I need to get over a traumatic experience, any help? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 19 Old 11-29-2012, 12:01 PM
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Same thing happened to me on my Clydesdale. First time on him, he tanked off with me. I was so scared. It took me a while to build up my confidence and I know exactly what you mean about trotting. Your stomach starts to turn somersalts! You really need to be honest with your instructor and let him/her help you get your confidence back. Take it easy, baby steps and if you don't feel confident trotting on your own horse but you are ok with another, then use another horse until you feel better. In the meantime, when you ride your horse, just do what you are comfortable with. Eventually your confidence will return but have patience and don't push yourself too hard. Its a bad fright you've had but you will get better.
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post #12 of 19 Old 11-29-2012, 12:14 PM
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I am working on similar issues. I didn't ride for 6 years after my wreck. I started lessons this spring. My trainer put me on the most wonderful, quite, 23 year old gelding. My first lesson was in the round pen, just walking. She later told me she thought I was going to pass out cause I was holding my breath so bad! She slowly let me build confidence on him, pretty much let me go at my own pace, but gently pushing me at the same time. She has gradually put me on more chalenging horses. I had one bad lesson on a mare that did shake me up pretty bad. She took me back down to an easier horse, to get my confidence back up. It takes time, but you can do it
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post #13 of 19 Old 11-29-2012, 12:17 PM
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Been there and done that. I was trying a horse after not riding for 26 years. Used to be a terrific bareback riding young person. Horse took off bucking and I came off at the end of the arena. I was hurt badly but still wanted a horse.

I should have bought a well trained trail horse but I got a gentle gently former race horse. He was a sweet boy and did what I asked but every little think would upset me and scare me and that would upset and piss me off. I would remember how I rode well as a kid and young adult. The accident for just over 4 years ago. I trail ride all the time and have a different horse. It took loads of slow rides for me to get where I now canter (and my boy doesn't really canter well - he wants to go faster as he doesn't have the control to go as slow at a canter as hubby's horse).

I can't tell you how many rides I went on that I was in turns scared or thrilled or both at the same time.

MLS had a great suggestion of trotting a certain space and stopping. Knowing that YOU control that will help you bring back your confidence. And Time. Lots of time. Lots of rides. I have always said the worst that horse did to me was rob me of my confidence. It has taken lots of time and effort to get over it and I still get a little nervous at times before I ride and it may take a mile or so for me to totally relax. Take your time, don't beat yourself up over it. Walk and then a trot for 10 feet. Stop. Walk around the arena. Trot 10 feet. Walk....walk....turn in circles.

Hope you gain back that confidence soon and are riding again on your own horse. Best of luck and let us know how you are progressing.
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post #14 of 19 Old 11-29-2012, 12:28 PM
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Are you game for fixing the horse? When you ask her to trot the moment you feel something is different, her body tightens, her ears turn back to you, turn her toward the rail. She'll stop but just conplete the turn and walk in the opposite direction. Each time she starts to speed up turn to the rail. She will quit stopping unless you ride closer than 6' beside the rail. These tight turns mean more work for her and she'll soon be happy to stay in the trot to avoid the extra work. Horses have survived for millenia by conserving energy so this is built in and she won't want to expend any more than she has to.
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post #15 of 19 Old 11-29-2012, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by littrella View Post
I am working on similar issues. I didn't ride for 6 years after my wreck. I started lessons this spring. My trainer put me on the most wonderful, quite, 23 year old gelding. My first lesson was in the round pen, just walking. She later told me she thought I was going to pass out cause I was holding my breath so bad! She slowly let me build confidence on him, pretty much let me go at my own pace, but gently pushing me at the same time. She has gradually put me on more chalenging horses. I had one bad lesson on a mare that did shake me up pretty bad. She took me back down to an easier horse, to get my confidence back up. It takes time, but you can do it
Absolutely agree with what your instructor did. Sometimes it is all about the horse teaching us and I can tell you that there are some wonderful horses out there who are the best therapists and psychiatrists in the world! Its so important that you build up confidence again on the RIGHT horse until you feel ready to ride your own again. What a lovely story.
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post #16 of 19 Old 12-03-2012, 01:58 PM
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Could you have a few weeks of lunge-line lessons on the horse that took off on you? That way, ultimately the instructor is there, attached to the horse, and can prevent her taking off again. Over a series of lessons, you can work on trotting while on the lunge, and gradually working on trotting with no stirrups, trotting with no reins, etc., until you are truly controlling the horse in all these different scenarios with the instructor on the end of the lunge "just in case."

