I need advice/suggestions about getting over fears of riding. Please! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 43 Old 06-04-2013, 04:36 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Talladega, AL
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I need advice/suggestions about getting over fears of riding. Please!

I started riding when I was very young (age 3) on a horse my dad got for me. My QH mare would do anything I ever asked her to do. She obeyed verbal commands, reining, and leg pressure. I always felt protected. And she would have died for me- I have no doubt. She passed away when I was 13. I rode here and there on a few of my dad's other horses, but no one was my Roxy. When I was 15, I took a ride on a friend's horse- a horse that I had ridden numerous times with no big problems. That horse turned on me in a bad, bad way during that last ride. He bucked me, trampled me, and was pawing me into the ground before my friend could get to me. I ended up with a broken nose, concussion, dislocated shoulder, a couple broken ribs, torn ligaments in my knees, and a fear that hasn't subsided.

I'm 28 now and have a farm of my own. We've gotten a couple horses and I've gradually worked my way up to being able to care for them (grooming, cleaning hooves, etc.) But I can't make myself ride. Even in the round pin. I want so badly to have my confidence back and not be afraid. I want to go trail riding with my friends and family. I don't want to always be the one left at the barn while everyone else is enjoying a fun, relaxing experience. I want another bombproof horse. One that I will trust and he/she trust me. I want that connection. Which I now have the confidence while on the ground, but my butt needs to be back in that saddle. And I don't know how to make myself do it without freaking out and spooking my own horse with my nerves and fears. It's so bad that I can be brushing him down and if he flinches over anything, I jump and my heart races.

I need help, suggestions, anything. Or if anyone has a bombproof horse available for sale/trade that would be fine with a 28 yo rider starting as fresh as a 3 yo again. I might be interested!
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post #2 of 43 Old 06-04-2013, 04:50 AM
Join Date: May 2013
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I know how you feel, fear of riding is very common especially after a traumatic experience.
The best way is to find a horse you can ride and then build up a trust relationship by doing lots of groundwork with it before you even consider riding him/her. Of course sometimes that's easier said than done.

If that's not possible you could also try riding a local riding schools horse, they're bombproof. Start easy by being lead on a rein and working up from there?
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post #3 of 43 Old 06-04-2013, 05:12 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Talladega, AL
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I've tried looking into that around here, but they seem to be non-existent or hours away. I'm going to research some more. I'm determined to get back to where I use to be. Not fearless, because I believe one should always be aware of dangers and have a healthy level of caution when dealing with a 1200 lb animal. I don't want to feel invincible, just comfortable and relaxed so that I can enjoy the fun.
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post #4 of 43 Old 06-04-2013, 08:12 AM
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I worked with a lady with a desperate wish to ride and was terrified of coming off. She could manage to ride at the walk, so she stayed at that. I taught her how to disengage the hindquarters which can diffuse a lot of things, even had her doing half halts. Finally one day, not the horse's fault, she fell off. As she lay on the ground on her back she burst out laughing as the realization of how much her fear of this had controlled her and it was no big deal. Find someone knowledgable to help you. What I've done is put the horse on a lungeline but held it fairly short. I explain everything. What will happen, how the horse will move to shift it's weight for the rider. The rider is to just sit there and I don't ask the horse to move. Deep breathing helps relax. I will do this as long as necessary then ask if it's ok to walk in a small circle as the horse will get sore standing too long. I keep up a discourse with the rider and will ease the line out gradually, each circle just a little larger than the last. If the rider were to feel overwhelmed I would stop the horse immediately. I think you've been spending too much time thinking of all the "what-ifs" and your mind has concocted a thousand scenarios. Every time such a thought arises, tell it to go sit in a corner, that you'll deal with it later. Say it aloud and see if that doesn't get you laughing at the inanity. It does help.
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post #5 of 43 Old 06-04-2013, 08:44 AM
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the issue isnt the horse, its the fear that is preventing you from doing what you want. Im not a shrink but sounds almost like you have PTSD. Maybe find a counselor and work on the fear management part. Been alot of studies on this lately , I'm just normal crazy and worked things out on my own, or maybe I havent but I know what it is like to be terrified of something, logically you know you shouldnt be, but you cant stop your bodies reactions. Maybe some proffesional help will help you , maybe not. Just a thought .
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Last edited by Joe4d; 06-04-2013 at 08:47 AM.
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post #6 of 43 Old 06-04-2013, 09:24 AM
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No one, no matter what is said to you, can overcome your fear - only you can do that.

What happened was a freak accident, sure it was a shock and hurt you but, had you been in a car wreck whilst driven by a friend or family member, would you be so frightened of getting into a car if you were not driving? The answer to that would be "No." You might be worried to start with but, you would overcome that fear because it is practically impossible to get anywhere unless you always drive.

