Tuesday, September 2, 2008

No real rhyme or reason to it...

I commented briefly before that I can't figure myself and my fear issues out. I really can't. It's like there are some horses I'm fine on even if they do misbehave and others, forget it. I want off. NOW.

The SAFE show was a prime example of this. The vet put the kibosh on showing Honey (who I was
very comfortable on) so a friend brought a sale Thoroughbred for me to show. He was just lovely. Dapple gray, elegant looking, pretty mover. Well, I got on him and after one circuit of the warm up ring at the walk, he dove for the out gate. I wasn't expecting it and we nearly took out a pony. I got off and I said, uh-uh, not going to do this.

Half my brain was telling me I should have fought it out, but the other half provided the convenient (and actually
accurate) justification that the warm up ring is not the place to have a battle with a horse you don't know and that it is unfair to jeopardize other people's safety with a horse you may not be in control of. (Especially when the horse has scared the crap out of you and you are all weak in the knees like you narrowly avoided a car accident) So I took him back to the trailer and one of the other girls from the barn said "oh yeah, he dove out the gate with me at home, too." Well, okay then...

By then the Cowgirl Spirit trailer had pulled in and I figured I would try to commandeer Class, a Quarter pony I'd worked with a little earlier in the year, for a class or two.
Instead, Juliane suggested I ride Prince Caspian, the rescue's newest project, in the 40+ walk trot.

"Is he broke?" I asked. I knew he hadn't been just two weeks ago.

"Yeah, he's great! I've ridden him four or five times now."

Four or five times.
Juliane being Juliane, she had already fearlessly trail ridden him, taken him into the river, etc. I looked at him. He looked really calm. So I got on him and he just plain felt calm. He felt solid. I felt solid. So even though he was dead green and he went sideways all the way down one side of the arena when he saw the flapping banners on the fence, I never felt unsafe or unconfident or like I wanted to get off. I felt like I was in control. We were good to go. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to keep him straight and focused. (He got adopted very shortly after the show, by the way!)

So why was I okay on one and not the other? I'd love to analyze it out. Well, I do truly hate gate darters. I have this vivid memory of a horse that my friend was on darting into the barn from the arena and sliding right onto his side when he hit the slippery wood floor. That was over 20 years ago but certain things stick in your mind, and that stuck in mine. Still, that's not all of it. I just can't explain it. Green Arabian, normally a breed I'm wary of, no problem. OTTB, normally my comfort zone, I just wanted to get off.

I hear this from a lot of you though. You've had the same thing happen. Allegedly "easy" horses scare you, whereas you effortlessly deal with "difficult" ones. There are certain horses you'll fearlessly bomb around bareback on, and other horses you feel nervous walking around the round pen. Why? Why? Why? Wouldn't it be great if we could just figure it out?

When I was younger, I used to psych myself up to ride the really nutty greenies by visualizing that I was on one of our old school horses who was in a mood and needed to be sorted out. It worked really well. I've tried to do that now, and it works inconsistently. Some horses, I just want to get the hell off of. This drove me crazy at first, and now I've decided, eh, it's okay. I'm not training for a living or anything. It's fine if I don't want to ride something. I used to worry that - especially if I backed down and got off the ones that scared me - the fear would keep growing like some kind of fungus until it took over and I was afraid to ride everything but the 25 year olds, but that hasn't happened. I just can't make total sense of what has happened, and for a super logical, must-analyze-everything person like me, it annoys me.

Ah well, that's my SAFE show report amid lots of rambling. I lost my girth at the SAFE show and as a result of that and just lack of time, the VLC has been on vacation. I started longeing him again the past two days and I think I'm going to finally ride him again tomorrow. He's so easy to longe that if I wait til the end of the evening, that's all I do because I can almost fall asleep standing there holding the line. I need to make my own horse a priority again, instead of letting him wait until after I've ridden the horses I'm riding for other people!


Latigo Liz said...

Hmmm. One thought... Size matters. Bet Caspian was a heck of a lot smaller than that TB!

Latigo Liz said...

You have an award. :)

heartland harpy said...

