How to overcome fear...if it's a habit - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 13 Old 09-30-2011, 02:02 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 2,061
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How to overcome fear...if it's a habit

I got my horse two years ago, and since then, I've pretty much lived in a constant state of fear and anxiety with her. Finally, I've begun taking lessons with the really great trainer ( about time)

Two years of defensive riding have led me to develop a very hunched-over, almost foetal position-like form. ( Bad bad)

She had me sit back so that my butt was actually touching the saddle I was really, honestly surprised how much of a difference it made. With a good, solid, strong seat, the rest just sort of falls into place. (Yes)

But, as she said, I'm not going to fix it overnight,
It is an uncorrected habit I'm having to break.

She is not a bad horse at all. I have never rode her every day for any extended period of time. (Then it is time you started to)

the worst she ever does is get tense, anxious, and that's usually only when I'm feeling scared and nervous.
but she's got no buck, no rear, no bolt . (That’s good).

And I'm FEARFUL So WHY am I still scared?

(Sorry, but I cut out all but the relevant bits),

Being some one who has gone through an episode of fear after a very bad horse fall, I can sympathise. I am pleased to hear you have found a riding trainer but now you need to find out what is making your fearful of riding and strangely that may not be the horse. If there is something else buzzing round in your head it can show itself when you ride.

Personally I had no excuse for coming off my mare, four times in close succession. I had been riding for 35 years and I had ridden horses a lot more skittish than my mare.
Eventually I discovered that the pills I have to take daily, impacted on my balance And in addition, the tinnitus which I have suffered for years did not help. At last I understood the problem.

There are several techniques for relaxing and that is one thing you need to do. You have to sit in the right posture - head up , back straight, legs hanging down with toes up - you know, you’ve been told. There is to be no gripping, no tension in the hands, No stiffness. If you are tense then the horse for sure knows and wonders just why.

You have to relax - if you can’t learn how, then even a very placid horse is not going to help you. Cure yourself, then go back to the horse when you feel better.

Some ideas for relaxing are: singing, wiggling the toes, sitting deep in the saddle. Laying on the floor and letting go of everything.
I suggest you look up ‘Dr Alexander Technique’ on the internet.

But what helped me most was to understand the situation. It took a clinical psychologist to explain that in an old man there are a lot of bad memories and fears. Just to talk about those fears - perhaps long forgotten but remaining dormant in the back of my mind, helps to put them to one side. Banging my head when I had hit the ground had brought all those fears back and I had to relearn how to bury them.

ATPH - persist with riding. There is no other sport quite like it.
Horse riding is an adrenaline rich sport and horses are just something special in life, which those who never ride will never get to experience.
Good luck.

xxBarry Godden is offline  
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post #12 of 13 Old 10-01-2011, 10:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ontario
Posts: 17,193
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If your horse displays a little fear and you become tense, you're not breathing. Pay attention to that. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly with a little moan. This can help your horse as well. Then take another deep breath. Laugh at yourself and go on with your ride.
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post #13 of 13 Old 10-02-2011, 11:06 PM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: On my horse's back! Obviously!
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Congrats on starting to take lessons and progressing! It sounds like you've already come a long way!

I, too, have experienced the large amount of fear that you are feeling. My first horse took off on me one too many times and took all of my confidence. That was about 2 years ago and I am still working on my confidence, though I am happy to say that have regained all of it and just got to a point with my new horse that I am no longer afraid of some of his quirks! The most important thing to remember is that it is okay to not push yourself to do something one day because you are too afraid, the time will come when you think, "hey, this seems easy and I'm NOT afraid".

When I get nervous because I think my horse is going to spook I try to remember to loosen up on the reins. Chances are your mind will be screaming to you to tighten up on the reins, but then your horse might think that there is something to be afraid of, and you want him to remain relaxed and not think that. I will also go into two-point or half seat if I am nervous because I am better able to cool off when I am off of my horse's back. Also try not to look where you think your horse will spook, you should totally ignore the area and pretend it's not even there.

Like another poster mentioned, I like to use positive visualization to help me conquer my nerves. For me, though, it took MONTHS of positive visualization for the idea to finally sink in and for me to be less nervous. So it is okay if the visualization doesn't "work" right away. I also do what most people say not to do- I imagine what happens when things go wrong. I will only imagine "the bad" when I am at home and away from my horse to avoid transferring my nerves over to him. If I am worried that my horse is going to take off, when I am sitting at home I imagine my horse taking off and me stopping him. It helps me to know what to do in the situation of things not going well so that I am prepared when it happens.

While riding, if I get nervous, I do "yoga on horseback" as I call it. I will bring the horse to a walk and go in a circle, I will then close my eyes (only do this is you are comfortable) and take deep breaths. Often times I will have my reins on the buckle and wiggle my arms and legs to rid myself of the tension I am feeling. You might try a lesson on the lunge line with your instructor. This way you will know that your horse can't do anything silly and you are able to let go of the reins, close your eyes, stick your arms out, etc and focus on the movement of the horse and remaining calm. Without all of the other variables in the situation you can "stop thinking" and start riding.

Good luck!

Last edited by haleylvsshammy; 10-02-2011 at 11:09 PM.
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