I'm afraid this post is likely going to be a bit long... sorry!
I started riding when I was 10 and shortly thereafter I got my first pony. I was a fairly fearless rider right from the start.
When I was 16, I got my QH gelding, Cody. He was green and so was I, but somehow we (eventually) figured it out.
For a couple of years, I worked for my friend at her riding stable. I guided trail rides and trained new/young horses.
Somewhere along the lines, I had an accident with Cody, where he ran away with me and ended up galloping on a blacktopped road, up and down hills, on the wrong side of the road. He passed right by our driveway and ended up running for a mile or so before I finally just bailed off him. I didn't get hurt terribly bad, just bruised and scraped and a concussion from the blacktop (no helmet, BAD rider!).
It wasn't an immediate thing, but my confidence was shaken and gradually things got worse and worse. I didn't stop riding at that point, and my fear wasn't at it's worst at that point.... but as the years passed and I realized I was indeed breakable, I started riding less and less.
I got married and had a baby; he is now 16 months old. Even though I am super happy with my family, I feel like there's something missing in my life and really want to get back into riding again.
I initially got all gung ho and decided I was going to get a dressage horse and go in a completely different direction (I've always ridden Western). I even looked into OTTBs (probably NOT a good idea for a rider that's having minor confidence issues).
More recently, I've been thinking of getting Cody back into riding shape. He's only 22, but just yesterday I discovered there's something wrong with him... likely arthritis (going to get a vet out to check). I had initially decided to go English with him, but he really is a Western horse. Plus, I figured I might feel more secure in a Western saddle. Regardless, it seems like that option is out due to his health.
I am getting two young ponies I'll be working with and training, but obviously I won't be riding them because they're too small for me. I think this will really help my "horse withdrawal" but won't satisfy my urge to ride again.
I'm starting lessons with a good all around instructor tonight. She primarily does dressage and jumping but also teaches Western. I'm going to be taking English/Dressage lessons and seeing how I like that.
I still have the urge to get my own horse and keep it at my parents' with the others (the retired horses, my SIL's gelding, and my ponies). I am thinking I should probably try to hold off and see how the riding lessons go, though.
It's not that I was terribly afraid and didn't enjoy riding. It's just a bit of unease, and only on the trail. When I'm in an arena, I feel much more secure. It's not really the falling off that I'm afraid of, it's the uncontrolled running away.
I actually haven't ridden at all in 3-4 years. Tonight will be my first time in the saddle. I also have plans to go to my friend's place and trail ride (she doesn't have a public trail riding facility anymore, just rides for fun). Somehow, I never felt afraid on her trails. They're all wooded and we mostly just walk and trot. I even used to go horse camping and LOVED it... always riding very steady mounts (though still spirited, not runaways). At my parents' place, however, we can either ride on the road or go through a large field to get to the trails. The trails are NOT used very frequently and there are a lot of bear, dear, wolves, and even possibly a cougar. THAT is really one of my biggest fears: encountering a cougar, wolf or bear on the trail that will spook my horse.
If I decide to look for a horse, I'm thinking I should NOT go for my "dream horse" of a tall TB or sporthorse. Instead, I should probably go with what I know: a well broke QH type to just ride for fun in the arena, on the trail, and at a few local shows. I figure I could stick with primarily Western, with perhaps some English in the arena for fun.
I've been browsing CL and found a few possibilities. Again, I'm going to wait to see how the lessons go to decide for sure but it's still fun to look. Here's what I came up with:
1) Probably my first choice... just sounds like what I'm looking for. A calm, steady mount that I can do all sorts of things with: Western, English, gaming (just for fun), trails, etc.: 7 year old All Around Quarter Horse
2) Sounds calm and steady, yet a bit different than what I'm used to which could be fun: Horse well broke
3) Perhaps a bit less suitable but has a good price, is local, and has the potential to be a good horse: Beautiful Gelding QH
4) My heart speaking, not my head.... he looks like he could be a handful: black beauty gelding for sale