how do I get my confidence back? =( - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 02-04-2012, 10:56 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2011
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how do I get my confidence back? =(

Title says it all!

What happened was back in mid/late November (2011) I had a pretty bad accident off my mare, an accident that I know I could have so easily prevented. I also know that the way my mare behaved that day is NOT at all her usual and if I had only taken simple precautions leading up to the accident it likely never would have happened. I ended up on the ground that day head first, in the ER I was told I had a concussion as well as a fractured vertebrae and a herniated disc (I believe this is what it's called, but I am not doctor and don't speak all those scientific terms, so I could be wrong on the correct terms here. Anyway! In the weeks following closely after my accident my trainer asked me multiple times if I felt scared of my mare or horses in general, at the time I said no, because I knew that what happened that day was my fault and not at all Beverley's usual personality, she is generally very calm to the point I have to use the crop to keep her moving.

So now it's February, my doctor said I could ride the first week of February, which I have. though throughout January I began noticing I was actually completely traumatized by this accident. My original "no I'm not scared" has turned into "I'm terrified of being in my mare's stall alone", "I'm scared to lead my mare on my own", little silly things like that that have absolutely nothing to do with the accident that occurred. I've had my trainer working Beverley throughout all of January to keep her in shape and such, and each time she is worked I am out there trainer even gets me to tack her up on my own (because honestly even this scares me for whatever reason), I have even been able to lunge her on my own now ...with my trainer right next to me though.

Is it normal to be so so traumatized by little things like leading my mare or being in her stall alone or what have you? Obviously it can't be normal =( Before my accident I was NEVER this way. I've always been the person who, when the barn gets a new horse in (often green 2-6 y/o's) I jump at the chance to be the first on them, I would take any horse out with zero supervision what so ever, and if I ever had an issue with a horse I just got right back in the saddle.

The other night I hopped on my mare for the first time since I fell off and I was shaking the entire ride. Even though my trainer lunged her first and rode her for a good 40 minutes beforehand and Beverley tried not one thing with her, she was amazing - has been all of January as she is being worked regularly, I was still shaking as I was sitting on her. I stayed in a very tiny circle around my trainer but every time Bev even so much as tripped on her own feet I had tears in my eyes and all I could see in my mind was the ground and thinking of the "what if's". But Bev was so perfect that first ride, she didn't pull any funny moves on me. It's like she's not the problem, my fears are and I have noooo idea how to stop that. Is it really normal to be this scared of everything? I've never had this problem before and I have fallen off and broken bones before I just don't know what's wrong with me =/

How do I gain my confidence back? Obviously it won't happen over night, but still. Has anyone else had a bad fall and lost ALL confidence?
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post #2 of 16 Old 02-04-2012, 11:02 PM
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You've done it once, you can do it again.
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post #3 of 16 Old 02-05-2012, 09:58 AM
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I got pretty darn hurt from a mare I owned. Scared the beejeebees out of me even though I had fallen times before and had been riding horses for 20+ yrs.

Something about that fall made me shake whenever I thought about getting back on a horse.

I just had to do it though. I got on and rode... and the more I rode and nothing happened the more confidence I regained.

Then when I got another horse and he tried to be an idiot and tried to get me off, I rode through it, stayed on and guess what... I am a confident rider again.

You have to get back in the saddle girl and ride!


Cocoa - 32 yr old QH, Cherokee - 8 yr old TWH & Toby - 16 yr old QH
R.I.P. Cocoa 4/13/78 - 2/9/11
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post #4 of 16 Old 02-05-2012, 10:27 AM
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Location: Southeast Texas
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So sorry you were hurt. That is NEVER fun to get hurt to the point you are at the ER and off for months with the injury.

I totally understand. I grew up riding horses. Rode bareback all the time. Wasn't afraid to ride EVER. I didn't have horses for 27 years due to raising kids, etc. I never lost my love for horses and was looking to buy one for my 50th birthday. Went 5 hours away to try one that was trained and had shown in WP, rode by old lady some and a kid, blah blah blah.

Long and short, he took off down an arena with bit in teeth, bucking like an idiot. I came off, hit the ground and rolled. Rocky ground (central Texas gotta love it) is hard!! My left leg took the worst of it. My leg swelled twice its size and was black and blue from thigh to foot. The following week a doctor was shocked that it wasn't broke and the knee cap wasn't shattered. It took a long time for the swelling to go down, I had nerve damage and it is still discolored 3 years later.

