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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m at my wits end and hope that someone can offer me some advice on how to deal with the new fear I’ve developed.


I was raised with horses, rode and even showed in my youth. I got out of horses till about 4 yrs ago when I got a green broke QH, broke him and rode him in the trails. Our other horse died and mine was so lonely that I gave him away before he died of a broken heart and loneliness. That was a year ago. Last fall my husband got a horse and talked me into getting back into horse riding. I found what I think is my forever horse. A 5 yrs old Percheron, he was as docile as the day is long with a long very slow stride. I worked with him for about a month at the stable were I bought him. When I brought him home we took him out on his first trail ride. It was a disaster!!! I had no control of him, he pulled thru the bite, threatened to run off…it turned into a 2 hour fight thru the trail till we could get back to the trailer. I was not hurt at all except maybe my pride. I know he could have thrown me and he didn’t, I tried to see that as a positive. I have continued to work with him in our outdoor pen. My grandchildren ride him around in there as well, but I am terrified to ride him again!!! And I feel terrible about it. I love him dearly and spend a lot of time working on the ground. He has been a perfect angle for anyone who gets on his back. There is no logical reason why I should be afraid to ride him. This experience scared me so badly that I haven’t even ridden any of our other horses either. The weather hasn’t helped any but I fear even once spring comes the same fear will be there. I want to go out riding with everyone so badly I dream about it…what should I do??
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Have you ridden any other horse(s) in the time since your disaster ride with him? What I'm getting at is, is the fear truly specific to him or is it a generalized fear of riding all together?
No I haven't ridden any of our horses. I work with them all, groom and do ground work, feed and all the other general care things... I'm fine as long as I"m on the ground... Just thinking about getting in the saddle gets my heart to racing!!! Even if it's my husbands dead broke QH.
 

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Have you trail ridden him again? Or at least, has someone else rode him on the trail? I'd hate to think that he is thinking he's won the battle. Be a turd on the trail = getting out of work.

Is there anyone at the stable where you bought him that can come out and work with you and him some more? I know personally, when the day comes I bring a horse home, I'm going to want a trainer coming to my place just making sure I'm doing everything right and not actually teaching my horse bad habits.

How old are you? If you search, you'll see a similar post from me a couple months back. I just turned 40. There is that distinct awareness the older we get that we CAN get hurt. Someone's got to pay the bills. We aren't kids and there isn't going to be anyone nursing us back to health all the while taking care of our responsibilities like when we were kids.
I was actually thinking of giving up riding! That lasted for like a day, lol. Then I realized that my fears and apprehension weren't a bad thing. They were the responsible thing. It's the grown up thing to do.

I can only speak personally, but I also switched back to western from english. I feel more secure and ride better in a western saddle. I also asked my trainer to not give me a tall horse. 15.2 is my limit. I don't care how sweet this horse is. Find me a short and sweet horse. The height of the big horses was also playing on my fear. Sure I can get hurt on a shorter horse. But I feel better being closer to the ground.

Not saying this is what you need to do. But my point is, for me, sitting down and re-evaluating what exactly my fears were and taking steps to make them better keeps me riding. I don't push myself.
I believe in working just outside of your comfort zone in order to achieve progress. And I mean JUST outside the zone. Not way the heck outside the zone to the point that you are shaky. This is supposed to be fun!

Really think about what it is that is scaring you. If it's just horses in general, then take a short break from riding. Just do ground work. If this Perch is scaring you, then ask that stable if you could trade him for something else. No shame in that. This horse is 5. You can't spend the next 20 years being scared of your own horse.

I think before selling him, you should 1) give it a few days and see if that fear wears off. It did for me. 2)try working with a good trainer. I'm all about getting that 3rd party in there. Don't tackle this alone!

Best of luck and keep us updated!
 

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Have you stopped and thought about what it is, specifically, you are afraid of having happen? Is it the fear of being unable to control them, the fear of falling, etc? If you close your eyes and visualize a ride (not the rides in your dream, but visualizing what you think the real ride would be like), what do you see happening?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Have you trail ridden him again? Or at least, has someone else rode him on the trail? I'd hate to think that he is thinking he's won the battle. Be a turd on the trail = getting out of work.

Is there anyone at the stable where you bought him that can come out and work with you and him some more? I know personally, when the day comes I bring a horse home, I'm going to want a trainer coming to my place just making sure I'm doing everything right and not actually teaching my horse bad habits.

