Could this be the start of something great - a confidence update

FestiveFuzz

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So it's been a ridiculously long time since I last did an update on how H & I are getting on. To be honest for the last few months I've felt we've been rapidly undoing all the progress we made last year and in turn my confidence has been edging dangerously close to disappearing all together! It's been tough. Really tough.

On the bright side H's schooling had been coming on in leaps and bounds; he was no longer falling in when asked to ride a circle and had become a whole lot more balanced. We'd even started working on some dressage tests and he was beginning to work in an outline. However whilst it felt we'd really cracked our school work when hacking he was becoming a nightmare. He'd become the master of the drop and spin and just when I thought I'd found a way to stop him spinning I started reversing at high speed and then bucking or rearing. This coincided with me asking a bit more of him and expecting him to lead hacks in company so it was definitely him just being a nappy sod rather than anything else. As frustrating as it was I tried not to loose heart, I was still winning every battle but deep down I didn't want a horse I had to fight with every time we rode out and my aim of having a horse that happily hacks alone was looking less and less likely.

We hit our lowest point when we went on what was meant to be a lovely long hack in the sunshine. He napped at everything, bucked and kicked out with force every time I used my whip to back up my leg aids and the final straw came when the rest of the group started cantering only for H to charge backwards and start bucking followed by two almighty rears when I tried to push him forwards. He'd never reared until that point and I spent the whole ride home in tears vowing that H should probably be put up for sale as he just wasn't what I wanted or needed and he was slowly ruining what little confidence I had left.

After a good nights sleep and a chat with our YO we had a look at his back and found he was really sore through one side so decided to assume this was the reason he was acting up. So I gave him a couple of weeks off until I could get the physio out. Unfortunately this all coincided with me moving house so it was another couple of weeks until I could ride again.

The house move had also meant I was now not getting to the yard until nearly 7pm so there was never anyone to ride out with. I was beginning to feel really fed up. Thankfully I bumped into one of the other liveries one night who convinced me I should just tack him up and hack out with them so I dug deep, found my big girl pants and went for a ride. It was a lovely hack, we even had a little canter and I came back grinning from ear to ear, but since then no one ever seems to be around to ride out with.

Usually I'm happy to just potter around the school but with the sun out I've been longing to just go for a nice hack in the countryside. So today I mustered every ounce of bravery I had and decided to hack H out alone.

He started out really well but as we came up the track to leave the yard he decided to start napping and trying to spin. When I stopped his spin he charged backwards and managed to back himself into a live electric fence which soon got him moving forwards. A few strides later he tried to spin again and this time through in a mini rear and a buck. It was a tantrum in the purest sense and I decided that as he was throwing nothing new at me I would just keep at him until he went exactly where I wanted. It took a few more bucks and another backwards charge at a live electric fence but we were then on our way. The rest of the ride he was looky but didn't even try to nap and I came back beaming from ear to ear.

I know hacking alone isn't a big deal for most (and with any other horse it wouldn't be for me) but H knows every trick in the pony handbook for evading work and today has been the first time I've managed to push through his napping and have an enjoyable ride alone. I know we have a long, long way to go before he's the horse I always hoped he would become but I really feel that today we took the first step in the right direction.
 

MrsNorris

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Well done! Confidence is such a fragile thing and so easily dented (well, mine is anyway!) and horses are so darn good at picking up when you're at a low ebb, it can just become a vicious circle sometimes.
Hacking alone is one of the hardest things if you're a bit nervous, no-one to give you encouragement or help in a crisis, but sounds like you have cracked it today, onwards and upwards!
 

Clare85

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Fantastic, what a lovely update :)

Sometimes it is just about biting the bullet and doing it. Everyone has something which makes them nervous, we all have our mountains to climb. Well done for tackling yours :)
 

_GG_

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Well done...that's not an easy thing to overcome on your own at any time, especially when your confidence is low so I think you deserve a big glass of whatever you like tonight.

Good to hear the schooling is going well :) xx
 

spookypony

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It is a big deal. My pony is really really nappy on his own, and while I can eventually get him round a hack, it's actually a big problem, because he's an Endurance horse, and it's not nice always to be dependent on a ride partner. So well done on your progress, and long may it continue! :)
 

Ceriann

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Well done - sounds like you worked him through a bit of a strop. I have a lot of sympathy - my confidence is on the up but not quite 100% and I often have to convince myself to ride out. I don't have company (though my OH will often bike with us) but to be fair my mare is very well behaved - looky only. I have a lot of respect for you riding through that with your boy and knowing what he was chucking at you you could cope with.
 

Tobiano

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wow - amazingly well done! You were really brave and determined. I am afraid I gave up with one like this so you should feel really really proud :) Hope you continue to enjoy your hacking :)
 

minkymoo

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Well done! Don't say it isn't a big thing, it is and you should be proud of yourself.

Confidence is so hard to build up and yet so easy to knock down. Keep at it and think of how you feel now to keep yourself motivated! :)
 

FestiveFuzz

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Thanks so much guys. For the last 6 weeks I've been umming and ahhing about selling him as I really didn't think he was ever going to be what I wanted so I still can't really believe we managed to go it alone.

