Afraid to ride for no logical reason
I’m at my wits end and hope that someone can offer me some advice on how to deal with the new fear I’ve developed.
I was raised with horses, rode and even showed in my youth. I got out of horses till about 4 yrs ago when I got a green broke QH, broke him and rode him in the trails. Our other horse died and mine was so lonely that I gave him away before he died of a broken heart and loneliness. That was a year ago. Last fall my husband got a horse and talked me into getting back into horse riding. I found what I think is my forever horse. A 5 yrs old Percheron, he was as docile as the day is long with a long very slow stride. I worked with him for about a month at the stable were I bought him. When I brought him home we took him out on his first trail ride. It was a disaster!!! I had no control of him, he pulled thru the bite, threatened to run off…it turned into a 2 hour fight thru the trail till we could get back to the trailer. I was not hurt at all except maybe my pride. I know he could have thrown me and he didn’t, I tried to see that as a positive. I have continued to work with him in our outdoor pen. My grandchildren ride him around in there as well, but I am terrified to ride him again!!! And I feel terrible about it. I love him dearly and spend a lot of time working on the ground. He has been a perfect angle for anyone who gets on his back. There is no logical reason why I should be afraid to ride him. This experience scared me so badly that I haven’t even ridden any of our other horses either. The weather hasn’t helped any but I fear even once spring comes the same fear will be there. I want to go out riding with everyone so badly I dream about it…what should I do??
Have you ridden any other horse(s) in the time since your disaster ride with him? What I'm getting at is, is the fear truly specific to him or is it a generalized fear of riding all together?
Have you trail ridden him again? Or at least, has someone else rode him on the trail? I'd hate to think that he is thinking he's won the battle. Be a turd on the trail = getting out of work.
Is there anyone at the stable where you bought him that can come out and work with you and him some more? I know personally, when the day comes I bring a horse home, I'm going to want a trainer coming to my place just making sure I'm doing everything right and not actually teaching my horse bad habits.
How old are you? If you search, you'll see a similar post from me a couple months back. I just turned 40. There is that distinct awareness the older we get that we CAN get hurt. Someone's got to pay the bills. We aren't kids and there isn't going to be anyone nursing us back to health all the while taking care of our responsibilities like when we were kids.
I was actually thinking of giving up riding! That lasted for like a day, lol. Then I realized that my fears and apprehension weren't a bad thing. They were the responsible thing. It's the grown up thing to do.
I can only speak personally, but I also switched back to western from english. I feel more secure and ride better in a western saddle. I also asked my trainer to not give me a tall horse. 15.2 is my limit. I don't care how sweet this horse is. Find me a short and sweet horse. The height of the big horses was also playing on my fear. Sure I can get hurt on a shorter horse. But I feel better being closer to the ground.
Not saying this is what you need to do. But my point is, for me, sitting down and re-evaluating what exactly my fears were and taking steps to make them better keeps me riding. I don't push myself.
I believe in working just outside of your comfort zone in order to achieve progress. And I mean JUST outside the zone. Not way the heck outside the zone to the point that you are shaky. This is supposed to be fun!
Really think about what it is that is scaring you. If it's just horses in general, then take a short break from riding. Just do ground work. If this Perch is scaring you, then ask that stable if you could trade him for something else. No shame in that. This horse is 5. You can't spend the next 20 years being scared of your own horse.
I think before selling him, you should 1) give it a few days and see if that fear wears off. It did for me. 2)try working with a good trainer. I'm all about getting that 3rd party in there. Don't tackle this alone!
Best of luck and keep us updated!
Have you stopped and thought about what it is, specifically, you are afraid of having happen? Is it the fear of being unable to control them, the fear of falling, etc? If you close your eyes and visualize a ride (not the rides in your dream, but visualizing what you think the real ride would be like), what do you see happening?
You bring up some very good and interesting points. I do believe my age does play a factor in it all. I’m 44. Before getting my QH 4 yrs ago I had been out of riding 20 yrs. No he hasn’t been back on the trails but has been worked regularly in the pen and is ridden in the corral by others. I have talked to the people I got him from and they are more than willing to work with me with him. I even took him out there last weekend. And I never rode… sigh. Come spring I do plan on him going out there for a few weeks for a refresher course as well as getting some trail experience. He had only been worked in the arena up till our one and only trail ride. I don’t think he’d feel like he got away with anything because I did go thru the whole trail… 2 very long hours… did the round back to the trailer. Just never went out again. That was back in the first part of November. He has been worked and ridden in the corral since then. If it was just a fear of him, I’d think about a trade but I don’t want to ride any horse… well yes I do want to ride, I’m afraid to. Yes he is a big boy, but I actually felt safer on him because of his docile temperament and slow moving ways. While he was still at the barn where I got him we’d joke about how I’d fine the gas pedal on the trails that he would get left behind… come to realize it was the breaks I needed!! I thought too that if I gave it some time I’d get over it and would be fine. But I haven’t. I did get on him last weekend for all of maybe 5 min. one turn around the corral and I got off. My heart was racing so bad I thought I would pass out. Got off and after catching my breath worked with him on the ground, all was fine.
Hang in there. I feel your pain. I went on a trail ride about 2 months ago and during the ride I had some scary things happen like my horse doing a serious nose dive at a trot(without actually falling). Banged my knee against a tree and on a heavily grooved part of the trail my horse kind of bunny hoped in and out of the groove while moving between a choppy trot and a canter. Anyway, I stayed on but when it was all over my brain went into overdrive thinking about all the what if!!!
I tried to think of the fact that I stayed in the saddle as a positive, but the thought of going back out on the trail is really scary to me. Plus the ladies I ride with are pretty fearless so it's also a blow to my "cowgirl" pride to think that im too scared to canter or even trot on the trails.
Anyway my solution has been to take it slow. I did a mini trail ride by myself and did fine but I only trotted a little, mostly walked. I've also been riding in the arena where I feel safe. There is something about the uneven terrain, rocks and trees that scares me about falling on the trails. My horse is pretty darn good so no worries about his manners. I've decided I'm not going to push myself, and I'm also going to try my hardest to overcome the fear of "what if". I don't know if my story helps, but sometimes it's nice to know others share your fears
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yes I need to give myself a chance but at the same time I know I need to be pushed... a bit... if not I'll find every excuse in the world NOT to do it. The "what if" fears are terrible because though alot can happen, I can't live on what ifs. Thanks so much for sharing your story... it does help!!
move at your own pace, do not let anybody tell you are ready until you feel you are, take small rides just around your area them work your way up we all go through this one time or other( 54yrs) and ride a Belgium
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