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BrinkofSunshine 03-15-2013 12:18 AM

Fear after a Fall.. feeling like I've lost my passion :(
Hi all,

I'm an adult beginner-ish rider; I've been riding once a week for a little over a year now after a 10 year absence from riding when I was a kid. A month and a half ago I had a bad fall at the canter that knocked the wind (and my confidence) right out of me and left me in pretty bad pain for over a week. My trainer and I aren't really sure what happened.. seemed like I lost my balance in a turn and slid off. I felt extremely disoriented when I fell; I thought I had been dreaming when I hit the ground. I had fallen twice before that in the past year but I had gotten right back on each time. This fall terrified me.

I think I went three weeks or so without riding after that, due to pain and scheduling issues. I haven't been on the same horse for my past two lessons, but I've been a mess at the canter. My confidence is bust. I thought I could take it easy for a while, but my trainer insists the only way I'll get over it is if I canter. It's frustrating me because I can't keep the canter for longer than halfway around the ring. Then my trainer gets frustrated... and it's making me not want to ride. :-(

Tomorrow she's putting me back on the horse I fell off of, and I don't feel confident on him at all (he's getting back in shape after 6 months of not being ridden after being rescued from a bad situation); the other horse is sick. But my trainer only has access to two lesson horses since it is mostly a boarding barn. I absolutely love horses and used to look forward to riding all week... now I'm seriously considering taking a break from it because all I feel is fear and frustration. Is this normal? Has anyone else felt this way at some point during their riding? I don't know if a break would be good or bad for me. I'd love some advice.

I realize some of my other threads have the same theme; I'm never really around any other students at the barn (at least ones I'd feel comfortable talking to), and my only horsey friend fears nothing as she's been playing polo for a few years now.

Mochachino 03-15-2013 12:43 AM

I can completely relate. I fell and broke my tail bone a few years ago off a horse I had on trial, and I lost all my confidence completely. I wouldn't even ride my bombproof and dead quiet QH for 6 months. It took a while to get some confidence back. Take your time, don't push, you need to feel comfortable and relaxed to ride or that horse is going to feel your nerves. I'm a little concerned that your trainer is getting frustrated at you. I understand that "get back on the horse" idea, but you need to feel comfortable and having someone getting after you and forcing it, would not be for me! I fell a few weeks ago and the footing was reasonably soft and I didn't get hurt, didn't even have stiffness or soreness in the morning, and I did get back on. But my trainer wanted to make sure I was ok, and that I felt ok to continue. She was supportive and understanding. Take your time, there is no rush is there? I see your being pushed and if you are uncomfortable about what she/he is asking you to do, you need to say something. If they don't listen and understand, maybe find another lesson barn.

loveduffy 03-15-2013 12:43 AM

first welcome to the forum. WHO Is paying who? tell your trainer you need to take it slow there is nothing wrong with that rushing thing could keep you from riding all together. This happen to a friend, she got hurt real bad broken bones and all it still take her time to get back on to this day, she will not ride in the winter that is when she fall off her horse

tinyliny 03-15-2013 02:05 AM

I sure feel for you.
I think learning to canter again on a good steady horse will help you a lot. Then you'll be read to go back and retry the scarier one.

I haven't had a bad fall for a bit, but I do remember falling off at the canter a couple of times where it took me a while before I wa willing to canter again.

Would it be too simplistic to say to you that you WILL get over it , and to have faith in that. And , we have most all of us experienced this fear. It's not imaginary.

boots 03-15-2013 08:07 AM

All is not lost. You're experience is common when on the path to becoming a more mature horseman. It's the difference between having only passion (easy when it's all fun) and being committed because you want to continue and get past a bump in the road (and all the ones on your body!)

I also agree that you are the one paying, and the trainer should be respectful of your wishes and goals. But, we also pay our trainers to assist in improving our skills, so you need to weigh your fear with her suggestions.

Many of us have had that moment, or period or time, when we reassess the value of riding because of an unpleasant experience that made us realize the risks associated with it.

I hope you give riding a chance. If you don't feel like your trainer is taking you in a direction you enjoy, look around for another. Only having two horses and neither being in a great spot themselves... perhaps riding with her is just not a good fit right now. It's not personal toward the trainer, you just have different needs.

Palomine 03-15-2013 09:06 AM

Another trainer NOW.

I've given riding lessons, and I never ever wanted a rider to come off, AND had the sense to look and see if rider was secure or not too.

That you have fallen as often as you have? Tells me your seat is not secure, your balance is not good, and that your trainer is not helping you in these issues. And if you are without balance? You should still be only working at walk, and on lunge most of that time.

