New horse and loss of confidence

saz2

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5 September 2015
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I brought a new horse in November after trying him twice.

We have been out hacking where he can become quite upset, cantering on the spot, has bucked. Speeds off and wont slow down, if we see another horse when out he is desperate to get to it.

After the first incident I have lost confidence and now get very tense which makes him worse.

He gets upset quite easily, is constantly looking at everything. I have put him onto a calmer - calm and collected, im not sure this has had any effect.

I am now scared to ride him. I get really worked up, feel sick and find excuses why i carnt ride. But then beat myself up for not riding.

We are waiting on a correctly fitted saddle to be sure that he is comfortable.

How much it is settling in/trying it on?!

Does anyone have any advise please?

He is kept out nearly all the time unless very bad weather.

He is fed hi fi good doer, pony cubes and fast fibre. I have cut the hifi down.

He is also difficult to put a bridle on.

We have tried some parelli which i think has made him respect my space more. He is quite lippy and in your face.

At the minute i have planned to get someone experienced to school him and then give me lessons daily for a week or so.

I worry about it constantly and cannot see myself doing what i wanted - RC, hacking and funrides.

Maybe he just needs more time and im being inpatient.

Any help gratefully received.
 
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I've had mine almost a year, and only now would I say that we've properly got to know each other and settled together. He was a pig when I first got him, and I spent most days just lunging or grooming him instead of riding. Eventually got to a 'ride it or sell it' stage, and decided to try to ride through it. I lunged him for 30 mins (ish) before I rode, and then rode for an hour - hour and a half. Did this seven days a week for a month, easing off the lunging until it was just a walk, trot, canter before hopping on. Never rode him straight from the stable, only when he'd been out. We had lessons every week and always hacked with safe, experienced people from the yard.

And it worked. He still has his moments, but I know him SO much better, and now tend to find his outbursts funny rather than silly.

This time of year is always always hard. It sounds like your plan - getting someone to school him and teach you - is the best way to go and a v wise decision.

But don't lose hope - I bought mine for similar activities and thought I'd never ever be able to do anything, but actually he's turning into a fab little horse. Just really crack on, get all the help you can and persevere. Do you have any places/friends near you with good schoolmasters that you could ride in addition? That might get your confidence up again.

I don't really think calmers have any affect, unless you know what's missing in your hay/grass. I put mine onto a calmer, it worked for the first day then had no effect at all. Personally I'd take him off anything apart from chaff and fast fibre - mine's only on chaff and sugar beet (and ad lib hay) and has quite a high workload.

It's so easy to get disheartened, but try to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. You could try setting yourself a limit on how long you'll try for... I said 3 months and if we couldn't work it out, I'd sell him or return him to the dealer.

There are lots of people on here with much better advice, but hopefully this'll show you that you're not alone!
 

saz2

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5 September 2015
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Thank you for your reply.

I have struggled to get going with him really due to getting him at the start of winter. So im hoping in summer when we can get out more we will crack it. I really do just need some reassurance that it will be ok! I have said if we still arnt getting on by November this year then i will sell then at least he has had a chance then. I have been worrying about the molasses coating the chaff but the sugar in this is nothing compared to whats going to come in the spring grass!
 

Pearlsacarolsinger

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The sugar in the grass is not the same as molasses, so rather than worrying about the future grass why not take him off the molasses chaff? I used to have a horse that was severely intolerant of refined sugars such as molasses but was absolutely fine with spring grass.
If you know that the saddle doesn?t fit correctly it is not sensible, or kind, to ride the horse in it. Better to wait for your new saddle, this behaviour sounds like a pain reaction to me.
 
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Is he kept alone or with other horses?
When you had trouble out hacking, were you riding alone or in company?
Do you have an instructor?
 

ester

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How old is this horse/what's his history?

and dtto faracats questions.

I would certainly get someone experienced to assess him for you (and hack him out as well as school him if that is what you want to do).
 

saz2

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A saddle fitter has said that his current saddle should not be causing any pain as is an ok fit with a prolite under it. It does however not make me feel very secure and doesnt hold me in a very good position so our new one arrives next week.

I think i will find an unmollassed chaff and see if that helps.

He is in a field with a pony but we have other horses on the yard.

He has been more silly in the company of other horses when hacking but i have only hacked alone a handful of times before i got worried.

