How do I overcome fear issues?
I am 50 years old and have been riding for 15 years. I have tons of experience in the ring but have never been very adventurous. I am not a total "hot house flower" who has never ridden outside the indoor arena, and I used to have my own farm until last fall when my husband and I sold it and relocated to Florida. I used to gallop my Thoroughbred across the wide open fields on our property and it was exhilarating. But as far as going on trail rides in unfamiliar places or exploring the world on horseback, I can probably count on one hand how many times I've done anything like that.
I lost my beloved Thoroughbred to cancer in early February and I've had pretty significant fear issues ever since then. I really don't know what happened. An instructor said it's because I lost my long time partner, and even though I have a new horse now who is very classy, pretty laid back, and for the most part very well behaved, I guess it's the fear of the unknown. I have ridden through a few spooks on him so far - a couple very minor and one a bit scary - and I managed to stay in the saddle and continue on with my rides each time. But when I try to venture outside the riding ring, my hands are sweating and I feel panic coming on. I hate myself for feeling like this! Like I said, I have never been the super adventurous type, but the thought of riding my new horse at a walk down an unfamiliar trail makes me incredibly nervous. Any suggestions? The barn where I board is very empty and very quiet - which is a wonderful thing most times - but the downside is that there is no one to ride with. I think I would feel more willing to try something new if I had another rider on an older, bomb proof horse leading the way. I have been taking lessons off site from an instructor who specializes in overcoming fear and anxiety issues and the lessons are helping tremendously, but they are one one of her lesson horses. The barn I board at doesn't allow outside trainers and I don't own a trailer so I can't take my own horse to the instructor's facility.