I think what you're feeling is on a subconscious level. Just like some people or situations give you that feeling of DANGER-GET AWAY, so do some horses. All the personal security experts tell you to trust your instincts and I personally do the same with horses. If a horse makes me nervous, which is very rare and I ride a fair amount of strange horses, I trust my gut and go back to the beginning with ground work, round pen, indoor riding before going outside again...

Trust your gut.

McFawn said...

I hear you on this. Some horses, even when freaking out/spooking/acting up still have a feeling of solidness, whereas some horses who are acting calm give a sense of instability. I think its the horse's own comfort level/sanity level you're feeling. Some horses just have a confidence level/self-awareness that makes it seem like they know what they are doing when they freakout--they are mentally present. They might buck and bolt but not into a fence--they have a seld-preservation and purposefulness in their meltdowns. Some horses just lose it and don't seem to know what they're doing and where they are when upset--those are the scary ones.

A Bay Horse said...

When you said he almost ran over a pony, that kind of rang true for me. I used to feel comfortable on anything. But now as an adult, I don't feel comfortable on the ones that lose all common sense and endanger themselves and others when they are afraid/upset whatever. Like "Oh no! What's that, a barking dog? OMG, I better careen off the side of this cliff to get away!" Sure, being a pet keeps them sort of safe. But sometimes I wonder that if they were wild, natural selection would have their number!

Some horses though when they are upset, they still feel like you can reason with them. Like "Oh no, a barking dog! Well I'm going to hop around and sidle this way so that my human knows I'm upset. But I'll watch that I don't fall off that cliff by accident."

Smurfette said...

Definitly got to trust your gut. My gut level is what I call the "bag of snakes" feeling. If my ride feels like I am sitting on a bag of snakes, instead of your solid description of Caspian, I want down! Do we have a registered name on Prince Caspian yet? I am sooo jealous of the lady who did get to adopt him. That is one georgeous horse.

Pipkin said...

Well being prone to this myself, I think it has to do with instinct, but not instinct that THIS horse is too spooky or whatever, because a friend of mine has a lovely, calm well broke 4 year old paint that just scares the crap outta me. I don't know why, she's solid, never steps wrong, wins in the show ring, is a really solid trail horse, and I feel like I'm drowning when I ride her. I'm all breathless and panting when we're done. I just want off. So I never ride her if I can help it. My horse, on the other hand, is 5 and doesn't have as many miles, but I'm prefectly happy to schlepp along, even alone, never worrying about too much.

But you know, there's some people I don't like either, and I can't tell you why, they just rub me the wrong way. Some horses do too, maybe they smell funny, or there's somesubconscious chemical or posturing thing going on, but it's true for me too.

And it could be that if you're a little unsure on the ground and once you get up there, the horse is a lot worried cause you're worried, and you get more worried, and then the horse escaltes, and then it's all over.

fssunnysd said...

It's protective radar developed over time, and I think heartland harpy's right, a lot of it's unconscious. After being around horses for a while we learn to read their body language, just like they read ours.

And sometimes, even when we're projecting calm, there are horses that don't/can't/aren't ready to "listen." I'd bet that the OTTB didn't feel tuned in to what you were doing. Present only in body, maybe? Caspian probably felt willing to listen, even though he was worried.

I like mcfawn's description of mentally present. A listening horse will give you the benefit of the doubt. They may be resistant, but you can still have a conversation with them. A "deaf" horse will cart you with him when he bolts, and damn the consequences to your hide and often, his as well.

June Evers said...

Hay! Fugly so glad to see the blog and thank you for being so honest. I have to say I do not ride like I did at a 20 something. I ride like a granny...

I have friends who say "Oh come on over, I have a horse for you to ride!" Maybe because it's too far to trailer mine or we'll save gas by trailering from her farm and her horses...I say "No thank you!" These days I only want to ride my horse and I'm comfortable on him and can "predict" him a bit.

I won't say I trust my horse because as an old horseman once told me: When are the three times you trust a horse?

1. Never, 2. Never, 3. Never....

LuvMyTBs said...

Fear and anxiety can be a Motherf--ker and make even a good solid horse a mess.