I have an instructor yes. She is going to school him for me and give me lessons and knew my old horse so knows my capabilities
 

saz2

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He will be 8 in april but acts very babyish. He was brought as a 4 year old by the lady who i brought him off she brought him on but did allow him to rule the roost a little.. she hadnt done much groundwork with him and she had never lunged him before the vetting. She had done some hunter trials on him. Hes 16.3 and a wide lad. Appy x poss draft or somehing heavy.
 

ester

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a lot of horse to have been allowed to possibly rule the roost then! We have a few appy owners on here who have found them a bit 'different' if that is his breeding. I'm not a fan of parelli but I would think good groundwork is definitely a requirement. You are very new to each other and some horses can take longer to settle (and you never really realise that they are unsettled until a year later you go oooh that's what you're really like!)
 

saz2

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Thank you for ur support. He is already less bargy so hopefully we will get there! I tried the parelli with an open mind but im not sure if we will continue it. He is a very genuine, kind boy i just dont think he has been taught how to handle himself very well.
 

Pearlsacarolsinger

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Thank you for ur support. He is already less bargy so hopefully we will get there! I tried the parelli with an open mind but im not sure if we will continue it. He is a very genuine, kind boy i just dont think he has been taught how to handle himself very well.
You don't need Parelli but you do need to never give an Appy an inch, or any excuse to take one. Ensure when you are leading that you insist that the horse responds to you immediately. By all means reward for obedience, that way the horse will understand that he is doing what you want.
When you say xDraft, do you mean ID or heavy horse? Either way, ime you need to be consistent. My ID wasn't particularly confident but also was found to have a back muscle problem, which probably explained her behaviour. I have found Draft horses to be obstinate, bargy if allowed to be. We have had Draft horses and Appys and tbh I'm not sure that I would want a cross between the 2 incase it inherited their worst traits, rather than the best, although the best would result in a fabulous animal.
 

saz2

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Poss ID he has a very big head. He could be a lovely horse i can see it in him. He has just learnt bad habits. He needs someone to give him clear directions and he does try to please. I need to learn how to handle him but thats hard when im scared to ride!
 

Pearlsacarolsinger

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Poss ID he has a very big head. He could be a lovely horse i can see it in him. He has just learnt bad habits. He needs someone to give him clear directions and he does try to please. I need to learn how to handle him but thats hard when im scared to ride!
I wouldn't ride until the new saddle arrives. The fact that your saddle fitter says it should be ok with a Prolite pad doesn't mean that your horse agrees. Take him off the molassed chaff and concentrate on in-hand schooling. That will serve two purposes - you will get to know each other better, so that you begin to trust each other and he will begin to learn that when you give him an instruction, you expect him to follow it, quickly, whilst not putting either of you in the position of being in an uncomfortable saddle. A saddle which is uncomfortable for the rider does nothing for your confidence.
 

LaurenBay

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I'd also get his teeth done, just in case as you mentioned difficult to bridle. I'd stick to the menage for a while and find a nice instructor, I'd also pay someone more experienced to hack him out for you to gain his confidence. Can you hack with another sensible Horse?

I sympathize its really difficult when you lose your confidence, I know only too well how awful it can be wanting to ride but feeling sick the moment you get on.
 

Sukistokes2

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As others have said take the time to do some ground work until the saddle has been checked. You could have some lessons with a recommended associate from intelligent horsemanship, this should sort out manners. You could stick to the parelli if you want, the basic stuff is pretty good. Also invest in a back person and get any aches and pains sorted, plus a teeth check. Eliminate pain and discomfort before getting back up. Plus address food, eliminate sugar, eliminate any cereal, eliminate any alfalfa. You horse is not doing enough to need anything that will increase his energy. you could just feed hay to be honest. I would start with some lessons, maybe with a instructor who is willing and able to get up and ride. Then start slowly and carefully and build your confidence.

I have a brilliant cob, he is a saint, he is a stunning bomb proof hack. Overfeed him , give him haylage or ponynuts and he turns in to a nutter. He can not handle the extra energy, he just bunches up, you can not channel it. Stop the extra food and he returns to being saint Ffin.
 

Ambers Echo

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Hi, I really do sympathise. It is horrid to feel afraid of any horse let alone your own! But I don't think it is possible to tell from your descriptions whether he is basically normal or presenting enormous challenges. I also think you are making assumptions about him - which may or may not be accurate - but will almost certainly be affecting how you ride him.

We have been out hacking where he can become quite upset, cantering on the spot, has bucked. Speeds off and wont slow down, if we see another horse when out he is desperate to get to it.
How do you know he was upset rather than say excited or fresh? How do you know he was 'desperate' rather than just wanting to say hello and not being given enough direction away from his ideas?