How old are you? If you search, you'll see a similar post from me a couple months back. I just turned 40. There is that distinct awareness the older we get that we CAN get hurt. Someone's got to pay the bills. We aren't kids and there isn't going to be anyone nursing us back to health all the while taking care of our responsibilities like when we were kids.
I was actually thinking of giving up riding! That lasted for like a day, lol. Then I realized that my fears and apprehension weren't a bad thing. They were the responsible thing. It's the grown up thing to do.

I can only speak personally, but I also switched back to western from english. I feel more secure and ride better in a western saddle. I also asked my trainer to not give me a tall horse. 15.2 is my limit. I don't care how sweet this horse is. Find me a short and sweet horse. The height of the big horses was also playing on my fear. Sure I can get hurt on a shorter horse. But I feel better being closer to the ground.

Not saying this is what you need to do. But my point is, for me, sitting down and re-evaluating what exactly my fears were and taking steps to make them better keeps me riding. I don't push myself.
I believe in working just outside of your comfort zone in order to achieve progress. And I mean JUST outside the zone. Not way the heck outside the zone to the point that you are shaky. This is supposed to be fun!

Really think about what it is that is scaring you. If it's just horses in general, then take a short break from riding. Just do ground work. If this Perch is scaring you, then ask that stable if you could trade him for something else. No shame in that. This horse is 5. You can't spend the next 20 years being scared of your own horse.

I think before selling him, you should 1) give it a few days and see if that fear wears off. It did for me. 2)try working with a good trainer. I'm all about getting that 3rd party in there. Don't tackle this alone!

Best of luck and keep us updated!

You bring up some very good and interesting points. I do believe my age does play a factor in it all. I’m 44. Before getting my QH 4 yrs ago I had been out of riding 20 yrs. No he hasn’t been back on the trails but has been worked regularly in the pen and is ridden in the corral by others. I have talked to the people I got him from and they are more than willing to work with me with him. I even took him out there last weekend. And I never rode… sigh. Come spring I do plan on him going out there for a few weeks for a refresher course as well as getting some trail experience. He had only been worked in the arena up till our one and only trail ride. I don’t think he’d feel like he got away with anything because I did go thru the whole trail… 2 very long hours… did the round back to the trailer. Just never went out again. That was back in the first part of November. He has been worked and ridden in the corral since then. If it was just a fear of him, I’d think about a trade but I don’t want to ride any horse… well yes I do want to ride, I’m afraid to. Yes he is a big boy, but I actually felt safer on him because of his docile temperament and slow moving ways. While he was still at the barn where I got him we’d joke about how I’d fine the gas pedal on the trails that he would get left behind… come to realize it was the breaks I needed!! I thought too that if I gave it some time I’d get over it and would be fine. But I haven’t. I did get on him last weekend for all of maybe 5 min. one turn around the corral and I got off. My heart was racing so bad I thought I would pass out. Got off and after catching my breath worked with him on the ground, all was fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Have you stopped and thought about what it is, specifically, you are afraid of having happen? Is it the fear of being unable to control them, the fear of falling, etc? If you close your eyes and visualize a ride (not the rides in your dream, but visualizing what you think the real ride would be like), what do you see happening?
I think my greatest fear is not being able to control him and ending up getting hurt or him getting hurt. I know I could have gotten hurt that day but I didn't. I can visualize riding him on a warm summer days just as clear as if it was happening and I love the thought. I'll get myself all geeked up to go out and ride him, saddle him up and not even get in the saddle. It's very frustrating and sad... it really hurts me to feel this way.
 

