Really Scared to Get Back in the Saddle! Help!
Well, last year, me and my horse Apache had an accident while barrel racing. I got hurt bad on my back. I stopped riding for a while, and in that time, I started really liking Berry. When I got healed, I was scared to get on Apache, even though I knew it wasn't his fault he got spooked. I still refused to get on him. I still had that fear I guess. I started to ride Berry, the appaloosa, and i was really nervous. It's not that I'm scared, it's more of a nervous feeling. When I'm on Berry, I feel really alert. I got rid of Apache due to money issues, and I started riding Berry this summer. I tried to ride him every other day, but I stopped when the storms came and the weather was bad, and it was too wet to ride. It's fall now, and I want to ride him, but when I do get back on, I want to feel very confident in myself and my horse. Is there any advice you all can offer me to boost my confidence for when I get back in the saddle? Thanks!!!!
You decide your attitude, no one else. You have a decision to make before you get back on the horse. Are you going to be confident and move on from your accident or continue to be hung up over something that happened last year. Accidents can always occur when riding; they can occur when you do anything really. Its about taking preventative measures to ensure your and your horse's saftey for when accidents happen. When they do, its all about being able to brush yourself off and keep going. Yes, I'm saying time to put on your big girl panties. If you want to ride, then ride. Try not to get hung up on what happened, but focus on the positive, why you like riding for instance. I know its easier said than done, but just remember, YOU decide your attitude.
Start slow. Set yourself up so that anything you do you will do well and once you can do that easily and regularly increase the difficulty/intensity of it by very small increments only, increments you cannot fail at. So for an hypothetical example. Get on and just walk around a paddock. Once thats easy, maybe trot slowly around a paddock, once thats easy and you cant fail at it canter around the paddock. I don’t necessarily mean thats exactly what you should do, i.e. walk-trot-canter, but I mean the principal. Start off easy where you cant fail and once you have gained your confidence at it, up the standard slightly, so slightly that you cant fail at it. It might take a while, and the improvement may creep up on you so slow that you don’t notice it, but thats kind of the point.
You are having problems with 'anxiety'. It is related to but different from fear.
We deal with people all of the time that have anxiety problems; usually from a previous wreck; usually did not have great confidence to begin with.
In your circumstance, I would find someone competent to ride this horse for an hour or more. Have them lope circles, stop, back up, turn around, do many lead departures, etc. In other words, put some pressure on him. If he blows up or gets really mad, he needs some good riding by an experienced rider before you decide to tackle him. If he rides OK, then get on him -- that very same day when he is really 'warmed up' and ready.
If you still have serious anxiety problems, I would suggest getting a 'loper'. Many barrel racers and other good riders will be tickled to come out, lope your horse and get him warmed up for you when you want to go riding. I know 2 people that are doing that right now. Both are professional people, not real confident but love to ride. A loper comes out when they are out of town and cannot ride for several days and a loper comes out and warms the horse up on the days they want to ride, but they know the horse is fresh and has not been ridden in a while. One, I know, pays a neighbor ranch girl $20.00 to come over and ride her horse for an hour.
It is far better than sending one off to a trainer (especially if they are reasonably well trained to begin with), a lot cheaper and lets the horse stay at home and be ridden there.
Almost anyone will get on a horse without a lot of anxiety if that horse has been ridden in front of them for the past hour.
I think everyone gave you good solid advice. I was in a very serious accident a little over a year ago and when I healed enough physically to actually get back on a horse I found my confidence was totally shattered. I took lessons with a good trainer on an excellent beginner horse, (just to prove to myself I could actually get back on a horse), then I rode a friends dead broke gelding for a bit to try to get comfortable trail riding again (I was still very nervous ) . Then I bought myself a good horse that I really clicked with. All these things helped to slowly build my confidence again but what I think what helped the most was watching someone else ride my horse at all gaits and see how he reacted that finally finished healing me mentally so to speak. I am an older rider and may be a little more cautious now but I am not nervous or afraid anymore. I didnt get my confidence and joy of riding back right away it was a long hard year. The bottom line is you have to decide if you want to get over this and then do what it takes to achieve it. For me the prospect of not riding again was more terrifying than riding (and I was shaking so bad I could hardly hold the reins when I first got back on), so I put on my big girl pants and did it. It may be hard but if you truely want this you can do it.
Get a trainer, take some lessons, set up attainable goals wih be trainer and work together on reaching them. It's better to get help than to struggle through alone. A trainer can also help give you more riding tools to prevent or mitigate future falls.
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I'd go out on a few rental horses and just cover miles until my body remembered how to feel comfortable up there.
You just have to tell yourself that it's either get back on and face that fear and nervousness or stay out of the saddle and let the "What if's" rule your life.
I had a back wreck last weekend and I got back on the same afternoon, I'm not saying you have to get right back on but it's the mindset of making sure that you face that fear and nervousness head on and don't let it hold you back from doing something you loved to do.
Are you going to go back to barrel racing? Or do you just want to ride? If your're just riding, do you need to have speed? Now? or Later? One step at a time-they can be baby steps-but ALL riding is a challenge-none of us knows what can be just around the corner.Like the idea of a "loper".
Ride in circles around a barrel at a walk. Go 1, 2, 4, 8 etc. laps then stop at center with horse's nose touching top of barrel and rest for a few minutes. Then do it at trot... then canter. Then move on to figure 8s. Get to where the horse is moves freely through the ribs.
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