I think I'm at the point of giving up riding. My 24 year old horse has problems now. I do have two younger wonderful horses but they don't have his experience and I just don't feel at ease on them yet. When I try to ride them the only thing on my mind is them spooking or running away with me. I am completely fixated on hitting the ground. I just don't understand, I have rode all my life. I've always rode bareback around home to keep up my balance. The strange thing is, if a person has a gentle horse, I will ride theirs and not be as afraid. I'm 43 and have had one bad accident and it was all my fault. (I could have prevented it.) What's going on with me?
Please give me a call this evening: 931-840-6107. At your age you could be in para-menopause and believe me hormones can cause this kind of thing. I am 59 and though I am much more careful I ride! And plan to do so as long as I can crawl onto my horse. Don't give up on what you love. Let's find a way for you to work through this. I have a friend who is 83 and still riding. My Granddad rode at 88.
Get Clinton Anderson's dvd or watch a demo on youtube about the one rein stop. Start teaching the this exersie at the walk and progress to the trot and canter. You will have to start out with the flexing exercise. It's all about you maintaining control of your horse's feet. Get on the natural horseman possee here on this site, they have lots of tips.
You might consider taking some horsemanship/trail classes with one of your horses that is still young enough to ride. Josh Guin, who is a member of this site, has group classes for general horsemanship (I think that one lasts 12 weeks) and also trail classes. You could work together with your horse to build your confidence and his experience. Josh and his wife have a new place with a trail obstacle course and he isn't too far away from you. I would definitely try something like this first, before giving up riding. If you find you can't conquer your fear after doing the classes...at least you tried. I took lessons for about a year after not riding since my teens. I was older than you and I was so afraid of the ground! I haven't ever had a real bad fall, but I have come off 4 times, the first I actually laughed as I laid on the ground because I realized I could come off and be ok! The last time I messed up my ribs bad enough to not ride for 2 months...that fall was harder to get over (horse was taller!) and I did have some fear issues to get through. I still have some apprehension, but I do everything I can to make sure I am safe (lunging before I ride, when possible, never ride alone, wear a helmet, check all my tack) and then, I say a prayer for myself and everyone in my group and leave it up to God. Good luck girl, I sincerely hope you can work through this. Do you have friends you ride with? It helps a lot to ride with others. Horses feel safer in groups and usually are calmer and feel safer, so less likely to spook. You are welcome to come ride with me and my posse, we ride at Why Not a lot and it isn't real far from Columbia.
Most of the trails are very easy, they do have a few places that have fairly steep hills, but you don't have to go on them if your horse couldn't handle it. Or you could come from a different direction and go down the hill instead of up. There is also a mini obstacle course at the campground to play around with.
While you are working through the fear, you should work with whichever younger horse you have that you would like to ride eventually...that way when your older horse just cant do it anymore, you will already have one ready to ride. I really like Clinton Anderson's lunging for respect cd's. Horse's feel more secure when they know who is the leader. Of course, that leader has to be you. It also will build your confidence if you can make a horse do what you want it to, even if you're on the ground. Also teach it the one rein stop. I taught my mare that (on the ground first, then under saddle). I can't tell you how much it helped me to reduce my fear to a managable level when I knew that I could stop her from running or bucking by pulling her head around to my knee. Julie Goodnight is also a good trainer who has shows on the RFD channel (it's on Direct TV but not Dish Network) I don't know if cable has it or not. Her show deals with real people and their horses and the problems they are trying to work through. I have seen shows on everything from trailer loading to being barn sour to bucking...and rider fear...a wide range of issues. Do you know how to teach a horse the one rein stop? If you don't I can come and show you one day if you are interested. Hang in there girl, it isn't time to give up yet!
