Anyone have Fear or Confidence Issues? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 56 Old 02-25-2010, 10:51 AM Thread Starter
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Anyone have Fear or Confidence Issues?

I have been a trainer for many years and am developing a workshop to help people overcome fear and build a confident realtionship with their horse. I am interested in hearing your stories - What you have experienced and how you overcame your fears or if you are still struggling.
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post #2 of 56 Old 02-25-2010, 11:55 AM
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I'll play.

I'd always been a pretty fearless rider and never had a problem getting on any horse. All that changed 3 years ago in May.

I have an older gelding, who although a little cranky and opinionated, I rode occasionally with no problems.

Windy, fairly cold day for May, and he was acting up. Meh, I've dealt with horses like that over the years, so I proceeded to swing myself up into the saddle. He literally exploded out from under me, bucking like a rodeo horse.

I came off, wasn't more than mildly bruised and annoyed, so tried again. My trainers had always told me, "Don't let the horse win. If he gets you off and you stay off, he'll be that much harder to ride the next time."

That advice had always worked well before, and I figured all I was going to do since he wanted to be a beast was get on, ride him around the paddock a little, and then I'd get off. That way, he wouldn't have won the battle.

I went to mount up again, and this time he meant business. I wasn't even in the saddle all the way when he started bucking and leaping around. I came off HARD that time; broke 3 ribs on my left side, my right collarbone, and got a major concussion. Sucked to be me!

It took me quite awhile to heal, and at the end of July that year I lost the horse I could always go to and ride. He never intentionally hurt me, and was always my confidence builder.

Being hurt badly like that, plus losing my once-in-a-lifetime, crushed the spirit out of me. I wasn't just afraid to ride, I was terrified. The mere idea of getting back in the saddle made me nauseous, and I'd shake like a leaf in a thunderstorm.

So my two remaining horses just lazed around, eating and getting fatter and more out of shape.

After 8 months of not riding, I decided it was unacceptable for me to own horses and never get back up in the saddle. For some people a bad accident means they never ride again. For me, it wasn't something I was willing to give up without a fight.

I knew I'd never ride again if I didn't get professional help, so I found a local trainer and explained my issues to her. She told me she'd dealt with people like me before, and was confident she could get me back in the saddle.

The first horse I rode was a kind, calm, schoolmaster older mare, who doesn't have a mean bone in her body. Even then, it took me almost 10 minutes to get up the courage to actually get on the horse. Once I was in the saddle, I was fine.

As I discovered, my phobia is mounting, not actually riding. Once I'm on the horse and they're not acting like a total loon, I'm mostly the rider I remember being.

My trainer pushed me when it was necessary, and gave me room to work things out on my own when it wasn't. She more or less let me decide when it was time to move on to a more difficult horse.

I'm now riding my own horses, except for the older gelding who hurt me. I had a vet come out and look him over, and she discovered he has arthritis in his hocks. He also has the beginnings of what we suspect is COPD. So he's retired now, and enjoying his life as a companion to my other horses.

I still have moments of near panic when I'm swinging up in the saddle, and they come at the oddest times. It has nothing to do with the horse himself or what he's doing, it has to do with my own state of mind.

It doesn't happen every time and not very often, but I'm still working on that issue. Will I ever overcome it completely? I don't know, to be honest. But at least I'm not letting it keep me from riding.

I think a workshop to help people face and overcome their fears is wonderful. There are so many people out there who want to ride again, but don't know how to find the right trainer or program to get them back in the saddle.
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post #3 of 56 Old 02-25-2010, 01:10 PM
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I have battled with this off and on for 10 years. I had the usual bad accident when I was a kid, then a few out of control huge hot TBs when I was a teenager. Nothing that really bothered me until after I stopped riding regularly. In my 20s, I tried to find ways to be involved with horses again, but taking lessons on unfamilar horses had me panicking when I couldn't tell how they were going to react. I began to assume that every horse I got on would take off at the drop of a hat. Making matter worse, after all the years off my seat was awful and I couldn't regain my balance. In the back of my mind, I knew that if someone did take off on me, the chances of staying on were slim. I've worked really hard to swallow my fear, find ways to have small victories to rebuild my confidence, and stick to calm, laid back horses. I still have brief moments of gripping fear, but they are less often and not as severe. Unfortunately, it reared its ugly head in last night's lesson when Danny was getting "fresh" at the canter, and I panicked after a few times of feeling like I was losing control. Ready to burst into tears, I bailed and my trainer finished the ride with him.

I would LOVE to attend a workshop like this in my area! I think fear and lack of confidence is something that is more prevalent than we realize, particuarly in adults. But, you're not supposed to admit it, not supposed to talk about it, and "toughen up" to deal with it. Unfortunately, that only leads to frustration and giving up!