Here is my own example:My 1/2TB Mohawk Point who is 9 yrs.old.I raised and started him myself before my last really bad fracture injury.He is a champ out cross country,goes anywhere,very calm.
Since my last injury I have very limited movement so when I get on a horse it is very difficult for me to get off quickly.I am now a very careful rider,way more then I ever was before.I thought I was still riding like I used to with confidence.Mohawk started hopping when going down hills and was very nervous and tense when bikes,or dogs would approach or pass us out on the trails.The hill thing got so bad I would get off and walk beside him,then get back on (which is really hard for me)and continue.
I thought he had a sore back,the saddle was pinching him,he needed chiro....Guess what IT WAS ME!!!!!

I found this out while riding with my old endurance/competitive trails buddy one day.We had not ridden together for almost 2 yrs.I had told her prior to the ride that I was having issues with Mohawk and she might need to help me remount.I explained all the stuff I thought was the problem to her and off we went.We get to the first slighty steep downhill and she is in front of me,we get about 1/3 of the way down and he starts the hopping thing.I get him stopped and am about to bail when she comes along side of me to hold
Mowhawk so I can get off and walk him down and she says...Holy shit let go of his head!!!Without knowing it on hills I had been tightening up on him and leaning back and basically pulling him under himself.What a light bulb moment and boy did I feel like a grade A ASSHOLE (not Asshat)!!Here my good safe boy was hopping and stopping because of what I was doing and I had no clue I was doing it to him because all I was WORRIED about was getting down the hills safely.We then continued the ride side by side so Pat could see what else was going on and what other stuff I might be doing.The downhills I actually dropped the reins so he had his head....and a miracle occurred....he went down straight and true and no hopping!!!
Dogs and bikes I was doing the same thing by trying to hold and control him which was only making him anticipate problems with them!!
Loosened reins and relaxed seat guess what he just cruised right past them NO Big Deal!!

Here is the really awful reality for me....I did this to my own horse...I was the problem not him!!
I now feel really bad for the almost 3 yrs.he has had to endure my stupidity out cross country.I can at least be glad and greatful we didn't get hurt because of my sense of being so freakin careful!!!I have had 2 other people ride him recently to see for myself if he had any of these problems with other riders and I'm embarrasssed to say he was his old pro cross country self.

I also have been riding my friends husband horse to keep him in work since her husband is ill and guess what I have had no issue with this horse because I have gotten my own head "adjusted" and am really enjoying him.

Sometimes you need to really listen to your inner voice or trust your gut about certain horses.But I am an example of someone who needed to trust my own horse.It was a very valuable lesson.

gillian said...

I have the same thing going on but I think I've found a pattern. Some horses misbehave for an obvious (or it feels obvious) reason. Furthermore some misbehaviors seem like they'll either be pretty predictable and/or I know what I want to do to fix them. Most OTTB misbehaviors must have been pretty familiar to you back in the day, you knew essentially why they were doing it and you knew it was going to stop if you did certain things. In that situation, you've got a plan, and a job, and you want to get 'er done, so to speak.

If its not clear what they're going to do, when and why, or what you'll want to do about it, then you're just sitting there hoping that you can just be so very centered, and so very fast and athletic that you can handle whatever surprise misbehavior comes your way. Its not fun, its not safe, and it doesn't feel all that necessary.

That's my theory anyway.

amarygma said...

Well, there OTTB running out the gate KNEW what you wanted and didn't care. He did not think "she want us to run out of the gate right now!" You saw that he was not accepting of your control on the situation and didn't trust you. His fear or issue was more important.

The Greenie hopped and sideways-ed, but still went down the hill. He was still fearful, but he was trying. He was trusting you through immense fear.

Scared horses that are trying are more fun to fix. You get to just tell them when they're being good and correct them when they're wrong, but you're more guiding than anything else.

Scared horses that won't try and won't care you seem to (I don't train but it seems like this is what's done)need to be re-taught respect. Sometimes it's done the NH way, sometimes they get a good whap with a whip and you say "I win, do it." Then you have to turn that into "See, when I win, you win" and rebuild trust.

All not things to be tried in an warm-up arena.

Linda said...

I can only equate this to an old adage about riding a motorcycle - if you feel uncomfortable for any reason about riding that day/place/time/group, don't do it. It's just that simple. Go with your gut, trust your instincts, and don't do it.

