Learning to ride again - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 08-30-2017, 03:54 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: NY
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Learning to ride again

Hello everyone. I am not new to horses, I am just going to consider myself new to riding...

I own two horses, one a blind rescue, and the other a trail horse (who really just prefers to follow people, and is lazy as can be unless following another person or horse).

However, I have not ridden in a very long time. One of the last times I rode I was in the process of looking for a new horse to buy, and upon testing out what appeared to be a very promising beautiful paint gelding, he decided to throw me, giving me the worst fall I have ever had. I didn't end up buying that horse, as he threw me the minute I mounted. He ended up being sold to a trainer because the owner at the time then realized he had some behavior issues, if only she realized BEFORE I got on him.

Anyway, I rode my horse (the lazy one) only two more times after being thrown. I found myself terrified in the saddle, even though I know deep down I can trust that my horse will not throw me.. she never has, she's never even tried. It has been almost 2, maybe 3 years now since I've ridden... I really want to start riding again, but I feel like I have to start from scratch... I'm scared to even trot, so I want to at least get back on at a walk. I want to be back where I was, and I want to be further. I'm trying not to let my fears rule me because I absolutely love riding.

My goal is to be back to where I was in about a year, and to even learn new things. I have never ridden English before, and I want to learn. I'm also thinking maybe I should go back to lessons, but I get embarrassed about lessons considering I have no confidence, and I feel like I now have no skill.

Sorry this was super long, I just wanted to share where I am at with horses at this point in time. I have been trying to get myself excited about riding again so that I'll actually take the plunge and get back into what I love. If anyone has any stories about regaining their confidence after a fall, I'd love to hear them, maybe it'll inspire me!
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post #2 of 17 Old 08-30-2017, 04:03 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Hildreth, FL
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You will find a lot of support on this forum. There are many riders on this forum who have struggled with confidence issues or are still struggling with them. Hang in there. Don't give up. It's wonderful you have a good horse you can trust!
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post #3 of 17 Old 08-30-2017, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: NY
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Thank you for the reply!
It'll be nice to read other peoples stories and threads to maybe get my confidence back.

I feel very blessed to have my horse in my life, there is nobody I would rather relearn to ride with. Even though I know she is going to make it very difficult, she enjoys pretending to sleep unless you are out on a trail. She gets bored with just working in the pen, which I understand, but I am definitely not ready for the trails yet.
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post #4 of 17 Old 08-30-2017, 04:28 PM
Join Date: May 2017
Location: NW Connecticut
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From personal experience, see if you can find a Centered Riding instructor near you, and take private lessons instead of group lessons. The rest is just a matter of telling your instructor your concerns and you two being compatible.
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post #5 of 17 Old 08-30-2017, 04:39 PM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
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Try to find a teacher who works with loss of confidence. There are a lot of people in your boat, there is no need to be ashamed of it. Lessons might help give you some structure to approach the problem (keep you from avoiding, in other words).

Or, if I can suggest . . . one technique to work through avoidance is to only set goals you KNOW you can reach. A goal you would put a hundred dollars on you achieving first try. Maybe that's standing on a mounting block next to your saddled horse for a count of ten. Maybe that's getting on your horse and getting right off again. Stay within your comfort zone, but keep working at it. This is also called exposure training and is the most effective method to work on fears.

Once you reach that goal, you can set another $100 bet goal (like, say, doing what you just did 5 times). Don't look too far ahead, or the distance between where you are and where you want to be may daunt you into giving up.

Also don't get too analytical about it (overthinking, psychologizing). Just do it. Your body needs to accustom itself to having nothing scary happen, and that takes repetition. It sounds like you have a great horse for your purposes!

Good luck!

Short horse lover
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post #6 of 17 Old 08-30-2017, 05:03 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: SE Oklahoma
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Ohhh boy. Trigger. My paint.

I hadn't come off a horse since I was a kid (mostly because when I was old enough to drive I lost my love of horses to cars until two years ago) until I was 42.

I'm still not the best in the saddle, but I didn't even know two years ago that my stirrups were way too short (I was riding a roping saddle then) and the seat was too big for my butt. I didn't know the one-rein stop, or how to even ride it out. Trigger is... a long story... but an emotional train wreck. I didn't know enough then to realize what I had.

My son (14 then) and I were riding. He's on his bomb proof QH, who was then 18 years old. I'm on Trigger, who was just barely 7. Our blue heeler pup blows out of the weeds, runs up, barking like a fool and nips Trigs on the heels. I was already having to hold him back - he wanted to race back to the barn/barn soured. But that did it.

He lunged forward, hit the ground running in a blind bolt, and I did my best to hang on, but lost the rhythm, had stirrups too short, felt my butt getting looser and looser in the saddle and he was heading for a feed trough. On the other side was a new five strand barbed wire and t-post fence, and at the time, beyond that, was a line of bass boats to be resold (my husband does that on the side, buys and sells bass boats).

I chose the time and the place of my eating dirt and hit the ejecto seato button and bailed. A thousand Horrible Things that could happen had gone through my mind, one being that my right foot would hang in the stirrup and I'd be dragged to death. Another was he'd jump the trough, slam on the brakes and I'd end up in a boat, or the fence, or both. Or he'd trip and fall trying to stop and crush me.

I could hear my son on Supes yelling: HANNNNGGG ONNNN MOM!

