How to Build Confidence...
...after a devastating wreck.
5 years ago, I was in my "prime". I rode 6-7 days a week, showed on the odd weekend, completely and utterly naive. I was young, and dumb, thinking horses were all candy canes and lollipops. I loved horses. I attached human emotions to my horses. I said things like, "I need to go ride my horse, or she will feel sad" or, "I need to at least visit, or she will feel lonely." When in reality, a horse is a horse. As long as they have food and water and a nice big pasture to romp around with thier horse buddies, they honestly wont miss you. They don't think and feel like we do. Only we think and feel like we do. I thought horses were incapable of hurting me or my feelings because I treated them with all the love and affection that was needed in a solid, trusting relationship.
One day my coach suggested I ride the new horse at the barn. She was a pretty palomino who we were hoping I could ride to my prom. So we figured I would try her out in the round pen. I hopped on bareback and all went well, until the barn dog came flying out of the bushes barking. She reared up so fast that she flung herself over and landed square on top of me.
I ended up in the hospital with an "open book" pelvic fracture. They called it an open book fracture because that's just what it looked like, a big ol' boney book spread out over the table. There were 7 clean breaks to my pelvis, and multiple hairline fractures, too many to count. I was very, very lucky that I was riding bareback, because if there had been a saddle there was a very good chance I would have had internal bleeding, and a good chance I would have died. Now, theres very little you can do for a pelvic fracture. The bones broke in such symmetry that I very narrowly missed mandatory surgery, and it became and option instead of a necessity, and I chose to let it heal on its own instead of having metal detectors go off for the rest of my life. So I spent 10 days in a morphine coma at the hospital and 2 1/2 months bed ridden after that, and only then could I begin to try and walk with crutches. The injury still bothers me to this day, I will probably need a double hip replacement when I'm older, and oh - I can't have children.
It makes me very, very sad to see young riders with so much gusto that they don't put thier own safety first. Sometimes accidents happen out of the blue, and there is nothing you can do about it. But whenever you can protect yourself, please do it. Feeling like a helmet looks stupid or showing off to your friends with your horse, will not be worth it when you get dealt a really bad card.
Suddenly I had a much more staggering, realistic view of horses. They were heavy. Really, heavy. And they were capable of killing you. They were instinctual animals that were prey. They were horses, not people. I could attach as many ooey gooey human emotions to a horse, but at the end of the day they were still horses, satisfied to be rid of all the strange unnatural things we make them do as apart of our equestrian routine. That mare didn't feel "bad" about what happened, because she had no idea what she had done. She wasn't "sorry" for acting the way she would have in the wild if a predator jumped out of the bushes at her, and nor did I hold a grudge against her. The lightbulb just went on, that's all. My rose coloured glasses were crushed under her and now I saw things in a more realistic light.
Well.. despite this new outlook, I really missed riding, because riding for us equestrians is like crack apparently. 3 years later I decided to start riding again, and what do you know, my first lesson and the instructor let the lead line get caught around her hoof and she reared. I didnt fall off, but that was enough to put me off for another year. I just began riding again because my husband pushed me to do it, he knows how happy it makes me and he loves to see that big stupid grin plastered to my face when I'm on a horse. I started taking lessons and everything was going so, so well. I finally had my confidence back; somewhat. So confident in fact, that I wanted a horse of my own again! *facepalm*
Well, as some of you might know, the horse I got likes to buck. In short, he's totally shattered my confidence, yet again. I don't know why, but just thinking about riding him gets my heart racing and my legs shaking. When it comes to mounting, I'm close to tears in fear, and hopefully you can all see why. So this horse is for sale, and actually has a trainer who owns a few arabs coming to look at him tomorrow, very interested in buying him. So my next hurdle will be........ how do I get my confidence back. I have always been a "just do it" kind of person... until Rummy. With Rummy, I realized how much of a push over I am ever since my accident. I let my fear get in the way of being a leader, and thus he takes the leadership role and has no respect for a wimp like me. I'm looking for ways to re build my confidence emotionally, not just by taking lessons again with a good horse. I'm really struggling with my own nerves, and I don't know how to keep them in check. Is there anything you guys might suggest for working towards obtaining a more dominant, assertive personality? Down the road, I want to buy another horse that is ABSOLUTELY right for me, no jumping the gun, no "hes sort of right for me". We'll save and save until we find the perfect horse. But in the mean time, I seriously need to work on my own self esteem, so that I don't crumble to pieces the next time me and future mister right have a disagreement (oh right, we wont have disagreements because he'll be perfect. Haha. Just kidding).
If you had a really bad wreck, how did you gain your confidence back? Did you struggle emotionally when it came to riding? Did your assertive leader act go down the tube? Feel free to share your stories.
Last edited by OctoberArabian; 02-20-2012 at 10:30 PM.