The other side of it: help me understand rider fear
 
 

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The other side of it: help me understand rider fear

This is a discussion on The other side of it: help me understand rider fear within the Horse Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Helping the young horseback rider understand
  • Horse riding fear spook

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    06-04-2013, 04:03 PM
  #1
Trained
The other side of it: help me understand rider fear

There's a boarder where I board who is afraid of riding, but insists she loves it. She happily and confidently catches, grooms and tacks her horse. The second she's in the saddle, its all fear. Eyes widened, hand death gripping the horn, hand in a vice around the reins (but fortunately she keeps loose contact). She stays at a walk and refuses to trot - she will get off if her horse jigs. It's a nice calm horse and only jigs for a bit after a spook. She doesn't spook hard. The horse has a good head on her shoulders.

Back to the rider...not for one second would you look at her and think she's having fun. She doesn't even calm down until she has dismounted. She won't take lessons to help. She has not had a traumatic incident to inspire the fear.

Help me understand? She looks and acts like she's having a miserable time. Why is she doing something she really doesn't seem to have fun doing? I don't know her well enough to try diving into her personal issues in depth and I don't want to discourage her. I really just can't relate. Why keep at something you're clearly not enjoying? I think she should just try driving or agility or something else she might enjoy instead of forcing herself to ride.
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    06-04-2013, 05:01 PM
  #2
Started
Not having this fear I can't explain it to you. All I can add is that I've known a handful of people like the one you described. All of them seemed to love grooming their horses. They spend hours with them, but react as you described when in the saddle. I'm sure they all had different reasons, but I figured that as long as their horse had a caring, loving owner that's all that mattered.
     
    06-04-2013, 08:19 PM
  #3
Started
It's just the way her brain is configured, trying to keep her safe. It's perfectly normal.

She's going against her brain by mounting up, so she's dealing with it! To help her, you must show her/tell her that it's no shame, just her brain trying to keep her safe, & the fact that she's gone ahead & mounted up has been the right thing to do! Now, she needs to continue to take small steps, like restrain herself from dismounting after a small spook.

Please don't shame her; you don't want her to give up due to that, since it seems that she loves horses.
Golden Horse and Cynical25 like this.
     
    06-04-2013, 09:03 PM
  #4
Showing
I had a friend that was that way. Eventually she was 'pressured' into taking lessons and now LOVES riding without any fear :)

She probably loves how it feels, but it fearful of the power of the horse or of falling off.

I hope she breaks through and can enjoy riding her horse.
     
    06-04-2013, 09:30 PM
  #5
Trained
Maybe she feels obligated to ride but doesn't really want to. Unless you have an opportunity to ask her, there is little you can do. If you want to support her, spend a bit of time getting to know her and maybe you can give her support to feel better about riding, or to not ride and just enjoy the ground work. Maybe she'd enjoy driving over riding. Who can know without talking to her? No one.
     
    06-04-2013, 11:02 PM
  #6
Green Broke
I love riding. I started riding when I was eight years old and from then it's what I did, what I do. I got my first horse when I was 11 and from then on rode and rode, competed, even broke in my own horse later on.

When I was 16 the horse I broke randomly took off bucking, I fell off and had a little concussion but was okay. Rode her again and she never put a foot wrong again but I was wary, as I had trusted that horse. I got out of horses for a couple of years and then when I was 20, my then current horse being unrideable, was offered a friends horse. I wasn't even in the saddle and she bolted off, bucking.

I broke my arm and cracked my spine. It was not so much the pain but the uselessness. Living basically alone with no family around it was hard to do things, just opening jars, cutting food, driving (I drive manual). With my back I couldn't lift more than 3kg for 6 months, I had to move on my current just because of my inability to do stuff. I hadn't done anything wrong with that horse. Most falls I can attribute, at least in some way, to a mistake I made but not this one. I did everything right. And still I was hurt.

After about a year I started thinking about horses again. I'd see them and smile, have dreams about them. I'd always been the "horse girl" at school. My long term plans, places I'd lived, had always been structured around allowing me to own a horse. Without horses I wasn't me. The thing that had shaped my life was gone. I was so nervous when I decided to ride, it took me weeks to psyche myself up and then I went and booked a riding lesson at the local riding school, asking for as small a horse as they could give me. Even then I was terrified to get back in the saddle. But I did it, and fought my nerves a few more times, taking more lessons, until I bought Rosie. I'd get on her in a round yard, in a stock saddle, after lunging and literally do one lap at the walk, and then get off. Slowly I would ride longer, and then start trotting.

I still have Rosie and she needs work but she's quiet. Unfortunately she has lameness problems, but is still okay for light work. I've been riding my friends horse and having one I can get on everyday, and is fine, has done wonders for my confidence. I used to be shaking before getting on, terrified that the horse would do something, and I wouldn't be able to do anything then I would fall and not be able to do anything. Be helpless. Now though, it's getting heaps better, and I can canter alone in the open, I even rode a three year old stallion the other day.

