riding with social anxiety - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 02-09-2020, 09:43 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2020
Location: durham, england
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riding with social anxiety

hi everyone hope you're all having a good day :)
i've ridden twice in the past and am not currently but definitely planning starting again soon. only thing is, i seriously struggle with mental health especially socializing with other people. i've been to two different stables in the past and neither worked out as the people there only ended up sadly bringing my confidence down, for example one of the yard workers was awful to me and things like that affect me a lot honestly and she really put me off, but whenever i stop riding i always want to start again soon later. all i want to know is if anyone knows of a solution of what i could do? is there an alternative? i know there are places that specialise with poeple with special needs, but i even went to one but the yard worker was horribly unkind. its not horses im afraid of, in fact i love working with them, its just people. it would be fine if there were very few or something but i dont know how likely that is. (i hardly know where im going with this). i dont have much horse experience: i was riding a while but never really got past canter and i volunteered at my last stable but never really properly learned things eg tacking up, mucking out. i dont think it's likely there is much i can do though, i really want to ride again and help out with horses its just people in the past have really put me off, and they never actually properly showed me what to do. sorry, maybe i seem picky and desperate, im just so bad with people i dont know haha. does anyone have any ideas? (i know its unlikely)
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post #2 of 22 Old 02-09-2020, 09:58 AM
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Hi, and welcome to Horse Forum. I have some thoughts.

1. Not every barn is like this. I'd keep looking around and trying out new places. I'm sure you can find one where people are nice.

2. I would try barns that are more lesson barns than show barns. Show barns seem to have more drama.

3. When you contact the place, let them know about your issues and concerns and see what they say.

4. Do you have a friend you could take lessons with? That might make things easier for you.

"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person
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post #3 of 22 Old 02-09-2020, 09:59 AM
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I'm sorry you are finding difficulty with finding a place to ride. At any center that specializes I would think reporting that behavior would at the very least bring about a reprimand as that is not the attitude encouraged and espoused at therapy centers by those that work there. Doesn't make it any easier on you though.

I would speak to the owners/trainers or have someone familiar with your needs speak on your behalf and see if a good fit can be made even if it is not a therapy center or look into other therapy centers.

It isn't easy, I know. There have been a few that I am close to or friends with their parents that have difficulties. Those that own their own and board seem to have the greatest difficulty though some of the kids that just take lessons do seem to move from yard to yard when things escalate and are not diffused.
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Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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post #4 of 22 Old 02-09-2020, 10:15 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2020
Location: durham, england
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thank you for the responses. i have been looking into other barns in my area and ive made a list. im not sure if theres any friends i could go with. my best friend loves horses and rides herself but shes much much more experienced than me and is quite busy with her own lessons and helping out with her friends horse, but we have in the past talked about doing lessons together, my other friend who likes horses struggles for money, even though its cheaper to do semi private lessons, shes said in the past they just dont have enough, we did volunteer together but shes more social than i am and we could never really stick together anyway because the people were strict and didnt always allow it. thank you both very much though, hopefully i can figure something out :)
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post #5 of 22 Old 02-09-2020, 10:19 AM
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I really hope you can make it work. Being around horses is so rewarding. I agree, sometimes it's the horse **people** who are the problems!
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"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person
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post #6 of 22 Old 02-09-2020, 12:00 PM
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There are two avenues for this in my opinion. Either get private lessons at a good lesson establishment and explain your needs. Or consider sharing a horse (sometimes called leasing but this is more informal). For example my friend shares a pony once a week for £10 and for the first few months I was there every time to help guide her through the entire process and now she shares and rides alone having a private instructor come out every fortnight.

Put an advertisement out "looking for share pony - read description" and explain that you have anxiety and need someone with patience. Plenty of horse owners want great riders or experienced horse people. But also plenty of owners want someone they can get to know who they can teach from scratch. That was my friend. She is a very kind and gentle person and even though she had a lot to learn its preferably to having someone who knows it all and might mess with your way of doing things. Hope that makes sense.

I think its safe to say that a lot of horse people prefer horses ;)
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post #7 of 22 Old 02-09-2020, 12:14 PM
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Hello and welcome:)

My thought is to find a small enough boarding barn to where the owners donít have any hired help and has a welcoming atmosphere:)

I had to board my horses several years. I moved them three times due to inadequate care. The third barn would have been exactly what youíre looking for.

It was a 14 horse barn. Privately owned by a wonderful couple who truly cared about the humans boarding their horses, taking the owners issues to their hearts. The wife gave beginner lessons - nothing fancy, just proper handling & riding of a horse, and she had a lot of patience when it came to confidence building.

The bigger the barn, the bigger the problems will be:)
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post #8 of 22 Old 02-09-2020, 12:46 PM
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What a sad comment on horse people. I hope this person finds a good place to ride, there are plenty out there, but a lot would depend on where this person lives.
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post #9 of 22 Old 02-09-2020, 01:08 PM
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When I was a special ed teacher, I had a troubled student that I used to take riding. In fact, I took all my kids riding and taught them to ride. Horses are so good for hurting people.

When she was no longer my student, I took her on trail rides once a week for many years. When I started jousting professionally, I was busy on weekends and couldn't take her, so I scouted around for a great barn where she could ride. For a while it was all good and she was happy riding there. But after a time, the instructor began to nag my former student about how she had to lose weight. She'd say things like, "You'll never be a real rider unless you lose weight."

What frosted me was that when I talked to the instructor and set up the plan, I said the young person had no ambition to be a good rider. She just wanted to be around horses in the fresh air, enjoying riding. I stressed that it was important that riding be fun for her. Some people just can't help getting pushy.

My advice is to find someone patient and older, and let them take you out riding on their quiet gentle horse. My next door neighbor has a lot of emotional issues and it does her a world of good just to ride out with me. I like it too, glad I could be giving a child a world of good. People like me are out there.
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post #10 of 22 Old 02-09-2020, 02:35 PM
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One thing you need to be aware of: even the kindest people occasionally shout at beginners. The reason being that beginners manage to do some very dangerous things due to their inexperience and people start shouting in emergencies (even if the beginner doesnít realize itís an emergency).

Obviously, I donít know what happened with you but I personally shouted at a young girl who came up with a plan to wrap the reins around her foot in order to stretch and reach something and keep hold of the horse that she couldnít make move at the same time. This girl was one plastic packet in the wind away from death.

To sum it up, yes, a lot of horse people are very rude but sometimes itís just a loud warning, not rudeness.
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