What it takes to be a trail rider - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 14 Old 05-07-2012, 10:47 PM
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: AZ
Posts: 265
• Horses: 1
I read constantly on here about "confidence".
Let me share a couple things about "confidence" that the years have taught me, ok?
Confidence is a perception. Nothing more, nothing less.
It's also relative to experience.
It cannot be given, it cannot be taken.
It cannot be lost , nor can it be found.
We choose to have it, or we choose to give it up.
Horses are animals. Real, live, thinking, breathing, creatures that have certain tendencies which we aspire to learn and master, in hopes of fostering a benevolent relationship with that horse that benefits us both mutually.
Falls hurt.
Getting hurt sucks.
Having a horse launch you into the next zip code because it freaked is nerve wracking.
Getting dragged with a foot in the stirrup is quite unnerving, as well as brutally painful.
Bruises heal.
Broken bones mend.
Sometimes it takes a little longer to physically heal up from an especially tough thumping.
The emotional side is totally up to you.
You heard me right, it's totally YOUR CHOICE.
You can choose to cowboy/cowgirl up, or you can choose to roll over and go cry in the truck.
You can choose to face that fear, and meet it head on with a baseball bat in hand, or you can allow it to dominate you.
Each side of the equation has pros and cons, of course.
Facing your fear head on makes you stronger, much faster.
Cowering from it makes you old, quick.
Nobody ever succeeded by rolling over and crying in their cereal.
They do succeed by accepting the fear for what it is, reaching deep down inside themselves, taking a deep breath, and getting back into the saddle.
Yeah, sometimes it hurts.
Sometimes its downright excruciating.
Sometimes, i am scared so much that i am literally about to need a skivvie drawers change and tub of baby wipes, but the horse will never know that.
Even if you stood beside me, you'd never know it.
The simple fact is that i choose to live my life powerfully forward.
I recognize that life is a finite thing.
I accept the risks and rewards that my actions bring.
My horse may kill me, or i may outlive her.
Either way, it doesnt matter.
I did my absolute best, i gave my very best, and i lived my very best.
So, OP, to your friend, i suggest that she spend a little more time in the saddle.
Go, take some easier hacks to help her gain the realizations of fear being a state of mind, and she will overcome them in her own time. I do suggest putting her into increasingly challenging situations, which compels a fight or flight scenario.
Fighting is staying in the saddle and getting where you want to go.
Flight is hopping off and walking.
I'm doing exactly this with a close friend who is excruciatingly afraid of heights.
She almost wets herself climbing a ladder to clean her gutters.
We will work that out of her this summer.
The key aspect being that she has chosen to accept her fear, recognize it for what it is, and choosing to overcome it.
We're starting with the pinata game.
I put my climbing harness on her, and she climbs up a couple steps until she feels the fear coming on.
Then, she puts her weight on the climbing gear, reassuring her that she won't fall.
We do this over and over, going higher and higher each time.
Similar to desensitizing a horse to plastic bags.
The horse is fearful of the bag, until it learns there is nothing to be fearful of.
Help your friend achieve the same results by pushing the issue a little harder and escalating it over time to desensitize the perceptions in her mind.

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post #12 of 14 Old 05-07-2012, 11:34 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Southeast Texas
Posts: 3,391
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I agree with much of what you have said. I got hurt trying a horse...I bought one 2 months later even though I was scared much of the time. Any uncertain movement made me remember going for a very painful flying leap off of a horse and my leg was still several shades of blue black and purple (still is permanently discolored as a matter of fact). There have been many times I was scared while riding or nervous that something was going to happen - and it has happened (got a HUGE hematoma in my gut 2 years ago flying up a hill and my horse bucked throwing me into the horn - still got a lump in my stomach from that) but I always get back on. I have not let it conquer me but there have been times my fear won a few battles - I am winning the war each time I get on and with each skill I have to relearn after not riding for 26 years.

It was a thrill for me when my horses got tangled up in vines a few weeks ago and was thrashing back and forth to free himself and I didn't get scared...nor did I lose my seat when he spooked and went sideways about 4 foot.

Personally - I call it confidence - and I am getting it back with each ride!! It is growing and I like that!!

Enjoying my Garmin and mapping trails
Visit my trail riding blog at
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post #13 of 14 Old 05-17-2012, 12:41 PM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 956
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Should have gone on a long hack. She'd have gotten over it after the first few hours, if for no other reason than it's too draining to stay in that tense fearful state. :P
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post #14 of 14 Old 05-17-2012, 01:35 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: MN
Posts: 561
• Horses: 0
I would say it dont take much to be a trail rider. Just time in the saddle and knowing the horse. I wouldnt put someone on my horse and say lets go trail riding. Atleast let them get to see what they do together first. I have taken very spooky arena horses to very calm arena horses trail riding. I believe its very good for competing horses to go on trail rides.
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