Confidence Crisis - new horse, new yard feeling a bit useless.

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Hi All,

Long time Lurker of these forums here. I'm having some problems at the moment and I don't really have anyone I know well enough to ask for help.
I lost my horse a year ago and had taken a break from horses until recently as the loss of my mare hit me quite hard and it's been tough to move on but I recently got a new horse.

I tried her quite a few times before going forward and she was always very sweet and excellent to hack out.

I moved house just before getting her so I'm not familiar with the area but I've found a lovely yard but obviously, I don't know anyone very well, although they are all very nice.

She is very sweet on the ground, very respectful and really quiet and settled in general but I feel really nervous about riding her. I don't know why, I was fine and she was fine when I tried her, we had no problems at all.
I tried to go out with some people on my yard for the first time today, I was a bit nervous but thought I was OK, but as soon as I tacked her up she became really agitated and was throwing her head around. I mounted and she felt really tense and was breathing really heavily. I tried to sit calmly and reassure her but she wasn't calming down and felt like a coiled spring so I decided not to take her out. I totally chickened out! As soon as I took her bridle off she sighed and went to sleep!
I feel ridiculous. I really thought I was ready for another horse and I've really missed it but my confidence is just gone.

I thought I'd ride her in the school tomorrow and see how it goes but in the back of my mind I just keep thinking something is going to happen - I have no idea why - and it's making me really nervous.

Sorry for the essay, I didn't think it would be this long!
Any advice, gratefully received. Thanks
 

casspow

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Don't feel useless! But my one bit of advice would be if you do ride in the school tomorrow ask someone if they will just keep a watchful eye. I NEVER ride without someone being at the yard "just incase" Hopefully you'll crack your confidence soon in the menage and enjoy your hacks out together V soon! Hopefully a quiet person with a quiet pony could take you out on a hack for the 1st time? My horse is V good on the roads so I have volunteered to start taking out a nervous lady and pony and it's done them the world of good even if it's just round the block! Good luck with your new ned and don't give up :)
 

epeters91

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It's a new place for you and her as well as a new partnership for you both it'll take time for you to both settle :) it sounds like she's maybe picking up on your tension so why not try tacking her up and lunging in the school or even walking around in hand until you feel calmer? There's no rush take your time, if I'm nervous I talk it out with my horse and sound crazy to anyone near by haha! When you feel like you and the horse are relaxed try getting on and see how you go :)

Like Casspow said though it might be handy to have someone keeping an eye out for you just in case :)
 

Arzada

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Hi All,

I mounted and she felt really tense and was breathing really heavily. I tried to sit calmly and reassure her but she wasn't calming down and felt like a coiled spring so I decided not to take her out. I totally chickened out! As soon as I took her bridle off she sighed and went to sleep!
I feel ridiculous.
Sounds like a sensible decision to me. Tomorrow's another day.
 

TheSylv007

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Might sound a bit mad but try taking some Kalms beforehand just to take the edge off you - she may be picking up on your nerves. And even if it's not you, you'll be much more chilled out if she does monkey about and you'll cope better! Good luck, it's probably all a bit unfamiliar at the new place and you might be feeling all at sea. Once you've done it a couple of times you'll probably be absolutely fine. Echo what Casspow says, have company around you, it usually gives me confidence!
 

Bernster

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Here here to all of the above. Firstly, don't feel bad or guilty and don't push yourself beyond what you're happy with right now. These things take time, I'd rather be more cautious than needed and build up from there. I suspect she is picking up on your nerves to an extent, so things like Rescue Remedy for you might help.

I've been pretty cautious with my new horse and here's what I've done over the last 3 months - regular lessons with instructor in the school, had instructor ride him out solo and in company, lunged first before I got on, out in company with quiet horses round hacks I knew he'd been around, rescue remedy, lots of friends around to help me, wear a BP and neck strap. Maybe over the top, may cost money initially, but it's what I needed to build confidence. Also want to do some more groundwork.

You could also try confidence clinics, in hand work, ground work etc, all will help develop your bond.