It is very common for a vicious cycle to develop where a horse does something fairly normal - though unwanted - and a rider gets tense and anxious and instead of just ignoring the behaviour and riding for/focusing on what you want, the focus becomes STOPPING the behaviour which rarely works and usually prolongs it. Partly because the tension transmits to the horse and partly because if you're thinking about 'bucking/cantering/running off/napping) then so is the horse! (I am convinced they can literally read minds).

After the first incident I have lost confidence and now get very tense which makes him worse.

He gets upset quite easily, is constantly looking at everything.
This could be you not him. If you are tense he will wonder what the problem is and start looking for it! They are herd animals and if 1 spooks they all do.

How much it is settling in/trying it on?!
May not be either of those. He could just reacting to how he is being ridden. Not helped by too much bucket feed possibly. But I think the only way you'll know is to get a confident rider to hack him out and see what they think.

If he behaves perfectly well then you need to decide how you are going to address your nerves.

If he is a challenge for them too then at least you will know that he has some issues and it may be that someone can help him gain confidence and experience for now while you ride in more controlled environments.

My daughter had a pony she was too scared to ride but after 6 months she sorted herself out and they went on to have a wonderful partnership. It CAN be done.

Good luck. x
 

saz2

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Thank you everyone. He has had his teeth done. I will get his back checked. Is there a feed which contains no molasses and no alfalfa? I am aware that the majority of the problem is him picking up my nerves. He has tried it on with an experienced rider who obviously wasnt un-nerved by him so he settled again. My instructor will ride for me so that will help. It might be freshness... he has been ridden consistently and then showed this behaviour. When im not on him and just leading him he can shoot off get worked-up - when i would be feeling more relaxed.
 

ester

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plenty of feeds that fit that description, in particular there are plain straw and grass chaffs (some of the grass ones are high in sugar/calories than others though and I presume you don't need much).
Or if you want something you can soak there are a variety of haycobs available, fast fibre etc.
 

MrsMurs

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I'm new horse mum too!!!! Congratulations and sorry to hear it's not going smoothly.

For my gelding I researched loads to find a decent mollassess and alfalfa free chop with no added nasties. I settled on Honeychop Lite and Healthy as he is a good doer who holds his weight well. I feed nothing else with it other than his herbs/vits/mineral concoction, couple of carrots and dampen down. If you need more calories/omega's, you could always add linseed for condition??? He gets adlib hay and all day turn out. So far so good. I also made a point on his arrival to put a weigh tape on him so I can gage weight gain and loss.

Settling in wise, I've been very clear with him what I find acceptable and what I don't. I expect him to step back and give me space when I enter the stable. I put his head collar on and wait with the door open for a few moments before leading him out so he never gets into his head to rush out. I tie him up at the moment to change rugs etc, because I can't stand horses walking around the stable while you're trying to clip on leg straps! If I tie him up from day one, he's learnt that standing still is what I want from him. Riding, I get on and we stand still, so he learns to stay put while I'm sorting my stirrups, girth. I think all these little things add up to make well mannered horse who knows exactly what is expected of them, and my gelding seems to have taken confidence from this. I also established his routine from the outset.

I think groundwork is an excellent way of developing a positive relationship with a horse, and it's something I intend to do with my instructor supervising.

Other than that, deep breaths, be calm and take little steps, which works for me. If you're not happy to hack out at the mo, then don't put that pressure on yourself. Ride in a field or the school if you have one. Do 20 min sessions and end on a positive note.
 

siennamiller

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Echo what the others have said, but also picking up on what someone said, I had the sweetest mare, who was an angel, but give her a mouthful of haylage and she turned into Satan! If he doesn’t need feed then don’t give him any?
 
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loads of great advice here but I'd add that you need to feel you can admit you're not feeling confident. I have a few friends to hack with and they know I can be a bit wobbly (they don't care because they know my horse is perfect despite my worries) they keep me talking, make me laugh and relax so we have a good time, and they gently push me ever so slightly so everytime I get a bit better (eg making me ride in front for a stretch of road and be proud of the way he pricks his ears up and strides on in front, not terrified by it)

Last week I did the farm ride for the first time. I was shaking like a leaf from start to finish but had the biggest smile at the end. At the first trot (in an open field) he offered canter but quickly came back with no panic - I was leaning a bit far forward thanks to my nerves, and he really listens to the seat.
 
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