Padraigin_WA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
verylargecolt said...

Very good comments. I agree that Caspian immediately felt to me like he wanted my support - he felt like one of those horses who was going to be just fine if I closed my legs on him and gave him that "security blanket" of telling him exactly what to do. He wanted to trust me. Whereas the TB was definitely giving the F you, lady, I'm going back to the trailer NOW vibe.

Luvmytbs - Thanks for sharing that. I think we've all had that experience where someone else gets on the horse and has no problem and we go, WTF, what was I doing wrong? It's humbling but ultimately educational. I've learned a lot from watching better riders (or just different riders) on horses I've had trouble with.

bigpainthorse said...

Like everyone else here, I know precisely what you mean.

I bought my horse because she FELT solid and true when I test-rode her. She's huge, she's green, she's headstrong, but ultimately she wants to hear me and she's not given to freaking out or blowing off my directions (although sometimes we have to have a little reminder that Mom's Requests Are Not Negotiable).

Laura Crum said...

I have lots of fear issues now that I'm 51--I loved reading the first few posts on this blog when you pointed out that you didn't used to be afraid to ride the tough ones in your twenties, so why is it all about fear now? Well, that's me, too. I've trained (and broken) lots of horses in my life and now I'll only ride the broke ones. I've just given myself permission to do it--keep my body intact so I can raise my child. if you want advice (which you probably don't) I'd say go with your instincts at all times and only ride horses you are comfortable on. Oh, and since I know you all like stories of rescued horses that have happy endings, I've posted about two of these on the equestrianinkblogspot today. Here's to more such stories and less ignorance and indifference to suffering. And thank you, Cathy, for your work to achieve this.

Heidi the Hick said...

There is something to that fear -- intuition? Gut feeling? -- that I believe is good to pay attention to.

It could keep you from getting your head smashed in!

I'm not saying my old half-arab never scared me. He scared me good and I totally know that almost- missed- a- car-accident shaky knees feeling too. But, as we went through life, I'd ride him through some stupid looking eye rolling snorting episodes that had everyone else shaking with fear, for me. I just chalked it up to being familiar with him.

I had a chance to ride someone else's horse at a show too. I wanted the challenge, because I always wanted to see what she could do. Her rider was very timid and never let her head go. As soon as I got on and squeezed her sides, she flung her head up in the air, then crowhopped real bad, and threw a mild hissy fit. I rode her at a jerky walk across the field and then I was done. I was kind of unnerved. I think she was so used to being kicked to go and then having the bit pulled up in her mouth right away that she couldn't deal with this loose reins stuff I was doing. Who knows how long it'd take her to relax? I gave her back.

I refused to feel silly for not riding this old horse who never once bucked off her rider. Nothing bad happened after to make me think I did the right thing to get off her back, but I just figured it wasn't worth it.

And I think you did the right thing too, to go with what your feelings told you. Maybe nothing bad would have happened either but why find out?

Shadow Rider said...

I know exactly how you feel! I went riding recently with a friend and as it was dusk when we got to the woods, my horse Shadow was spooking every other step. One particularly good spook had us both a foot up in the air and jumping to the other side of the trail. My friend exclaimed "I can't believe you stayed on through that!" I said "Through what?" I wasn't even paying attention. I know my horse considers dark woods the equivalent of a haunted house at Halloween, She jumps, she snorts, but she still listens and is THERE with me.

Same with the drafts I have ridden. I have gotten the occasional argument, a buck or crowhop, the tree root feet, but I always had a solid connection to 'discuss' this with.

This summer I had someone come out to look at a TB I had for sale. This horse is a total sweetheart, beginner safe, bombproof, etc. I have had him for a year. I got on his back first, rode him once around the paddock, and couldn't get off fast enough. You couldn't pay me enough to get back on him.

All I know is that when I was on him, squirrely is the perfect word to describe how he felt. He is now owned, loved and ridden by an 11 year old beginner girl. So what was up with that??

Ana said...