You'd be surprised how people are happy to offer help when asked and as you can tell from this thread, many of us have been there. It will get better with time and practice.
 

annagain

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You're not alone. Nearly all of us have had confidence issues at some point or another. It sounds like you've gone through a lot of changes recently so it's hardly surprising that you're not feeling as confident as usual. Even if you ride for 10 minutes it's a start so I'd try to get on again asap. The school is a good place to start as you should feel nice and secure in there.
Once you're ready, I'd ask just one of the people on your yard to come out with you - a big group can be a bit intimidating for you and your horse so just one other would be ideal. Explain how nervous you are and I'm sure you'll find a sympathetic ear and someone ready to help.

I find singing really helps when you're nervous so maybe give that a go. It regulates your breathing and cheers you up (or makes you feel so silly that nothing else matters!) I'm yet to find someone who can be anxious while singing "The Sun Has Got His Hat On"!
 

moleskinsmum

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This could have been me three years ago - nearly exactly the same situation, apart from the fact that the horse I lost was a gelding.

I bought my new horse at the beginning of winter and he lived out at a friend's farm for three months before a space became available on a yard near me. It was a very wet winter and I barely got to ride him and then the day after I moved him it snowed and laid for a month. When I did get back on, he was spooky and far more forward than when I tried him.

The people on my new yard were nice, however, and I found a hacking mate who was very patient and would walk round the block with me if that was all I could face. Fast forward a couple of years and we have both moved yards, our boys share a field and we are doing all sorts of things. Tonight we are riding to fat club together, a round trip of about six miles, and braving the scary allotments, recycling centre and football coaching at the village hall where it is held. We go out in foul weather and at all paces.

I love the very bones of my horse, even though I still have the odd confidence wobble with him. I have learned that he is quite nervous in some situations and takes a real lead from me so, if I keep it together, so does he. If everything goes to pot, we just go back to a few quick trips round the block and then we're off again. We're still working on quite a few things (such as achieving a sensible canter in the school) but we have come on so far.

So my best advice is find one person with a quiet horse who is willing to "babysit" you for a few weeks and get out as much as you can until it becomes boring and "every day".

I do wish you the very best of luck - it is a horrible feeling but it does make it even better when it all comes together!
 
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Thanks for all the advice. I think it is probably me, more than it is her.
The lunging idea is good, perhaps I'll try lunging her tomorrow and see if we can both do it without any tension and then there is no pressure (that I'm putting on myself) to ride her.
I just keep thinking, if I don't rider her it'll just keep getting worse and worse.
 

Bernster

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Hmm, that's a better song than my terrible mash up recently of American Pie and Hotel California (showing my age there) which I realised were pretty dismal lyrics, not fitted for having a pleasant hack out on our own haha.
 

epeters91

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I find singing really helps when you're nervous so maybe give that a go. It regulates your breathing and cheers you up (or makes you feel so silly that nothing else matters!) I'm yet to find someone who can be anxious while singing "The Sun Has Got His Hat On"!
Haha I love this! When I was nervous hacking my old gelding or if I spotted something scary he might not like I used to sing Incy Wincy Spider to try and stop myself worrying or tensing up :D
 

Bernster

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Thanks for all the advice. I think it is probably me, more than it is her.
The lunging idea is good, perhaps I'll try lunging her tomorrow and see if we can both do it without any tension and then there is no pressure (that I'm putting on myself) to ride her.
I just keep thinking, if I don't rider her it'll just keep getting worse and worse.
I do think that's wise, if she's been used to regular riding. So do as much as you can with things like lunging, and if it's taking a while, think about getting a more experienced rider to ride her even for a short time, to keep her ticking over.
 
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It's actually calmed me down a lot to know I'm not the only one. Thank you to everyone for sharing. Makes me feel far less foolish!