Smart people listen. Not so smart people think they do not need to hear what others have to say.
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post #4 of 56 Old 02-25-2010, 01:30 PM
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This is not something that really hampers my riding, but it is something that is always niggling at the back of my mind. I love to ride outside in the open. To just meander around the surrounding fields and woods. I've been run off with a time or two in open spaces, but I am always able to get them back under control pretty quickly. However, the last time my gelding was spooked by a passing motorcycle and ran straight in front of a semi. Thank GOD the semi was going slow! The semi stopped and the man on the motorcycle turned off the bike until I could get him calmed enough to get away from the road again. THANK YOU MR BIKER!!!!!! He is normally good with traffic, and i stay a good distance away from the roads, but he hates motorcycles. When I leave a pasture or arena I am super sensitive and on guard for them to act silly. I know this could very possibly be transferred to the horse, so I take a few deep breaths and try to calm myself down. Its getting better, I don't let it interfere, but it is still a very real fear in the back of my mind. Since then we have worked pretty hard on desensitizing to vehicles, motorcycles, birds, etc...
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post #5 of 56 Old 02-25-2010, 09:45 PM
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Two falls ago i had a bad fall from my gelding. It certainly wasn't the worst thing ever because i've heard stories of pretty bad falls. But i was and still am VERY new to this. Yes he was inexperienced and i realize i probably shouldn't have been doing it but we were taking things VERY slowly. Only worked a little at a time and ALWAYS left on a good note. Well one day i was trotting him very little (we had trotted a little before) and he had done so well up to this point, he trusted me and i trusted him however something caused him to buck a little and i meant to stop him but the reins were not even and when i pulled back i pulled him to the left more and to the left was a pine tree, well seeing that he wheeled around and started bucking and running, well the saddle i was using didn't have a bucking strap and as the saddle bounced it would go higher and higher and me as well, i almost rode out the whole thing but i fell off and i held onto the reins for a bit and i ended up getting rolled backwards. I only was bruised up but i was terrifed! I did get back on him even though i didn't want to, and he was really sorry, he kept coming up to me and putting his head to mine and stuff. After that though i was scared to even ride again. I made up every excuse in the book. My mom would be like, you should go ride and i made no effort to. I was just so scared of falling off again and breaking something. I'm very short and he's on the taller side so it was quite a ways down for me. Well we got a new mare and she was already started undersaddle and she was by no means 100% broke BUT she was ridden quite a bit and she was for the most part safe, she even cantered and didn't buck! But i was still afraid. However after this year, seeing how much fun everyone had and how much people believed i could do it and were perhaps a bit disappointed i did not ride her at any shows this year (i was not experienced enough and i didn't want a dangerous situation) i realized that i wanted to ride again. I realized that sometimes thats how things go and I started to be mentored by a family friend and he really gave me a confidence boost. He believes in me and has given me tips to becoming better, not to mention he doesn't take any crap. So I started slowly with her working my way up to be comfortable off the lead. Now i'm finally off the lead (during christmas vacation i rode her off the lead!!!) and i'm okay with trotting, now i'm going to work on trotting with no one leading me around and then work my way up to english saddle and posting. If i don't get there, it won't be the end of the world but its a goal. I feel like i've come a long way since then.
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post #6 of 56 Old 02-26-2010, 12:56 AM
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I don't have a story to add but was wondering if you could add anything to share about building a child's confidence once they have fallen off.
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post #7 of 56 Old 02-26-2010, 02:17 AM
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My biggest fear is being bucked off, or taking a fall WITH my horse. I have no problem falling off, I bounce right up (usually!)

I think the falling fear came from when I was riding a fox trotter when I was SUPER green, and I had him going along and he slipped in the mud and went to his knees. That hurt my confidence a lot in the beginning. To this day I hate riding in mud and I simply avoid it at all costs.

*Edit: I should specify on the bucking.. I've been thrown, and I've ridden through bucking, but I always have this fear of a horse going super bronc on me, me falling and getting crushed, or the horse flipping... I've visualized it in my head several times, but it's never happened.

