struggling to ride, need advice/kick up the bum...

bex1984

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I have a lovely pony who I have owned for 8 years. He's a reasonably safe, sensible sort and I'm a numpty novice... Nevertheless we've managed to do various things together over the years but I've never been able to hack him alone.

3 years ago I had my first child and he went on loan where he had a great time for 2 years, but I missed him like crazy and he came bback to me, at a new yard on DIY a year ago.

I work full time, small child in nursery. I've got flexibility in my work hours so have coped with a winter of DIY but really struggled to ride.

The problem is pony and I are bored of the school but he will not hack alone, and due to random hours and not having enough time to hang around at the yard and get to know people, I don't often have anyone to ride with. Pony is playing me up about in the school - nothing awful but just about morale-sapping and if I'm honest I've lost a bit of confidence.

Now it's summer and he needs more work to keep the weight off and I'm just feeling a bit down about it all. I think I probably need a kick up the bum...remind me that it's fun please!
 

Goldenstar

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You need to try to make a plan to solve this hacking issue .
Is there a yard notice board where you could post ,would like to ride at ......... Any body like to join me . Or ask the yard manager if there's anyone who you could team up with who is flexible .
 

SpringArising

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Why won't he hack alone? It sounds like it's more to do with your riding/nerves than him (could be wrong, but that's just how I've interpreted your post).

He could probably do with a confident rider to get on him once or twice, to give him a boot and a growl to get him started.

If you put up an ad for a sharer or rider once or twice a week, I'm sure you'll find someone. He sounds like an easy going sort of horse!
 

Bernster

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Well, posting suggests you want to change things so that of itself is a good start tbh. Agree with others but sounds like you need a plan. Work out what the issues are, you and/or horse, and get some help. A rider to take him out for you, someone on the ground to go out with you, maybe even you taking him in hand if you feel confident of that, long lining again if you're confident of that. Work on the ground in the school to help build your bond and trust (if that is part of the issue), doing fun stuff over poles and obstacles 9might also help if he's bored in there).

I've not been in the same situation but I did have nerves taking out my mare when I first got her, and we had some moments where she played up. I did some/all of the above and it really helped, she's good out hacking on her own and has been for a while now. I now have a new boy as well so will be doing some of this to get more confident out hacking.

And yes, it is fun, when you put yourself in a good situation to have a positive experience. And with the weather getting better, that's a great incentive to dust yourself off and get out there !
 

bex1984

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I've put a note up on the board at the yard and I know there's people I can hack with occasionally - but I'm struggling to organise anything because it's hard to plan in advance, I can usually just grgrab a window of time if work is quiet etc.

But that said I do need to get my bum in gear to ride at the weekend. I think the guilt of not spending the time with my little girl has meant I've not been doing this.

He naps if hacked alone and the harder you push him the more he naps! Last summer I managed to hack him alone on.short.circular routes round the village but there's now donkeys along the route - the one thing he's terrified of!

I've asked a fearless teenager to take him out aloalone for me, just waiting for her to have time.

He definitely knows he has got the better of me though!
 

stencilface

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Can you long rein him out alone? Then you can still make him work etc and its not just a jolly out on the leadrope but he can get used to going out alone? And don't feel guilty about taking time out at weekends either! It will only take a couple of hourse of your time maximum to go for a hack (I can rush it in an hour for a short one if I skip brushing!) and it will give her some quality time with daddy (If you're still with him? Trying to avoid putting my foot in it! :) )
 

bex1984

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I've never tried long reining but might see if someone can help me... I pretty much have to wear full body armour to lunge him so I'm not convinced on that

Yes, daddy around and happy to spend some time in charge.. He helps at the yard a lot at weekends too. It's just the guilt! She's going through an awful clingy phase at the moment which doesn't help!
 

Herts05

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Can you get someone to cycle with you instead? I bet one of your friends/family members have or can lay their hands on a bike. It might get you one step closer to your horse hacking out without the company of another and still gives you someone to talk to/for moral support.
The first ride doesn't need to be a long one and what better time to do it than when we seem to be having a good spell of weather.
Good luck!
 

3OldPonies

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If not long reining, could you tack up and lead him out in hand? Then, if all is going well and you get a burst of confidence you could just hop on for a bit? Letting the time on board increase each time?

