Scared to ride my new horse after 3 weeks

Seton

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Sep 27, 2018
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I came across your forum whilst searching for help with my situation.

Here goes....I purchased my horse 3 weeks ago. Ex racer, last raced two years ago. I bought him from a lady who just did a bit of hacking but with her other horse, didn’t have the time for him. He’s 7 years old, lovely to handle in the stable, on the ground, already comes over when I turn up.

Not sure if this was a big mistake but from what I read, it seemed that I should just get on him and ride, this I did within two days, looking back this wasn’t a good idea. I’ve ridden him 6 times and he’s napping (which I can handle) but he’s now bucking and it’s scaring me. Today I thought I’d ride in the field on the yard but as soon as we started off, he started bucking, spinning, rushing backwards etc. I’m sitting to the bucks, god knows how, but today seemed worse and I had to get off. I’m 50 and value my limbs too much to get thrown through the air.

He was sweaty and Veins showing when I got him back into his stable and I was crying and shaking with fear. Called my husband and said I didn’t want to get on him again and to sell him. :(

I have also lunged him twice but he gets worked up and keeps trying to run off.

I feel I’m a competent rider but there’s on,y so much I can take. I’m worried I’ve got an out of control horse and don’t know what to do. I know relationships take time but what if he’s always going to be like this?

Should I forget about riding for a few months or with this type of behaviour, are we not a suitable match? Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

Mary Poppins

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First of all, welcome to New Rider. This is a lovely friendly forum. In order to get to the cause of your horses behaviour there are many questions that need to be answered.

What was he like when you tried him? Did you hack him out and see his previous owner ride him? How did he behave then?

Did you get him vetted and have bloods taken?

Have you had his saddle and bridle fitted? Are you using the same tack as he was previously ridden in?

What are you feeding him? Is this what he had in his old home? Does he have turnout? Alone or in company?

Do you have anyone else to ride him? How does he behave with them?

Horses can take a while to settle but if he is bucking the moment you get on, something is wrong. The most obvious reason is discomfort which is why I ask about the vetting and saddle fit. Secondly, if you are feeding him too much high energy food and/or he is not getting turn out, this could be enough to cause the bad behaviour.

I would advise you get an instructor or experienced friend to look at all these issues and make adjustments as necessary. I wouldn’t write him off just yet but it sounds like you do need some help.
 

Seton

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Sep 27, 2018
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Thank you for your reply... I certainly need somewhere friendly to help me :)

I’ll try and answer best I can.

I rode him twice before I purchased him, once with owner and then alone. On my own he was a bit jogging on the way back but no bucks.

No he wasn’t vetted, he didn’t cost me much money and I made the judgement that he was just to be for hacking.

New bridle and 2nd hand saddle was fitted but reputable company.

Fed on Alfa a oil and high fibre cubes and has 24/7 TO at the moment.

Im on a small yard and have no one else to ride him but to be honest with him bucking I wouldn’t want someone getting hurt.
 

Mary Poppins

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I would get a vet to look at him and give him a health check. Plus a good physio to examine his back and make sure he is not sore. Also, when were his teeth last looked at? In my experience, horses don’t generally behave this badly unless they are trying to tell you something. If you eliminate physical pain first, you will know you are looking at a behavioural problem.
 

Seton

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Sep 27, 2018
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I would get a vet to look at him and give him a health check. Plus a good physio to examine his back and make sure he is not sore. Also, when were his teeth last looked at? In my experience, horses don’t generally behave this badly unless they are trying to tell you something. If you eliminate physical pain first, you will know you are looking at a behavioural problem.
His teeth were done 3 weeks ago by an EDT.

it all started when I first tried to ride out of the yard, he’s attached himself to a mare and he would randomly call out and neigh when we were out. They were little kick-outs to start with, like tantrums, but now full on bucks, hence I thought he was napping.

Thank you for being nice, some forums are quite judgemental.
 
