How do I find my confidence again??!

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How do I find my confidence again??!

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    11-11-2009, 10:30 PM
Unhappy How do I find my confidence again??!

Kind of long.....sorry!....

I have recently come to the realization of something that has been very hard to admit: I am scared to death to ride my new horse.....

I grew up riding horses. I got my first when I was 13, and owned one horse or another until I was 30. Then we started a family, I got out of ownership (though I did ride with a friend every now and then), and basically just got away from horses for several years.

Now I have a new one, and I'm just plain scared to ride.

He was a bit flighty when he first arrived, but that was due to being in a new place and all that. At one point I was leading him, and something spooked him on the right - so he shot straight left, smack into me. He hit my knee so hard that I dropped to the ground and couldn't get up for several minutes. It was about then that I started to wonder, What have I gotten into?!...He has WAY settled down and as horses go, he's a real sweetheart. I finally got on him today, for all of 3 minutes. I was terrified the entire time that he was going to bolt or spook or otherwise do something to unseat me. So we stood there!!!

I feel so pathetic!!!! I'm an experienced horse-person, but apparently I've been away from it for so long that I've lost my groove, my confidence, and my nerve!

Has anyone else ever gone through this?? Does anyone have ANYthing to offer by way of encouragement?!
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    11-11-2009, 10:58 PM
All I can say steps. :) There's no rule saying you and your new guy have to go on an epic 50 mi trek through the vast wildnerness right off the bat. Take your time just doing stuff around him, grooming, walking him with a lead (hopefully without any more knee-busting), sitting on the fence and watching him. Have you thought about hiring a trainer, if even for a few lessons -- just to help get you situated, a refresher course if you will. I think that would help you loads. :)
    11-12-2009, 09:29 AM
When I fell off of a horse almost 2 yrs ago and broke the ribs on my right front and back right of my body - I was terrified to get back up on a horse. I thought how could this be... in my late 30's and have had horses since I was 14 yrs old... and now I am terrified? I had fallen many times before with no reaction like that.

I found a natural horsemanship trainer and he told me to start with ground work.... once I felt that I could control the horse on the ground, then get back in the saddle.

I did sell Angel though... she was too green, I was too sore and didnt want to get hurt any more than I already was. I got Toby, who was a handful in his own way to be sure.... but with ground work and then work in the saddle - he is now a mature, well behaved boy. It really has given me my confidence back. It took about a year for me to stop shaking in my cowgirl boots though.

Clinton Anderson has two club videos that I watched recently about regaining your confidence. It was two older women who had fallen, been hurt and were now scared. He worked with them and their horses to show you how to get your nerve back. Its the same thing I had done and it did work.

If you live anywhere near where Clinton is going to be next year and want to go but you are not a club member, just let me know and I will get a pair of tickets for you if you are really going to go. I think it would be worth it for you.
    11-12-2009, 10:00 AM
OMG! I have dealt with EXACTLY the same thing! I grew up riding crazy hot jumpers and would tear around a 4' course on horses in training. Worked in show barns, race barns, and breeding barns. I stopped riding at 20 and through the last 10 years have gotten on horses here and there and was SHOCKED to find that I was scared to death of any horse, thinking they were going to spook and run. I'm not even scared so much of falling off, just of having that out of control feeling after a spook. I really thought my riding days were over for good. I wanted to be back into it desperately, but I couldn't relax and it was NOT fun. Honestly, the only thing that helped me was finding a fantastic instructor with a DEAD BROKE horse for me to regain my confidence. I needed to be around one horse that I could build a little bond with and learn to trust both on the ground and in the saddle. Once I had that trust, I could focus on me. Once I could focus on me, I started regaining my confidence. I still won't get on anything that seems "hot" but I don't get scared every time I start to put my foot in the stirrup. The best advice I can give you is to take a break from your new guy and find an old lesson horse to hack around on.

Trust me, you are NOT alone! I thought there was something wrong with me and that I would get to the point where I would never get on a horse again. I feel your pain and know how upsetting and frustrating it is.
    11-12-2009, 10:03 AM
Oh, and find an environment where you are 100% confident and not afraid to look like a fool. I think I was a little hung up on not "looking" like the expert I used to be. Once I found a fun barn to take lessons at where I felt totally safe and didn't worry about what everyone thought when I was riding, I was able to get over myself!!
    11-12-2009, 10:28 AM
Green Broke
Yup, I've been there. I've had horses my entire life and even managed to keep them once the husband and kids came along. From the time I was twelve to 34 I had the same horse. When she passed two years ago I got a young arab mare and realized how difficult it was to "start over". I say start over because for the last 22 years I had a horse that I knew inside and out and she knew me. Suddenly I was faced with a new horse that I knew very little about who was spooked by everything and on our first ride I got dumped in the middle of the road.

