fear of falling?

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fear of falling?

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  • Fear of riding my horse after spook
  • How to conquer fear of falling off a horse

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    06-25-2009, 07:29 PM
fear of falling?

Hey everyone.
I just start riding again as an adult (i'm 24, I stopped for 10 years). I'm really getting back into it, and my skills are coming back quickly. Things I had difficulty with when I quit, I'm finding easier and I have become super dedicated to improving. I'm currently learning from a horse trainer rather than a riding teacher. I'm learning how to school green broke horses and the horse I lease is very pushy, but slow and calm so perfect for me to learn on!
However... I haven't fallen since I started again (well, I ALMOST fell going over a jump, but only ended up on the horses neck...) I haven't had a horse buck yet (crow-hop.. yes... and spook sideways yes...)
I've developed this HUGE fear of falling or being bolted off with. I often get off my horse to walk past "scary" things. I get really nervous if my horse breaks into a full gallop. Everytime I ride a horse that's a little more nervous, or forward, or one I have seen spook pretty good, I get really scared (which obviously doesn't help calm the horse).
The calm horse I ride, I have no problem correcting because I feel comfortable and I know there's a very very very slim chance that he will full-out buck/rear/bolt.
I feel like a loser, I used to be able to get on almost any horse and now there's a select couple I'd get on. How do I get over this fear? I'm even too scared to canter bareback (although I can do it no prob without stirrups)
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    06-25-2009, 07:41 PM
I know EXACTLY how you feel! I haven't ridden very much since my mare had to be put down, but recently got back into riding. I had very little fear when I rode my mare, but now I'm on the back of all these different horses we have and it can definitely be nerve racking! I rode for years and I used to compete is speed events at local shows, but now I find myself a bit nervous to lope/canter on a new horse. I think I just need to work on my balance a bit more and I'll be ok. (I've fallen off so many times that I've lost count. I fell off a couple weeks ago because my horse spooked)

I was going to suggest bare back to build up your balance, but it seems like you already do that. I remember one time I rode bareback for over a week straight and after that I felt like nothing could throw me off my horse! My best advice is to trot, trot, trot! That helps to build the best balance.
    06-25-2009, 07:55 PM
Yeah... I only walk/jog bareback (and only cause this horse has this really steady smooth jog) but if she speeds up I clutch onto the mane and ask her to whoa (lol.. PANIC!)
But I ride without stirrups in a western saddle. Even on trails up and down hills etc (the horn makes me feel better).
Im almost starting to think I should just throw myself off the horse so I can stop anticipating the fall...
I used to LOVE big hot horses...
Maybe I should just canter bareback and if I fall I fall....
    06-25-2009, 08:24 PM
Here's an option. Buy a brand new English saddle with stirrups that don't fit your leg length at all, so they're unusable. Stick it on a mare that's been out in a pasture all winter with no spring tune up that you've never ridden before. Go out on a country road trail ride with an arab gelding in the lead. Wait for scary mini ponies to attack and the lead gelding to spook. Remember that she's shod, you're on concrete, you can't see if there's oncoming traffic over the rise of the hill, and the road has no shoulders at that spot.

You'll either get a confidence boost from staying on and controlling the nearly-inevitable full bolt or you'll get your fall out of the way. (Hey, just saying, it worked for me! /dies)

***disclaimer: this is not actually something I'd recommend to anyone. In retrospect of course. It seemed like a great idea at the time.***

Realistically, can you do some trot/canter bareback on lunge line with your trainer in a closed arena? That way it's controlled and you can gain a bit of confidence while minimizing the risks?
    06-25-2009, 08:46 PM
The thing is I have had situation arise... and I have controlled them. I had a friend's young green horse spook real good on me, tried to bolt, but I just circled him (into the shrubs mind you but hey...). Now im scared to ride that horse. Lunge line work seems unneccessary since I ride in a round pen sometimes.
I think it's being an adult... when I was a kid I was never concerned with "i could break my leg doing this..' or "horse is a horse and there will always be an unpredictableness about them" or "will this be the first time in 10 years this horse will spook?"
I wish I could find a vaulting instructor... that would help me
    06-25-2009, 09:23 PM
I don't know... I don't think it's being an 'adult' thing, though a healthy fear is certainly more likely to be present in adults than kids. I'm the same age as you, started riding just last year, and for me the situation was a bit of a momentary heart-stopper, but nothing that has me scared to ride that mare again (though I'll be watching for the mini's next time!).

I think it's just a personality thing. Some people are naturally bold and stupid, others are naturally more cautious and careful. There's nothing wrong with either, and just because I'll happily risk my neck is NO reason for you to feel like you should, and I'd stay away from anyone the suggests that you need to go outside your comfort zone to be a 'good rider.' If the bold and stupid kind like me want to live very long, we've either got to learn caution or be extraorinarily lucky, or so I've been told.

If you WANT to change things, there's nothing like slowly pushing limits. Ask for the downward transition after four trot strides rather than just two. Then extend that to six and so on and so forth. As a trainer once told me, "You can only swallow the moon one rock at a time!" You can't learn if you're scared, so work on relaxing and being comfortable where you're at now and then move on if you want to.
    06-26-2009, 08:47 PM
Yea I guess I am more of the cautious type of person... but to an extreme almost.

Do you get off a 20 year old trail horse because it stops to check out a pylon?

Im starting to think maybe I need a different horse.
    06-27-2009, 09:58 PM
Just tossing some ideas out there...

Do you think you're nervous about falling off of THIS horse, or falling in general? If the latter, I don't think changing horses to one that you know even less is likely to help. What's your trainer like? There are some great trainers out there that specialize in building confidence (which really just means reducing fear) who might be able to help you out quite a bit. Some other suggestions I've heard are to DO something. Play horseback games like tossing a bean bag around, moving cows about, or trying to tag other people with those foam pool noodle things. Yes, they're silly games, but it's FUN! It's hard to focus on fear when you're otherwise occupied with a task.

The other thing is that it sounds like you think about all the things that can go wrong, so you've certainly got your brain involved already. Try writing out one positive affirmation (with pen and paper!) before you ride. Perhaps something like, "I am a good rider because I know how to do a one-rein stop." Couple that with sitting down and visualizing things before you ride. Visualize how you'll ride up to that pylon, your horse will look at it, and you'll confidently tell her it's nothing, cue with your legs to walk on, and ride right past it. I know it sounds corny, but making a point of visualizing and planning things going right the way you want them to really seems to help. Especially when you start getting nervous, you can go back to your plan/visualization and get a mental boost. Just being in a confident mental place will help things go better.
    06-28-2009, 10:44 PM
I know exactly how you feel, and it's no fun. My TB used to spook at everythng and throw violent tantrums and scared the **** out of me on a regular basis (he's improved a lot since then, thank goodness). I'm not scared so much of falling as much as being trampled once I'm on the ground. Lol It's really hard to get over that fear, and some people never completely do. You just have to block it out and don't think about falling at all. Ride like you can't fall off. ;D
    06-29-2009, 12:59 AM
I'm a bigger girl so I'm terrified to fall off because it's going to hurt a whole lot more than if I wasn't bigger.

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