Baby steps is probably the answer and some rescue remedy. I've not tried it before but am willing to try. It's either that or some gin! :)
 

Pinkvboots

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I got a bit nervous recently when I got my new horse I felt I couldn't ride in the school on my own and hacking was just really scary, my other horse I have had for years who I will ride anywhere without a hint of nervousness is not sound at the moment and I think I just missed that feeling of being totally secure, a few months down the line and I am so much more confident I booked some lessons with new horse only hacked with one other person for a while and only did things I know I wouldn't fail at, we have all been there don't worry please let us know how you get on.
 

annagain

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Hmm, that's a better song than my terrible mash up recently of American Pie and Hotel California (showing my age there) which I realised were pretty dismal lyrics, not fitted for having a pleasant hack out on our own haha.
The rest of my repertoire is Blur, Oasis and Pulp to give my age away. I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination but doubt Common People would go down well with anybody passing and "Feeling supersonic" just made me imagine flying through the air so that didn't work. Mid 80s girl pop is another genre I'm familiar with from the time before I was a cool teenager (although I still remember all the words :eek:). Tiffany's "I think we're alone now" talks about tumbling to the ground so that's no good. Belinda Carlisle's Heaven is a Place on Earth isn't bad, especially the line "Maybe I was afraid before, I'm not afraid any more!" I belt that bit out!
 

happybear

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Tough situation OP, I think a new horse/new yard combo makes a lot of people feel uneasy. I think it's interesting that as soon as you tacked her up she seemed agitated. Maybe over the next few days, just tack her up without any intention of riding and just go for a few in-hand wanders or lunge in tack? This might help as you'll be less nervous and hopefully she will be, too. After a few times of doing this she will probably have settled and you'll feel more confident getting on. You've mentioned that the other people seem nice, which is great - perhaps you could approach one of the ones you get a particularly good feeling from and just see if they are happy to spend 15 minutes with you in the school for some moral support?

I think take things at your own pace and don't feel that you need to rush anything. It takes time to build up a bond, both with your new horse and with the people at your yard.
 

Bernster

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Tiffany's "I think we're alone now" talks about tumbling to the ground so that's no good. Belinda Carlisle's Heaven is a Place on Earth isn't bad, especially the line "Maybe I was afraid before, I'm not afraid any more!" I belt that bit out!
Now that's a great line. Right, I'm thinking of going really retro and trying a bit of "I Will Survive" (was that Gloria Gaynor?).
 

Pearlsasinger

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Did you buy her tack with her, or have you got new (to her)tack?
The head-shaking makes me wonder if the bridle is not as good a fit as it could be. It could even be that it has not been put back together to her usual size after cleaning. So the first thing I would do is check the tack fit, particularly the bridle, make sure especially that the brow-band is long enough.
When you are sure that the tack fits properly, put it on and do some unmounted work, either in-hand or lunging/long-reining. When you know that she is calm, mount, adjust girth and stirrups etc and then get off again.
The next time, repeat all the preliminaries and after you have mounted and adjusted everything, move off - one circuit of the school or the yard, on each rein is plenty, and dismount. Build up from this in small steps, not putting pressure on either of you.
Enjoy your new horse.
 

Summer pudding

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Loads of good advice from everyone...can I add the suggestion that you find a sympathetic instructor who will pop on first, and be with you when you ride. And have some simple lessons at walk until you want to trot etc.? I'm in a similar no confidence situation after a fall, and it really helps to see my new mare going happily for someone else. Give yourself all the time in the world!
 

PorkChop

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Get some one to one sessions with a really good instructor - completely normal to have a confidence blip with a new horse.

Also agree with trying Rescue Remedy before you ride :)
 

BigPony

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Another rescue remedy fan- for you and your horse!

I lost my boy 18 months ago and my confidence just went, I think grief affects us in some strange ways, don't be too hard on yourself.
 
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Thank you for all the great advice. Will definitely be trying rescue remedy.
I will definitely look at her tack too.
I think I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself too.

