• Theo

Going Backwards - Neens-Carrie

Carrie’s fitness plan is working, we’ve improved her confidence with the saddle so naturally, it was time for the riding sessions to begin! Shame on me for thinking it was going to be easy…

Carrie has had a tendency for a number of years to go backwards when she doesn’t want to be ridden. It took me a while to understand that the reason she didn’t want to go forward because of confidence and because I’m not the most confident rider, that meant there was a lot of this behaviour.

The good news is, I managed to stop her going backwards. It’s something she picked up from the place she was being schooled and there were a few times it was really scary. One time, she almost backed into an electric fence and I was terrified of how that’d end (so I got off).

But now, Carrie seems to have developed a problem with carrying me downhill. I believe this comes from the fact that not too long ago, she didn’t have a lot of muscle. She’s strong enough to carry me but for some reason, and only on the left rein.

So here’s my solution. I have a leader… It takes me back to the days when I was learning to ride. That’s almost twenty years ago! Here’s the theory. Despite understanding the aids I’m using and what I’m asking, she’s not confident with trusting me entirely. My instructor recently reminded me that once your horse has learnt to go backwards, you’re in deep waters and are likely to have a lifelong problem. It’s a bit frustrating but I’m grateful for the learning curve.

Anyway, whilst I was exercising her initially, it’d almost all be lead rein so she has no problem following her leader. There was a time when there was a lot of stopping there too. When I’m riding her, I’m not having any contact and I’m basically just sat there as relaxed as possible to get her used to my weight shifting in the saddle. She doesn’t have to think too much and is allowed to use all of her energy to overcome her confidence issues. So far, so good! She’s happy with a leader and I can tell she wants to stop and doesn’t feel stable, but for now, we are going to continue pushing on. The vet wants to see a ridden trot and God knows when we will get to that. The chiropractor wants to see another video but that’ll have to wait until we can get a recent walk.

It’s something that’ll take time and we will practice as much as possible as long as the weather permits. We are having a few issues with unwelcome visitors in the field but we are figuring things out as we go along.

This situation with stopping reminds me very much of her bridling issue. She has held onto it for years so of course, it’ll take time to wipe the bad experiences from her mind. A lot of what I’m learning is teaching a horse the tools they need to overcome fearful moments. Fingers crossed we aren’t going backwards in progress, it’s just the next challenge of our story.

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