Today is the first time in a while where I can sit back and appreciate how far we've both come, in his trust in me and also my faith in my abilities (and trusty neck strap!) and it feels great. I'm sure we're going to have more wobbles on our journey but slowly and surely I'm beginning to believe it might actually work out ok in the end.
 

kinnygirl1

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That is amazing and it IS a big deal! I dream of hacking alone...just confidence holding me back as I have done it before, but lost confidence after a fall, so I know what this means to you. Well done.
 

FestiveFuzz

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That is amazing and it IS a big deal! I dream of hacking alone...just confidence holding me back as I have done it before, but lost confidence after a fall, so I know what this means to you. Well done.

Thanks. I've always dreamt of hacking H alone but never in a million years thought we'd ever achieve it so I'm a very smug mummy tonight. I never thought I'd say this but thankfully he's the nappy sort that will try it on a few times, throw all of his toys out of the pram and then just get on with it so I'm hoping the more we hack out alone the shorter his tantrums will be. I'm just going to stick to the same route for now until he's thoroughly bored of it and then I'll start venturing a little further.
 

Circe

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Well done. It is a huge achievement to go out on you own the first few times, but now you have done it, and got him over his tantrum, you can do it again.
It might not be easier, he might still throw his toys out the pram, but you know you can handle that now,
Kx
 

FestiveFuzz

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Well done. It is a huge achievement to go out on you own the first few times, but now you have done it, and got him over his tantrum, you can do it again.
It might not be easier, he might still throw his toys out the pram, but you know you can handle that now,
Kx

Thanks. I'm planning on hacking out again tonight and totally expect him to have another tantrum as we leave but I'll just cling to my breast plate, sit back and kick on as now we've done it once there's no reason we can't do it again.
 

soulfull

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Thanks. I'm planning on hacking out again tonight and totally expect him to have another tantrum as we leave but I'll just cling to my breast plate, sit back and kick on as now we've done it once there's no reason we can't do it again.

Well done!! As others have said it is a big deal and you have done fantastic. your right, very soon it will get less and less, just grin at him and tell him you know you can win now so just get on with it :)
 

FestiveFuzz

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Well done!! As others have said it is a big deal and you have done fantastic. your right, very soon it will get less and less, just grin at him and tell him you know you can win now so just get on with it :)

Aww thanks. I don't think I'd realised how serious things had gotten. It's only now whilst I'm sat at my desk excitedly counting down the hours until I can get to the stables and ride that I realise that I'd pretty much lost my passion for riding these last few months. I don't for one second think tonight's hack will go without a hitch but the difference is now I know I'm capable of dealing with his silly pony strops and continuing on to have a nice ride.
 

Hartley Mare

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Wanted to add a big well done as well, this is a massive deal, as someone with similar issues (you could have been talking about my girl) I'm really pleased for you. Keep up the good work!!
 

PorkChop

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Well done for sticking with it and seeing it through, these incidents are sent to test us unfortunately! You sound like you are back on track, keep it up :)
 

FestiveFuzz

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Wanted to add a big well done as well, this is a massive deal, as someone with similar issues (you could have been talking about my girl) I'm really pleased for you. Keep up the good work!!

It's really tough isn't it?! I found that whilst I was "winning" each battle my confidence was nose-diving more and more until I just dreaded riding as I didn't want to fight anymore. As unconventional as it was I'm kinda glad I gave him the best part of a month off as it's allowed me to start afresh. Before I was always imagining the worst before he'd even put a foot wrong which just made me even more anxious, but now I'm trying to go with the approach that if he does throw a strop I have the tools in place to deal with it.
 

FestiveFuzz

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So it wasn't a fluke! :D Hacked him out again tonight and had a minor tantrum on the track leaving the yard, had a few bucks and away we went. Words can't describe how happy I am right now!
 

Hartley Mare

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It's really tough isn't it?! I found that whilst I was "winning" each battle my confidence was nose-diving more and more until I just dreaded riding as I didn't want to fight anymore..

Couldn't agree with this more, that's exactly how I've felt too, the fighting becomes exhausting doesn't it? I've taken a different tack and allowed myself to take a step back and just do groundwork, or gentle hacking etc when I couldn't take the fighting any more. It's important to give yourself bit of breathing space occasionally. Good luck:)
 

FestiveFuzz

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Couldn't agree with this more, that's exactly how I've felt too, the fighting becomes exhausting doesn't it? I've taken a different tack and allowed myself to take a step back and just do groundwork, or gentle hacking etc when I couldn't take the fighting any more. It's important to give yourself bit of breathing space occasionally. Good luck:)

It really does. It's so frustrating as he's not a bad horse, he's just green and very opinionated when he wants to be. I'm hopeful we're beginning to turn the corner now and whilst I'm quietly hoping I might be able to get him out to his first show/dressage test at the end of August I'm also happy to just play it by ear and see how he goes. Good luck to you too! :)
 
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