

Nimbus65

Active Member
Aug 15, 2005
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Thanks all . . . some great advice here.

Eventerbabe - you're so right - this is what we did today (and it's what I did when I first bought him and moved him to his new yard). He spooked at some pigeons flying up from the barley, had a good look at the post box and snorted and pranced past the derelict village shop, but for the rest of the time he was trying to graze and it actually relaxed me. Think we'll do more of that. It can only help, right?

Lobelia Overhill - the sighing and the long rein - yup! The fact that he rears if he feels constricted by a tight rein/cornered already has me riding with very forward/soft hands . . . I just have to remember to sigh, LOL. I'm not so bad with him spooking in the school . . . I can generally work him through it . . . it's out hacking where we really have a problem. But perhaps as others have said, I just need to go back to basics with him . . .

Trewsers . . . you nailed it . . . frustrating. I honestly feel like I'm going back to "first off lead rein!!!" Patience, patience, patience. I'm not impatient with him at all . . . I'm impatient with me :(

Skippys Mum . . . I LOVE this idea . . . I have already done some of this in the school with him . . . he stops dead when I stop on a loose rein and will follow me all over the school without a lead rope . . . but adding scary obstacles will only build trust . . .

FairLady . . . you are right about the bond being a double-edged sword and him feeding off my insecurities . . . I need to figure out a way to be his leader on board the way I am on the ground :( I do still have my instructor come out once a week and she is a fabulous help . . . but she can't hack out with me (which is a shame) . . .

Clean Boots . . . I am SURE the depression magnifies everything . . . it's a horrid cycle. On the plus side, I came away from the yard feeling better than when I arrived today . . . it was a joy spending time with him on the ground . . . I just wish it was the joy it used to be riding him out and about . . . I'm sure we'll get there . . .

N
 

Skippys Mum

New Member
Nov 25, 2007
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If it makes you feel any better, despite having had my own horses for over 20 odd years and doing SJ, XC and dressage in my day, I ended up back on the lead rein with Arnie a couple of years ago:eek:. We had hit rock bottom and I was terrified.

We are now out and about having great fun doing all sorts of fun things so dont let it get you down.

I did find that once I got Arnie and I's confidence issues sorted, he got easier to handle around other horses. For a while he was terrible, kicking at any that got close enough and generally being obnoxious. Hacking in company was an ordeal.

He's absolutely fine now and I'm sure its because he is comfortable and secure with his life in general:D

Oh, I also got myself a PLAN:D. My PLAN involved me not having to ride. If I didnt want to ride or if it got a bit scary, my PLAN was in place to just get off and lead. Funnily enough, since I put my PLAN into place, I havent had to get off yet!:D I just needed to have decided in advance so it stopped being such an issue.
 

learningcurve

New Member
May 25, 2008
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One step forwards two steps back, seems what horse ownership is like at times.:rolleyes:

I recently moved two of my boys to a friends place and my boys planting has returned with a vengeance, so I am back to leading the silly animal for part of the ride. This is the only way I will get him to take the lead eventually, worked at our own field, so hopefully will again.
Daughters pony on the other hand takes it all in his stride, and he is the baby.

Don't be too hard on yourself, you've got plenty of time.:):)
 

criollo1

New Member
Feb 14, 2010
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Dear Skippy's mum. Thank you for your words of encouragement. It's so reassuring to know that it is absolutely ok to get off and lead if things get scary. Nice to know that It happens to experienced riders too.
 

Nimbus65

Active Member
Aug 15, 2005
1,449
0
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Dear Skippy's mum. Thank you for your words of encouragement. It's so reassuring to know that it is absolutely ok to get off and lead if things get scary. Nice to know that It happens to experienced riders too.

Amen to that!

N
 

bitsnpieces

Active Member
Aug 22, 2007
6,625
10
38
I totally sympathise! when I moved yards last year, Puzzle (who is normally a doll to hack) suddenly started really badly acting up when we were going down a certain route, to the point where if I wanted to go that way I didn't bother getting on and just had to walk her down there.

How about turning him out for short periods of time in the school and doing some quite loose schooling/letting him just mooch around in there by himself. Curiosity will eventually get the better of him and he'll start investigating. Would also say taking him out in hand will help him loads.

Sometimes when they move yards it can takes months and months to fully settle, if you feel you've gone backwards, maybe take it back another stage yourself and work on building him back up. It's really hard when these things happen but all you can do is be sympathetic and just plug away at it, he'll come good! :)
 

Yankee1

New Member
Oct 6, 2009
65
0
0
Sounds like a good solution

Get him into the school with you leading him. Walk him round and round and round, lots of wee circles, back him up. Stop dead and expect him to stop when you do (he will get the hang of all this rapidly - you might have to start with a bit of a tighter rein but eventually you should be able to do this all with a loose rein).

Ignore any bad behaviour - just change direction and keep on going. You can walk him over poles, over tarpaulins, through cones - anything to keep it varied.

He will start to settle. Once he is settled on the ground, you can do this then pop on and do it from his back. I had half my school that was a total no go for years till I started doing all this - now we dont even think about it:D

As for the hacking, you'll find, as you take control again on the ground, he'll start to trust you hacking and things will improve (at quite a rapid rate of knots once he gets the general idea). Dont be afraid to go on foot and do all the exercises you do in the school out on your walk - lots of backing up, circles etc.

this happens to lots of us with our horses so dont get too despondent - its pretty normal:rolleyes::D

I totally agree with you. Slow and steady in hand first.:)
 

Skippys Mum

New Member
Nov 25, 2007
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Dear Skippy's mum. Thank you for your words of encouragement. It's so reassuring to know that it is absolutely ok to get off and lead if things get scary. Nice to know that It happens to experienced riders too.

I spent years thinking "Oh god, I cant get off". Once I decided "bugger it, I bloody well can get off if I want to" it took all the pressure off me and I stopped panicking when I hacked out alone.

Now I hack along thinking "Hmmm, I could use that stone to mount from, I could stand him in that ditch.....":redface:

Oh, and Yankee1, regarding your thread about your hips, getting off and having a walk along beside them can really help with that!
 
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