Fear Factor & Confidence

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Fear Factor & Confidence

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    04-16-2010, 09:36 PM
Exclamation Fear Factor & Confidence

So finally after taking a two year hiatus, about a week ago I booked in training sessions with a new coach who is supposed to be stellar. Long story short, the last time I rode I was in the most gorgeous canter I've ever had, until Toby tripped pretty hard and I supermanned right over the top of him bracing myself with my forearm (oops). Of course I broke it, and can honestly say it was probably the worst fall I've had thus far. I didn't get back on that night, frankly because my forearm was killing me and my girlfriends had the horse out of the barn and untacked before I even figured out I was off his back (little bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point).

That being said, I didn't think this had really affected me and was fine with it all until all of a sudden two years passed and I realized that I had stayed away something I really loved for that whole amount of time. The point being that I didn't even realize I hadn't been riding for this long, and when realized, basically forced myself to find a new coach even though I wasn't so sure.

I've been on and off of horses for what must be coming 20 years now, but there's always gaps here and there. I guess my question is, when you find your confidence has taken a walk into the dumps, how do you get it back? I already know the what my answer would be - starting with a new coach will help, going back to basics on flat, and then schooling dressage. Consistency will also help. But I'd like to hear some other posters suggestions.

I think the hardest part about it is not being in a position to own at this moment in time which means I am stuck using my coaches horses. Granted this is fantastic because they are all super quality (I'd own any one of them on problem), but it makes it hard to feel like you're "making it anywhere". So the second part of the post would be, how do you feel like you're accomplishing anything when you aren't training with your own mount?

Lastly, I love riding - but there are times over the last 6 years when I've asked myself the question whether the risk is worth it or not. I've only recently had these thoughts and figure that age has something to do with it. This apprehensiveness has become a problem for me, and when I think about my first coaching session back I find myself worrying more about what it will be like then looking forward to it. The last part of this post is I'd love to hear how other riders look fear in the eye and just get over it, for lack of a better explanation. I know how to say all the right things in my head, "You only live once", "You're a great rider", "You'll be fine", "Be confident", yadda yadda...but practicing those things is completely different now. How can I get some of this nervousness to subside so I can get on with progressing in my riding? And how can I not "feel as sick" about going out to the barn when I have to ride? It's not for lack of loving the sport, this I know - but there are times in the past when I know I have a session booked that I get so tense my tummy feels sick.

Posts welcome, would love to hear your answers.
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    04-16-2010, 09:49 PM
When you find your confidence has taken a walk into the dumps, how do you get it back?

I ride at the level I feel comfortable at until I feel I am ready to move up. Never push yourself so far out of your comfort level. Little steps I find are always the most successful.

How do you feel like you're accomplishing anything when you aren't training with your own mount?

Consider it time to really focus on yourself and your riding. To gain some new abilities and technique you didn't have before. Riding someone else's quality horse is a real treat. So treat it as such. You can really grow on school masters. Go above and beyond what you could do before. Then when you do get your own horse you can apply all those new lessons to your horse and teach them better because you both don't need to learn it.

How can I get some of this nervousness to subside so I can get on with progressing in my riding?

Maybe go outside of riding and find some ways to approach nerves, then apply them to when you ride? I sing, or count, or do something like that. But if you are feeling so nervous you cannot continue. Take a moment and let your nervousness come back down. Some days you may just need to leave it be and get off, but again, baby steps. Find a way to work with your nerves and settle them.

Hope that helped. :)
    04-18-2010, 07:46 AM
A few years ago I went to look at a new horse, a 15 year old Arab gelding. The girl who owned him rode him in an English saddle and he did pretty well. We brought him over to my truck to fit him with my Western saddle and I asked if he ever had one on. The owner said "sure, the last owner rode him in one ..... I think" - That should have been my first clue.

He was acting nervous as I saddled him up so I took my time and showed him everything first then walked him down from the parking lot to the grass field that I was going to ride him in. I cinched him up again and as I went to mount him I jokingly said "The last thing I want to hear is 'gosh, he's never done that before'."

As my right leg brushed his back while I mounted him, he broke free from his holder and bolted. He went full throttle up to the parking lot and bucked on the stone driveway. I couldn't keep seated since I didn't have my leg in the stirrup yet and got thrown. It was the worst crash I've had in a life time of horses.

The long and short is that I’m told that I was unconscious for about 5 min. I ended up with a cracked pelvis, broken ribs, a concussion, and various bruises. I even had to sleep in a recliner chair for over a month since I couldn't lie down.

The next day, with the help of some meds from my doctor, I hobbled around at a horse sale and bought a pretty nice mare. It was over 2 months before I could ride her though.

My first time back in the saddle actually took over 1/2 an hour just to mount. Fear gripped me so badly that I was actually in tears while trying to mount. The mare did nothing wrong and just stood there patiently. I sat in the saddle for no more then a few seconds and put her away. It took a week or two of trying before I could walk her around the field - trotting came next but the fear that she might buck if I put her into a canter terrified me.

It took over a year and a lot of effort to become more comfortable while mounted. I went through a lot of horses that year that I would have normally kept to find the right one to bring me back my confidence. I had to do it all alone. Today, even though I've had a few falls since then (I'm currently nursing some bruised/broken ribs from a fall and I'm back to sleeping in a recliner again) I still get concerned when mounting a new horse that I have to work with. The days of jumping on any horse, anywhere, are gone and I'm so much more cautious - which is probably a good thing at my age anyway.

The love of horses never left me and I suppose it never will.

    04-18-2010, 08:17 AM
In my opinion, get on the oldest trained horse you can find. And for the fist couple weeks (or even months if that's what it takes) just walk. You need to build your confidence 100% at the walk before you can move to the trot. And DON'T feel like you have to rush! Find a trainer who understands what's wrong.

If you were afraid of heights, I wouldn't make you go up into a plane with me and expect you to go sky diving. I would start gradually building your confidence up. I would put you on a step stool, once you get confident on that I would add.

Good luck<3
    04-18-2010, 08:18 AM
Thanks iride & White Foot, I don't want to say misery loves company, but it's nice to know I'm not the only one who's been through the mental battle of getting back on and moving forward through a bad fall.
    04-18-2010, 08:42 AM
MissH, you are far from being alone. As I found and as White Foot suggested, ride the most docile horse you can find until you are ready to move up. If you never move to the next horse, so what. You will have to push yourself a little but if you want to ride and the horse you have doesn't give you the confidence you need so that you look forward to it, you have the wrong horse.

I've seen too many riders go away from the sport out of fear when all they needed was the right partner. Go at your pace not anyone else's.

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