Horse & Rider Insacurities
Question of the day: my horse is refusing to go through obstacles she used to like and had no problem with- she rears and bucks as a result. All of this causes me to feel insecure and doubt my riding, and even when attempts to try I stop her because I am afraid now.
What exercises can I do to build my confidence back and make the horse cooperative and calm again?
A lot of time the rider's insecurities and hesitations will reflect directly on the horse's performance. Even when the horse has already grown out of the problem and gained confidence with a certain situation, the rider is still holding on to the fear of what might happen and causing the horse to stop or feel anxious- and by that causing a reason for the horse to no go through an obstacle.
It is very likely to happen with riders that experienced an accident, fallen off recently or are not sure of their riding. I have recently had a conversation leading to also think it is common with riders who start at an older age (not kids) and are more aware of the risks and consequences. Can also be a reflection of the relationship between a rider and their instructor.
· In that specific case- I know both the horse and rider and have trained them for a year. And I am aware of the huge difference between my method and the new trainer's method- which can cause confusion with some horses and riders, though, I can also say that the horse in question was never the one to buck, rear and refuse so bluntly- and have been showing for a while with no problem.
In order to answer the question, I need to separate the horse and rider, though in the end you will see how it all goes together.
when in a situation that causes us stress or facing an obstacle we fear/ hesitate to go through- we need to stop, and figure the source of the fear/ hesitation/ insecurity.
1. Horse change- a lot of riders, mostly young ones, get used to riding a specific horse, and when they need to switch horses they get extremely uncomfortable. You might know it if your driving- and it takes a few minutes to get used to a car you don't know.
In that case- my best advice is to start slow and gradually get to know the horse and build confidence and comfort.
2. Fear from obstacle- might occur due to lack of practice or introduction to a new obstacle/ difficult level.
Can also be common with new ropers- the first couple of times there is a little bit (or a lot) of hesitation regarding the dally- don't want to lose a finger. LOL
For all of those the solution is pretty much the same= practice.
The more we do something the better we get at it, and we feel more comfortable.
With that said there is another form of obstacle fear- and that is a very common one but harder to overcome- 'what if?' fear.
Will happen to people that have been through an accident (even a minor one) or are highly aware of the risks.
In that case, it is up to us, instructors to help build confidence and pick a horse that is 'easier' to operate first couple of times' Why?
Because we want to create a positive experience, by that we can increase motivation of trying again- and slowly progress towards the practice phase.
Everyone has a 'what if?', whether it is right before a show, or trying new things- the challenge is to find you way to feel safe and confident without giving up on your goals.
Sometimes horses will do everything just the way we expect, and sometimes they will have their own take on things. It is up to us to create positive experiences and learning environment for them, without giving up on boundaries.
Often when a horse refuses to follow your orders the answer is not necessarily the horse being stubborn- there might be a physical discomfort, fear, lack of understanding- a lot of times riders try to tell the horse to do something without realizing they are asking for total different thing, living the horse confused.
1. Decompose the problem- for example, when trying out a new obstacle; first of all, try it from the ground. That way you can build to it.
If you encounter a rough-spot with your horse, try to separate the elements the obstacle is made of. For example; water pass- elements included:
Forward motion- water- crossing a foreign object- ground obstacle.
You can have a problem with just one of the components and it will affect the whole obstacle.
Many horses are okay with water when it is in the wash rack, puddle in pasture etc. but walking in a plastic pool that makes weird noises- that a whole different thing. So, we need to solve the 'crossing foreign objects' problem first.
2. The horse is not lazy/ unresponsive- the horse preserves energy for times of need. If your horse doesn’t feel the task is as important as his ideas, you will have a very small chance of making it happen.
3. Positive experience- we are back here!
Some horses do as you say, and still get corrected and kicked every time- causing them to avoid doing certain things. We need to keep in mind that we want our horse to not just move away from pressure, but actually have an understanding of relaxation- if we apply pressure there has to be a release.
4. Changes- a lot of time a new environment, obstacle position and even color will affect the horse's response- try to be as creative, and involve as many changes as you can, while keeping the connection with your horse the stable, secure place.
Changes don't mean move to a different facility every week, it is mixing trail rides with arena rides. Working both from ground and riding, if you have more than one arena- great! Can you go ride in a friend's arena, also great!
Remember, the horse is doing his best with the information you provide.
Keep an open mind and creativity, don't blame the horse for everything, it will surprise you how many times the reason will be something else.
This is it for today!
Let me know what you think!
Have a question? Feel free to contact me!