I was never raised around horses, so the only experience I had was when I used to help with training/re-training horses on a small farm with a family friend, who was my mentor in all things horses. He is like a second father, and the only person that I feel comfortable when it comes to horses around. I have no friends who are interested in horses.
All of my riding experience has been trail riding and putting riding time on green horses (always with a helmet!) I have only been bucked completely off one time (a year ago, of a 3yo 17h QH) and it absolutely shattered my already very shaky confidence in my horsemanship.
I had been on a trail ride with my mentor and some of his friends on a horse we had been working with recently. All morning she had been perfect for him, so he let me ride her for a little bit on the way home, when she spooked and crow hopped until I plopped right off. After the initial realization, I was stunned. As cliche as it sounds the phrase "real cowgirls don't cry," so I blinked back my tears, and tried to climb back on. My friend immediately had me switch back to the old bombproof gelding I had been riding the whole morning.
I remained shaken and was very wary of riding that same horse, as well as nearly every other horse, although she never gave me any more problems, and is now a very well rounded mare. Now whenever I get on a horse, I expect the worst, and every time they trip, my heart skips a beat. I know the horse can feel my fear, and I hate feeling so weak. I don't feel like I deserve to own the horse I have, I've only ridden her once in the time I've owned her (2 months.) I want to never be afraid of my horse, and never question trusting her, and vice versa.
I also am so afraid of being criticized or being told that I am a foolish/unworthy horse owner/rider. I don't keep my horse where my mentor lives, and the people I keep her with don't know my riding abilities or history; I barely know them.
Long story short, I don't know how to build confidence in myself as a horsewoman, nor how to get over my fear of being criticized. Does anybody else lack confidence in their riding abilities or know any ways to help? I just feel lost.