I agree with kim angel about the ground work. I spent two months just doing groundwork with Stella. After I had gained her trust and respect from the ground, riding her was easy peasy. Get your confidence back from the ground first before you ride again. :)

Another thing to consider is that this horse just may not be the right match for you. Maybe you need to ease your way back into it with an old, slow one.
    11-12-2009, 12:40 PM
Why has no one suggested lessons and training from a professional, for both you AND the horse?

I had a bad, bad, BAD wreck two years ago from being bucked off while mounting. Broke ribs on my left side, collarbone on my right, and got a bad concussion.

I wasn't healed yet when I had to put down my been-there-done-that heart horse, so I was terrified of getting back in the saddle.

After 8 months of not riding, I found a trainer who was willing to work with my fears. I told her I wasn't just afraid to ride, I was TERRIFIED.

I'd been riding for 30 years at that point, and it was unacceptable to me to give it up because of fear, which is why I sought help.

I've been with my trainer almost 2 years now, and I'm back to where I was before I got hurt. In fact, I ride a lot of different horses now, whereas before I only rode my own.

I don't take lessons anymore, but I'm welcome to ride any of her horses anytime I feel like it. She considers me one of her greatest success stories, and we've become good friends.

Instead of trying to do this alone, I think you should find a professional to help you work through your fears. I know if I hadn't admitted I needed help, I'd have never gotten back in the saddle.

It's OKAY to be afraid. It's just not okay to think you can do it alone, if you really can't.
    11-12-2009, 01:32 PM
First of all you all deserve a huge THANK YOU!!!!! For such fantastic replies! I already feel better.

All the points brought up are good ones. I agree with everything 100% but the one thing that keeps standing out and going through my head is that this may not in fact be the right horse for me.

At least not right now. Someone mentioned starting over with a dead-broke horse, which makes total sense. I need something I'm not afraid to get on! We have actually been looking for an older companion horse (we keep them here at our own property, not a boarding stable). Maybe I should look for one that can take light riding and do my starting over on THAT horse. Meanwhile, I can do lots of ground work with my Arab and rebuild the trust there.

We do have lots of training stables in the area, so I might look into that option as well. While I don't doubt the value of having someone like that, I am on a budget and if it meant forking over $50, $60 or $70 a week, I just can't do that right now.
    11-12-2009, 01:40 PM
Hobbitses, I too am on a budget, but my trainer is fantastic and only charged me for one lesson a week at $45.00.

I could 'practice ride' every day I didn't have a lesson if I wanted to, and it was free. Yes, I know I got a deal. She's a gem of a trainer, and an all around wonderful human being.

I guess for me it came down to budgeting for lessons, because otherwise I KNEW I'd never get back on a horse. So I ate a lot of peanut butter and crackers for awhile!
    11-13-2009, 06:56 AM
Originally Posted by Cheshire    
All I can say steps. :) There's no rule saying you and your new guy have to go on an epic 50 mi trek through the vast wildnerness right off the bat. Take your time just doing stuff around him, grooming, walking him with a lead (hopefully without any more knee-busting), sitting on the fence and watching him. Have you thought about hiring a trainer, if even for a few lessons -- just to help get you situated, a refresher course if you will. I think that would help you loads. :)
I really want to thank you for this post. When I saw this thread I knew I needed to read it- I'm in almost the exact same situation. I've been reading threads of people in similar situations to me and not feeling any better but for some reason this post really hit me.
I've been struggling with this fear and just getting so frustrated with myself for it because I had been able to do so much more with my previous horse and because I had all of these plans when I purchased my new horse..and no one's really reminded me that there's no shame in just taking it slow, or that it's okay to just hang out with him and not necessarily feel like I need to push myself to ride all the that riding has become so stressful and unpleasant for me
Anyway..just thank you. I feel so much better about everything just from this reminder..even though it wasn't even meant for me xD

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