I'm still young enough to not be getting the 'DOWNDOWNDOWN' thing, but I can definately tell you which horses I feel comfortable on and which I don't. Like, with Duke, one of the horses I get to school a bit for lessons, I'm still perfectly happy riding him even though he's grumpy, lazy, bolts, falls onto the forehand, has to stop to eat everything he sees, etc., but don't like to get on one of my other horses, who's only real issue is steering and that he's very fond of going sideways.

Adventures Of A Horse Crazed Mind said...

I totally agree and dont get it either. What I find funny is that a horse doesnt even have to do anything wrong for me to not want to be on it! Just the way that they "feel" is scary. And then another horse can do everything wrong and act like a nut bar but for some reason it just is not scary. They just "feel" right. Personally, I think it is our survival instinct and I always listen to it!

la mexicana said...

It seems that some horses just don't get along with some people. I read a book once that was written by a woman who says horses talk to her. "The horses told her" that they choose the people they like depending on their scent. Maybe the 11 year old girl just smells right.

When I was a kid we used to board at a place with about 15 horses in one pasture. There was an old QH named Buck that would charge and bite people. He did this to everyone but me. Who knows why...he would walk right up to me looking for petting, but bite the person behind me.

On the other hand, there was a nice, friendly filly in the same field. She never caused a problem until she saw me. She would run at me and try to kick me every chance she got. I couldn't go out into the field with out a whip to protect myself.

SammieRockes said...

For me, it was, I don't care about the horses past, if my dad told me i'd be alright, or the horse would be fine, I would get on anything. I got on a TB, never made it to the track because:

1-So much potential, but he put it into getting the exercise riders off his back, broke a guys collar bone, made the other cry, both of them quit riding after Brillo.

2-He kicked something and injured himself, something in teh back leg, sound to ride but occasionally on the canter he would hold his leg up for a few strides.

I wanted a Palomino(I was a kid, color matters to kids!) MY dad told me a buckskin was as good so I rode this horse in the mountains, 6 miles up rocky terrain, and fell in love. this horse was the sweetest thing to me, no kicking or biting, easy to lead, he would follow me like a puppy. I could trow anyone on him, and I would they would hop on him bareback, bridleless, and he would just stand there unless I asked him to move. Amazing. But I put to much good work into him, he was techniquelly my uncles horse, and my uncle decided to give him to his grandson. I miss that horse like crazy. But i love my BBG.

SammieRockes said...

For me, it was, I don't care about the horses past, if my dad told me i'd be alright, or the horse would be fine, I would get on anything. I got on a TB, never made it to the track because:

1-So much potential, but he put it into getting the exercise riders off his back, broke a guys collar bone, made the other cry, both of them quit riding after Brillo.

2-He kicked something and injured himself, something in teh back leg, sound to ride but occasionally on the canter he would hold his leg up for a few strides.

I wanted a Palomino(I was a kid, color matters to kids!) MY dad told me a buckskin was as good so I rode this horse in the mountains, 6 miles up rocky terrain, and fell in love. this horse was the sweetest thing to me, no kicking or biting, easy to lead, he would follow me like a puppy. I could trow anyone on him, and I would they would hop on him bareback, bridleless, and he would just stand there unless I asked him to move. Amazing. But I put to much good work into him, he was techniquelly my uncles horse, and my uncle decided to give him to his grandson. I miss that horse like crazy. But i love my BBG.

FD said...

I think mcfawn and funnsyd nailed it - at least as far as I'm concerned - I won't get on or stay on a horse these days unless it's mentally present.

For me it's rearers. They scare the bejezus out of me.

I first learned to dislike rearers when I was 13 - I was present when an older friend's horse went over on her, on a concrete walkway. Both of them died.
However, right up until my mid twenties I was OK, if very cautious with rearers, didn't really see 'em as any more dangerous than any other form of evasion.

Then we had a hose come in from a dealer, out of a string of 35 or so, purportedly a kids horse. She was one of the last few that we'd tried out, having taken a while to settle. The whole time I worked with her, although she did as she was asked, stood when reprimanded, groomed OK, picked feet up, tacked up fine, and lunged OK, I had this nagging feeling like she was on auto pilot. She was a nice looking horse, by far the best of the bunch and clearly had had a few hours put on her - most of the others were very clearly trail broke only.
So, I ignored my doubts and I took her out, got on her and walked her round in the arena, and dammned if despite responding to cues properly, she didn't feel more like a sofa under me than a horse.

