Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Alberta, Canada
Confessions of a Nervous Rider
These observations may help other scared and nervous riders.
Several things make me a nervous rider. Here is how I try to overcome the fears.
1. My age. I'm 53 years old and when you get older, you don't have the fearlessness you had when you were younger. Back in my youth I'd climb up on anything and try anything. Now I'm aware how hard the ground is and I don't recover like I used to. You know you're mortal. You know things can hurt you. And you don't thing "I'm going for a great ride today!" your brain is more along the thought process of "What if?" What if he spooks? What if I fall off and there's no one around to help me? What if I'm dragged? What if...? Fears like these are not reasonable. It's hard to overcome them. They are there and they are real to the person feeling the fear. Yet, I have this love of horses and riding. I WANT to ride. I'm scared to ride. I have two good, sane horses to ride, but still, I think what if?
How to overcome it? I don't think "I'm going for a ride." I think, "Let's play with the horse." Let's just saddle him up. I can always put him away, I don't have to ride. Okay let's just sit on him. Ok, maybe a short walk down the driveway and back. As each stage progresses, and nothing horrible happens, I can go one step further.
Sometimes I regress. If I dont' ride, it becomes scary again. There's no reason for this, I know it, and it angers me that the fear takes over. But you can always start again. Never give up.
2. Out of shape. I know how to ride. I'm a good rider when in shape. But I have to get back into shape so my muscles do what they're supposed to. I have to find my balance again.
How to overcome it? You have to ride. You have to stretch those muscles first. The more fit you feel, the better you'll feel. You have to sit on the horse when it's moving and use those muscles. It doesn't have to be for long, just a few minutes a day. Each time you'll be a bit more fit, and a bit more confident. Do the exercises that promote good balance. Do them on a lunge line with a trusted friend so you don't feel like you have to concentrate on controlling the horse AND balancing.
3. Horses are too green, so I'm scared to ride them. I just went through this one. I bought great stock when they were young, raised them and sent them for training. It was the only way I could afford the great bloodlines. What did I have? Beautiful horses, but green broke. I had to admit I didn't have the confidence to finish them, nor the money to send them off for more training.
How to overcome it? This was the hardest one. I rode each one and kept the one I felt most confident on, Chip. I sold the other three. This was SO difficult, but I cannot ride four horses, I could not afford to continually feed four horses that I wasn't riding, and all that preliminary training was going to go to waste! I found great homes for each one and sold them off, one by one, tears in my eyes, but happy they were going to be used. Then we took that money and bought one older gelding, well broke, sane, good for beginner hubby to ride as well.
If you read this far, I commend you! In summary, for my three fears that I had to overcome, the results were this: Go at your own pace with your fears, but never give up if you truly love to ride and you want to. Work on your skills on and off the horse to feel more fit and more confident. A trainer once told me, "We have an obligation to our horse to be fit enough to ride them." And swallow that pride and let go of the horses you will never ride, and get one who you can ride and have fun on.
Sometimes I wrestle with my demons. Sometimes we just snuggle.