To continue to push you, and to make you more fearful, is wrong, flat out wrong.

I will qualify this to say, and understand I am not accusing you of this, but it is something that needs to be said, especially for those who come to this thread because they have some of same issues.

IF you have pushed trainer to move you too fast, because you resented being kept at baby steps, and you have been given exercises to do to improve your balance, or suggestions have been made as to weight, balance, seat or what have you and have refused to do those things? This is what happens too often. Rider comes off.

Again, NOT saying you have done that. Just important to understand that trainers can get overruled by rider who pushes, as well as, which is what I feel is going on here, trainer pushes too hard.

And not sure what style you ride either?

Saddlebag 03-15-2013 09:55 AM

Try to analyse what led up to your tumble. Did the horse stumle, swerve, crowhop (little buck). Did your foot slip from a stirrup (common)? If the horse did nothing to bring this one then you need to get back on this horse and just ride at a pace that works for you. Tell the coach you'd like her to be there but to keep her mouth zipped shut. This is your issue, not her's. During your time off I suspect you've thought of a thousand what-ifs. That is just your mind playing games. You need to relax at the walk and trot. Tension throughout the body does cause a rider to drop a stirrup. You need to make the coach understand that you want to advance at your pace not hers or you may have to find a coach who will allow this.

BrinkofSunshine 03-15-2013 10:48 AM

Thank you all for your responses! My lesson for this week has been moved a couple of days so I can get back on the horse I'm more comfortable with. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who has reassessed their love of riding. I've always known it's dangerous, but it was one of those experiences where that becomes very real... and I'm not kid that can just break an arm and get on with it.

Palomine, I should have mentioned that I ride English (hunter/jumper). I'll be trying out another lesson barn soon, but I'm not sure if I want to leave my current barn just yet. I don't push my trainer; I asked two weeks ago if I could have a lunge lesson but we haven't. I'm a nervous rider anyway so I've had a lot of issues with confidence even before this. I guess I should speak up more and insist we work on the more basic things like seat, etc.

Saddlebag, I think the fall happened for a few reasons- it was the very end of a very hard lesson simply trying to get the horse move, I'm not used to his larger/faster stride and I think we took the turn too sharply. In the video I can see myself sliding to the left, then I over-correct and fling off to the right.

My two previous falls had been from a crowhop (horse had gotten spooked), and once after landing a jump the mare had overjumped/bounced over.

onuilmar 03-15-2013 10:50 AM

Umm. I'm wondering about your instructor.

I started riding as an adult (at 48) and started with an extremely good instructor. So good that he kept me, a very green rider, on a horse that threatened to buck me off. (The issue of why I was on the horse is something else, completely.)

Long story short, I left (for reasons I won't go into) and found another instructor. There I rode a horse that was too much for me and the instruction available did not help me fix my riding flaws contributing to the problems. Eventually, the horse ended up taking off on me in a outdoor field and I jumped from a galloping horse. (Did not get hurt.)

Consequently, I lost my confidence and did not get any back until I returned to my initial instructor. It took a while, but it did come back.

Take a hard look at the quality of instruction you are getting. Although some pushing is the norm, she should not be having you do things you are not ready for.

I don't know what you can and cannot do, nor am I sure of what your abilities are. I do know that pushing riders beyond their skill level is asking for trouble. And even if the issue is simply confidence (and not skill), I would still say that regaining confidence at the lower level is important before trying the level where things went wrong.

Hope this helps.

BugABooStreak 03-15-2013 11:06 PM

I can totally feel your pain. Literally. I took a bad fall last year from a canter, my horse spooked and I lost my balance, as I tried to regain it he just went into a full out bucking fit and threw me. I landed on my shoulder and my collarbone snapped like a dry tree branch. Needless to say, it required surgery with this big obnoxious plate and about 8 screws. I have never admitted it to my family or friends, I have a tendency to hide those emotions, but I was terrified to get back on him. But I decided I would just take it slow, we walked in the round pen for a long time, and just did simple trotting exercises. To be honest, its been over a year and I still havent cantered on him :( So dont feel like youre alone. I am working on this myself. Dont do anything if you dont feel ready, the first time I got back on I didnt quite "feel ready" but I felt like I had to prove something to myself, I dont know why. Even though the ride went fine, my heart was pounding the entire time.

As for your trainer, you really need to have a one on one talk and try to get her to understand how you are feeling. Some people have the mindset that the only way to get over a fear is to just attack it, but keep this quote in mind "Courage does not always roar, sometimes it is the small voice that says 'I will try again tomorrow" Some people like to attack their fears head on, but you need to express to your trainer that you need to take small steps. If she wont listen, then take your money elsewhere.

Best of luck to you.

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