We'd gotten as far as trot / canter circles and she'd dropped behind the leg a few times, enough for me to suspect she'd be nappy when more confident, or out on the trail maybe. Despite still not getting much of a feel for her I was beginning to think I was being stupid over nothing, when without warning, she dropped anchor and went up - right up - lost her balance and went over backwards. I threw myself sideways when I realised she'd gone past the point of no return and by great good fortune she wobbled sideways as well as she fell. She rolled over my calf, and I took a bang to the head, but I count myself lucky.

I got up, caught her and took her back to the barn. I've never in my life done that before - not gotten back on a horse after a fall, unless I was seriously injured, but that time I wasn't having any of it. She went back to the dealer.
Kids horse? I think not.

Taught me a valuable lesson - I'd ridden "not there" horses before, and never had anything come of it, but I'll never do so again.

Sagebrusheq said...

Musta been what Cole Porter had in mind:

"...Won't you tell me, dear,
Why, when you appear,
something happens to me
and the strangest feeling
goes through me?
You do something to me,
something that simply mystifies me.
Tell me, why should it be
you have the power to hypnotize me?
Let me live 'neath your spell,
Do do that voodoo
that you do so well.
For you do something to me
that nobody else could do! ..."

worldshowbound said...

For me, it's when I know exactly how crazy a horse will get. Spook sideways? No problem. Spin and take off running? Hate that. Stop and stand there with head flung in the air, tail flipped over, snorting? Not crazy about that either as they usually tends to lead to the second one mentioned. I ride one gelding that will spook at everything, but all he does is scoot sideways. I'll ride him happily all day long because I know this is all he will do. Until I can figure out what's the worst they will do, I pretty much am taking deep breaths the whole time. LOL

robyn said...

You followed your gut feelings. I'm a big believer that we all have an early warning system. It all depends on how well you pay attention to it.

I rarely ride other peoples' horses anymore. Just too comfortable on my own horses I guess, even the greenie. I'd rather ride him than someone else's horse that I don't know at all.

BarnHag said...

A few summers ago (before I had my own horses) I ended up with a greatgreatgreat grandson of Secretariat named Mountain Brigade (sire was Storm Cat). Poor gelding was a 4 year old and had chipped a knee - he got traded to a guy I know in exchange for a saddle. I threw him in my pasture to fatten him up a bit.

I groomed him and he'd follow me around. One day, I had him haltered and decided I'd get on him bareback - I didn't own any tack whatsoever at the time except the halter. No problem! He was a prince. So I borrowed a saddle and a bridle (without a throatlatch) and started riding him in the canyons near my house. Fresh from the track he'd never seen anything like irrigation pipe (had to lead him over it the first time) or deer exploding out of the brush - or a canyon trail for that matter. I was never afraid and I hadn't been on a horse in 20 years but grew up on a ranch in Wyoming.

Fast forward to the following summer when I had a dead broke ranch horse 'mowing' the same pasture. I got on him and nearly choked on the fear! He felt like a coiled spring ready to blow at any moment.

My cowboy neighbors never let me live that down. And I have NO explanation.

[Actually, the TB did scare me once. I decided to 'open him up' on a dirt farm road. Lordy - could he run! Should have kept him....]

Shano said...

Girlfriend. It's called intuition and self-preservation. I remember one horse that I tried out when I was out to purchase a horse. He was a super calm 14 year old paint. Drop dead gorgeous. AND HE JUST GAVE ME THE CREEPS. He had this expression that was almost human-like. I could tell he was smarter than the average horse, and I knew that HE knew when my weakness would come- when he could catch me off-guard. I told the owner this, and she said, "Huh. Some other gal said the same thing." Trust your gut. Can't hurt.

When I first saw Rusty, I was like yeah. He's alright. Cute but didn't show a whole lot of personality. (He was shy and on his best behavior even though his tootsies hurt from being trimmed.) But the whole drive home I couldn't stop thinking about him. I just knew he would be a perfect fit, and I haven't had any regrets since. Rusty, like any shy person, once you get to know them, their true colors shine. Rusty glows.