So explaining it... riding is part of who you are sometimes. And you might be all scared but when you're not riding you think about it. And you remember a time when you weren't scared. The more you ride the braver you are, and that's what people are working towards.
     
    06-04-2013, 11:38 PM
  #7
Trained
@Northern: SHAME her? No way. I answer questions, help and even ride for her occasionally. I would absolutely not shame her.

She totally loves her horse and her horse seems to like her. She just seems so unhappy, I feel bad for her. I can't ride with her - my horse is hot and he would freak her out, so that's not an option. I would just like to know how to understand her viewpoint so maybe I can help her enjoy her horse more.

Probably eventually I will get to know her well enough to ask without offending. Until then, its still interesting to me.
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    06-04-2013, 11:49 PM
  #8
Weanling
I don't know that I fear riding, but I will be the first to admit I prefer ground work and grooming to riding. I also love watching my 10 year old daughter ride.

Why? I'm not sure. I loved riding when I was a kid. I used to rent horses for an hour and gallop helmetless across the fields and through the woods. Now, I don't enjoy getting above a walk (and I probably look tense when riding too!). I'm planning to use my daughter's lesson time this summer when she is away at summer camp. Im hoping to learn more ground work so I can help my daughter...but her coach wants me to ride too.

It will be interesting to see how it goes this summer and if she can get me more comfortable in the saddle.
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    06-04-2013, 11:58 PM
  #9
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by DancingArabian    
@Northern: SHAME her? No way. I answer questions, help and even ride for her occasionally. I would absolutely not shame her.

She totally loves her horse and her horse seems to like her. She just seems so unhappy, I feel bad for her. I can't ride with her - my horse is hot and he would freak her out, so that's not an option. I would just like to know how to understand her viewpoint so maybe I can help her enjoy her horse more.

Probably eventually I will get to know her well enough to ask without offending. Until then, its still interesting to me.
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I don't think she means intentionally shame her. It's an issue that needs to be brought up delicately to avoid embarrassing her. There's really no easy way to say "You look like you're scared out of your right mind every time you're on a horse!!" Are you sure that she has not had any unpleasant experiences that would cause fear? Unless she's been riding around you for her entire horse career it's possible that something has happened that she doesn't want to discuss.

She also may feel as though she is obligated to ride her horse. Most people that I know keep horses for the purpose of riding them. She may think that it won't seem right if she has a horse just for a pet. She may really like the idea of riding, but can't find the courage to actually "do it". I think that lessons could be beneficial, but having the added pressure may scare her off of the idea. Perhaps she would be willing to do a group lesson? Maybe being on a lunge line would help her get past the initial apprehension that she has about riding.
Northern likes this.
     
    06-05-2013, 02:06 PM
  #10
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by DancingArabian    
There's a boarder where I board who is afraid of riding, but insists she loves it. She happily and confidently catches, grooms and tacks her horse. The second she's in the saddle, its all fear. Eyes widened, hand death gripping the horn, hand in a vice around the reins (but fortunately she keeps loose contact). She stays at a walk and refuses to trot - she will get off if her horse jigs. It's a nice calm horse and only jigs for a bit after a spook. She doesn't spook hard. The horse has a good head on her shoulders.

Back to the rider...not for one second would you look at her and think she's having fun. She doesn't even calm down until she has dismounted. She won't take lessons to help. She has not had a traumatic incident to inspire the fear.

Help me understand? She looks and acts like she's having a miserable time. Why is she doing something she really doesn't seem to have fun doing? I don't know her well enough to try diving into her personal issues in depth and I don't want to discourage her. I really just can't relate. Why keep at something you're clearly not enjoying? I think she should just try driving or agility or something else she might enjoy instead of forcing herself to ride.
Posted via Mobile Device
Provided she really hasn't had traumatic accident (of any sort) that you aren't aware of, I would have to wonder what the depth of her personality is.

Meaning, is she someone who jumps two feet out of the recliner when lightening hits the backyard tree.

Does she go "ah! Ah!" in a negative way when a good sized dog comes trotting or running up to her?

Some folks may display a very confident personality to the world but it's a fašade.
Quote:

who is afraid of riding, but insists she loves it
No, she WANTS to love but can't let go of her fears. It may be she will never let go of them, as it's entirely possible that's just how she is wired.

We are all born different. I got into a ton of trouble with the scrapes and bruises to prove it, growing up on the dairy farm. I was born wearing a "No Fear" T-shirt to the great dismay of my parents. Nothing, zip, nadda, they could threaten me with would stop me from "investigating".

On the other side of that coin, the next person could have grown up with a plethora of fears based soley on what their parent(s) threatened them with.

I hope that made sense
     

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