Confessions of a Nervous Rider
These observations may help other scared and nervous riders.
Several things make me a nervous rider. Here is how I try to overcome the fears.
1. My age. I'm 53 years old and when you get older, you don't have the fearlessness you had when you were younger. Back in my youth I'd climb up on anything and try anything. Now I'm aware how hard the ground is and I don't recover like I used to. You know you're mortal. You know things can hurt you. And you don't thing "I'm going for a great ride today!" your brain is more along the thought process of "What if?" What if he spooks? What if I fall off and there's no one around to help me? What if I'm dragged? What if...? Fears like these are not reasonable. It's hard to overcome them. They are there and they are real to the person feeling the fear. Yet, I have this love of horses and riding. I WANT to ride. I'm scared to ride. I have two good, sane horses to ride, but still, I think what if?
How to overcome it? I don't think "I'm going for a ride." I think, "Let's play with the horse." Let's just saddle him up. I can always put him away, I don't have to ride. Okay let's just sit on him. Ok, maybe a short walk down the driveway and back. As each stage progresses, and nothing horrible happens, I can go one step further.
Sometimes I regress. If I dont' ride, it becomes scary again. There's no reason for this, I know it, and it angers me that the fear takes over. But you can always start again. Never give up.
2. Out of shape. I know how to ride. I'm a good rider when in shape. But I have to get back into shape so my muscles do what they're supposed to. I have to find my balance again.
How to overcome it? You have to ride. You have to stretch those muscles first. The more fit you feel, the better you'll feel. You have to sit on the horse when it's moving and use those muscles. It doesn't have to be for long, just a few minutes a day. Each time you'll be a bit more fit, and a bit more confident. Do the exercises that promote good balance. Do them on a lunge line with a trusted friend so you don't feel like you have to concentrate on controlling the horse AND balancing.
3. Horses are too green, so I'm scared to ride them. I just went through this one. I bought great stock when they were young, raised them and sent them for training. It was the only way I could afford the great bloodlines. What did I have? Beautiful horses, but green broke. I had to admit I didn't have the confidence to finish them, nor the money to send them off for more training.
How to overcome it? This was the hardest one. I rode each one and kept the one I felt most confident on, Chip. I sold the other three. This was SO difficult, but I cannot ride four horses, I could not afford to continually feed four horses that I wasn't riding, and all that preliminary training was going to go to waste! I found great homes for each one and sold them off, one by one, tears in my eyes, but happy they were going to be used. Then we took that money and bought one older gelding, well broke, sane, good for beginner hubby to ride as well.
If you read this far, I commend you! In summary, for my three fears that I had to overcome, the results were this: Go at your own pace with your fears, but never give up if you truly love to ride and you want to. Work on your skills on and off the horse to feel more fit and more confident. A trainer once told me, "We have an obligation to our horse to be fit enough to ride them." And swallow that pride and let go of the horses you will never ride, and get one who you can ride and have fun on.
I used to be terrified of horses to the point where i would be in tears just to touch one. Now im well on my way to getting my bachelors in western training and riding. What really helped me and i highly recommend is a trainer. I had a Natural Horsemanship trainer who really helped me. She was a saint, she would always tell me "Your not breathing Tara, you gotta remember to breathe". She understood my fear and helped me work through it. She would take extra time to explain things to me and help me work on my own. She would make me ride my pony and push me to "man up" and work things out for myself. She was a real confidence builder for me. If it wasnt for her i wouldnt be who i am today. I owe alot to her.
I would literally sit outside my stall and cry because i was scared to go in with my pony. Now i am the first one to jump on an unbroke horse. I really really suggest getting outside help. Make sure you clarify to this person what exactly your looking for. Explain to them your concerns and what you would like to accomplish. Goodluck!
I'm at the point with horses where, I'm not terrified but I am extremely cautious.
In February I came off a horse, I'd been a bit nervous before this, and hadn't ridden seriously in years, but this really was the icing on the cake. I put my foot in the stirrup, swung up just about the put my other foot in the stirrup and this horse who I had just seen the owner ride, who I was assured was quiet, took off bucking. I fell and broke my arm and fractured my spine and swore I would never ride again. This horse was meant to be something to give me confidence.
It's funny because as a kid I didn't have a fear of riding, I'd just get on and ride, and if I fell off I'd get on and ride some more. Now just thinking of riding I am worried about getting dragged, or falling and breaking my skull and more terrible things. And I am a stickler for safety. I'm on holidays and I wanted to go on a trail ride, and they said you can just wear your own shoes, hiking boots will be fine. But I don't think they are, I'm paranoid a bit now. I can just imagine me falling and my boots, being much too wide, getting jammed in the stirrups and then my thigh snaps and I get dragged.
I want to get back into riding but its so hard to look past the fear. Its strange because once I am on a horse I am fine. I can gallop, canter, jump, do sporting, whatever even though I haven't ridden for years.
My new plan is to take lessons on a safe horse until I am okay. And then, when I am sure I want my own, instead of buying the cheapest good one I can, that I know needs work, I am going to save for a nice horse that is quiet and trained, even if it costs me money. Because you realise when you're sitting at home with a broken arm and can't cook or drive or anything that health is extremely important. Can't put a price on safety.
So thank you for your advice. It's good to know I am not the only person who has fears of riding.
Great advice, I even started one step back from that when the fear was to bad, put on the breeches and walk around the house, dress the part it helps get you in the mindset of being a rider, when your comfortable with that then take the next step, go groom, play, ground train the more you do and seach little step you take is a victory.
Can I add one more to Red Gates List though.
At the end of the day do not let your brain tell you you have failed because you used to, or everyone else does, hunt, jump, gallop, whatever it is, if you walked your horse around the school for 5 minutes and it felt good, CELEBRATE that, you achieved you are a success, and nothing breeds success like success, so never ever mourn what you can't do, rejoice in the now and the achievement you made today, Oh and com ejoin the Big Girls Panties thread and help support all of us less than brave people:wink:
Ohwow. I missed the whole point of this thread. I should really pay attention more. How embarrassing
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subbing. This is all soo me.
This thread is awesome - it reminds you that it's ok to be only human.
I'm also somewhat nervous, so I share your pain:)
oH I got a good one to add to the things to do to help you not feel too scared:
When things are just a bit dicey, such as your horse is breathing in that snorty sort of way that says he sees or hears something you dont' and he's worried about it. . . . or when he starts to dance a little because a chipmunk skittered in the bush . . .or the other riders went left and you want to go right and your horse doesn't agree . and things get a little "rocky", say this to yourself:
"This is so boring. I am so bored." Then it feels like a big fat nothing.
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