Plus, OTTB's have mental issues that can spring and spew forth any time . . . Of course so can Ay-rabs. I still think you are hella brave for riding Caspian! But then I just knew about my Ay-rab, Felix. Don't beat yourself up over not riding a horse your gut tells you is a psychopath.

ChipnCharlie said...

I'm a 17 year old who goes through all these fear issues you have posted about. Probably because I've had too many bad riding accidents at such a young age, and maybe I'll mellow out and be fearless later on in life. My current horse I have a mixed relationship with. Most of the time I am totally calm and happy on him, and then there are times where I do not want to be on him at all. I've dealt with his acting up and spooking with a bit of anxiety (who can honestly say they don't get a slice of panic when their horse acts up?) and other times I've dismounted because it didn't feel right and I needed to get off. He sends out different vibes so it's hard to say I can completely trust him. I determine that fact when I'm on him.
My moms Paint horse is a horse I absolutely refuse to ride. Once you get on him, he does what he wants, pays no attention to the fact you're on him, and has that "squirrely" feel to him because he'll do whatever it takes to get you off so he can stop working. I get nervous when I'm on my horse around other horses, but it's not because of my horse. I get the vibe from the other horse they are just looking to upset my horse, perhaps biting him, or kicking, or however. I don't get that vibe from my friends older gelding that gets along great with my gelding, though. So I know what you mean about feeling how they are. I'm hoping in the years to come that I can eventually be the confident rider who can ride anything without fear, like I should be now at my age. :)

LuvMyTBs said...

From my own experiences I definately believe that if you are tense,nervous,fearful when you ride that you send those vibes directly through the saddle into the horse.

Unlike my cross country misadventures with Mohawk I have not had any problems riding his 1/2 brother.I totally trust Junior to take care of me and I guess that is the message I send while riding him.There is no fear or worry from me when I ride him.My friends have even commented on the look of delirium on my face(big smile!!).

I also notice that when I am schooling or training I don't have the same feelings about getting hurt or worrying about it.Maybe because I am so comfortable in that arena or ring and I have my focus on the work we are doing.

I think everyone should have respect for the risks involved in riding but not let it overpower their abilities.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Shano - Now, your Rusty was a horse that I immediately felt fine on. I would have taken him down the trail the first ride. He just felt solid, and I know he has proven to be solid. Those first impressions really are on target most of the time.

Heather said...

My big fear is bolting. As a teenager I was fearless - I'd get on anything, and I'd rarely come off. I started riding at the age of 8, and took 2 lessons a week for years, spent entire summers at riding camps, going to shows on weekends.

At the age of 18, I decided to buy my first 'project' - a 14.1hh, 3 year old green broke Arab/QH/TB gelding. Really sweet boy, laid back, but had a rebellious side to him as well.

When I first brought him home we spent some time letting him settle into life in the suburbs after being raised in the middle of no where. Lots of lunging and ground driving. He's already been ridden, so I wasn't worried about getting on him.

We started slowly (he was still a drunk greenie - unable to walk in a straight line LOL), and our lessons were going really well. He was super smart and really laid back.

And then my coach left. Coach #2 had a few lessons, and they also went well. Coach #2 decided it was time pony started learning how to canter with a rider, but didn't think I was up for it - I trusted her experienced opinion, and she recommended a friend of hers for the job. A couple of weeks pass, and I don't hear anything back, so I leave a note in my tack locker as well as the voicemail messages for her to call me before she rides next.

Coach #2 calls in sick, Coach #3 replaces her.

I go into my lesson like normal, and pony was perfect. Relaxed, balanced, listened beautifully. And as I always did with him, gave him a long rein to cool out. Get halfway around the arena, and he takes off. And I mean fast. My reins are too essentially gone, and my brain went blank - it was my first time on an out-of-control bolter.

I ask Coach #3 what to do (thinking she'd say pulley rein, circle, etc - something to slow or stop him), and I'm still securely seated, and she says, very helpfully "sit back, you are going to fall". Well thank you very much, that is just what I did. And I got trampled. Was out of commission for over 3 weeks with a knee the size of a watermelon.

