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DuffyDuck 03-07-2012 10:35 AM

Petrified of trail riding/hacking.
OKay, so here's my thing.

I am absolutely petrified of riding out.

Or even in an outdoor arena.

I had a pretty serious accident when I was 14 and my parent's mare tanked, napped, did everything you could imagine, and I turned her before we hit a main road, fell off and fractured my tail bone.

Ever since hacking out has put the fear of god in me, and I've only ever ridden horses that if I get nervous, pick up on it, and play on it. So you can see that this hasn't improved things.

There are no horses at my yard that people could just plonk me on to ride out... apart from western horses, but still need an experienced hand.

Even typing this I am freaking out- thats how scared.

I haven't hacked Duffy out once yet, her previous owner said she's lovely to hack, but didn't go in to detail when I contacted her at the weekend- but she said she was lovely for a lot of things :evil:

I can't say I trust Duffy either, in all honesty, but I don't know if thats the fear too.

Any tips, suggestions etc?

Its really getting me down, I read all your trail ride stories and want to be able to do it and enjoy it, I just can't..

BlueSpark 03-07-2012 10:47 AM

Start in an out door arena if you can. Or if you've done a good session in the indoor and you can ride out side, just get on out side for say 5 minutes. Make small goals, even one minute out side is good, if you are really petrified. I got in several accidents that distroyed my confidence, I would get on my mare, walk 20' out into the feild then hop off and walk back in the begining. It was slow progress, but now I am back to being my fearless trail riding self

DuffyDuck 03-07-2012 10:52 AM

Sounds like a plan.. our outdoor is huge, a jumping arena used for comps mainly, without the jumps, and without barriers, and plenty of spooky things to look at.

Duffy is very steady and not freaky at anything, so I don't know why I'm so darn nervous and shaky.. not just with her, with any horse.

I want to be able to go out for a pootle and enjoy it, not freak out... thanks Blue!

calicokatt 03-07-2012 10:57 AM

I always tell my kids that when they start to get nervous, they should yawn, over and over if necessary. Yawning (even when its fake) settles you deeper into your saddle and relaxes your body, thus relaxing your horse. I ride a couple of horses who can get overexcited or really nervous, and yawning helps us both to settle. If you have a friend that is a good rider, maybe have them take your horse for a trail ride and let you know all the details so you know what to expect before your first ride on the trail, same with the outdoor arena, but at least in the outdoor arena, you could watch. :) Good luck, confidence takes time to rebuild.

maura 03-07-2012 11:04 AM

First of all, I would highly recommend working with a sports psychologist and in particular work on controlled breathing exercises. One of the main ways we transmit fear and nervousness to our horses is by either holding our breath or breathing shallowly, which cause our muscle movements to be short and jerky rather than smooth. Learning to control your breathing won't keep you from being scared, but it will keep you from communicating that to the horse and starting that familiar upward spiral were the horse reacts to you, you get tenser, horse reacts more, etc.

Second, I would definitely advise trying to find a lesson horse to ride while you learn this technique and get more comfortable riding in the outdoor arena and for very short walks outside an arena. Lesson horses have learned to tune out a certain degree of rider tension and conflicting aids, and that's what you want right now. You want a certain amount of successes in the controlled breathing exercises, and making incremental progress on a lesson horse before you try to transfer this to Duffy or another horse.

Third, make some lists of things that make the fear better and make the fear worse. For instance, cold, breezy day = worse; calm, warm, sunny day = better. One capable friend on calm horse = better; big crowd on trail ride = worse, friend on spooky green horse = worse. Then try to stack as many of the elements that make the fear abate in your favor.

Celebrate small triumphs. Even if it might seem silly to others, a walk around the outdoor is a big accomplishment. Celebrate it like winning a championship.

Good luck! I would hate to see anyone's riding confined soley to an indoor arena.

DuffyDuck 03-07-2012 11:19 AM

Thanks Maura.. seeing a psychologist about my fear issues with horses have been mentioned before, especially by my trainer. She says I have the potential, but anything new, or different, or the horse challenges I freeze and ride like a complete beginner... may be something to look in to for sure.

I used to love hacking out, put me on anything and it was yeehaw go! After that accident.. yeah.. confidence to do anything out of the norm freaks me out, jumping, hacking, shows.. this is why I haven't done any out of house shows.

Jolly Badger 03-07-2012 11:20 AM

Maura gives some really good suggestions.

Just start slow and simple. You don't need to ride down a mountainside like The Man from Snowy River your first time out. :lol:

Is there anyone at your barn who would be willing to play "babysitter" and go on a ride with you? It's nice to have company, especially with someone along who understands that you're nervous and will just chat with while you ride, but who is also a competent horse person and can talk you through a rough spot.

DuffyDuck 03-07-2012 11:30 AM

I think one of the western horses, Naughty (who is anything but) is the best to be fair! He isn't phased by anything when his loanee rides him.. Just had reports of snow coming in though so may have to hold off for a bit o.0

Thanks for all the tips guys... my flight instinct is higher than my horses!!

FlyGap 03-07-2012 12:02 PM

28 Attachment(s)
Poor girl!
I can't stand to ride inside or in an arena because I'm addicted to trails!

I'd do like suggested and take tiny baby steps and give yourself a huge POTB when you get done. As for Duffy, can you send her out with the trainer on her and see how she does before you go for it? When was the last time she had a good go? I'd also go out with you on a calm dead broke horse and a similar partner. Maybe even sit on one and have your trainer lead line you like a kid. Really!
When was the last time you rode bareback? I'd practice that inside for a bit and get a good feel, might help your confidence.
Maura's suggestion about weather is really good. After my car wreck I'm a wreck and have high anxiety about EVERYTHING! So I only ride when it's nice and calm out. And don't get stressed about the baby steps or beat yourself up about any set backs. Honestly, I still have yet to canter Rick. Really!! In my younger days I was a hellion, bareback, only halter riding for days alone out in the woods. Now I always ride with a partner, slow and steady on the trails.
Good luck girl!!

AQHA13 03-07-2012 12:26 PM

You could jjust start out by leading her, that way You have a better control and can observe how she will act. She can build up her confidence by you leading her and she may trust you more in scary situations when you are riding. After a little bit, When you are confident that she'll behave then you could start riding her.
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