Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fixed It and a Question for You

These days this is what greets me each morning as I wake up and look out the window.  It's Bob waiting for me at the gate.  I open the window to wish Bob a Good Morning.  I'm greeted in return with a low nicker/whinny from a horse that six days ago ran away from me in fright when I approached him.

Once I'm dressed I head out to halter Bob up and move him into the "summer pasture" to graze.  I practice groundwork with Bob each morning before, during and after our trip, same on the return. 

Bob now stands quietly when I go to halter and handle him.  And (melt my heart) comes to his name when I go to catch him in the evenings.  Today I started taking him on my morning walks.

My next step is riding Bob, here at home.  I've...just...gotta...ride...I can't stay off.  Like many of you, I need my fix....But I'm uncertain about doing that...And this is where I need your help.

On a different horse, I rode alone for years and loved it.  But I'm older and this isn't that horse...these days my biggest issue is getting on.  Once I'm on I'm fine, but it's that commitment of swinging my leg over the saddle that zaps my confidence - so:

Do you ride alone by yourself - without anybody within earshot should there be an issue?

If so, do you have a "safety plan" should something go wrong?

And Beeeel...you are right...thank you.  I'm back.  :)


  1. Aww, I love Bob. What a great horse!
    I have trouble getting on these days, and know that if I have to get off quick, the old knees probably aren't going to hold up. So I know how you feel. I rode the old gray mare today who hasn't been rode in 2 yrs, and it was an experience that made me feel even older and more careful.
    All I can suggest as a "safety plan" is carry a cell phone, and of course, wear your helmet. Today I had Mercy with me and I made her wear her phone too, in case I got hurt. She may only be 7, but she can use that phone and that's why I got it for her. You just never know. I try not to ride alone as much as I used to, but I still do sometimes. Be as careful as you can be and don't take unnecessary risks.

  2. I should add too that someone always know when I'm out alone. I text Wade or Grandma. That way if the horse comes back w/o me and I don't answer the phone, someone comes looking eventually. My neighbors are horse people too and know what a riderless horse means. It would be noticed.

  3. I ride alone a lot on a greenish horse. I do three things:
    Let someone know I'm riding - as long as they have a phone, they don't need to be close by. I don't make a big deal out of it, just check in before and after.
    Then I wear my cell phone on my belt.
    Most importantly I minimize my adventure. I don't push past a very small point of our boundaries. And I don't even go out of the arena unless I know I have a good connection going. Every horse has bad days, but generally you know it well before things go south.

    Oh, and I wear a helmet, every ride.

    Now ride!

  4. I'm pretty new to your blog, but this post hits home. I've always done the majority of my riding along and, even after a near tragedy, I still do.
    My one concession is that I now carry a whistle; it's the loudest whistle you ever heard, like TRAINwhistle loud, and I reason so long as I can breath I'll be able to call for help with my whistle.
    I also leave a note in the kitchen saying what time I've gone, where I expect to be traveling, and when I expect I should be back in the barn.
    So, that's two concessions. ;-)

    If you care to read about what lead me to be (in my eyes) more careful, I invite you over to Venom, Secrets, & Lies to read about my accident.


  5. At 61,, I most always ride by myself on our farm& country roads. Sometimes one or two of my kids will join me. Within the last year I bought a horse that is very well broke,, super responsive, and more my size--plus I have joined a group that includes people from all over the US,,we log our miles ridden (gps), all for the fun of it. Was exactly what I needed to get me up and out of the house to ride!! Also this new horse has been a true gift to me. My other horse, who my son now rides, is huge, and a real scaredy cat. I always have my cell phone on my person when I ride too. I hope to go to some more (my son & I camped a couple times last year) state(Nebraska) parks this year too.

  6. Boy you have posed a difficult question. I use to "wait" till hubby was home, and that meant, riding in the evenings or on weekends. Then it got to where a lot of riding days were being passed up because no one was home. So when the urge to ride hits me, and "I am in the right frame of mind" (very important) and Libby is also in the right frame of mind, (Also very important), then I brush her down, pick her feet, saddle her up, and all the while telling my self, "I don't HAVE to ride today. Just spending time with Libby is enough!" Once I get the saddle on, and if I feel that Libby is ok, I get on. I tell myself, "We are only going to stand here and then I will get off." (have done that). But once I am in the saddle, like you, I am ok, and we will ride around the pasture. I do not have to go on long trail rides. I have even gotten brave enough to go ride in the neighbors pasture, which is a good workout. But I always begin with riding in my own pasture. Always wearing a helmet too. I do have some close neighbors, but unlike me, IF anything did happen I could not count on them to help, because they never look out their windows, they never notice what is happening. SO I would have to help myself...and no I really do not have a back up plan! But do baby steps. Small goals at a time. Next time you take Bob for a walk. SADDLE HIM UP! One step will lead to the next. One courage moment at a time! and boy! I know exactly what you are talking about too......So wished we lived closer! we could ride together.

