Anxiety while riding - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 02-16-2020, 09:25 PM Thread Starter
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Anxiety while riding

sorry it's a little long

so lately I've been dealing with anxiety when I ride. I've fallen off yes, but that's never really affected me, I personally dont fear falling off. I dont fear riding in general and I enjoy it and want to progress. I'm not scared of horses either and I've worked with them now for a while, being run over, jumped on top of, stepped on, whatever.

However, the things that do go through my mind are lack of control and that I'm not capable.

It can be the most chill horse on the planet but as soon as they speed up, change their body language, ignore an aid, spook, anything that makes me feel like I dont have total control, I tense up. I've been mainly a flat rider but I really want to progress and learn to jump again, it's been about 6 years until I first jumped again back in 2019. Any time a horse may need to speed up to find a distance, i tense up, which negatively impacts the horse as well as myself. I find no matter how much I want to get better, I just hold myself back. I doubt my riding ability frequently, always wondering if I'm doing the right thing or if I'm even able to do it at all even if it can be the simplest of things. I always underrate any of my skills

I have a wonderful trainer who knows when to push me and when to stop and shes helped me so much with my riding and has helped me trust myself more. However, I find over time my anxiety has gotten worse as I try to progress more. I get anxiety anytime I jump more than a crossrail even though I want to progress, know I'm capable and the mare I ride will take care of me. It's really just me, I get inside my head and it's hard to get out. It has gotten to the point where I have full blown anxiety attacks when I ride now and it gets embarrassing, I can hide it and work through it well but even my last ride in a clinic resulted in me having an attack despite it going quite well. The mare I lease now is more of a forward ride but takes care of me, however I'm more comfortable with a kick ride. But personally right now I dont have much choice horse wise and money wise, she does help me become a better rider. by no means is she crazy, mean, or anything, just sensitive so she feels when I get anxious.

I'm afraid I will be stuck where I am for the rest of the time I ride, and that I will never be able to jump a course of x-rails and never get beyond the basics of flat just because my stupid brain runs too many things through my head at once. My trainer any others say i have the ability and potential to do what i want, and even when I panic I tend to ride just fine. I just keep losing the motivation to ride let alone go to the barn no matter the horse.

I guess I'm just seeing if anyone else struggles with the same thing and what they find helps them. Any books that may be good to read, excercises I can do in the saddle or at home, etc.

(I do take anti anxiety/antidepressants and I dont experience anxiety like this outside of riding)
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post #2 of 4 Old 02-17-2020, 02:08 AM
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If you are prone to anxiety, (and you seem to be since you take medication for it) riding is likely to bring it out. Riding is dangerous, no question about it, and your brain knows it.

I dealt with anxiety about riding and generalized anxiety and this is how I solved it:

- I only ever ride one horse. I spend a lot of time with her so I know her very well and I can predict her reactions to just about anything. She isnít an angel, no horse is, but I know exactly what she will do at all times. (This is most probably untrue but itís enough that I believe it)

- I always have a very busy lesson plan in advance. I find that when I have something to focus on, like a dressage test, my brain grabs hold of that instead of running around grabbing onto anything it deems fit.

- I improved my balance immensely. It isnít easy to be anxiety-free if your brain feels micro losses of balance all the time. This, unfortunately, can only be done with riding so it isnít easy to achieve.

- I donít ride if I feel that conditions are dangerous and I donít let anyone push me to do it. So if there are high winds or unruly horses with inexperienced riders in the arena - I just donít ride.

- I donít allow instructors to push me even a tiny bit. I only do things I am comfortable doing. This was my main source of anxiety. I knew what I was capable of but I let others override my judgment and I was always right and suffered the consequences. This doesnít mean that I donít progress but I do it at my own pace - and itís working out to be faster to take it slow rather then rush into things and reset the anxiety all the time.

- Finally, I bought my own horse which made all of the above possible but it could work with a lease as well. It also helped immensely that I could end the ride any time I wanted. I almost never do, (other than winds picking up or other horses misbehaving) but there is no pressure that I have to stay in the saddle no matter what.

Best of luck
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post #3 of 4 Old 02-17-2020, 07:34 AM
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Well, I'm just going to put this out there. Do you HAVE to keep progressing right now? Are you in a hurry? Could you just spend the next couple of months with no goals except to ride and enjoy it? Don't keep trying newer, higher, faster, just really get comfortable with the level you're at. Take time to re-master the basics of good seat, good posture, etc. Just a thought.
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post #4 of 4 Old 02-17-2020, 10:43 AM
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Ride, ride and then rode some more!

Anxiety is all in the mind, something does or doesn't happen and you get uptight about it and think you are useless. Instead of having these negative thoughts think positive, look a it as an interesting learning curve.

Things never always go right no matter who you are.
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