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Hang in there. I feel your pain. I went on a trail ride about 2 months ago and during the ride I had some scary things happen like my horse doing a serious nose dive at a trot(without actually falling). Banged my knee against a tree and on a heavily grooved part of the trail my horse kind of bunny hoped in and out of the groove while moving between a choppy trot and a canter. Anyway, I stayed on but when it was all over my brain went into overdrive thinking about all the what if!!!
I tried to think of the fact that I stayed in the saddle as a positive, but the thought of going back out on the trail is really scary to me. Plus the ladies I ride with are pretty fearless so it's also a blow to my "cowgirl" pride to think that im too scared to canter or even trot on the trails.
Anyway my solution has been to take it slow. I did a mini trail ride by myself and did fine but I only trotted a little, mostly walked. I've also been riding in the arena where I feel safe. There is something about the uneven terrain, rocks and trees that scares me about falling on the trails. My horse is pretty darn good so no worries about his manners. I've decided I'm not going to push myself, and I'm also going to try my hardest to overcome the fear of "what if". I don't know if my story helps, but sometimes it's nice to know others share your fears
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hang in there. I feel your pain. I went on a trail ride about 2 months ago and during the ride I had some scary things happen like my horse doing a serious nose dive at a trot(without actually falling). Banged my knee against a tree and on a heavily grooved part of the trail my horse kind of bunny hoped in and out of the groove while moving between a choppy trot and a canter. Anyway, I stayed on but when it was all over my brain went into overdrive thinking about all the what if!!!
I tried to think of the fact that I stayed in the saddle as a positive, but the thought of going back out on the trail is really scary to me. Plus the ladies I ride with are pretty fearless so it's also a blow to my "cowgirl" pride to think that im too scared to canter or even trot on the trails.
Anyway my solution has been to take it slow. I did a mini trail ride by myself and did fine but I only trotted a little, mostly walked. I've also been riding in the arena where I feel safe. There is something about the uneven terrain, rocks and trees that scares me about falling on the trails. My horse is pretty darn good so no worries about his manners. I've decided I'm not going to push myself, and I'm also going to try my hardest to overcome the fear of "what if". I don't know if my story helps, but sometimes it's nice to know others share your fears
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Sometimes just hearing others feel that way helps a lot! I have those fearless riding friends as well and it hits my esteem a double whammy now. they did compliment me for cowgirling up on such a difficult ride but still now wonder why I've not gone back out.

yes I need to give myself a chance but at the same time I know I need to be pushed... a bit... if not I'll find every excuse in the world NOT to do it. The "what if" fears are terrible because though alot can happen, I can't live on what ifs. Thanks so much for sharing your story... it does help!!
 

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move at your own pace, do not let anybody tell you are ready until you feel you are, take small rides just around your area them work your way up we all go through this one time or other( 54yrs) and ride a Belgium
 

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Clearly, there IS a logical reason for your reluctance to get back on your horse given that the last time you rode you felt threatened. You know what they say though, get back in the saddle immediately ASAP after a fall or a scare (given that you haven't been badly hurt). I certainly don't think that you should throw caution to the wind, but it's easy to blow things up into huge concerns the longer you worry about it. I think that you should get on A horse as soon as you can. You mentioned your husband's dead broke QH... get him out and see if you can just go for a mosey in a secure area (pasture, arena).

Part of your fears may be helped by taking a few lessons with someone who can review safety maneuvers such as the one rein stop with you. With something like the one rein stop in your arsenal, you may be less likely to feel as though you are at risk of losing all control.

Most importantly, DON'T resent yourself or tell yourself that you're being stupid when you feel that fear building up. It's perfectly natural to be nervous, but rather than feeling like you need to shove that fear away, try to accept it. Accept the fact that you are fearful, and work proactively towards resolving it. Stay as positive as possible... it won't help anything if you're beating up on yourself!
 

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^^this^^

A few lessons may be the answer - especially if you can use your own horse and get tips on controlling him. I feel your pain - I was horseless for 20+ years before getting back into horses again - and I am no longer young (AARP, here I come!). I am also an extremely heavy person. I had a lot of fears - I didn't want to hurt the horse because I'm too heavy, and when I finally climbed on one of my horses, I realized that my fear of heights also played a roll in my newfound fear of riding.

The mare I rode last summer is/was a true gem - a diamond in the rough when I found her. Daughter's trainer had me bring my mare over for a short lesson/evaluation. The original plan was for the trainer to ride Dancer, but after lunging her for a few minutes and realizing that Dancer was better trained than any of us had been led to believe, I was the first one to ride her in several years. That first ride was only a few minutes long, but with the help of the trainer, was a real confidence builder.
 
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I completely agree with Eolith.

You're psyching yourself out, and it's only going to get more and more scary when it shouldn't be at all. Relax, and maybe look into getting lessons from a trainer. They can professionally talk you through things and make sure you're alright mentally and emotionally.

Best of luck :) Everyone seems to go through a confidence dip once in a while.
 
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I can relate to you as well. I have never been affraid to ride our horses and now out of nowhere I am terrified. I have never fallen off, been thrown, ect, so I dont know what the deal is. I am ok going out there feeding, grooming, walking them does scare me a bit I guess im worried they will spook and bolt off. I hope you can over come your fears and I hope I can to:oops: but the thought of riding puts me in a panic.
 

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I’m at my wits end and hope that someone can offer me some advice on how to deal with the new fear I’ve developed.
I'm sorry if you've already mentioned this and I just missed it.... Are you using a shank/curb bit? If you're riding English, you might consider a western arrangement at least for trail riding. I only ride western but my wife has done both and has told me that she feels MUCH more secure and in-control on the trails when she's using her western gear.