  7. Yes, I ride alone. I much prefer to ride with others but find if I don't ride at home I don't ride as often. But it took many years for me to get comfortable doing it. My Windy is 10 yrs old this year and I have been riding her since she was 3. Although the early years I rode a lot with my family thus "our herd", as my kids have gotten older & lost interest, I trailer to meet friends more than ride with my family. That got Windy out of her comfort zone of having to be with the herd.

    I started by going on short rides with her at home... down the end of the driveway... out into the pasture... down the road 1/2 mile. Now it is not unusual for me to ride her 6 - 8 miles down the country roads around our place. Its just me, my dog and my horse. I carry a phone on me - not in my saddle bag.

    Last year, we got hung up in some downed fence wire - luckily I was on the ground when it happened but I had to let her loose to get her out - we were tangled. We were a good 3 or 4 miles from home and she was panicked because of the wire. She started to trot off the opposite direction from home & then stopped and came back to me. Fluke or luck, not sure. :)

    I was riding my husband's mare a few weeks ago and we parted ways. She is young and green and lacks the confidence my mare has. I was just at the next field and she ran home. I was banged up pretty good; nothing broke, but boy did I ache - and called my son to come pick me up. Quite embarrassing since I was just at the end of the driveway.

    I will start working with her like I did my Windy. Go slow, farther each time but not out of her or my comfort zone until we are more confident as a team. Since your pastures are fenced off, I would suggest starting there and then go farther, stay longer....

    Good luck!

  8. I frequently ride alone. Even though I have both a indoor and outdoor arena I think both myself and my horses get bored. So, we head down the road to explore. My safety plan is to let somebody know I'm riding and an approximate time when I would return. And I always have my cell phone with me (and I hope that should anything happen it'll at least be in reach so I could call for help).

  9. I ride alone at times (when my kid doesn't want to come). I agree with the previous comments. When it comes to getting on, I am short and getting stiff. I always put my horse downhill from me so I can step on easily. It takes away that awkward moment--for me. If you don't have a hill, maybe a mounting block?

    I also practice something like what mrscravitz mentioned. If I'm feeling reluctant, I tell myself to saddle the horse and just leave him tied (always good for them). Once he's saddled I usually can't resist getting on. But I give myself permission just to walk about the property. If all feels good, I head out on the trail. I don't force myself. If it doesn't feel right, I don't go.

  10. I understand that concern as one gets older and considers what can happen if you ride alone. I don't ride alone anymore. I have a trainer or friend with me and am glad of it since my horse has more spook and go than I need. I am also getting lots more training on my horse and for me to help with the confidence issue. Courage is being afraid and still getting on ( a quote but not from me).

  11. I ride alone on our property, but usually let someone know that if I dont call them within a certain time frame to come looking for me.Always wear my helmet, cell phone in pocket, make sure your horse is used to the noise of it ringing around him just in case. Most of all do what you are comfortable with doing. Have fun, breathe, relax and enjoy yourself.

  12. I don't like to ride alone, but I've had a hard time finding people to ride with because I'm limited to evenings and Saturdays. Most of the riders I know are retired or have more flexible work schedules and they get together while I'm at work. So I do ride alone. Either on my property, or at my riding club's arena. Last fall I went on my first trail ride alone, but I purposefully picked a familiar, safe, simple trail that is heavily used by hikers, mountain bikers, dog-walkers, and families. If I came off, it wouldn't be long before someone found me. I carry my cell phone in my pocket and always wear a helmet and I let my husband know where I am and when I'll be back. Same rules apply when I ride alone in my riding club arena. If I was unsure about my horse or a trail or situation, I would wait and ride with a friend.

  13. I haven't read all the comments so I'm probably repeating someone, but here is what I do.

    Always carry a cell phone. On me, not the horse in case I get thrown. There is also a new app on smartphones that sends a message to someone if you stop moving for a certain amount of time. So if you were thrown and unconscious it would send a message and the person you chose as you emergency contact would know to go looking for you. I don't have a smartphone so I haven't used it, but I read about it somewhere.

    Also always let someone know when you're leaving, where you're going and about how long you'll be gone when trail riding. I also send texts periodically throughout the ride so my husband knows where I am.

    Also for getting over the fear of committing to the ride, break it down into small steps for yourself. On day one all you have to do is get tacked up and stand on the mounting block, then do groundwork and put him away. The next day you can just sit on him. The next day you can walk around for a bit. Then trot, then leave the arena, etc. We have to break things down into small steps for ourselves just as much as we should for our horses. Good luck!!