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hosscwazy13 08-12-2012 07:52 PM

Anxiety&Nervousness When Riding
Last summer, I broke my back falling off a horse while jumping. It was a freak accident thing. I broke my back in August and was lucky enough to start riding again in November. Ever since I've started riding again, I become extremely anxious and nervous before I get on the horse (it builds up on the drive to the barn, when I'm grooming and tacking up, up until the walk to the mounting block). I've always been a little anxious before I rode in the past, but since my accident it's become worse and it affects my riding. I tense my back and legs, and I know it's to guard my back. Recently I have been so panicky and antsy that I almost don't want to get on the horse, but once I'm on and have been riding for about 10-15 minutes I finally relax somewhat.

I know it will take time to recover and regain my confidence again, but I was wondering if anyone had any ideas to help with this issue? Are there exercises I can practice while riding? I was also thinking that if I were to buy a safety vest I would feel a little more secure on the horse, knowing I'd have extra support if I were to fall?

If anyone has any other ideas I'd really appreciate it! Thanks

BubblesBlue 08-12-2012 08:02 PM

Have you considered just working with horses and not getting on them so that you can regain your trust with them again?

Also, how about taking some lessons to help regain that confidence too.

Plus, I think a safety vest would be a GREAT idea. :) Especially since your back is already weaker because you broke it.

jfisher256 08-12-2012 08:12 PM

Your story sounds just like mine. I fractured my spine while horseback riding and it was the worst 4 months of my life not being able to ride. But I was dumb at the time and thought "Hm, even though I ride nowhere currently and have no trainer or instructor at the moment, I'm going to try this horse out anyway." I did, had the worst fall I've ever had, and boom-confidence has been shot down. I was the same way since I started taking lessons again after my fall. Nervousness and anxiety on the drive to the stable, grooming and tacking up, and the short walk to the mounting block in the ring. But when I'm on I start to relax and wonder why I had so much anxiety and to relax. My instructor has had to tell me in the past numerous times to relax and stop arching my back so much.

I agree with what BubblesBlue said, maybe working with horses on the ground again to regain confidence? Definitely don't do what I did and take a year off just because you were so nervous and worried. :) I wish I had handled it differently but I'm happy where I'm at with my riding now so it's all good.

KissTheRing 08-12-2012 08:17 PM

Before I read your line about the safety vest I was like "OP should buy a safety vest!"
lol It will probably put you at ease because if you still have the nads to get on a horse after your fall; you can truly get over this =) Just seems like you may need something to reassure you, you wont get as hurt again-

hosscwazy13 08-12-2012 08:31 PM

I am not at all nervous when I'm on the ground around horses. In fact, right after I was released from the hospital, wearing one of those fun back braces!) I was back at the barn the next day helping out around the stable, with summer camps, and I've recently been working for someone to get her lesson horses taken care of and tacked up before a lesson. I feel more comfortable on the ground, it's just when I get up in the saddle...

DancingArabian 08-12-2012 10:02 PM

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Try taking some lessons on a very quiet, reliable horse. If you need to be on a lungeline, do that.

Saskia 08-13-2012 05:43 AM

I also broke my spine (and my arm) falling off, about a year and a half ago. It wasn't serious or anything but I didn't think I'd ever want to ride again.

Then at the beginning of this year I really began to miss it and started taking lessons. I was so nervous to ride. The instructors didn't help much at all, but just riding safe horses did and in a short time I was really keen on getting my own. I bought Rosie and she's pretty alright. I like her and she's small but I am still super nervous. Handling any other horse I am nervous. If horses surround me I am nervous. Getting on I am nervous, but I settle a bit. I even bought a new saddle because I convinced myself my old one wasn't safe enough.

So... I don't have much advice. I don't know how to get over it. I am just spending time doing it to get used to it. Even though I am okay with Rosie, and other horses I know, I am still really uncomfortable with strange horses. Last time I was at the horse I had heaps of difficulty with Rosie as horses were "mobbing" around me and she was panicking and spinning and trying to get away, and now when I think about going out there I just feel sick. But I know Rosie is okay, and I just keep moving forward and hopefully one day it will all get a bit easier.

So find a horse you're okay with, then just keep doing stuff, keep moving forward no matter how slow your progress is. That is what I think. Being around safe horses could help.

Skyseternalangel 08-13-2012 05:50 AM

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That's normal, OP. If you weren't reserved about riding a horse due to a serious injury I'd advise you to have your head examined!

Perfectly normal; you are just trying to protect yourself. Don't let yourself freak out. Take baby steps, stay with quiet steady horses. You'll be back in no time :)

jinxremoving 08-13-2012 08:16 AM

The best thing to help with confidence is more time in the saddle. Stick with flatwork and slowly work your way back up. Buying a protective vest will help but obviously isn't a sure fire thing in protecting the back from further injuries. One thing I have heard people say is that singing or humming when riding helps them with nervousness.

Also finding an instructor that is aware of your nervousness + prior fall can be helpful, a lot of them will understand where you're coming from and can tailor their lessons to work through this sort of thing.

corgi 08-13-2012 09:03 AM is amazing how many of us have broken our backs and still ride!

I fractured my back in two places in September of 2009. I was back in the saddle in January. I found a very calm horse to lease and that helped.

When I decided it was time to buy a horse, I found what I thought was a a very calm QH. The third time I rode him, he threw me and I broke some ribs and hurt my neck. It was that accident that took away every ounce of confidence I had.

I ended up buying a fiesty polo pony...that while she has a ton of energy, she has no buck in her at all...but it took me a long time to get to the point where I wasn't a nervous wreck riding her. Anytime she showed any hesitation or beligerance, I would get off of her...which just made things worse.

I finally took some "confidence building" lessons from a trainer where I board. she helped me get my confidence back and in less than 2 months, I was comfortable and confident.

Lessons are the way to go.....ask specifically for confidence building lessons.

And by the way, the broken ribs hurt so much worse than the broken back...and took longer to heal. I hope I got all of my horse related injuries out of the way!!

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