Help- fear and riding difficulties - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 09-20-2013, 09:54 AM Thread Starter
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Help- fear and riding difficulties

Hi HF, I need a little help. Yesterday I rode a new lesson horse. He is not new to lessons, but rather new to me, as I have been riding a different lesson horse until now. He is a lovely guy. But he is much bigger than my nice little lesson pony, and I'm realizing that I was and am really scared of him.

I'm trying to some really good self-talk today and instead of saying that he is a big, scary horse, say that he is a strong, reliable horse. He is a large, gentle horse. Etc.

Has anyone else dealt with fear? How have you overcome it? I feel silly being so scared when it's something I want to do so much. I'm a forty something year old woman, but feel reduced to about seven year old. I was constantly checking with my trainer - "He's not going to run, right? He's not going to run my leg into the wall, right? He moved his head, is that Ok?" And on...and on...I needed constant reassurance. It was really annoying.

We have been doing walking ant trotting, but I did ask if we could just walk yesterday, so that's all we did. Whew.

On to technical issues.

There is just so much MORE of him. His neck is so much longer -- it's a lot further from the saddle to his head than it was on the lesson pony. My trainer had me do a little two point toward the end of the lesson. I just could not make it happen, . I would try, but I'd be up for a second or two and then down again. She said my feet were a little too far forward and that was making it hard, so I would try to move them back a bit, but wasn't very successful. I'm not sure if it was mostly from fear, or more because he is a different/bigger horse and I don't quite have the feel of it yet on him. I remember it was really hard the first time I tried it on the pony too, so maybe it will get better in time? I did a little posting just at the walk too, and that did help me get my feet under me more. Is this normal?

Secondly, we tried to walk in a circle. It did get better by the end of then lesson, but it was ridiculously hard. Lol. I definitely don't have the hang of really steering yet. I'm ok on the rail/wall, but definitely haven't mastered the circle. This particular horse would start going in toward the trainer a little, and then when I would try to bring him out more his head would turn it his body wouldn't quite follow. (Insert images of him fighting me here. He didn't, at all. But it's what I would see in my head and added to my fear). All this was at a very slow walk. It got better as we continued, with my instructor telling me to give him more leg/ride more forward. It was not perfect by the end of the lesson by any means, but there had been small improvements. Any tips or suggestions are appreciated.

I think I might call the barn and see if I can come out and just brush him or something a few times before my next lesson. I am welcome there any time, so even if I can't take him out, I can stand by his stall and visit him and pet his nose. Maybe it would help me feel more comfortable around him. Honestly, even typing this out brings up the sensations associated with fear. Sooo weird!

Last edited by LilacsBloom; 09-20-2013 at 09:58 AM.
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post #2 of 25 Old 09-20-2013, 10:03 AM
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I know how fear goes. I have a lot fears myself. Its jut one of those things that just get in the way. Its a humans way to show us that what ever we are doing we dont like. Even though we may not be in any harm at all. Its just one of those stupid thing. The best thing to do, to over come fear. Is to do the thing you are afraid of the most. Right now I am dealing with being afraid of working. I had a bad job for my first job. So it scared me. Now I am scared to find a new job. So I have been doing side jobs for people. Working on over coming the fears. I just take little steps, then one day you cross over the line of fear.
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post #3 of 25 Old 09-20-2013, 10:37 AM
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Well, you have two choices. Push your self through it, assure yourself that its all in your head. The more you push outside your comfort zone, the more comfortable you will become in new and different situations. Also realize that it is unfair to doubt your lesson horse and instructor. They are more experienced than you, and worth trusting. OR, you can give into your fears, go back to riding a pony and stay inside your comfort zone.

