I'm at the end of my Rope... I can't get over the fear...

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I'm at the end of my Rope... I can't get over the fear...

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    06-19-2012, 11:09 PM
I'm at the end of my Rope... I can't get over the fear...

In 2011 I took 2 nasty falls off of my mare that were caused by her tripping and falling, she is a big, young (7), uncoordinated draft cross, and even though we have done everything we can to stop the tripping (New saddle, new farrier, lots of conditioning work,) and she's stronger, fitter and more coordinated then she's ever been (hasn't tripped even a little bit under saddle in 4 or 5 months) I'm still scared to ride her in the outdoor arena (where both falls happened)

When I ride her inside we're fine, we're cantering and jumping and working on small courses, but when I get outside we fall apart... I tense up, I know all of our issues outside are my fault, I'm just terrified, the complete opposite of how I am inside.

And I don't want to ride indoors for the rest of my life... but I can't get over my fears of the outdoor, and now it's starting to carry over to our trail rides as well... Amber seems to expect me to tense up when we go outside so now she's tensing up first. I know its me cause she's a saint outside if one of my friends ride her.

I just don't know what to do anymore... I'm sorry for venting but I'm just miserable, I don't know how to convince myself it'll all be ok, I want to ride outside, but when I get out there it just goes bad every single time...

Here are some pictures of Amber and I before the first fall last year...

And here are some pictures since... This is what happens outside, I tense up and we fight...

And this is inside (these pics are only about a month old)

I am just at the end of my rope... I almost want to sell Amber even though I know it's not her fault... I dread going to the barn incase I have to ride outside... Ugh its a mess
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    06-19-2012, 11:24 PM
Well it sounds like you really need to just take things slow outside. Perhaps just walk outside on her. Just set small goals or baby steps.
For example:
- Warm up outside, then go inside to ride
- Go for a nice outside walk to cool down after an inside ride
- Just trot for a bit, then stop and walk

Build your confidence up slowly. If even these tasks seem to scary for you, then get someone to lead you around outside until you gain some confidence by yourself. Or even just invite people to watch you ride. I used to feel braver when I knew people were watching because I felt I had to impress them.

PS. She looks a lot like a mare I used to ride. I loved Cuppy :) She was a percheron x hackney I believe?
Wallaby and la volpe like this.
    06-20-2012, 05:32 AM
Is there a friend you can hack out with? I'd try a nice slow chatty plod with a sensible companion. Bach rescue remedy is great too, nice deep calming breaths and vizulize a calm enjoyable ride. You can do it, even if it means someone going out with you on foot and leading you, don't be afraid to take a step backwards. Best of luck, and brave of you to admit there is a problem.
la volpe likes this.
    06-20-2012, 05:43 AM
Hey I had the same problem with Sky. He used to bolt outside when I first met him and so I would lunge him outside and then when I got on him I'd just focus on relaxing and keeping up with him (huge uncoordinated trot) and over time I relaxed.

Figure out WHY you are nervous.. maybe all of the sounds, the bright sun, the animals that pop out, and figure out how to cope with it.
    06-20-2012, 12:41 PM
I think you have some good advice already.

When I first started riding a horse I leased for several years, I was nervous to go outside with him because he was always a bit more spooky out there. I would go out if friends wanted to ride out there, but I would stick to walking and trotting, and I would avoid one end of the arena.

It took a while, but I slowly built up my confidence by being "safe." Eventually that horse and I were jumping courses and galloping outside. So I think just walking outside for a few minutes would be good. Don't do anything more than that. If you feel nervous, go inside and try again next time you ride. Keep walking outside for short periods each time you ride until you're able to relax when you're out there. And once you're totally comfortable, think about trying a trot. Go slow, and be short--maybe just trot one length of the arena the first time.

It's all about tiny steps and retraining your brain. Your brain associates outside with bad things, so those neurons are taking the "easy" path and continuing to associate the two. It's up to you to carve a new path in your brain and disassociate bad things with outside.

Good luck! Keep us updated!
Back2Horseback likes this.
    06-20-2012, 04:04 PM
Ugh so I went to the Doctor this morning.. cause my back is still bothering me... turns out the discs are still inflamed, and I'm not allowed to ride for the next 2 weeks to a month. Doc said if I keep riding my back will never have the chance to heal. This really really stinks! My trainer and my best friend Lisa are going to school Amber for me... but this just really sucks! Ugh! *cries!*
    06-20-2012, 05:59 PM
Originally Posted by BurningAmber520    
Ugh so I went to the Doctor this morning.. cause my back is still bothering me... turns out the discs are still inflamed, and I'm not allowed to ride for the next 2 weeks to a month. Doc said if I keep riding my back will never have the chance to heal. This really really stinks! My trainer and my best friend Lisa are going to school Amber for me... but this just really sucks! Ugh! *cries!*
As much as that sucks, it can be a good thing too? It will make you more excited to ride when you can. You won't care whether you are riding inside or out! And its not like you can't groom Amber or work with her on the ground, there are still tons of fun things you can do that don't involve riding.

I really am sorry about your back and I hope it heals properly.
BurningAmber520 and la volpe like this.
    07-01-2012, 10:27 PM
Don't give up

I have the same problem. What I do is recognize my fear but control how I act around the horse. It is all what they see and feel. They don't sense the fear they notice that you are acting funny. If you can present yourself in a confident normal way, you will feel better and the horse will feel the same
    07-06-2012, 09:46 PM
Don't be sorry at all! I think every rider has their issues (haha well I KNOW that I do). First of all, from what you have said, you seem to have come a really long way with your horse. Selling your horse will not help you fix the problem. You know how much you love your horse and you know that even with another horse, you might still have that fear of the outdoor ring. Do you work with a trainer? You may not neeeeeeed to necessarily, but even pro riders could benefit from working with a trainer to give them on the ground advice and keep them in tact. I'm be almost nowhere without my training. By the way, I'm not an expert and I'm not that experienced, but you appear to be a great rider. You have really nice form. Maybe it would help though to have a trainer work with you getting in the outdoor ring again, or have a friend that can watch you. You don't have to do a lot in the outdoor ring if you aren't comfortable. Maybe you could work in the indoor and then go to the outdoor to cool down and just walk around after your indoor ride if you wanted to. Take it slow. And use your strength and understanding that riding is a tough sport to motivate you to just continue to go on. A few months ago I had the saddle fitter come to, well, fit my saddle. I was trying out this awesome Stubben... super comfortable, biomex seat, blocks, the whole package. What a dream of a saddle that was! I was cantering and this was at my old stable (I'm not a super confident canter-er quite yet) and the ring was downhill because it was not even a ring but a grass paddock that I always used when I was there, I wasn't focused on keeping my horse balanced on the slope, she may have bucked or tripped or stretched out too much or something, I flew off, hit my chest on the fence. Nothing happened, I got up and was fine... but then when my trainer was with me not too long after that, as nervous as I was, he had me canter the same way, down the slope, giving me advice and control. Now I don't have to use that ring and I still get nervous cantering but things are much better with the advice that I get. If you are working with a trainer, make sure you share this frustration and fear with them. As your trainer, they should help you through this. It's only going to make you stronger. I hope it works out for you, and remember, happy riding (:
    07-19-2012, 05:07 PM
falling off

Hiya may I call you amber.
That's good that you ride in doors and your back in the saddle.
May I ask can you take your mare in the out door school and just walk her.
Have a team building secion with you and her and talk to her when you are walking around the school and build up from there.
Don't be afraid grab your demons by the horns and you both have a good time out doors.
And build up from there.

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