If he's taking the mickey in the school too, would you be able to get a friend - doesn't have to be horsey - to come and chat while you ride? If you're chatting your own nerves will steady because you won't be thinking about them and if its your nerves he's picking up on - well they just won't be there so much so he might not do it anymore.

One thing I would say, ignore anyone or anything that bashes your confidence even further. I think most of us have been in a confidence/motivation sapping situation at one time or another and the last thing you need is anyone picking at you.
 

stencilface

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I'll be honest, if he's this much hard work for you, but otherwise is a lovely pony, I would sell him to someone who isn't bothered by his antics and get yourself something unflappable that you can enjoy. This is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby after all - you do it for relaxation, not additional stress on top of work and kids!

Think how lovely it would be to have something you can do everything you want with with no worries about hacking alone etc, it would make your life so much easier. Sometimes we have to get on a work through things, other times we just ahve to put our hands up, admit defeat, change tack and move on. I would move on.
 

FfionWinnie

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I would consider selling to be honest and getting something more suitable so you can spend your precious time having fun. Either that or you need to get a lot of help to sort him out (how successful the fearless teenager is, if they know how to ride a napper properly, will indicate how much work it will take for you to get him out yourself).

As for time, I'm on my own and I have a 6 yr old and a full time job. I struggled to find time and also felt guilty about riding when there were a million other things I should have been doing. However my horse was diagnosed with a potentially life threatening illness which means she must be exercised at the same level every single day. Since that occurred, funnily enough, I've found the time.

Sometimes after a long day I really can't be bothered but I always feel better after riding, less tired and more energetic. So go on. Do something :)
 
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Ponycarrots

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Get a friend to cycle or walk with you when you hack out :) Then gradually let them get further and further away from you till they're out of sight, then they can stop and your pony can catch up, so you're both slowly learning to be alone but remembering you'll meet your friend again :)
Be confident and calm. I went through a nervous phase after having a nappy cob, and when I got a lovely TB he could have his spooks but I found if I sung a daft song out loud (like row row row your boat!) it made me feel a bit silly, made me chuckle to myself and so relaxed me a lot! Which in turn relaxed him!
I also find if you lead him out first it can give you loads of confidence because you can see how he reacts to things and see what he's REALLY scared of. Then if he spooks or naps when you're on board, you know it's just naughtiness and you can kick on!!! Try leading him out for half the hack, then getting on halfway through and riding home (obviously not turning back on yourself). My boy used to nap at the gate and when he could see his field companion but I started leading him out of sight of his companion then getting on, which meant he didn't nap at all!
 

bex1984

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In theory selling him and buying something I could just hack out alone on makes sense. Trouble is I really do love the awkward ******! My 2 year old was riding him today.
 

Spot_the_Risk

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Bex, was he hacked out alone successfully when on loan? You could do with someone on the ground to give you back up/moral support, anyone you can call on? Would your oh walk with you with baby in the pram, he could start in front then gradually fall behind.
 

bex1984

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He was in a riding school on loan - so following other ponies all the time and only ridden in the school. It didn't really help with his hacking alone issues (but he had a wonderful time!).

OH getting a bike next week - hoping to fit a toddler seat so we can all go out together.
 

Goldenstar

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He was in a riding school on loan - so following other ponies all the time and only ridden in the school. It didn't really help with his hacking alone issues (but he had a wonderful time!).

OH getting a bike next week - hoping to fit a toddler seat so we can all go out together.
The cycling thing is a very good idea.
 

CazD

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Can you get someone to cycle with you instead? I bet one of your friends/family members have or can lay their hands on a bike. It might get you one step closer to your horse hacking out without the company of another and still gives you someone to talk to/for moral support.
QUOTE]

Definitely give this a try. My mare isn't keen on hacking alone but will quite happily follow hubby on his mountain bike - she even picks up speed if he gets too far ahead and will start calling if he goes out of sight LOL.
 