I'm not trying to come across as rude, I have been in a similar situation. I grew up riding 17+hh draft crosses, and got used to the feel of them. Then I got my own horse and moved to a barn that had all stock/hot breeds. At one point I was in some accidents that shattered my confidence, and small horses really freaked me out, especially the quiet ones(was bucked/reared/bolted off some small, quiet horses that liked to bottle things up and explode). Some days it was all I could do to get on my paintx mare and walk a few steps. I kept telling myself to trust my horse, relax, quit being silly, etc, and I would always reward myself for the small victories internally. Now I am back to racing down the trail on my crazy arabian
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post #4 of 25 Old 09-20-2013, 10:40 AM
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My BO had a gelding that I was totally afraid of the 1st time I really got close to it. I would go for my riding lessons a few minutes early and spend time with the other horses, that helped me relax around them. The 1st time I had to go out in the pasture and get my lesson horse I was nervous and was giving my BO/instructor a piece of my mind on the way to the pasture. But once inside the pasture with all the other horses, I quickly overcame this fear once I realized how relaxed they were around me. Now I enjoy going out into the pasture with them and is not afraid to halter any horse out there and take them into the arena. The more time you spend with other horses, the more you relax around them.

Don't just spend time with any 1 horse in particular, socialize with all of them from time to time. It helps you relax and not be intimidate with them when you have to change lesson horses.

I have my own horse there now that I take most of my lessons on, but still ride other horses.
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post #5 of 25 Old 09-20-2013, 11:06 AM
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just about all horses are bigger than humans --- but luckily, confidence is so much more important than size

if you have to familiarize yourself with this particular horse, that is great - your confidence is a tool, if you know you are in charge and act like you are in charge, the horse will be more willing to accept that leadership --- just like most "trained" teenagers would

(too bad there are so many untrained teenagers out there --- but at least you know your horse is trained)
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post #6 of 25 Old 09-20-2013, 11:18 AM
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Why did the trainer put you on this horse? it might be that she felt you were actually better matched to this horse than a previous one, or that she wants you to progress and this horse will help you do that.

Big horses are actually easier to stay on. there is a wider area of error for you in your center of gravity before you reach the point of no return, if you are leaning to one side or other motion that puts you off the dead center.
I always say, if you can ride a small horse, you can ride any horse. (rhetorically speaking). I bet you will come to LOVE riding this horse.

hang in there and KNOW that each lesson will be easier than the previous, but there is no shortcut, just go through.
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post #7 of 25 Old 09-20-2013, 12:05 PM
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When I first started taking lessons I was always nervous when I was put on a new horse. What really helped me... I had to tell myself that my trainer would not have put me on a horse that would be dangerous, that many more people have ridden that horse and that he is a good teacher. That always helped me, but really the only way my nerves would go away was to actually push through and do what was making me nervous.
Now years later, I still occasionally will feel a twinge of nervousness when I am doing something new, or my horse is acting way more fresh than usual. But I have learned that the way to keep my confidence is to keep doing what used to make me nervous.
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post #8 of 25 Old 09-20-2013, 01:00 PM
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What is it that's going on in your brain when you're with him? What's the scary thing that keeps popping up? Sometimes addressing that will help.

I find western-trained (western the riding discipline, not the western world!) horses to be kind of scary ;)
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post #9 of 25 Old 09-20-2013, 01:16 PM
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Just chillax. Larger horses are usually calmer than smaller horses, and if he is a lesson horse you should be ok. Just trust your instructor, he/she will not out horse you. :) and when you start trotting him, I bet he will be a lot smoother than the pony! Just remember that you will look back on your fear one day and laugh at yourself for being so silly. Now get out there and ride, girl! :)
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post #10 of 25 Old 09-20-2013, 01:33 PM
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I think fear, in the beginning, is normal. I used to ride when I was a teen, and I swear I was fearless then! But I took a 8 year hiatus and decided to get back in the saddle. I was afraid of EVERYTHING, but it was mostly mental. Once I realized my horse wasn't going to kill me, I could trot without falling and to just have confidence, I became a much better rider. I had to work through it though. I took small steps, and small accomplishments helped me grow.

Set small goals, and if you achieve them, give yourself the highest of praise. And if you don't, don't get down on yourself, just try try again until you get it. It's about confidence training. I promise it will help.
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