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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Dealing with fear and the unknown.

First please allow me to thank you for sharing all the wealth of experience and enlightening us hungry-for-knowledge horse people. As many readers of your website would agree, the appreciation on our part is tremendous (and so is on the part of our horses - if they just could talk.)

Just recently I bought a place in the country and fulfilled my dream of having my horses with me. The first one is a 6 year old Arab gelding, I bought him last summer and we did lots of trail riding and started a classical dressage at a boarding barn he was staying in. My trainer is not just an instructor but a horse person through and through. She does not approve of shortcuts, so Muzik and I took baby steps and created a solid base for our future dressage endeavors.

I brought him home about 3 weeks ago. Unfortunately my second young horse that was scheduled to arrive when Muzik came, was not delivered till the week after. I know the move was going to be hard on Muzik and the fact that he had no buddy made it even harder and he was little sad. But what better time than work on our bond on the ground (I tried to ride him but he was quite anxious and agitated so I quit for the sake of both o us.and we danced on the ground (and I really mean dance -I would shake my booty at him and he knew to back up, on a longe line I would make a little human canter hop and he would canter, we were going for walks and grazed, I would read to him.what a bliss just to hang out with your horse.but I really love riding and as many people say I have a great talent.

So week after this sexy two year old Arab-Percheron arrived. At first he was not even that excited to see a horse after being alone for a week and continued to do what he was asked on the lead. They were put in separate paddocks just couple of feet away from each other. And then Muzik realized what a piece of hot yummy lady mummy brought him. Anyhow I continued with our dancing on the ground and decided to ride him at the weekend. It was good at first but I had to keep his mind occupied by simple tasks so he did not decide to bolt. After a while something must have scared him and he bolted and got me off. What a perfect landing thanks to the application of one reign stop- like a seasoned equestrian - and back in the saddle in a minute. Day after I was not that lucky. We were riding in a pasture that he is very familiar with, he spends 16 hours a day there. Anyhow within a minute I was off and in an agonizing pain - he bolted, bucked and it happened so fast that I did not even had a chance to disengage his hinds. So now I am out with broken shoulder and torn muscles and will be out for at least 2 months. I am little worried to even hang out with my horses or take them for a walk as I am worried they will bump my shoulder. Sorry for such long email - here are finally my questions:

QUESTION: Why would he buck me off after we have such a great relationship on the ground (he does not question my leadership, on the other hand when he is put in his place, he licks and chews and is affectionate - without entering my personal space)? Or is he still all anxious about the move? He looks settled in very well. Forgot to mention he just had his yearly vet check and dental done so there are no underlying health conditions.

RESPONSE: Not being there and able to observe the situation leaves me guessing at the cause. Perhaps too much grain for the exercise he is getting. Perhaps something scared him. Perhaps he was not warmed up enough before you went out. Perhaps he was 'cold backed.' Perhaps he was showing a bit of herd bound behavior. Perhaps still a bit anxious about the new place. Perhaps something having to do with the tack.

QUESTION: Do you agree with keeping a horse occupied with small tasks when on his back to keep his mind of scary things? Sometimes I just want him to get long and low in preparation for our dressage work, but last time I did it my accident happen?

RESPONSE: Perhaps you are nagging the horse with the small tasks all the time. This will irritate the animal. Rather than too many little thigns to pay attention to, if he acts out at all immediately do something bigger like hind quarter yields or figue 8's at the trot. After a couple of minutes, then ask the horse to move off calmly.

QUESTION: He is always at the bottom of the heard but he started showing off in front of the new filly, even started chasing my dog out of the pen even though they were buddies before the filly came. Seems like he will be the leader till she gets little older and challenge him. Is he now testing my leadership abilities and trying to climb the herd hierarchy?

RESPONSE: It is normal for young horses to 'test the waters' so to speak. When a mare is around expect more.

QUESTION: As I said I am less confident, I still want to hang out with my horses but I don't want to seen as the wimpy-herd-member- that cannot be trusted as a leader? What to do?

RESPONSE: Work in a small paddock or round pen. This allows more space between you and the horse and still allows you to work with the horse. Do it on a line or at liberty. Set a spacial boundry you are comfortable with.

QUESTION: As soon as Muzik bucked me off, he ran a loop around the pasture and stopped right by me - sign of concern or was the grass the greenest where my royal butt landed?

RESPONSE: Sign of a bond/attachment.

QUESTION: And lastly, my confidence is shaken. Any tips how to mentally recover from a riding accident and get back in the game?

RESPONSE: Start small, keep safe, go slowly, keep sessions relatively short and simple for a while. Keep it very simple actually and easy. Sounds like you are quite knowledgeable. Think about what you want to do and how to make it safe and comfortable for yourself. Plan and prepare....Only do what feels safe for you and do not go beyond that (stretching yourself) for a while.

Reader: Thank you for your time Franklin! For a person with only one functional hand I wrote quite a long email. Sorry for taking so much of your busy time. Impressive one-handed typing.....

Petra with Broken Wing Anxious to Fly Again

FRANKLIN : You are most welcome! Best Wishes, Franklin

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