suffolkmare

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Firstly, congratulations on surviving the winter with a child, OH, job and DIY pony!! I absolutely sympathise as I am in the process of trying to build confidence on solo hacks too. My boy was in a RS and basically never hacked...well apparently an experienced lady once took him out and he tanked with her, and another time a girl took him into the little woodland adjoining the stables and he returned alone at speed (!) Well he is fine in company, and ok with a walker accompanying us, but alone he naps/spins and yells to his friends. So I am determined to build gradually from short round-the-block rides to going further afield. We are making little improvements each time, last time we had one neigh, 3 circles (he stops, starts to turn and I just keep him turning till we face where I want to go and ride forward...he's trying it on, not really fighting which would be a whole different thing) and extended our short route by a little, so I reckon we're progressing, lol.
OP I think you need to decide if you can tackle this issue. It sounds like having Daddy and daughter with you on a bike is a good start, or asking the yard manager if they can help/recommend someone to come and hack him for you to work him through his anxiety/naughtiness without unnerving you. I think it will just take time and small steps, for both of us!
 

meesha

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Sorry not read all responses. If he's is safe in hand walk him out tacked up, get on ask for a few steps forward when moving nicely forward ride home but only when happily going forward. If won't go forward at all choose a short circular route and get on and ride home when passed halfway point. Or get sharer or helper to sort issue if not confident enough.
 

Tobiano

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I totally sympathise OP. I've had a week off, usually only get to ride my lovely saintly boy at weekends, but my daughter (19!) has been home and I feel guilty for leaving her to go and ride my horse so I haven't! Understand it is 100x more significant with a baby.

So…. i guess for me it boils down to something like this. If you are going to have to ration your horsy time whilst you have your small children, what is the best option for you. Is it either just to ride in the school or with some foot or cycle company, and no other changes in your routine, or is it to get another horse altogether and go out on solo hacks. I think in the circs the latter is going to be quite a difficult ask, so perhaps whilst your family is young you might settle for some less than optimal riding.

IMHO there is a limit to the number of complications any one human being can deal with so I would not try to change anything too radically all at once.
 

Crazy_cat_lady

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Mine tried napping when I first got him as he was ex riding school so had never been out on his own. We did little hacks to start off with just down the lanes. If he stopped and I couldn't get him going with a pony club kick/ smack I'd get off and lead him for about 100 m to get him rolling along again then get back on.
fortunately it was safe to do so (eg he didn't feel like he was going to rear/ road wasn't busy) was very proud of him first time we went across the fields solo.

How about the other suggestions of the bike if it's not safe/ you can't get on and off then the bike rider can lead him if needed? I also did a couple of hacks with friend walking on foot.

Fortunately mine always went out the gate must be harder if they don't but don't try and go too far at first then you can increase it a little bit at a time.

Mine is still a bit backwards if going alone as he's spooky but hardly anyone hacks at my yard so it was a bit of a case of we need to man up and get out there!
 

madmav

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Would try all of the above before selling and trying out a new horse. You never know what you might get next! Bike rides with partner could be just the confidence boost you both need. Plus a nice instructor to help you in the school. And don't give yourself a hard time. That's a big old workload you've got going. Very best of luck.
 

canteron

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OK, your horse is telling you it is bored, so you want something that will tire him mentally but don't want, at the moment to go hacking. So why not work out some fun stuff that you can do in the school both on and off the horse, and will help you get confidence to go hacking ....

These are places you may look for inspiration - I personally wouldn't buy into any system completely, but it might just give you somewhere to go

1. Old Fashioned gymkhana games, gets you moving in the saddle, start, stopping, gets the horse thinking. (so just set something simple up in the school like things to bend in between, put some 'objects' on the edge of the school, jump on and off the horse, etc)
2. Horse Agility/Le Trec/Clicker - all have a lot to recommend and great for desensitising.
3. The dreaded Parelli, I don't buy into the whole things, but for £6.95 a month, its a relatively cheap way to research some ways of making your horse 'think' and give some food for thought for ground work. The basics are really all about getting the horse to move all 4 feet exactly where you want them - not a bad thing at all!

Good luck.
 

Rudders74

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I've recently bought my mare back into work after 4 months off so we are both a bit spooky! I am always amazed at the confidence she takes from my partner walking or cycling in front. That's all we have done for the last two weeks and then I will progress to lone riding again but it works a treat and helps my confidence no end too!
 

bex1984

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Thank you all for your help.

It's tough balancing work, child, horse, alongside the extra challenge of a stubborn pony and a bit of a loss of confidence.

He really is stubborn when napping - he'll stop, spin, go backwards into ditches, threaten to buck if smacked, paw the ground, and try to tank off home. I really do want to get an experienced rider to take him out and see how she gets on, hopefully that will happen soon. Maybe I do need to just take it a bit at a time - I think I'm probably seeing it as all or nothing at the moment.

