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Anyone have Fear or Confidence Issues?

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  • Is it normal to have fears againt my new horse

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    03-02-2010, 11:48 PM
I can relate to that for sure. You had a hell of a fall.

Well I can really relate to that. You had a heck of a fall. And when that happens it really opens you eyes. So I believe you will always have that awareness and a certain amount of caution when you decide to ride. I also had a bad scare but no long lasting damage (if you call 3 years not long lasting) I hurt my back but took up yoga which seeme to resolve my physical issues.

Originally Posted by HaroldandMaude    
I have trouble trusting a new horse/a horse I don't really know.

I had a bad accident about 15 years ago ( I was foxhunting a TB that belonged to a friend and he lost his balance and fell on top of my...I broke my pelvis, part of my back and sustained some permanent muscle damage in one of my upper arms) It was the first time I had ridden this horse. I was an extremely competent rider at the time (eventing at pre-lim) and this really shook me to my core.

After I recovered I leased a been there/done that TB and rode him at least 4 time a week. I was scared as heck getting on him to begin with, for my first canter, first jump, first hunter pace, ect. I knew if I didn't do these thing soon after my wreck I would probably never ride again, even though I really wanted to. Also, this horse was just the salt of the earth. He seemed to respect my fear and not take advantage of me. That being said, there were times I got on him when I just felt like I was going to throw up I was so scared!

I still have a niggleing little fear (yes, 15 years later) when I get on a lesson horse or a friends horse for the first time. It doesn't matter if it is a rank OTTB or a child's Connemara! I even was nervous getting on my own mare who I had owned sine she was a baby!

I am a big believer of facing your fears. I also think talking to someone about yor fear makes your fear loosen it's grip on you. As silly as this sounds, positive visualiztion has hhelped me too.
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    03-02-2010, 11:54 PM
You already are a better rider; you just need to recognize it

Although we are always responsible in some fashion for what happens between us and our horses, it is the recognition of what we missed that enable us to be a better rider. Overcoming the anxiety is a matter of time and building positive experiences. When you find some resolution with the experience in you mind then you will be a better rider.

Originally Posted by TheRoughrider21    
I had some issues with a horse that I could not form a bond with...I felt like I was training a brick wall everytime I brought her in from the pasture. Besides the fact it took me 2 hours to catch her. Riding her...well that was an experince. I lost confidence after her and took bout 5 months away from horses to straigthen myself out. That was 2 years ago and I really don't think I'm the same rider I was before. I know I can stay on bucks and horses that have just been trained and that I am a good rider, but sometimes its like I have no faith in myself. A workshop for nervous or lost confidence riders is great...I wish I had one around here.
    03-03-2010, 03:24 AM
I am sorry this is so long.

This is something I am right smack in the midst of dealing with.

I have been riding for around 20 years and 3 weeks ago I had my first bad fall. Now I have had some spectacular falls in the past, but this is the first time I actually got hurt. I no longer bounce as I did in my younger days.

As many of you have said, I too was once a FEARLESS rider. I started many young horses and spent many hours on very green horses and "problem" horses. I not only was unafraid, but fealt I was MEANT for the back of horse, born for it.

When I got married several years ago my husband bought us a tiny house on 5 acres, knowing it had aways been my dream to have my horse at home. At the time I had my once-in-a-lifetime horse, a TB mare I had gotten as a yearling and trained myself. She became the most "bombproof" easy going horse I have had the privlidge to know.

When we moved to our house I no longer had other horses to ride and between wanting to spend every waking moment with my husband, working in town and then eventually having a baby, I didn't get to ride much. When I finally started being able to ride regularly again I lost my mare at the age of 13 to liver failure. That was a year and a half ago and I still struggle with her loss every day.

By that time I been spoiled with riding only an angel of a horse for the past 5 or 6 years.

Then I got Lenore, my 5 1/2 year old TB mare. She came from a rescue that bought her out of the kill pen at a local auction. Her history is unknown other than the previous owner stated she had not been started under saddle. So Lenore came to me either unhandled or mistreated. I am still not sure wich.

Lenore is a somewhat sterotypical TB. She is easily spooked, always wary and very sensitive. I started her under saddle a little over a year ago, but her training has been somewhat spotty due to various circumstances.