As an adult re-rider, I can't tell you the number of lunge-line canter lessons I had where I was holding on to the saddle for dear life, so much so that my fingers, hands, and arms ached more than any other part of my body at the end of the lesson because of my death grip. That death grip sure didn't help me get in the right position for riding the canter, but after a couple of weeks, I was confident enough to hold on with just a finger tip, and then not hold on at all, and eventually canter on my own without my instructor even in the ring. I'm a huge believer in the lunge-lesson as a confidence builder if you have a horse and instructor who can help.
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post #17 of 19 Old 12-03-2012, 10:39 PM
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Trauma can be a hard thing to get through, and depending on your personality and frame of mind, it can be easy or hard. I will relate a couple of experiences I had, both were instances of me nearly being killed while on a horse, one affected me bad, the other not nearly as bad as the first.
When I was 14, I was working for my uncle who had just sold his cattle station and we needed to clean muster it as he was moving the cattle to another place he had just bought. The place was in North Queensland in the Great Dividing Range north west of Charters Towers and was in some pretty mountainous country. I was cantering diagonally down the side of a mountain after a cow that had made a break for it and as I went after her we got into some thick bush, mainly small Ironbark trees, about 8 to 10 inches across. As we went among them the horse dodged around one and I didn’t, the tree got me under the jaw and broke it, I nearly bit off my tongue and cracked a bunch of teeth. This pulled me out of the saddle but I was hung up in the stirrup and it kept me on the horse behind the saddle, I slowly rolled off the the near side till I was horizontal from the horse and a full sized Ironbark tree took me across the chest breaking a bunch of ribs and skinning me up bad. I kind of came too and found I couldn’t breathe, I eventually managed to breath again and found my mouth filling with something and spat out a mouthful of blood and realised I had nearly bitten clean through my tongue. I figured if I stayed where I was no one would find me so I managed to climb back up to the top of the mountain where the guys with the heard of cattle should come by. They found me and my cousin galloped off to find my uncle who had already found my horse, saddle missing a stirrup, he knew from that something bad had happened. My uncle and cousin hoisted me back on the horse and my uncle left the guys with the cattle and we set out to get me to hospital, about 6 hours away. We rode for about 2 hours to the truck, then another 2 hours back to the house, where my aunty, for some reason, decided I couldn’t go to town in such dirty clothes and made me take a shower and wear my town clothes. 2 hours after that we were in the hospital.
The second time I nearly got killed I was 18 or 19 and working on a massive cattle station in the northern territory. There were about 60,000 to 90,000 head of cattle on it and all mustering was done with a combination of horses and helicopters. Helicopters would go across the paddock and get them moving we’d come across on the horses in a line as best we could and try to get the stragglers, stragglers that were adept at evading helicopters and horses. One of their tricks was to crawl under these giant clumps of grass, kind of like pampas grass, and hide. If you went by the grass however and managed to get above it you could often see down into it and see the sneaky cattle hiding, at which time we’d try to get them out. Me and one of the other ringers were trotting along a couple of cow pads looking through this grass, unfortunately for me I was on about the clumsiest horse I have ever ridden. There was a log across the path I was on and as we trotted along, me standing up in the stirrups looking down into this grass, the horse, instead of jumping the log, just tumbled over it. She fell with her head down between her front legs, I went straight over in front of her, with me off her she jumped back up and ran me clean over, and I had only put a new set of shoes on her the day before. I got a hoof in about my right eye socket and got all smashed up then another hoof in the back of the head. The other guy got the head stockman who wasn’t far away and they both dragged me to an open space and got the helicopter down, loaded me in and he took me back to the station where they got the NT equivalent of the Flying Doctor to come and get me, by about, actually I was mostly unconscious, I can’t remember how long it took. but eventually they got me to the Darwin hospital.