It is much the same with a horse - so one horse turned on you. Does it mean that every horse is going to behave that way? No, thankfully exceedingly few horses ever turn on a fallen rider.

You now these horses, you probably have one that is more of a favourite, tack it up and take it for a walk. Be comfortable with it. The take it to a mounting block and lean over it and slip off. Do this several times, then just get on and sit there.

Take it a step at a time. Remember to keep breathing, when you are comfortable with each step just walk around on the horse.
Once on you will feel a lot happier. You have to face your fear and once you do you will have every right to be very proud of yourself.

Do not allow yourself to think of the accident, think of your old mare and the fun you had with her. Remember the good and not the bad. Chances are the bad will never happen again and if you dwell on it it will stop the happy times being repeated.
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post #7 of 43 Old 06-04-2013, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Apr 2012
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Some good advice already.

Just a note: as long as you take things so personally, you're going to big your own biggest hurdle. Attributing human emotions and thought patterns to any animal is not only giving them too much power, but loading them down with inappropriate responsibilities. A horse will always simply behave like a horse. Period.

Let go of the perceived insults and betrayals. You will progress so much further, faster if you do this.

Good luck!
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post #8 of 43 Old 06-04-2013, 10:42 AM
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How are you at leading a horse? Does that stress you? I'll admit that an experience like that would stress the daylights out of me! But when I was trying to teach my spooky mare not to spook, I started walking her out. At first, we only made it 100 yards before she became frightened - and we backed off. With time, we got up to a couple of miles.

Horses are more enjoyable to walk than dogs, IMHO. You might try something like that in reverse - let the horse teach you confidence. Lead the horse, even if it is only 30 feet at first. Build it up slowly. A bad experience can only be erased by a LOT of good ones, so it might take a hundred or more walks before you can walk one of your horses out for a mile or two.

But since your main fear isn't falling, but that the horse will become vicious, it might allow you to get over your fear before you ride. The walks I did with Mia did wonders for teaching both of us to read the other and to feel comfortable being together. We did a lot of bonding without riding...

Once you are ready to get on the horse, I suggest a round pen and a saddle you feel secure in. You might also try just sitting in a saddle on a strong saddle stand for a while watching TV or listening to music. Add a grab strap if you want. There is nothing wrong with using tack to help you get past a fear...
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"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #9 of 43 Old 06-04-2013, 11:04 AM
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you need to take the first steps, even if u get on a horse while someone holds the horse sit for 5 seconds then dismount, do it each day until you have the confidence of sitting on the horse for longer, second by second, you have made the first move.

spend time leading a safe horse around.

you want to do it..but procrastinating..stop procrastinating and do it..other wise you will continue to procrastinate and continue to entertain the thought of falling off.

dont think about it, just do it
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post #10 of 43 Old 06-04-2013, 12:00 PM
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I was born lucky in that I was born with a lot of confidence. I have had more than my fair share of falls and, when a horse did attack me, I had five broken ribs, a broken arm and severe bruising.
I was working (albeit very slowly and only the easy tasks,) within ten days, I was riding within three weeks. I was not worried about the horses I was riding and when the horse that did the damage came back I was back to fitness and could not wait to get back to working with him. That is my nature, I do not want to be beaten!
I was once asked what I was frightened of and had to think hard about it and my honest answer was 'fear' I ever want fear to take a hold of me so that I cannot do something.

I had a bad fall eventing a young horse. We were both smashed up and never competed from the spring until the autumn.
At his first event back he was listening to me and we had done a good dressage, clear show jumping and in the lead going into the cross country.
The course was fair. Some interesting fences but more a rider frightener than a horse stopper.
Towards the end of the course was a drop fence. You landed on the edge of a steep bank that had once been a quarry. You had to slide down the bank round a corner and over a spread. A people frightener.
The horse jumped a hedge and I stopped riding going towards this drop. I did not want to jump it. It was at a drop we had had our fall.
I had a valid excuse "He was going well I did not want to frighten him with such a fence his first time back" No one would have thought anything of it!
As I had stopped riding the horse was dithering going towards the drop. All of a sudden I saw my old riding instructor stood watching. Immediately I swore in my mind, sat up, took a rein contact, brought him back to a strong trot, leg on, and popped the fence, landed on the lip, down the bank round the corner, more leg and flew the spread.
Afterwards I rushed back to see my instructor but it wasn't her! The woman did look like her but I had made a mistake.
Now, my fear of her wrath at my not riding into that fence as she had taught me to ride, was far greater than the actual fence itself.
I was not frightened of the instructor, only of letting her down. (Oh, I was also number 13!)

It taught me a valid lesson - to always think ahead and not behind. What happened happened for a reason, learn from it but don't waste your life on it.
It is a mind set.
A good instructor could well help you by not allowing you to give way to your fear and demanding that you get on with it.
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