To this day if a horse gets quick on me, I instinctively stiffen up and brace my knees. I'm constantly having to talk myself through things, and I don't have the guts I used to have. I've promised myself once I'm back in riding shape, I'm going to find an OTTB or a problem child and work through it.

moi123 said...

I'm pretty fearless on a horse and will ride just about anything. I ride my 3yo green as grass Arab colt (not gelded, but will be this fall sometime) bareback in a nylon halter with some reins attached to it. I've only had him since Easter and before that he was largely unhandled. He's extremely easy to work with and smart as anything. I've never had a sense that he'd try to hurt me or try to dump me. Even when he spooks, he still keeps his brains and its more of a startle, hop to the side then freeze to check the scary thing out.

I really didn't go all that slowly with getting on his back. It was one of those 'what happens if I...' things. He didn't care when I jumped next to him. He didn't care when I stood on the mounting block. He didn't care when I leaned down and put some weight on him with my hands, etc. So it just kept going until I was sitting up with my fiance leading him a few steps. The next day I got on him by myself and he's been broke-ish since. Our rides are very limited in duration and frequency because he's young and needs to develop, but he really doesn't care that I'm on him. We have the occasional 3yo colt-fit when he wants to go *here* and I want to go *there*, but that's it really.

There have been supposedly well broke horses that I've gotten on and something just screams, "GET THE HELL OFF NOW" even though they seem perfectly sane/calm/trained. Not listening has equaled broken ribs on two different occasions and a concussion on a third. Now I listen.

I don't think its a question of being afraid. I'll do just about anything on horseback - polo is my favorite thing to do. You can't exactly do that with any real success and be fearful. I have no fear getting on strange horses and hitting the trails or playing polo or whatever. Its just *occasionally* I get that GET THE HELL OFF NOW feeling and every time its ended in an injury when I didn't listen.

Anonymous said...

Dude what is up with your boots? This is the second picture I have seen with you wearing them. Are they not yours? Do you realize they look like they go over your knees? Is this a new style I am not aware of?

June Evers said...

I get such a kick out of young people saying "Dude."

I had an intern over the summer who called me "Dude!" Arh, arh!\

And Dude, what is up with those boots?

verylargecolt said...


The boots were NOT mine. The paddock part was borrowed from my friend's 12 year old and the legging part was borrowed, I believe, from my friend's 15 year old - who is, like, 5'9.

I bought some field boots on ebay but they need to be cut down as they are even taller on me. I am a 5'3 midget.

And my 35+ friend got ME saying "Dude" too so I do it now also...LOL!

Shano said...

Oh yeah, I immediately felt fine on Rusty too. But I still made Jaime canter him under saddle first!! LOL

mugwump said...

I have developed a cardinal rule in the last few years. If somebody says, "Do you want to ride him?",and it's a horse I haven't been on before, I want to see someone else ride him first.
I have been set up by too many people, either because they had too much confidence in my ability, or by actual meanness, and a sense of "Let's see how she copes with this."
It has saved my butt a few times.

CutNJump said...

Sometimes it is just something you can't see. Like when you walk into a room where others have been arguing and you can just feel the tension, crackling and popping in the air...

Or when you meet someone that you feel you have 'known' before or all your life.

I am the opposite somehow. The Arab freaks me out because she stops while the TB has brakes when She feels like it. The Arab was started by us, the TB was not. By all means it should be the other way around for me, but not so.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I am 25, but I would never say dude to my boss...just on blog comments :)

mugwump said...

Fugs says-"I need to make my own horse a priority again, instead of letting him wait until after I've ridden the horses I'm riding for other people!"

The Big K helped me with that one. I put my horses in my training line up, just as if I was getting paid to ride them. I would start with horse A and work through to horse M and give mine the same priority as the others. If I only rode through to horse G, I would start with H the next day.
I also grouped them. Broke horses, greenies, semi- greenies, etc. That way I could organize my equipment to fit each group.

Lena said...

For some reason, the bigger the horse, the safer I feel.

Put me on a 14.2hh cob and I'm constantly expecting to be bucked off, no matter how placid the beast looks.

But a 17hh neurotic TB? No probs!