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post #18 of 19 Old 12-03-2012, 10:40 PM
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On both occasions I got pretty badly smashed up physically, but it was only the first one that affected my confidence badly; it took years before I could go ploughing through bush again after a cow. I have fallen off plenty and been thrown more times than I care to remember, but those occasions I kind of take as a “it going to happen if you ride a horse” scenario. But getting wiped out on the trees really messed with me.
Probably the way I guess I got through it, and how I think it might help you, was by having more confidence in: a) my ability to ride and: b) confidence in the horses I was riding; and the good thing is that they will come together so you really don’t have to work at two different things. As a kind of starting point I’d suggest you try, as hard as it might be, to try to convince yourself that falling off is part and parcel of riding horses, we don’t want to fall off, but it happens, if you normalise it in your mind it won’t be so traumatic when it happens. The best thing to do though is to get a really good independent seat this takes time and hours on the horse, and when you get that you will be much more secure on the horses back, you will feel everything the horse is doing better and you will, importantly, stick when that horse jumps away on you. And the up side of it all is is that as you get more confidence in you ability to stick, your confidence will get through to the horse, and as long as you have its respect it will stick with you more and more and you will grow to have confidence in the horse.
Start off slow, get a good seat etc at a walk, and when it gets a bit boring for you it will probably be about time to incrementally increase to a slow trot. Like someone else said, if you are in an arena, set up an obstacle course to walk the horse through, once that’s too easy, try a gentle trot, and so on.
It is definitely easier said than done, but the point is to be very secure and confident at the easy part then increase the challenge only so fast as you can control your panic and make it through. Take it slow go by small increments, and you’ll get there soon enough. You might even find that, before you know it, you are feeling nervous going from a canter to a gallop, and realise that that is well beyond what you were afraid of in a trot. Sorry for the long post, but sometimes it can help us to see that our bad experience is something others understand too, you are never alone with it. Good luck, I hope you get through it.
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post #19 of 19 Old 12-03-2012, 11:16 PM
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Something similar to this happened to me. My gelding was just a disobedient brat with no respect for anyone if they were on his back. He bolted twice at the canter on me within a five minute period, I fell off both times. After that day I refused to get back on the horse. I was petrified to canter. But I was put back on that particular horse because he was only one available for me to work with. I was so scared that at the slightest shift in the horses movement that I didn't feel was natural I panicked and a some times screamed.

Eventually my riding instructor realized that the horse couldn't be retrained she had even tried working with him, he was uncontrollable half the time. I was put on a school master for a year to help rebuild my confidence at the canter. That was over five years ago. I still get slightly nervous at the canter, not enough to cause even the slightest bit of problems but I've also got a trustworthy, steady horse now. If she's going to pull anything it will be when I'm completely relaxed.

It's going to take a lot of practice and patience to get your confidence back, also a good horse or two. The best thing you can do for yourself is just keep riding at the gait that scares you the most, the trot. I had to that for the canter, it was two years before I finally let go of my horse's mane at the canter. The day I didn't grab the mane at all I felt so proud of myself. It's going to take baby steps but as a Marine once told me, "You know how became unafraid of heights? I stood on top of a 70ft tower on watch for four days." That's the best advice I can give.

"And somewhere in the northwoods darkness a creature walks upright. And the best advice you may ever get is: Don't go out at night..."
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