Just a thought.... (For me, giving up the shank and curb strap would feel like taking the pads off my car's brakes!). ;-)
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I think all the above suggestions are great but fail to mention that it is just going to take time to get over these fears. You mentioned that you were on for 5 minutes and your heart raced. Keeping doing this (sitting for 5 minutes) until you feel calmer and then work to 5 minutes of riding in the pen. Don't rush this process but do push the boundaries forward. Each accomplishment will make you more confident again.
 

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Hey, I feel for you. What you are experiencing happens to a lot of people.

Baby steps!

Write out a list of ten items that scare you. List them in order from one to ten. One might be closing your eyes and visualizing yourself riding. Five might be sitting on your horse with someone holding the lead rope. Ten might be riding on the trails alone.

Practice relaxation exercises and then start at step one. If you feel anxiety, rank it out loud on a scale of one to ten. Do your relaxation exercise and then rank your anxiety again. You'll notice it won't stay at a 10 for long. When you're feeling comfortable, move to the next step.

If I remember correctly from school (I studied psychology), this exercise is called systematic desensitization and reprocessing and it's a great way to treat phobias.

Some other tips...

Watch other, confident people ride. Sometimes people can get over fears just by doing this. I was afraid of bees until I worked a summer job with a bunch of people who weren't bothered by them.

If you have them, look at videos and picture of you confidently riding.

It might also help to have someone else, who knows what they're doing, ride your horse on the trails. The more he goes out with a good rider who will make him listen, the more comfortable and cooperative he'll get.

Good luck!!! :)
 

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There is no need for going to a western headstall and shank bit if you need a more aggressive bit and have an english bridle.

Not all snaffles are mild, some are quite severe. And a step up from there are Kimberwicks and Pelhams.

That said, a pulley rein will stop just about anything in a snaffle. Besides, this is rider training and confidence issue. Equipment isn't going to fix it.

OP, have you considered visiting a psychologist and discussing your fears? I also second taking lessons.
 

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There is a reason why people say, "When you fall off get right back in the saddle."

I realize you did not FALL off, but all the same, your confidence is shaken.

Have you considered saddling up, getting on and having your husband halter you around the pen/arena/driveway for a bit.

or, even just get on, reins in hand, and don't even walk. Up and off. Depending on your level of anxiety, that may be all you can handle before your tension shoots into the horse.

I'm 46. I took a stupid spill bareback off a Halflinger (not my horse) 2 weeks ago and totally sprained and bruised my leg. I am just barely able to walk without a lurch. And it has made me CRAZY. I fell off that dang pony and after I walked it off a bit, my trainer put me back on that horrible wretched beast, sans saddle, and made me go around several times.

Probably a good thing or I wouldn't go next to the hairy hay burner today.

I have a 15h QH who behaved like a beast on the trails one cool drizzly morning. Loped up hills, slid down hills, a general brat. The entire time I thought this is it. I'm gonna buy it. He is going to fall and then smoosh me under him. I envisioned my mom crying over my casket cussing me out for buying a stupid horse.

:lol:

I know that fear you speak of. It's based on our age.

Take baby steps. Have someone control the horse from the ground, but schedule time on the horse. Mon/Wed/Friday. Spend more time saddling than you do in the saddle, but at least get it on and get on it.

Everytime Sam loses his footing or stumbles or trips you can hear me gasp across the state of Missouri. But, as soon as he takes 4 more good ones I'm fine.

Good luck. think baby steps.
 

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I understand your fear. I too had been out of horses for twenty years. I got back on a few leased horses last year and had a great time until I got badly thrown. Shook me up beyond belief. Very true that as you get older you become much more aware of the damage that can happen. When we were kids, who cared if you fell off, you got back on...big deal!

Now, I bought a very very sound calm grounded horse with no history of spooking. I forced myself to ride him in a few different situations before I bought him even though I was terrified to be on a trail with him. Nothing phases him.
You need to get on your husbands QH and ride him. Start in an arena or empty pasture. I found that having something enclosed helped me a lot. My BO keeps telling me I am on a different horse that threw me and one that always gets me home safe and never acts stupid when we are out. She is correct.

Get on a different horse, start slow. Only go out when the weather is good so it is one less thing to worry about. I would go out with just one other dependable horse too.

I am slowly getting comfortable on my horse and trusting that I will get home safe.

Good luck!
 
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