Ok. I said it. That is a start, right? :)
I have been riding consistently (with my own horses and weekly lessons) for about 4 years now. I took lessons about 14 years ago, and progressed from walk to canter in less than 2 months and I LOVED it! Granted, it was a 20-something dead-broke Saddlebred mare with a beautiful, slow, rocking horse canter...
I don't know what to do to get over my fears. The fear started when the horse I bought 4 years ago bolted with me TWICE. The first time was not related to a canter cue, and she basically did it because I was an awful rider. The second time, I cued her to canter, it was very rough and I pulled her out of it, and then she just took right back off, out of control. I held on for dear life both times, praying neither of us were injured. Turned out okay - just shaken with a pounding heart. My only "true" fall was off of a horse who unexpectedly broke down out of the canter into an awful, bouncy trot and I didn't have stirrups. Ouch.
I've cantered about 18 times in the past 4 years on various horses - fast and heavy on the forehand, slow but does not take the right lead, so slow I feel like I'm not moving, etc. To be honest, I was most comfortable with the western pleasure lope, of course. But I ride and prefer English. I've discovered that I have a horse with a pretty smooth, albeit fast, canter. We actually had a bit of an out-of-control moment about a month ago. I cued to canter and, thinking we'd break before we got 2 strides (per my horse's norm), I laid the crop where I knew my horse was aware of it. Oops. We ended up galloping
. I took a deep breath, asked to slow down, playing the reins a bit. I urged my horse to continue cantering, however, and was proud of myself for "going with it" and requesting (and expecting AND GETTING) a much nicer canter. I even cantered again right after I stopped a moment to stop shaking.
No matter what, when I think of cantering, I get tense and nervous. I think of everything that could go wrong. Advice? I know I will only be able to get better and more confident with practice, and I know two of my "OMG" rides were completely my fault. I just want to put on my big girl britches and get over it. Has anyone had similar fears? How did you overcome it?