I'm going to try and find a good instructor.
Tomorrow is another day! :)
 

Dazed'n'confused

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Some great advice has already been suggested but just wanted to say don't be too hard on yourself! It's a totally new situation for you both so go steady & do things that you are confidet with. Lunging is definitely your friend - I'd think to myself "I'll just lunge today" but put all tack on & at the end of your session get on & walk her off for 10 mins. Then, the next day lunge again & maybe have a trot or whatever you feel comfortable with! I mainly have youngsters & for the first 6 months I always lunge before I get on (unless they're really quiet) as it releases all their tension & warms them up before you get on (even if it's just for 10 mins)!
Last year I had a 4 yr old at livery to give her a bit of life experience - I just asked various people if they minded coming round the fields with me! I felt rather cheeky asking but no one minded & I always said that I wouldn't be offended if they had other plans!
Good luck, I bet in a few months time you'll wonder why you were so I confident! :)
 

XxCoriexX

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Great advice from everyone! Also would it be possible for you to ask someone to sit with you while you ride? I bought my first horse 2 years ago and when she was delivered to me we had so much snow that she couldn't go out in the field! Brand new 16.3 athletic horse and I was terrified to ride her as she wasn't getting out in the field! eventually I managed to get on but the first couple of laps around the arena I had my friend just walk with me. SHe wasn't holding the horse but just having her there to talk to me (I believe we were talking about soup lol) really helped and took my mind off my nervousness! Im sure someone at the yard would be happy to do this, we all need a little help now and then!
 

Emmangel

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Haha I love this! When I was nervous hacking my old gelding or if I spotted something scary he might not like I used to sing Incy Wincy Spider to try and stop myself worrying or tensing up :D
Ha ha - that made me laugh too :) I too have a new boy and he is pretty nervous and unsettled. I imported him from Spain in April so last night, there we were, trotting around the school and I was singing an old Spanish Christmas carol I learnt at school :) when I noticed two other liveries were watching me oops !!! I was hoping he might understand the Spanish carol :)

Ditto what the others said, please just take your time, just bond with your new horse. Have some gentle lessons, lunge before you ride and choose your hacking partners wisely. I only take my new boy out with friends who I know have a quiet horse and don't want a mad hoolie.

I have heard rescue remedy works well too.

There is no date by which you have to be confident by. These things take time. I am finding it hard to adjust as yes, I've ridden for years but the same horse, so riding a new horse is totally different.

Good luck xxx
 
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Again, thanks for all the excellent advice.
Today I just went down, spent some time in the field with her, she seemed happy to follow me around for hugs and a carrot :)
I think I was rushing things when, as you say, there is no need.
She used to be on Regumate before I got her but her old owners assured me she doesn't really need it. Maybe I need to look into that a bit more.
 

flaxen

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I have exactly the same problem.I had a rotational fall in october and injured myself and lost my pony due to the injury he got.
New pony was brilliant in her old home, new yard and shes quirky and nappy and wont hack. Runs backwards, naps and whips round, if i push her she rears ( having questioned them they have now admitted she does do littke rears when trying it on! - had asked if she reared, bucked etc before viewing! ) shes even slipped whipping round and fallen on me on the road. Its not a pain issue as she will do it in hand or long reining if she doesnt want to go. On the ground shes a saint. Im now too terrified to get on her and dont know what to do with her.
 

Cortez

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I have exactly the same problem.I had a rotational fall in october and injured myself and lost my pony due to the injury he got.
New pony was brilliant in her old home, new yard and shes quirky and nappy and wont hack. Runs backwards, naps and whips round, if i push her she rears ( having questioned them they have now admitted she does do littke rears when trying it on! - had asked if she reared, bucked etc before viewing! ) shes even slipped whipping round and fallen on me on the road. Its not a pain issue as she will do it in hand or long reining if she doesnt want to go. On the ground shes a saint. Im now too terrified to get on her and dont know what to do with her.
Might I suggest that you get some professional help with your horse's rearing. A couple of weeks retraining should sort this problem out, and some lessons from the trainers too.
 

Bernster

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Might I suggest that you get some professional help with your horse's rearing. A couple of weeks retraining should sort this problem out, and some lessons from the trainers too.
Agreed probably merits a thread in its own right but this is serious so pls get some help and try and nip it in the bud quickly.
 
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