A few weeks ago I was riding her in our field. She had been doing so well lately I had asked my husband if he would take pictures. I made several mistakes during the ride. I was excited about the pictures. I rushed through our normal routine, payed little attention to signs she was showing of being a little off and had perhaps not spent enough time on certain aspects of her training.

While warming her up I mentioned to my husband, who was working in the garage, that Lenore was very nervous/antsy, but continued about my business without a lot of thought to it.

While riding in the field I noticed my neighbor right behind us was out. I was near the corner of fence we shared and raised my hand up to wave. Lenore spooked a bit at my hand raising near her head, but I told her to knock it off and thought I had her under control....but her little spook began to turn into a big one. She spun around, danced a bit and then headed across the field. I really just do not remember if she was bucking. At some point I realised I would not be able to stay on her and began calling for my husband so that when I did come off, he would be able to divert Lenore out into the field and keep her from going towards the road. A section of our fence is down awaiting new fencing, and I really fear her getting into traffic.

Next thing I remember I am lying on my side in the dirt in quite a bit of pain and Lenore is just gone.

After my husband managed to get me in the house he went after Lenore. Turns out our neighbors across the way bought a stud horse and turned him loose with their herd. Lenore was over racing the fence line with him.

I rode her again a week or more after the fall, as soon as I was healed up enough to get back on (though still quite quite sore). I have had a few rides on her now, one of them pretty good, but I am still nervous of her.

While I can see the mistakes I made and that the situation was aggrivated by a new stud horse in the area and Lenore quite probably being in heat, I have now developed a good healthy fear. Lenore has always been slightly unpredictable and this unpredictableness had made me wary of her even before the fall. Now I am having serious doubts, not just in her, but in myself. I am no longer the "stay on anything" rider I used to be, and I am unsure where exactly to go from here. My confidence is definitely shaken.
    03-03-2010, 03:26 AM
Before this incident happened, I was truly fearless. And I had had bad falls, too, but they never seemed to faze me. I may also add that all my instructors had high hopes for me.

My usual lesson horse was out of commission, so I was put on this pony, who was too small for me. Add that the saddle was also too small for me, and toss in that I was not particularly confident with cantering.

We're cantering. The small saddle keeps pitching me forward. We take a really tight turn, the saddle throws me forward, and I wind up on her neck. She lowers her head, and over I go right in front of her. Her hoof went straight into my cheek, and my sweater got totaled.

I was out of the saddle for two years. My mom had to practically crucify me to get me back on a horse, and I will admit that I almost chickened out when I up on the mounting block about to get on a horse for the first time in two years.

The one thing I was absolutely terrified of was cantering, and we had to come up with some pretty crazy tricks to get me to knock that off.

And now, I finally got my own horse, and I'm hitting mad racehorse speeds w/o breaking a sweat, back to being the fearless nut I was before.
    03-03-2010, 10:32 AM
I've been riding on and off for about 15 years, and have always been a cautious rider. I took a long break from riding when I could no longer afford it.

Now, things have changed and I started to lease at a backyard barn. The first horse I leased was definitely a confidence builder, but I really could have used more time with him. He is an older appendix with some leg issues, and wasn't really ride-able for me any longer. I switched my lease to the barn owner's horse, who isn't being leased out to anyone else because he can be a challenge. I have formed a strong bond with this horse, and although he does make me nervous at times, I'm starting to feel somewhat confident on him.

However, I always have issues riding horses I'm not familiar with. I get nervous, tense up, and then the horse spooks because of it. I wish I knew some way to calm myself down.
    05-15-2010, 08:30 PM
Thanks for sharing. I really think there is a need out there also and I will keep you posted. Isabel
    05-16-2010, 12:44 PM
This is a different kind of confidence issue, one created by the people you're around ...

Often instructors and stable hands give me a vibe that I'm just not doing well or I'm doing things the wrong way, that they know so much better and could get things done much quicker. This constant judgement stops me from being able to commit fully to an action, whether on the ground or riding, which restricts me and makes me much worse than I could be!