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Bodshi

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Hi and welcome @Seton :)

I also think a competent RI is the way to go. What do you know about this horse, has he been retrained since he raced? So much depends on his background and what he's done before - if he's never learned to lunge or had to hack out on his own, no amount of time off is going to fix the problem. There's a chance he has no idea what's expected of him and no idea how he's meant to behave out hacking or in the school (only reading between the lines here because you said the lady you bought him from didn't ride him much because she had no time for him - could be code for didn't ride him much because he scared her, or just that he hasn't been ridden much so is unconfident).

I really think you need some help from someone more experienced (no offence) and a 'real life' person too. Make sure it's someone who actually knows what they're talking about though, not the yard know it all lol.

He sounds a sweetie at heart so I hope you can sort something out, but in the meantime maybe do some simple groundwork with him so you are not putting yourself at risk or losing your confidence. There is a groundwork book which has been recommended on here many times, but I can't for the life of me remember what it's called now :rolleyes: When I have been nervous in the past it has helped me to remember that the horse is not out to get me, it's just very unsure and unsettled and it's up to me to look after them. A bit like a giant toddler (I'm told they have the mental capacity of a 3 year old human :p )

Good luck and I hope to hear much more about your boy and how you get on. Pictures would be nice too :D
 

Kite_Rider

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May 18, 2009
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Hello and welcome to NR
It sounds to me like you have a unsettled and worried horse.
I may be wrong but I suspect he is picking up on your nerves and being a TB he needs someone to step up and take the lead. They are not very good with nervous riders, been there myself and totally understand how you feel, I would definitely suggest you enlist the help of a good riding instructor, someone who comes recommended and someone who is used to TB’s.
 

Seton

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Sep 27, 2018
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Hi and welcome @Seton :)

I also think a competent RI is the way to go. What do you know about this horse, has he been retrained since he raced? So much depends on his background and what he's done before - if he's never learned to lunge or had to hack out on his own, no amount of time off is going to fix the problem. There's a chance he has no idea what's expected of him and no idea how he's meant to behave out hacking or in the school (only reading between the lines here because you said the lady you bought him from didn't ride him much because she had no time for him - could be code for didn't ride him much because he scared her, or just that he hasn't been ridden much so is unconfident).

I really think you need some help from someone more experienced (no offence) and a 'real life' person too. Make sure it's someone who actually knows what they're talking about though, not the yard know it all lol.

He sounds a sweetie at heart so I hope you can sort something out, but in the meantime maybe do some simple groundwork with him so you are not putting yourself at risk or losing your confidence. There is a groundwork book which has been recommended on here many times, but I can't for the life of me remember what it's called now :rolleyes: When I have been nervous in the past it has helped me to remember that the horse is not out to get me, it's just very unsure and unsettled and it's up to me to look after them. A bit like a giant toddler (I'm told they have the mental capacity of a 3 year old human :p )

Good luck and I hope to hear much more about your boy and how you get on. Pictures would be nice too :D

The previous owner had lunged him and hacked him out, I’ve seen videos, which makes me feel disheartened. She turned him away for a few months and then just did some light hacking, she said he had limited education and this didn’t bother me too much, however bucking isn’t something I’m happy to put up with and my back is sore now :-( I wasn’t nervous until today’s episode, it really shook me up. I’m due to have a RI out on Saturday. I’m on a lovely quiet yard but limited facilities, but it’s a stones throw from my house with hacking and I wasn’t bothered about an arena as I just wanted to love and enjoy a horse to go hacking.
 
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Jane&Ziggy

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Hello and welcome to New Rider. 8 years ago I was in a very similar situation to you - a 50 year old novice owner with a horse who doesn't do what it says on the tin!

I'm glad you've got an RI coming to help you. I wouldn't be surprised if (s)he says, "This horse is very green and needs a lot of training." When my RI saw my new purchase she was so gobsmacked she didn't know what to say, and then she said, "What have you done?" She wanted me to get a safe Highland pony or cob, not a whizzy Connemara with a history. Well, anyhow, I still have him.