This sounds like something similar to what I went through. We have always had many horses, but I used to find myself getting accustomed to ridding just a couple of them until the past few years. I push myself to ride as many of them as I can now. Often my husband laughs at me about an old mare that I had. About 15 years ago he bought me a mare from East Tn, he was so proud, and I had no idea he was even buying me a horse. I had been injured a few times and had just about given up on riding, and at that time I was about 26 years old, and he knew we had a long life ahead of us to ride. So he pulls up in the driveway one afternoon with the horse trailer and to my surprise there in the back was a horse. He opened the back and out came this old, solid black, sway back horse, and what I called an UGLY horse. He was so proud and said, "I bought a horse for you that I think you can ride, and you will not be afraid anymore", and I laughed and said, "that is the uglyist horse I have ever seen, and there was no way I would be caught on that horse". He said, "just get on her and take her down the driveway and see what you think". I took a deep breath and said ok... I got on her, and that was it.... She was an absolute dream to ride, we bonded from that time on. What is so funny, is that, over the years this mare got so many compliments from old timers that knew horses. One man said to me one time, "that is a good looking mare you have" and I said, "that is the ugliest sway back horse I have ever seen", and he kindly said, "she is not sway back, she just has high withers", and we laughed. The statement he made put a different perspective on things, because everyone has another way of looking at things. The draw back for this situation was, she was the ONLY horse I rode for years. She was much older than we thought and became sick and died. When she died I was devistated and I thought, that was it!!! There was no way I could ride another horse, my comfort was gone. But the beauty of riding, and my bull headedness would not let me give up. I started ground working some of our horses and getting more comfortable with them, learning their personality. We know as we age, we hit the ground harder and it takes longer to repair. I have learned a few tricks that help me- Flex, flex, flex the horse, bending at the poll, and when in an uncomfortable situation I do a one rein stop (flex the horses head), because the horse just goes in circles. I find comfort in knowing the personality of the horse I am riding, and their habits. That is just a few of my thoughts and I hope they help you. Work with your horses at home and gain some trust and comfort. I hope all goes well for you, and never give up....
I agree with you Rhonda. Working with the horse and having control on the ground as well as learning the horse's personality helps a great deal. The flip side of that is...if you work with them consistantly, they will learn your personality and become comfortable with you and look to you to be their leader. Eventually you will have a working partnership with the horse...you know what to expect from him, he knows what to expect from you. Confidence grows!
Yep, knowing how to train for safety is a great big confidence builder. Clint anderson and Marv Walker are the best two I know of. Marv is cheaper but not as well organized and not quite as people pleasing personality.
And the training is quite enjoyable itself. If we do it right we can have a young horse so good they won't scare if a helicopter landed beside them, (that happened with a riding group and the only horse that didn't run off was trained by such methods) We can teach them to look to us for security when something scary happens rather than resort to flight. I'm 44 myself and not quite as limber or confident as I once was, but I intend to ride till I'm 150 years old, but when I hit 130 I'll reset my goal to 200. And, um, I think I have a perty good idea how to make it that far too. I'm beginning to persue the process. There are a very few people who have lived way past 100 in the last couple hunderd years, they have something in commen.
Two that I know of; one lived to 152 in europe and the other to 132 in the US, the one who lived to 152 died when his diet changed, the one who lived to 132 died of a horse riding accedent. They both might have lived much longer if they'd been more careful.
Hey Rueben, I use Clinton's methods right now, but before I got back into messing with horses I did a fair amount of research on different trainers and their methods. I don't think I have ever heard of Marv Walker...I will google him and see what I can find out.
Hi Sorry to hear about your issues. I think people focus to much on the unpredictiability of young horses. If your a really experienced rider then young horses will often work out, unless their just way to high strung. I would really suggest you start small. Ride in a round pen. Ride when someone is with you. When you go from an aged companion to something different there is always fear of the unknown. You just get that comfort level with your aged horse that will take years to build with a newer or younger horse. Do consider a couple of lessons either for you or horse or for you both together.
Start small and build on each successful ride. Best of luck and I know you will do it.