I've noticed that now I'm riding at a friend's stables, amongst people who know I'm not great but that I listen to every correction and learn from my mistakes, I have much more confidence and can act instead of dithering, which gives me much better results. Simply because I now trust I'm allowed to boss the horses around, I no longer jump away from them but have dealt with rearing, pushy foals, and correcting a horse who was testing me to see what he could get away with :)

So be aware, you guys, of the effect you have on the beginners around you!
    05-16-2010, 03:30 PM
Great Story!

Great story. Thanks for sharing.

Originally Posted by rocky pony    
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:
    05-16-2010, 03:35 PM

Barry, you are so right. It is a very complicated subject. Just think how much we must love what we do to continue facing our fears whether they are realistic or imagined. Thanks for sharing.

Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
As a rider of 35 years or more during which time I have ridden a 100 or more horses - who knows how many - including riding in several different countries
I believe that a serious fall, especially one invoking shock and maybe concussion, can bring about what I call "Post Traumatic Fall Disorder".

We do not ride with our conscious brains, we learn to ride by rote - constant repetition. The instant responses we need to keep up on a horse's back are taken in by our sub conscious brain. If a horse shies, then we have to have responded to that shy before in some cases our conscious brain has recognised that a shy has taken place. When driving a car, if another car comes up from the side, then we have braked or turned (or both) before we have visually recognised the situation.

The problem is that our sub conscious brain has reacted to a threat to the body's well being. It is well possible in regular horse riding that similar threats have been faced before but since nothing too serious has happened previously then the brain has shrugged it off. But once serious physical damage has been done - eg if the spine has been bruised or the head banged - then the sub conscious starts to think for itself. It sends out little signals and says - "Oi take more care".

The problem with horse riding is that 'tension' is an enemy. If the rider grips or goes rigid then the body's ability to react in a split second is negated.
The body can't absorb the stresses.
There is a second problem too, the horse can sense the tension in the rider.
Then the horse starts to ask itself why the rider is tense "WHat's going on?" asks the horse - "should I be worried too".

The psychologist might say that the human brain is as good at remembering as the horse is - and the human brain remembers other fears, unrelated to horse riding, which may also be worrying the individual.

How does one cope? Well first one accepts that there is a problem.
Then one learns as much as possible about relaxation techniques.
Then one goes back to the training arena to learn to sit and relax on a horse - one will need professional help for this.
Then one asks oneself if this horse riding is what one really wants to do.
Then one allows 'time' to do its healing magic.

Me, well I fell off my horse whilst it was bolting downhill at full gallop and did my self a serious mischief. I got back on after that fall and rode home in a daze.
Then it happened again a couple of months later but not quite so bad next time, just a few minor bruises.
Then I got myself another horse and I came off her, four times within a month.
Each time the physical damage was minimal but the tension was getting worse.
It then came home to me what everyone was saying - I was too tense to ride and I had not recognised it. It was time then for me to seek help.

I can ride now. But do I enjoy it like I used to? - well not really. It will take time.
But at least I have recognised the problem and that is half the battle.
Time is also the great healer.
I may also have an ageing problem - but that is my particular burden to bear not the average rider's burden.
I did write a short book on the subject but it will never be published.

The subject of PTFD needs more research. Humans have the ability now to analyse scenarios and to take measurements. If we measured the forces involved in falling off a horse onto a hard surface we would realize just how vulnerable we humans are.

Barry G
    05-16-2010, 03:48 PM
Originally Posted by claireauriga    
This is a different kind of confidence issue, one created by the people you're around ...

Often instructors and stable hands give me a vibe that I'm just not doing well or I'm doing things the wrong way, that they know so much better and could get things done much quicker. This constant judgement stops me from being able to commit fully to an action, whether on the ground or riding, which restricts me and makes me much worse than I could be!

I've noticed that now I'm riding at a friend's stables, amongst people who know I'm not great but that I listen to every correction and learn from my mistakes, I have much more confidence and can act instead of dithering, which gives me much better results. Simply because I now trust I'm allowed to boss the horses around, I no longer jump away from them but have dealt with rearing, pushy foals, and correcting a horse who was testing me to see what he could get away with :)

So be aware, you guys, of the effect you have on the beginners around you!

I def. Agree with this as I have been in that same situation.

anxiety, build confidence, fear

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