If you're scared, I don't blame you. Don't worry about riding until the RI has been. Spend some time with your new lad; groom him if he likes it, lead him here and there on the yard. See if you can lead him out of the gate, or if he naps. When they move somewhere new horses often get very attached to another horse, it helps them to feel safe, so his behaviour isn't entirely surprising. Do a bit of groundwork; if you haven't done much groundwork yet, trust me, people on here will be suggesting you do it now! It's a great way to get a horse to know and trust you.

Oh, and I agree about having his back checked. I had a physio to my pony a couple of months after I got him and found that he was in a terrible state, with pain from his poll to his tail. Poor little chap, no wonder he wasn't keen on working. I felt so guilty!

Good luck with your new boy. Show us a picture and I hope we can help you settle with him - or decide you're better off without him - which does happen sometimes.
 

Trewsers

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Hello and welcome to NR
It sounds to me like you have a unsettled and worried horse.
I may be wrong but I suspect he is picking up on your nerves and being a TB he needs someone to step up and take the lead. They are not very good with nervous riders, been there myself and totally understand how you feel, I would definitely suggest you enlist the help of a good riding instructor, someone who comes recommended and someone who is used to TB’s.
Yes very true, J didn't trust OH or me at first and quickly took control. Luckily lessons and help from then YO saved our relationship with him.
 

Seton

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Sep 27, 2018
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Re the groundwork, Are there some suggestions please? I’ve been trying to make him walk out of my space, move his shoulders/back legs around, those sorts of things....
 
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newforest

Keep it simple
Mar 15, 2008
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Reading what you've said the previous owner hasn't spent the time reschooling him from when he came off the track.
He probably doesn't have limited education, he probably hasn't had any and you pretty much have an ottb in front of you.
Most are used to doing things in pairs or a string. Some understand hacking out, but to be honest I would see what the RI suggests. Is he safe in traffic for example?
A field to him on his own could just look overwhelming, he's used to being with others, having a job to do.

Why did he come out of racing? You might be able to find out the way. Hopefully it wasn't an injury that nobody has thought to mention.

It's only been three weeks, all new owners have the 'oh crap what have I done' moment at some point.
Some get worried and some have been scared. I bet some of us even thought 'can I deal with this'
I know I had that jeez I have taken on too much.

Welcome to the forum.
 

Seton

New Member
Sep 27, 2018
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Reading what you've said the previous owner hasn't spent the time reschooling him from when he came off the track.
He probably doesn't have limited education, he probably hasn't had any and you pretty much have an ottb in front of you.
Most are used to doing things in pairs or a string. Some understand hacking out, but to be honest I would see what the RI suggests. Is he safe in traffic for example?
A field to him on his own could just look overwhelming, he's used to being with others, having a job to do.

Why did he come out of racing? You might be able to find out the way. Hopefully it wasn't an injury that nobody has thought to mention.

It's only been three weeks, all new owners have the 'oh crap what have I done' moment at some point.
Some get worried and some have been scared. I bet some of us even thought 'can I deal with this'
I know I had that jeez I have taken on too much.

Welcome to the forum.
He hasn’t raced for two years and previous owner had just been hacking him for 18 months. With her he was living with two other horses so nothing new compared to his turnout now. We’ve spoken to her and she’s coming out to ride and see him next week but happy to work with me to find the best solution.
 
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horseandgoatmom

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First welcome this is a great place and the people are awesome.

There have already been lots of good thoughts.

Yes as we get older we at least in my own case I can loose confidence quicker.
You find you don't bend and bounce like when you were younger.

Have you had a big weather change to cooler from really hot possibly be
Making him a bit more silly?
 
