Apr 13, 2009

Fear's Ugly Head

I’m stuck. Although I've never said I had the perfect horse, we’ve grown together as as a team the last few years. I was comfortable and confident and we had some remarkable rides. And now with ride season taking off, I am finding new challenges in her attitude that have me puzzled. The last two rides, my mare was lazy and unwilling, moody and a bit unpredictable – displaying some undesirable attitude I haven’t seen for years. Her teeth were done in November and I treated her for an abscess during that same time. Otherwise, there have been no health or lameness issues that I could contribute to this attitude problem.

Although I saw some glimpses of this earlier this season, I wrote it off to riding less during the winter and needing to get our groove back. And while I think the right person can bring her back from the dark side – and that person should be me – some of my fear issues have surfaced that have been lying semi-dormant for some time. Fear can be your friend when it is reasonable. It can be your downfall when it isn’t. I don’t know how to classify it right now. I just know that I need to be the strong one and I’m turning to mush.

The weather has not cooperated enough for any consistent riding. Where there may be one good day to ride, the next day its raining or snowing or windy or cold or all of the above. So I end the ride frustrated and can do nothing about it except obsess over it for the next few days. Literally drive my friends nuts with over analyzing the situation. Torn between having John ride the hell out of her or giving it all up and doing needle point. (Highly unlikely, but sounds safe!) I just hate being in this funk! Being stuck!


  1. Heeey, now, needlepoint's a lot of fun. It's my wintertime hobby - long nights, too cold and icky many days to want to ride anyway.

    But yeah. I know exactly what you're talking about. Wish I had an easy fix for you!

  2. I hear you!! I have had the same riding companion for several years now- & starting new with Bling, I'm surpised at how nervious I seem to be! I can remember many times hoping on any ole thing- without fear... But seeing different things, hearing the stories... I've just become more cautious... nerve wracking!! It helps to have consistant riding time & another person to ride with... Try to enjoy yourself, be safe!

  3. I'm the same way...overanalyze everything! I have the same mild fear issues. Last spring, my horse seemed a little crowhoppy at the lope, on the longe line, and under saddle. I have never really gotten back into the swing of loping since I started riding again 2 yrs. ago. So I really freaked out (which doesn't help matters much.) Turns out the saddle pad I'd gotten from my mom was causing the saddle to sit up and hit his back weird, once I switched that out, he was back to normal. But I still have an issue with loping. Mostly because the arena is small, the footing isn't great, and I feel like he's going fast. It is my goal to work through it this spring. I might have a trainer put a couple of rides on him, just to get the winter kinks out. Like you, haven't ridden much due to weather (we don't have a covered arena so the footing gets muddy and slippery.)
    Could your mare be hormonal, in season? That could cause some attitude issues. I know mares that are awful when they are in season, others, you can never tell.
    Here is a link to Chelsi, a blogger I like, she wrote about her fear of horses, and has several follow-up posts with her 7-steps about how to overcome it. Not sure if you've seen it:


    Hang in there, take deep breaths, and keep us posted!

  4. Thanks, Pony Girl, for referring Chelsi's blog to me. As much as I hate seeing anyone afraid, it's nice to know you aren't alone and I'll be interested to see how she worked thru it. Interestingly, one of the reasons she was at the trainer was to work on her lope. On the trail or road, I can get her in a nice lope and feel really safe. But in the arena, she crowhops and won't keep a steady gait. I think if you have a trainer help you thru it and get comfortable in the fact that he won't crowhop or that you can pull him up if he does, you'll find that gear again. Its my favorite gait, but also the one that I found takes the most confidence to ask for.

    Funder - I've never needlepointed, but I did crochet at one time! My mom used to make beautiful things, but I just didn't have the gene for it!

    Christine - I read your blog and see you and Bling out and about & wouldn't have thought you nervous! You look so relaxed.

    Well, good news, girls. I did go home tonight & ride. I decided I can be as belligerent as she can. Slipped my spurs on when I went out. Haven't worn them in years, but this refusing to go forward and backing has got to stop. It is a precursor to rearing which I felt we had nipped in the bud several years ago.

    After leaving the driveway, she dropped her head to eat grass. I squeezed to move her along. She shifted but continued to ignore me. I bumped her with my feet & still ignored and trying to get grass. I touched her with my spur - just a touch - and she knew I meant business.

    Although we were heading out, I felt she was still tense & that I didn't have her undivided attention. We stayed in the cornfield - still damp from the rains - and she had to work a little harder plowing thru it. When I felt she was finally listening to me, I took her out to the pasture, we rested & I let her graze. By the end of the hour, I felt a lot better. She was relaxed & on a loose rein and listening to me. I certainly wasn't ready to ask for a lope, but we did do a short span of trotting.

    I think some of it is hormonal. She was stalled near my trainer's stallion. She has been in work mode while at the trainer, too. I just have to keep reminding myself to relax. We'll get thru it.

    Thanks again for all your thoughts. You'll hear more about this as I work thru these crazy days!

  5. Oh yay, so glad you're working through it so easily! :fingers crossed!

  6. My heart was in my throat the whole time! LOL!

  7. Living it, my friend! lol!

    Especially the over-analyzing it part.
    My mare's only been ridden twice in 4 months. She's going to be a brat when I first get back on...and I'm just not canpable to deal with that.
    I've been thinking a lot about getting a more broke, les moody and tempermental horse just for me to ride until I get my strength and confidance back to deal with her 'issues'.

    Hang in there and stay safe,


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