Doing some other stuff - games etc sounds like a good plan, we need to start having fun again. At our old yard we had fields to gallop about in and he'd do that alone, but we don't have anywhere to do that where we are now.

He really is a lovely pony, it's such a shame hacking aalone is such a big issue for him. I wish I knew why - I'm never sure if he's genuinely lacking in confidence or just playing me up!
 

Herts05

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If you are going to get an experienced person to take him out, why don't you go along on your bike with them? You may get some good tips on how to handle his evasions and enjoy the good bits.
I guess if he has spent so long with other horses in a riding school environment, it is a big ask of him to go out on his own. I am sure you will get there though!
 

diddy

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Hi Bex,

Just read your post & didn't want to read & run :) Loads of good advice here from people who clearly know much more about this than me. Just wanted to add a couple of thoughts based on my own experience of working, having children & riding. Firstly, as others have said, you need to take a step back & recognise just how well you're doing. You have so much on your plate & just getting from one end of the winter to the other is a huge achievement. I sold my first horse when I had my kids so am in awe of anyone who can keep going!

Secondly, you also need to recognise that you are not being a "numpty novice" to be wary/frightened at your horse's behaviour, particularly now you have kids. I've never been very brave but the moment I feel myself not fully in control, I hear a voice in my head shrieking "...& who d'you think's going to drive the kids around if you break your arm?!"

Thirdly, while ultimately perhaps you might need to keep an open mind about finding an "easier" pony, this too will take a huge amount of time that you don't have. You clearly love the pony you have, so I would throw my time at trying to fix the situation, as you seem to want to do. That said, you don't have to fix it immediately - things will get easier as your daughter gets older so if there are other riding things you can do in the meantime (Parelli-type games or whatever, going out with OH on a bike if he's willing - lovely idea btw), just enjoy your pony however you can until you have the time & energy to address this issue.

Best of luck - you're doing really well you just need to recognise that yourself! :)

D. x
 

Goldenstar

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Bex would it be an option to pay a good free lance person to hack him out alone three time a week for a month and see if that gets him going better for you .
 

pippixox

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honestly I know how it feels- I have a mare who used to be a nightmare to hack alone- napping professional! would go backwards, rear, try to spin, before we even left the mounting block! At my first yard with her I mostly schooled or hacked with others as there was normally someone hacking out as it was a busy livery yard. But when I moved 3 years ago to a farm, with mostly retired horses, I new I would rarely have company and had to try and get better at hacking alone. Firstly I would do some walking in hand- which she is always ok with.
I think I used to think she was genuinely scared, so I did not want to give her a hard time and would just give up. but apart from a few things that do scare her, I started to realize I was wrong! She was taking the mickey!!! Yes, she would rather hack with friends, but she is not given the choice!
I had a few lessons with someone, and he gave me some good tips: although you do want to make it clear you want them to go forwards- so firm legs and possibly a stick, you will never be as strong as them, so cannot win on strength alone. Instead you have to win the mind game! My instructor said: just sit there- make sure you don't lean forward & lose your balance. ask them to go forward, but if they start going backwards just sit still and wait. He even said have a cup of tea! It does work. She would do all her normal napping, and instead of trying hard to be strong and kick, kick, kick, and also try to lean forward to encourage her to go forward (then putting me off balance so they are in control), I would sit still, wait a few seconds, ask her again with just one squeeze and tap of stick. If she took a few steps forward I would just remain still and praise. At first it would take at least 10 minutes to leave the yard, but once she got going she mostly would not nap. Basically with this method they get bored and give in eventually, you have to be more stubborn than they are! (as personally I think it sounds like naughty stubbornness not because he is really scared)
I remained determined (believe me some days I felt fed up and did not want to bother) and now she hacks out alone with no napping :) (other than the occasional stubborn mare moment)

the bike with OH and child on the back sounds like a great family activity as well :)
 

bex1984

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Thanks pippi, that's really helpful. I tend to get cross and it doesn't work. I don't think he's scared really, because he's not scared of much (apart from donkeys).

I am hoping to pay someone to take him out - I haven't explained very well but fearless teenager I've asked is a very good rider and v experienced with napping.

I think I just need to brainwash my little girl into loving ponies (it's going well so far) then buy her a very sensible pony who will go in front!!
 
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