Addressing the Fear

I consider myself a fairly brave rider. I have my weenie moments like anyone else, but I’ve never told my trainer “I can’t” when she gives me a task. A big part of that is trust- trust that my trainer won’t put me in an unsafe situation, trust in my horse to do his job, trust in my own abilities. I don’t mind getting nervous because I know I have the tools to work through it.

But there is one thing that does freak me out a little bit, and I acknowledge that it’s kinda ridiculous: bringing horses in from the field.

A lot of this fear stems from an incident when I was young, where my dad went to help me catch my pony and ended up getting kicked by another horse in the field. He has a dent in his leg from that kick even now. And then my horse in high school was just an absolute juvenile delinquent and dragged me around when it came to turnout (it got better over time, but I was teeny tiny). Over time, I started to view turning horses in/out with a sense of dread. And that dread still rears its ugly head to this day.

 

I really REALLY don’t like bringing horses in. Which is why I’ve been forcing myself to do it as often as I can lately.

And I’m in a great spot to get to work on this- I am at a barn full of happy, well-behaved horses who all have good ground manners. I can lead a horse in each hand without worrying if they’ll spook/bite each other/try to drag me. From the 32yo pony to the 3yo baby warmblood, they all know how to walk politely (even when they know that dinner is waiting for them).

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HE’S TERRIFYING

But when I go to bring Frankie in from the field, I get a pit in my stomach. None of this is due to him, God bless him. He can be playing Wild Island Stallion with his buddies and acting like an idiot, but he keeps all four feet on the ground as soon as I come close. And other horses can be romping and playing and running, but he will stay by my side and follow where I lead. I have absolute trust that my horse will be a solid citizen.

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He really just wants scritches

It’s the other horses that worry me- without cause. When I see other horses running up to see where Frankie is going, I brace myself for Frankie to bolt- despite Frankie never showing any inclination for this. When another horse follows us closely to the gate, I wait for them to start kicking at each other- again, despite Frankie literally NEVER even flicking an ear at his herd-mates. I put his halter on quickly because I am so sure he will try to rip it out of my hands to go play with his friends- even though he always puts his face down to make it easier for me.

Slowly but surely, I am working through this fear. I trust Frankie’s ground manners, and I’m coming to trust his herd-mates’ manners too. And when they are playing like fools, I’m learning to trust my own ability to tell them to cut the crap and get out of my way. I’m not completely relaxed yet, but I’m happy to be making progress.

What fears are you working through?

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16 thoughts on “Addressing the Fear

  1. horsewisdom8 09/20/2017 / 8:11 am

    In a short space of time you can train horses to not follow you to the gate, I ask for 20 feet so I can take my horse out safely. You just canโ€™t turn your back on them if they then follow, just send them away again, it takes some patience but they soon understand. Also I use the track for turnout/bringing in to do groundwork training, and in the field. The horse learns you may, at any given time, ask him something, he will start to focus more on you than the other horses.

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  2. Amanda C 09/20/2017 / 9:07 am

    I came really damn close to getting kicked in the head once when turning a horse out – hoof clipped my ear. Ever since then I’ve been very particular about horses having good manners when you let them go, but you can bet that I’m still really quick to skedaddle outta there if they take off bucking.

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    • hellomylivia 09/20/2017 / 1:01 pm

      Oh lawd nopenopenope. Luckily Frankie’s wildest move when I turn out is to present his shoulder for scritches, but I’m always super conscious of where the gate is.

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  3. heartofhope10 09/20/2017 / 9:37 am

    I totally understand this fear! And I refuse to bring in a few horses at our current place – they are not polite and I am not willing to put myself in danger just to get my horse out of their field.

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    • hellomylivia 09/20/2017 / 1:03 pm

      Absolutely- if I see a horse even thinking about acting like a fruitcake, I immediately go ask for help. It isn’t worth being put into a bad situation.

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  4. the_everything_pony 09/20/2017 / 10:42 am

    Strange horses. I used to have no fear going up to strange horses, eager to work with them and to calm them and to love on them. After getting cow kicked in the thigh, studs attempting to take a bite out of my arm, horses that would show me their butt and swish their tail and lift a hind leg at me, and others – I now have a healthy dose of fear going near any strange horse that’s not haltered or there’s another person the horse knows going in the stall with me. A lot of it has to do with facial expressions, but even still I’m a lot less comfortable going near strange horses.

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    • hellomylivia 09/20/2017 / 1:04 pm

      I can totally understand that- I know I’m definitely waaaay more relaxed working around Frankie than with other horses, just because I know his moods and habits so well.

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  5. Boss Mare Eventing 09/20/2017 / 12:03 pm

    I’m working on fear in my life, not related to riding. It can be really hard at times… I try to stay positive and take things day by day.

    Glad you are able to work through it.

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    • hellomylivia 09/20/2017 / 1:05 pm

      Girl, yes. I feel like I need to write another post about working through fear in general- definitely something I’m working on right there with you โค

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  6. Karley 09/20/2017 / 3:58 pm

    I’m a major planner- so I’m always very observant and aware of what’s around me, how to get out of something bad that might happen or what I would do if xyz happened… so I hate the unknown ๐Ÿ˜‚

    Maybe I’m just controlling lol!!

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    • hellomylivia 09/21/2017 / 10:12 am

      I’m a big fan of getting as much control as possible around the ponies!

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  7. Karen M 09/21/2017 / 10:53 am

    Considering the size and speed of horses, this is a totally reasonable and highly adaptive fear to have. My horse goes out in an individual dirt lot turn out, but if other horses are running around like idiots, he usually is, too — I wait until everyone is calm before even going near turnouts.

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    • hellomylivia 09/22/2017 / 6:47 am

      I think there’s definitely a level of fear that’s healthy and responsible, so that’s definitely my target level! I’m just glad that Frankie sees running as unwanted exercise, so the most he’ll do is trot past me to wait at the gate haha

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  8. Stacie Seidman 09/22/2017 / 10:11 am

    It’s a reasonable fear! My horses go out individually, so I haven’t had too many troubles at my own place. But it’s smart to be very aware of what’s going on around you because you just never know!
    I only have Jampy and Rio at home right now. Rio is perfect, he never does anything inappropriate when going out or coming in. Jamp is always fine going out. He actually hates being outside though, so sometimes can try to bolt on his way in. It doesn’t scare me because he is still respectful of my space, but he gets a good speaking to if he does it. Then we go in and out and in and out, etc until he’s polite. Problem is, I think my helper lets him get away with it, so he does still try it with me from time to time if he’s afraid of something. Little punk.

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    • hellomylivia 09/27/2017 / 3:04 pm

      Rio actually is perfect, that’s just scientific fact.

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