Bad injuries can cause fear. The mind recoils from going there again. I bought a horse 2 months later and have spent the past three years getting my confidence back. I am NO WHERE near the rider I was as a teenager/young adult. Take it slow. If you get scared stop what you are doing and calm yourself. Get off if you have to. There is no shame in it. I have got off to cross little creeks or logs that others crossed effortlessly. My horse would have crossed them but I was afraid.

You know your mare is a good girl. That is a good thing. You know she is not going to hurt you on purpose. Ride where you feel MOST comfortable. For me, the arena is the place I feel most UNCOMFORTABLE because that is where I got thrown. I actually feel most comfortable on trails. Ride til you start to feel uncomfortable and then get off and just groom your horse or interact with her on the ground until you feel relaxed and then remount. Keep at it and you will gain your confidence back. I wish you well and hope that you continue to get better!!!

Enjoying my Garmin and mapping trails
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post #5 of 16 Old 02-05-2012, 11:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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I sympathize. I had a fall about the same time as yours, although my injuries were nothing worse than some strained muscles. But still - I've only managed to lunge my horse by myself a couple of times and I haven't been on him since. Worse, he's the kind of horse who turns into a big bully when not worked - so he's not helping matters right now.

Anyway, you're already doing what I'm doing to get over it. I took a lesson with a new trainer (on a schoolie) on Friday, really liked her, and signed myself and my horse up for a month's worth of lessons with her.

I think it's just going to take time. A lot of repeats of successful rides to dull the memory of the unsuccessful one.

I just wanted to tell you that at least in my world what you're feeling is completely normal. I think we're all pretty brave for not selling the beasts and taking up knitting instead.
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post #6 of 16 Old 02-05-2012, 11:08 AM
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I agree with everyone here and have the same kind of stories. Fell of dozens of times when I was younger. Never bothered me enough to keep me off. I'm a lot more cautious these days. Take your time. There is no rush to get on and go galloping off. Your confidence will come back slowly and only through facing your fears. Never do more than your emotions can handle. Spend as much time on the little things as you can. Groom her, bathe her, walk her, just hang out and watch her in the pasture.
That is what helped me. Until getting Lily last month, I hadn't been around horses in years. I wasn't sure how well I could still handle a horse. Being around her has really helped me. And now I'm to the point that I would like to get on her and just walk around. Unfortunately, I'm either here alone or it's raining so there has been no ride. :( Someday though.
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post #7 of 16 Old 02-05-2012, 11:21 AM
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Is there any chance your trainer could put you on a different horse? If you're only afraid of what your mare did, maybe just taking the time to come back on an old school master will help you regain confidence, even if the first few rides have to be lead-line, it'll give you the time to relax on your horse and not worry about what he/she is doing. :)
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post #8 of 16 Old 02-05-2012, 03:32 PM
Join Date: Apr 2011
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I'm a big reader and follower of Jane Savoie. She has written a lot about overcoming your "mental monsters" including a lot of fears that naturally come along with riding. Most of us have fears about riding sometimes the fears are much worse like after a bad fall. Jane has written a lot about overcoming these fears in her book "Its not just about the ribbons" I'm sure that you can pick up a copy cheap used on Amazon. there are quite a few methods that i think you would find really helpful :) It is helping me with similar issues so I can say from experience that her techniques DO work. Good luck :)

"Action cures Fear, take a small risk every day". Jane Savoie
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post #9 of 16 Old 02-05-2012, 04:49 PM
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Location: Manitoba
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Originally Posted by WildAcreFarms View Post
I'm a big reader and follower of Jane Savoie. She has written a lot about overcoming your "mental monsters" including a lot of fears that naturally come along with riding. Most of us have fears about riding sometimes the fears are much worse like after a bad fall. Jane has written a lot about overcoming these fears in her book "Its not just about the ribbons" I'm sure that you can pick up a copy cheap used on Amazon. there are quite a few methods that i think you would find really helpful :) It is helping me with similar issues so I can say from experience that her techniques DO work. Good luck :)
Thanks for the tip. I'm going to have to look up that book.

I just read Cherry Hill's Becoming an Effective Rider and it also had lots of things about fears and mental attitude. Not nearly as traumatized as the OP, but had a set-back from a couple of falls and her tips were just the kind of stuff I needed to hear.
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post #10 of 16 Old 02-05-2012, 09:56 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Mount Forest ON, Canada
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Like the other posts, I too have lost my nerve riding due to a bad falll, horse bucked me off.After a long recovery, I am back riding... but its not like riding a bike, its hard to get back on. I am currently taking lessons on how to react more appropriately should a horse buck or bolt on me. I am learning to trust and repsect my horse and she too, learning to trust and respect me... Time and perserverance. and a good trainer helps :)
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