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chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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Hi and welcome. There is some good suggestions here. Rather than riding out could you walk the horse out in hand. As you say it's an area you know you should be confident about where you are going. Just take out for short walks. Either out and back, or do a loop back to the yard. Extend each trip out. Give the horse time to look and see things. Also remember if it's been on the track it may never have see roads and traffic whilst racing. Although you say the previous owner was hacking it out but not as much as theyd like they may not have been doing much road work so the horse might find moving to new surrounds and roads to much at present. Just suppose in two years of owning and maybe only one ride a week that isn't that many rides on the road.
Could you tape off and ménage size area in the field to try to ride in rather than a field.
Regards the ground work. Yes getting the feet moving is the sort of thing. There are some good YouTube videos online. Some of the western/natural horsemanship ones I find useful. Also try clicker training.
 

Seton

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Sep 27, 2018
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I did consider the walking in hand but on the occasion I had to get off when I went out hacking, he was very difficult to lead back....walking so fast, jogging, totally unsettled and with a high head carriage.

Thank you all for your suggestions, they are things we’re trying or have done. He’s just become a different horse with me :(

We’re on a working farm so having a field to ride in is dependent on where the livestock is. If there is nowhere available then I will have to use my grazing field which isn’t ideal. But as I wasn’t fussed about schooling, these weren’t issues for me. I just want to go hacking, have no aspirations to do anything serious :)

We called his previous owner last night. She’s sorry to hear about the situation as is coming out on Tuesday to ride him and see what’s going on. She’s a very experienced rider so hopefully we can find a way forward for both me and my horse. So I’ll cancel the RI for now, it would’ve been our first meeting so I’m just going to try and have a few stress free days and see how Tuesday goes.

It’s 4am and I couldn’t sleep, just going over yesterday’s events. It scared me so much :(
 
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chunky monkey

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I'm afraid I wouldn't be cancelling the riding instructor. They have eyes and may come up with something useful. Sometimes sellers are not always honest about what they are selling. It sounds as though they are still interested in the horse. But they just might not be telling you all.
I understand what you are saying about the horse being strong when you had to get off. But the horse would be in a strange area so it possibly would get hyper. I'm suggesting groundwork walking out so it gets use to its surrounding. If you do this regularly like daily or every other day. It will help with respect and manners. I'm afraid that if you do nothing between now and Tuesday, to me that is too long and chances are the horses is going to be spirited.
 

Skib

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I agree with the suggestions above and would emphasise that any horse coming to a new yard, needs to be led on the new tracks and taught to understand the yard and land - horses need teaching and then reinforcing what they learn.
However, I will add from my experience as a RS rider that even the best trained ex-racehorse TB may vary from day to day. And knowing when it is safe to ride or better to dismount is incredibly important to one's safety and not something to be ashamed of.
I posted here last winter about the blissful time I had riding just such a TB in a riding school. Both physically and mentally she was the most perfect horse I had ever been given to ride. And she overcame my fears of canter in a small school. Then one day she was quivering and unsettled in my lesson, spooking at pigeons in the eves and skimmying sideways when other horses passed outside. I simply took the decision we wouldnt canter and eventually she became agitated even in walk and we brought the lesson to a close.
No one, neither rider nor RI is to blame for variations in the mood and behaviour of a TB or any excitable horse. It is up to us as humans to recognise the danger signs.
Another rider less cautious than myself was thrown by that mare the following weekend.
So we had a situation when a horse like yours was trained to such a level as to be suitable for riding lessons and none the less, some upset or other caused the horse to lose her nerve. That same horse might have been perfect in a one to one relationship with a skilled and gentle rider. I hankered after her myself. But one can never be absolutely sure and even if you were the wisest buyer in the world, this is not a matter where one can guarantee. Nor criticise your confidence.
 

Bodshi

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I just want to go hacking, have no aspirations to do anything serious :)
This is me too :) But don't underestimate how much schooling can help hacking - I'm not talking about learning dressage tests or anything, but just practising together the underlying principles of control - moving your horse off the leg in different directions, turn on the forehand etc (so handy for opening gates!) going forwards when you ask, stopping when you ask etc. All things you can practise when you're out on your hacks, but it sounds as though your horse could benefit from some one-on-one in a safer environment first.

Let us know how you get on when the old owner comes out to you and good luck :)