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Last edited by PaintsPwn; 02-26-2010 at 02:19 AM.
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post #8 of 56 Old 02-26-2010, 04:03 AM
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I had the weirdest problem. This all happened extremely recently..
I never had a problem riding any horse, even horses who were known buckers and who would try to buck me off or do anything else..there was nothing a horse could do to keep me off.
I had been riding all sorts of horses but my actual horse was a pony, and it was time for me to get a true horse. He's a very willing, very well-behaved, very well-trained TB. I rode him a couple of times and things went fine, but during a very early ride I was working at the trot on the lunge line with my trainer (I had gotten very much out of shape and out of practice because I had somewhat recently had a pretty long-term unrelated injury that had only affected my ability, not my mentality) and he picked up a canter, and there was a bit of a miscommunication/misunderstanding asking him to slow down which caused him to slam on the breaks which caused me to fly and I got hurt pretty bad.
Once I was able to get back in the saddle I was excited, but was a little nervous getting in the saddle..and became more and more nervous as I rode. I stayed at a walk, and that pretty much sums up the rest of my rides for several months. Walking around, me nervous and him noticing my nervousness and therefore becoming more spooky and making me more nervous. Eventually I was barely riding at all. This is where I've been for the LONGEST time. Nothing I could do could get me back to normal, and TBH I've always been a little..proud about my confidence in my riding and took a break from lessons. My trainer has been aware of what's going on, but I've just been afraid to face her with it. I felt that I needed to get to a better place before I could work with her. Stupid on my part, but..
Anyway, this is stupid but you know what helped me? The dumbest things I can think of to solve this problem. Buying a new saddle and falling off. I bought a saddle that I absolutely love and had been admiring for years. As soon as I got it, I felt like I wanted to ride again, in order to ride in it, haha. So the day I bought it I went out to ride it. By the time I got to the stable it was late and chilly and my guy was a bit jumpier, but my excitement over the new saddle got the saddle. So I walk him around as usual, nervous..then something spooks him really bad, he takes off, I pull one rein to stop him but not hard enough and eventually I fly off and am unharmed. I JUMPED off of the ground with a huge grin on my face and couldn't wait to get back on. I was just laughing and laughing..the people who were there watching me ride were so confused. But I swear, the second I hit the ground, I felt like a normal rider again. Between the saddle and the fall..I'm riding every day and I'm not scared of a thing he does, so he's getting confidence in me again. I'm so thrilled. I've spent so long feeling so angry with myself over this. Feeling like I couldn't ride was ruining my confidence in every part of my life.
I swear, I think my mind had just convinced itself that I couldn't fall off without getting hurt like that again! I'm sure this wouldn't help most people who have that kind of fear, but it certainly helped me, haha

Anyway..I apologize for going on, it's a nasty habit of mine..D:

Last edited by rocky pony; 02-26-2010 at 04:05 AM.
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post #9 of 56 Old 02-26-2010, 09:26 AM
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I have a fear of Stadium Fences!

Never used too, they never phased me at all - until a couple of summers ago.

I was preparing for an Event with my Coach, working on our Stadium and things were going great! We worked on our course and everything was fluid and rhythmic and I was feeling quite confident.

My Coach then set up 1 jump, an oxer and had us go over it in a circle, time and time again. She started the fence at 2'7"ish...and gradually increased it until we got to 2'11" which is Novice height.

I thought we were done, but my coach said to go over it one more time, so we followed our regular circle, and on approach to the fence for the final time, it looked bigger than 2'11".

All I could do was focus on the height of the fence. "Man, that's big" and I stared at it. As most of us know, we aren't supposed to focus on the fence, but focus on our horse and allow the fence to come to us, not have us race to the fence.

Well, I didn't do that - I was entirely focused on the fence, forgot my horse, stopped riding and just wanted to get the jump over and done with.

Well, about 1 stride out, I dropped my horse. Let go of my leg and got ahead of him - which caused him to stop dead in his tracks. I flipped head over heels, flew like superman face first into the fence, smashed through it and landed on my back in a pile of fence rubble.

I thought I broke my nose, seeing blood on me and since I hit the fence face first. was a metal jump cup embedded in my right arm. Still have the scar to remind me.

Even though we cleaned me up and wrapped my arm with gauze and vet wrap, I still finished my lesson and compeated that weekend and won first place out of 15 competators in my category - but sunk in.

Everytime I ride amongst stadium fences...I freeze. I cannot get that accident out of my head. I cannot stop thinking about the what will happen. I look at those fences, and see man eating piles of wood.

They are open, spacious, uninviting to my eye, not fun at all.

Since then, I haven't jumped a whole lot, and definately nothing over 2'0". Friends will set up a course for me to jump, and set the fences at 2'6" - but when I look at them, I think they are 3'3". We get into arguements because they swear they are 2'6", but to my eye they are way above 3'0" and I'll leave the arena.

I have to get over this rediculous fear of these stupid rediculous fences....because I'm an Eventer, and I wont beable to compete or reach my goals to be at 1* if I don't defeat this fear.

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post #10 of 56 Old 02-26-2010, 09:41 AM
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I dont have any stories, but just wanted to say, some of the stories above are so sad!! =((

When God Made Horses, He Painted The Good Ones.
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anxiety , build confidence , fear

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