Amazing how in a half second you can see so many possible outcomes when that adrenaline is working for you, right?

I hit the ground, wadded up, rolled, lay on my face thinking this is it. I'm paralyzed. I can't move.

I wasn't. I got lucky. I did have my first concussion and my back and right shoulder was eat up with 'road rash', but it scared me.

I refused to ride Trigger again for another year. I did ride Leroy, Gina or Superman a lot in the meantime, so I learned a lot, and now... I'm riding Trigger again... but he and I had to get to know one another. He's a different animal than our stoic, stalwart quarter horses, but again: I didn't know enough to realize what I had gotten into.

He's possibly a former barrel horse, and probably been severely abused in the past, plus he's hot blooded, dramatic, emotional, reactive, MAYBE? half-Arabian, which explains a LOT... and... now?

I trust him more than I do several of our tried and true quarter horses. But that's because since spring I've handled him almost daily. We're both a long way from being where we need to be, he in terms of non-reactive, me in terms of skill, but he and I are getting there together. I have to remind myself he's gone from the Untouchable Fearful Horse to something wholly different and wonderful by comparison. He's almost 9 now, I'm 44. We have no where to go in any big hurry - we have time.

Its been worth it.
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post #7 of 17 Old 08-30-2017, 05:25 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: NY
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Avna & mmshiro - Thank you for the advice. I definitely do plan to look into private lessons. I do not want to take lessons in a group. Mostly because I am embarrassed, but also because I do not want to hold other students back with my fear if I am unable to do something.

Atoka - I'm glad you came out of that fall okay, and that you are back to riding! The paint I was on was also MAYBE half-arabian. Most beautiful horse I have ever seen, but not a very beautiful ride. It's funny how you can see all these possibilities going through your head on what is going to happen to you when you hit the ground, or wherever you are going to hit. Everything felt so slow, yet so quick, when I had my fall. I was also imagining all of the possibilities, and my vision was mostly blacked out because my thought was only on holding on. The horse sure put up a fight to get me off his back, our first thought was that he may have had a back injury. One of my thoughts, with the way he was throwing me around, was that he was going to throw me off and then land himself on top of me. Thankfully that didn't happen, but I did land on my neck. I thought maybe it was broken, or that I was paralyzed for a few minutes because it took me a while to regain my thoughts and be able to move. The entire right side of my body was pretty messed up, but luckily everything is fine now.
I don't like to blame the lady who was selling the horse, because horses are so unpredictable and anything can happen, but he was promised to be a very safe horse (i was buying the horse also possibly for a friend to ride, so i wanted him to be beginner safe) so I absolutely did not see this fall coming. I feel that maybe she lied to try to get him sold, because he was so far from beginner safe, and as I went on him thinking that would be the case I was very ill-prepared.
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post #8 of 17 Old 08-30-2017, 06:30 PM
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Cambridge, MN
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Originally Posted by stephaa View Post
Anyway, I rode my horse (the lazy one) only two more times after being thrown. I found myself terrified in the saddle.
Well at least you can say you were thrown. I'm 63 and I've been riding since I was 3 and I've never been thrown from a horse. I've never been able to stay on long enough to make such a claim. I always fall off first.

I've always been a coward about riding, but I hit bottom after I got my four year old back from the trainer and fell off when he spooked. My horse was afraid of me and I was afraid of him and even getting on was terrifying -- I mean, heart pounding, hyperventilating, white-knuckled phobia. It took me three years and some serious research into horse training to get over that.

Then eight years ago I fell hard enough to suffer a third degree shoulder separation. That time I knew it was my fault and not the horse's (and I will not describe what I was doing at the time because some readers here think I actually know something and I don't want to pop their bubbles).

Anyway, all that to say I've been there and I ride relaxed and confident today and so can you. Let me make three suggestions:

  1. Positive mental imaging is enormously beneficial for any athletic endeavor, and especially helpful to overcome a loss of confidence. You want to thoroughly imagine every detail of your ride including successfully negotiating any difficult situations you encounter. I couldn't have gotten on for months without doing that.
  2. Baby steps. You don't need or want to go from total inactivity to trail riding with a group. Ease back into it. I strongly encourage people in your situation to find a capable friend to lead your horse while you sit on it. Start with a few circles by the barn and work up to 3 miles. Your confidence will come back and your riding will improve just from tuning up all the little receptors that take the signal from your butt and send it to your head and translate it into "lean right, quick!".
  3. Whether you go to the library, scour the internet, buy a DVD set, or hire a trainer, take ownership of the training of your horse. Nothing inspires confidence like knowing you can work through a situation and come out with you and your horse more calm than when it started.

And please be very careful if you decide to get a riding instructor. Many of them are sadists who think getting hurt is part of riding. For a sport dominated by women, the need to be macho is disturbing.
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post #9 of 17 Old 08-30-2017, 06:59 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
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@Joel Reiter . . . I still think you know what you're talking about. You didn't bust the bubble . . . yet.
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post #10 of 17 Old 08-30-2017, 08:08 PM
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Cambridge, MN
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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
@Joel Reiter . . . I still think you know what you're talking about. You didn't bust the bubble . . . yet.
Well that's very kind, tinyliny, but if you're ever in Minnesota stop in and I will disintegrate any remaining respect you might have for me. Yesterday my horses didn't even come when I called. I was fortunate nobody was there to witness my humiliation.
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