When not to ride!
Your Gut Feelings
If you don’t feel your horse is OK then he probably isn’t and you are best to follow your gut instinct and not ride him until you are sure he is back to normal.
If you are out riding and you start to feel unsafe, then there is no harm done by getting off.
Contrary to popular belief the horse will not ‘think he has won’!! What you don’t want to happen is for you to fall off or worse, be chucked off as you risk being hurt. NOT worth it!
I could fill this website with stories of all levels of riders who have had nasty accidents because they mistakenly thought they could ‘ride through it’!
You should be able to enjoy riding your horse.
I have found from my Horsemanship Instructing career that many people do not enjoy riding because their horse does scary things and this is because they are affected by the grass.
A normally functioning horse is a lot harder to upset than an affected one.
It’s a matter of heeding the signs.
How often do you hear someone say: ‘He did such and such out of the blue!!’
Believe me there are always signs that your horse is ‘not right’ and when they are not right, Do not get on!
I believe the majority of accidents happen when horses are ‘affected’ by mineral imbalances. When they are touchy, twitchy or hypersensitive they are ‘reacting’ not thinking. Sometimes they are unusually distracted and their attention is not with you, because of dietary issues described in “How Grass Affects Horses”.
An overly reactive horse is a dangerous horse, prone to violent outbursts. If they are tied up they are liable to have a sudden pull-back. If you manage to get them in the float, they are liable to have a violent outburst, end up over the front bars, out the window or rush back off before you’ve even had a chance to undo the back bar.
Whilst it is normal for horses to look sideways or even spook at unfamiliar things an over-reactive horse is liable to do the lightening fast, all 4 feet off the ground sort of spooks that can leave you dumped in the dirt!
And maybe there wasn’t even anything to spook at! Or it was something he’d been passed yesterday no problem!
It is perfectly normal for horses to want to ‘go with the herd’. They are after all, herd animals. What is not normal is when you can’t leave them on their own in the paddock without them spending the whole time you are away screaming out for their mate, tearing around, ripping up the paddock.
An excessively herd-bound horse will totally lose the plot if you try to prevent him being near his mate (who might only be a few yards away!). This includes bucking, rearing, leaping and plunging. When they are ‘beside themselves’ type herd-bound they are 100% distracted with thoughts of staying with the other horse and it is best not ride them!
Just make the changes to the diet and you will find the separation anxiety has reduced to being manageable or gone completely.
Tense, Quivery, Standoffish
Not wanting to be touched or brushed is the horse telling you not to ride.
This can be caused by inflammation of muscles or over excitability of nerve endings as in Jane’s horse ‘Amigo’.
Of course they will be touchy, grumpy and prone to doing something out of character when their bodies are inflamed like this.
If you ride them, anything could happen. An ‘affected’ horse can buck more violently than a bucking horse in a rodeo! You will think it was ‘out of the blue’ but there would have been signs well before he exploded.
Maybe he was a bit touchy to girth up, maybe he didn’t want to stand still for saddling or mounting, maybe he tensed or his head went up looking behind him as you mounted, (bad sign!).
Many times I have heard: ‘but he has always been like that’. This means it was always an accident waiting to happen. Horses need to be calm and healthy to be safe to ride.
This is where Groundwork comes in. How useful to know how to check your horse out on the ground before mounting.
One of the most risky ridden moments is when you have one foot in the stirrup and your other leg is going over.
Learning groundwork teaches you how to read the signs so you won’t get caught out!