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Horrible 'wreck' and remaining fear...

I have recently inherited a 3 year old Line Back Dunn Quarter Horse. I have had a really bad experience today that I have not read in any of the materials that I have put my hands on. Can you please read the scenario below and tell me what you would suggest... what you would have done, I am not sure if I can see myself getting back on my horse right now, I have so much fear, and anxiety as to what could have happened to us both tonight.

I was riding her on down a road that we have never gone down before. She was doing well with the traffic. It started getting dark so we were heading back to her pasture. A car came at us really fast (about 55 mingles per hour), she spooked as they honked and yelled as they past. She turned into a half circle spooking and hit a survey stick that had kite string and orange flags attached to it. She was entangled in the sting, went to bucking, I am laying on my rear, cars are flying past. I could not think to turn her in a circle to occupy her feet in order not to throw me, I did not have enough response time. I saw an oncoming car flying down the road at us, she is running right toward it, the car swerves and honks to avoid hitting her. I am running behind her and she takes off running into a construction field tearing through re barb.

She ran and ran and ran.... she finally stopped at looked at me with her head held down ... she had worked herself up so bad that she was trembeling as well as I was.

I am so afraid now of what could have happened. I am questioning myself about getting back on her. All that ran through my head was that she was going to get hit by a car and that I was going to have to put her down.

Am I neglecting skills that you have that I should have known to do something different? I could not stay in my saddle, it just happened so quickly. What do you suggest?

My father was killed before fully breaking this horse. I am not quite sure what exactly was done with her. I have been trying to do as much sensory exposure as possible but I need some more skilled assistance. With my father gone, I have no one to directly ask. I have never had such a young horse nor have I been soley responsible for one. I have always rode, but she is soo young and I have limited resources, financially. I truly need some guidance.

Any advice/assistance is greatly appreciated. I dont want to throw my hat in but I need to kow who or what could have done things differently. Thanks

Hello Marla,

Well, you did not provide me with a huge amount of information about the horse or your experience as a trainer/horseperson. However, from your email a few things come immediately to mind. A three year old horse is extrememly green no matter what! Some of your mistakes were assuming the horse was ready to be ridden alone on a new and obviously busy road that had numerous hazzards. You seem to have little knowledge of the horse to begin with, or you would have known it's training was limited. You assumed a lot of erroneous things about this horse. You were lucky you were not killed or seriously injured. Same for the horse.

You and this horse have now been seriously traumatized. You and the horse will have a degree of post trauma stress. For you this means thinking a lot about what caused you to make the wrong decisions you did (making poor decisions and wrong assumptions) and what would have been the right decisions. Some of the 'right' decisions would have been; riding somewhere else, even just in a pasture, arena or paddock to get used to this horse and how it reacts to various potenitally scary things, having someone else ride with you who was an experienced rider on an experienced horse, testing the horse's spook level through a bit of 'sacking out' (introducing things like ropes and lunge lines around the horses legs, tarps and plastic flapping near the horse, cars and horns going by in a safe way). There were so many 'right' things you could have done that you have not said anything about.

For the horse this means its trust is very shaken. it will be even more scared now of the same things that scared it on the road. I think the horse will need some professional training to de-spook it (sack it out) and re-taining. It will take some time for it to trust humans again to go near roads and cars (probably) as its trust has been severly shaken, as has yours.

Basically, I would strongly suggest you gain knowledge and education about horses. Knowledge dispels fear. You should understand more about equine behavior and not make assumptions about horses. Again, this is education. Take more riding lessons on easy horses to gain your confidence back. If you remain fearful, do not work with this horse. The horse needs confidence now and not the fear that comes from being handled by a human who is less than confident and afraid of getting hurt.

The horse is innocent totally. All responsibility for this incident is yours. Humans are supposed to be the knowledgable and skillful leaders for their horses. Never putting them in situations that are beyond the animals training. If it is beyond their training, it should be a specific training session ride and not a ride out on to a busy roadway no matter what. Ride with a companion on an experienced horse. This is always a good idea.

I don't mean to be hard on you. But your wrong decisions almost did you in. Think it through next time. Don't assume anything about a horse. Always take the time to check out if a horse is used to this or that before putting it and you in a dangerous situation. Be careful, gain knowledge through education and well planned experience. Good Luck...

Sincerely, Franklin

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