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Hazels 02-04-2013 11:23 PM

Scared of Speed
Hi, guys. Hazels here. You may have read a few of my other threads, but I'll catch you up in case you haven't.

In November I took on a horse that I obviously was not ready for. At this time I had only been riding for a month, and a friend of mine really wanted me to ride his five year old mare, Lily. I rode her, but she took off on me and I had my first fall of a horse. I broke my thumb and got the wind knocked out of me, but other then that, I was fine...


a week later, I was back at the lessons. I couldn't even trot I was so terrified. So, my instructor gave me a break and let it slide.

NEXT WEEK. Again, I'm too scared. We do a bit of trotting, but that's really all I can handle.

This goes on for a month. I finally get enough confidence back to trot around the arena doing laps for five minutes or so, and I can even feel happy and content while doing so.

Well, now my instructor is introducing cantering. He specifically told us that he wasn't trying to rush us and we should take our time, but I feel like I'd be holding everyone back if I don't canter. It absolutely terrifies me the way your horse looks like he's bucking and how fast he's going. It looks fun, I suppose, but I'm so worried that it will be too fast, I'll panic and fall off again.

So, my question is;

how do I get over my fear of speed?

Muppetgirl 02-04-2013 11:26 PM

The only way to get over your fear of speed is to learn how to control it.....

I must say though, it seems a little early for cantering, especially if you're scared and if you've hardly done much trotting with confidence.....

SorrelHorse 02-04-2013 11:33 PM

Get on a really calm, safe horse, and canter until you can't canter anymore.

That's my advice at least. Once you do it, it will get easier. There's nothing you can do to really prepare yourself for it, and the longer you wait the harder it tends to get.

if you can get on a safe horse and just relax, go around the arena rail, canter and canter some more.

Can your instructor put you on the lunge line or in a round pen for the first little while?

Hazels 02-04-2013 11:37 PM

I would like that very much, Sorrel, but the horse I actually felt comfortable even trotting on wasn't even my horse. It was my friend Cassidy's horse which I borrowed for the day. I would feel so much more comfortable trying to canter on him, but it's Cassidy's horse and she wants him

I'll try asking about the lunge line/round pen. c:

EvilHorseOfDoom 02-05-2013 12:20 AM

Ride smallish circles. After the horse is thoroughly warmed up, start with trotting circles, making sure you control the speed of the trot through your seat (post slower and "block" when you sit, it's easier for your instructor to explain this while your doing it though). Once you've got some confidence back trotting on the circle, start going large around the arena if you have one, with plenty of changes of direction (going across the diagonal) and practice asking for more speed on the long side, before slowing down coming to the corner and on the short side. Just keep practicing control of the speed.

Once you're pretty confident doing that, start asking for a canter on a large circle. Ask as you're approaching into the corner moving into the short side, it's a lot easier to control the speed that way as the horse has a visual block (the short side wall/fence) to remind her. Canter one loop and bring back to trot. Go to the other end of the arena and repeat. Once you're confident cantering on the circle start to move out large, cantering on the long side but trotting on the short side, to keep it under control.

I'd suggest riding two-point for canter at this stage. Often the scariest thing about it is how fast you feel you are going, and I tend to find that's all in the seat. Once you're out of the saddle and absorbing the movement through your hips and knees, everything seems a lot slower and more controlled. In addition, it's a lot easier to pull up a hard-pulling/excitable horse when you're out of the saddle.

The last thing I'll say is SMILE. When things seem a bit fast and scary, your body tenses up and that makes balancing even harder. Even forcing a smile actually relaxes you and makes you feel more confident about it. And if you're having trouble breathing normally while you ride, try singing something. Blues and folk songs are great for this, they're slow and soft and seem to go with the movement of the horse.

BennysLace 02-05-2013 02:30 AM

talk to your instructor on proper control techniques. You should of never been on a horse who is to advanced for you someone should of been watching out for you on that one. Learn the one rein stop learn how to get your horse doing circles properly and know that every horse is not going to take off on you. Now I see your problem with Kelly, not sure if it's because she's a mare or a little more foward then the gelding you rode. See if you can take a few bareback lessons, on a calmer horse some one on one time with your instructor. Nothing helped my seat or my confidence like a bareback pad. Since it seems your gonna have Kelly to ride, see if you can do a partial lease more riding and on the ground time means more trust for you and the horse. See if someone can teach you how to groundwork some roundpenning and join up excercises may gain respect for you from Kelly. I'm wondering if she isn't the type of mare that requires you to earn her respect before she will even offer a good ride.

aerie 02-05-2013 07:09 PM

I think that asking to work on the lunge would be a wonderful idea! It gives you a chance to focus completely on you without having to worry about steering the horse or controlling how fast she goes. It could also give you a boost of confidence because if you can master your seat at the canter while on the lunge then you only have to think about steering and speed control when you are taken off of the lunge! You would be breaking the scariness down into two controllable sessions and thus making it a little less scary. :-) Also another thing to keep in the back of your head when you canter is that it is a lot smoother than trotting so it will feel a bit easier to sit :-) stay calm and keep it fun, and if you aren't ready don't canter maybe you can see if you can stand in the middle with your horse while the others canter so you can watch how others are doing until you are ready. Remember that this is your journey in horseback riding, nobody elses so don't feel pressured into doin anything that you aren't ready for :-) Keep your chin up kiddo, you've got this

MyBoyPuck 02-12-2013 10:25 PM

This is either going to make total sense or do nothing at all for you, but my advice is, remember the only difference between a canter and a horse standing still is because his feet are moving. Have you ever watched a horse darting across a field and then a second later he's standing still? The only thing he changed is, he stopped moving his feet. For some reason, that single visual has helped me tons.

Kind of along the lines of what Muppetgirl was saying, the key to feeling safe at speed is knowing you can stop any darn time you want. If I were your instructor, I would tell you to first do a zillion walk/trot transitions so you get the feel of how easy it actually is to switch gaits. Then, when your were ready, I would have you do trot/canter just for a few steps/walk transitions. At some point, your confidence will come up and you will want to canter a little more each time before coming down to walk.

That all being said, this only works on a safe reliable horse. I would assume your instructor has you on such a horse already. Good luck. Just have fun.

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