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Help! Afraid to ride my new horse!

Discussion in 'Horses - all breeds / types' started by seaecho, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. seaecho

    seaecho New Member

    This is very strange, and I have no idea what triggered it. My 19 yr. old Arab gelding has now been retired because of hock arthritis. He's fine when not bearing weight - you'd never know he had arthritis! However, he's the horse I've ridden almost exclusively for the last 15 years. I've ridden others (and also got thrown real good twice in one day by a BLM mustang) with very little fear. I even worked as a volunteer for a horse rescue and I often tried out new horses that came in. This was after I'd been thrown by the mustang, so obviously that isn't what triggered my fear.

    I looked at several horses before deciding on this one. I rode a black TWH that was hot and firey. I didn't feel in control of him, since he was hypersensitive and all he wanted to do was spook and go, go, go! But I didn't get thrown or anything. The other two I tried made me feel very safe. This one that I did go ahead and buy is a 7 yr. old sorrel tobiano TWH gelding, (soon to be eight) and he's very gentle and sweet. Not a mean bone in his body. So much so that you'd think he'd be a dead head under saddle. Not so. When the seller rode him, he walked right out, and then did the running walk when asked. When I rode him, he did break into a canter once while doing a running walk, but I got him back into gait with no problem. He has a great whoa, thank goodness. He spooked just a couple of times, but he'd just been hauled across the country and only arrived the night before, and the area was completely unfamiliar to him, and there were all kinds of scary horse-eating monsters around. They weren't bad spooks at all. Just a slight jump and a few side steps, and then he went on fine. Really impressive, considering all the stress he'd been through, and was probably also very tired. We went ahead and bought him and brought him home.

    Well, all I did with him after several days of letting him get settled was to groom and longe him and do ground work on suppling and giving to the bit. He did very well, although he wanted to go a bit too fast when longeing (breaking into the canter again). Nothing out of control though. He has wonderful ground manners, by the way. Two days later, I ponied him off my Arab (who I can ride for short periods only) up and down the street, and he only spooked once at a trash can, and it wasn't much of anything. My Arab was much more hyped up than he was! It was windy and cold, and a storm was coming in. Not a good day to work with a new horse, but I was eager and anxious.

    Here is the thing - now when I even THINK of getting on and riding him, I get those horrible butterflies in my stomach. I wonder how I'll be able to relax enough not to let him sense my nervousness. I guess I'm afraid of him doing something crazy, and me falling off and getting hurt. I'm not getting any younger (I'll be 50 soon) so maybe that's part of it. You know how you ride one horse most of the time, and you get to almost be "one" with that horse, and you know how he'll react in certain situations? Well, being totally unfamiliar with the new horse, I'm afraid he'll do something that I'm unprepared for, even though he's nearly bomb proof (although I know NO horse is COMPLETELY bomb proof). Has anyone ever dealt with this before? And how did you overcome the fear? I plan on taking it very slow and easy. I'll ride him in the arena only for the first few times, and then only ride in front of the house for a few days before I venture further. I know its just a matter of MAKING myself do it. Its just that I'm afraid my nervousness will make a nervous wreck out of him, and I don't want to ruin him. Also, this is my first gaited horse!!

  2. horse_child

    horse_child New Member

    I've never really had this happen, but I'm gonna do the best I can here.

    Maybe it's because he's YOUR horse now, and no one else is there to ride him. Perhaps you need some time to adjust to the his gaits. Gaited horses are really easy to ride and I switch back and forth from QH to gaited horses with no problem but they do take a bit to get used to. Maybe you can borrow a friends gaited horse and get used to what all the gaits are like before you get on your horse. Or maybe you can have someone lounge you on him, that way you have 2 people controlling him and you can adjust the speeds until you understand his sensitve spots and how to cue him. Hope this helps...
  3. seaecho

    seaecho New Member

    Thank you so much for your reply! The other day (when it wasn't windy, lol) I went ahead, tacked him up and longed him, then got on. All we did was walk around the arena for a good fifteen minutes. Walk, whoa. Walk, whoa. At first I was literally shaking, afraid he'd spook real bad or something, but then I started to get more comfortable with him when I saw he wasn't going to go crazy on me. I asked him to go a bit faster, and before I knew it, we were doing a slow running walk! After that, I didn't want to stop riding him. I did this for at least ten more minutes. Gradually, we went a bit faster. He may not be the smoothest TWH in the world, but its ten times better than my Arab's choppy trot! Not having to post was awesome. Kids started coming home from school about that time, walking down the dirt road, and I was afraid one of them would do something to spook him, so I figured it was best to quit while I was ahead. Now I can't wait to ride him again! Its been windy and cold, but today is really nice, warm, and no wind. So I'm going to ride him again in the arena this afternoon. After a few more arena rides, I'll start riding him up and down the dirt road in front of my house. I think its just the fact that I realize I'm now getting older, and its going to hurt a lot more if I fall. Also, riding an unfamiliar horse is a strange sensation, since I haven't done it in quite a while. I'm definitely progressing, though! Thanks again for going to the trouble to answer my post!
  4. horse_child

    horse_child New Member

    Good for you!

    I'm glad you two had a break through, he sounds like an awsome horse, and now that you can't wait to ride him, I'm sure that you'll be fine.
    I know what you're saying when you say arabs are choppy. i'd ride a TWH over an arab anyday just for the comfort of the ride. lol
    have fun with him!

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