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I am really hoping that you all can offer me some advise .. or maybe just help me to pick myself up off of the floor! My 11 yr old daughter has been riding since she was 7. She has had her own horse for about a yr now and has a couple of "scares" in the last few months. First I should say my daughter is a "cautious" child to begin with .. she is a worrier ..always has been and always will be I suppose. (Very unlike her mother who when she was young wanted to go as fast and as high as possible on a horse LOL) She fell off of her horse a few months ago and since then she has been just a ball of nerves. The horse caught his foot in a net used to hold shavings..it spooked him .. she lost her balance .. The horse honestly didn't do anything that I would have remotely called "bad or out of the natural" but nonetheless she fell. It wasn't even a bad fall! But she is just soo nervous now to ride ..She makes up every excuse possible. She did get right back on the night that she fell. And we have always been honest with her about the fact that at some time ALL riders do take a tumble. I have even told her that I don't care if she just keeps him at a walk .. thinking she would build her confidence back up. That didn't even help.. she is as stiff as a board when she is riding now and even told me the other day that she didn't want to ride anymore .. HELP! I don't know whether I should push .. or let hang back? I have tried both .. and nothing seems to be working! I am a big believer in not quitting something .. when they start a sport .. they finish .. the committment is even bigger with a horse! I don't want to have he rlose her love for horses by pushing too hard .. but I don't want her to walk away from it because she is afraid .. ANY ADVISE would be greatly appreciated!
 

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Fear is fear, doesn't matter if you're 11 or 51! I would bet she's anticipating another spook from her horse and is only going to make him tense by being tense herself. Does she still enjoy spending time with her horse? Grooming, hand grazing, etc? I'd let her take a break from saddle time for a little while, only if she is still enjoying the rest of barn life. Does she have friends to ride with? I'm not sure if you're boarding or have her horse at home. It depends on the person, but somtimes a nice break that makes you start to "miss" riding helps a lot, sort of like absence makes the heart grow fonder!
 

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Welcome to the forum!

When my kids were younger, I bought them pony after pony and they rode well. In truth, they didn't like it at all but did it because it was my passion. The more I pushed, the more they resisted and now could care less if there was a horse on the property or not.

Son #1 and his wife came down from Boston to spend this past weekend with us and never once went over to the barn to check out the new horses. Neither would son #2 or his wife. My youngest (daughter) still lives at home and if the horses were missing, I doubt she would notice.

Horses are my passion, it was never theirs or my wife's. If you tried getting her to groom them or help around them and she still finds an excuse not to, then let it go. If she wants to ride again, great; but if not, there are other things she may have an interest in and you need to promote that interest.

I know that's not what you want to hear but that's been my experience.
 

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Is there maybe another lesson horse at the barn who is very calm and quiet, and will ignore her being uptight? My suggestion is to make it fun again, in a way that clicks with your daughter. I don't know what she is into, but maybe a trail course in the arena, walking over a bridge, turning in a small circle in a "box" made up of jump poles, opening and closing a fake gate, we used two standards with a piece of rope, and the rope is what we moved. We also had a mailbox that we opened and closed. Stuff like that with hidden rewards in the mailbox maybe. I am working on starting an Arabian mare, and first time on her, she spooked at a cat, and I jumped off her. Honestly I am very nervous now when I get on her, as she is a high strung horse, and because she always looks at everything, I tense up when I'm on her, and her being an extremely green horse, she gets upset about that which of course makes me even more tense. What one of the other girls at the barn does when she's leading my horse around while I'm on her, is talk about anything and everything just to get my mind off the horse and being nervous. Works pretty well for me. Anything you do will take a while to have an effect, but I'd see if she's open to possibly just walking around the arena playing around with obstacles, whether on her horse, or a lesson horse that she trusts, and give it a few weeks. Maybe have a trainer talk to her as well, let her know that she's not alone in being scared to work the horse again. If after a few weeks she still wants to give it up, then I would back off. Maybe lease the horse out for a bit, just in case she changes her mind, or she ends up realizing that she misses going out to the barn. At the very least, she can still go out and groom him, and spend some time on the ground with him. Sorry for the really long post lol. Hope it all works out.
 

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So far this isn't something I have had to deal with myself, my son has taken a few falls but it hasn't put him off. But a good friend of mine went through it last year. Her daughter (9 years old) had taken a bad fall and wanted "out". She told her daughter it was fine if she didn't want to ride any more and she wouldn't make her, but she told her daughter that she had bought and owned a horse and was therefore committed to the horse. She made her daughter take on the responsibility of all the daily chores of the horse, including feeding, grooming, and stall cleaning. When her daughter complained about the work her mother reminded her that the "payment" for all this work was getting to ride, that was what made owning a horse worth it, and sympathized with her that when you just have to do all the work and not get any of the riding, that owning a horse wasn't as much fun. But she kept telling her daughter they would not just "get rid" of the horse, that she didn't believe horses were disposable commodities. It wasn't long at all before the daughter wanted to get the "fun" out of riding again - her mother started slow, didn't push her to show or compete, and just let her trail ride, and soon the daughter was back into riding full force.
 

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I agree with the above advice. I am younger, and my litte sister went through this. Your daughter may or may not get back into horses, but if you push her it is more likley she will not. Allow her to just "play" with the horses grooming and grazing kind of things. If there is another horse she is more comfortable on you may even give her the option of just poking around some.

My sister quit riding for about 5 years, and then she decided to get back into it. When she quit I took on riding her pony until we sold him, but she knew that if she wanted to ride she was wecome to borrow anybody else's horse.

I on the other hand had a bad fall when I was 12. It included ambulance in the pasture, splint for a fracture on my arm, nice concussion, and some major fear of my favorite horse on earth. (even though if was COMPLETELY my fault) I took a break from him for about 3 months. I rode my dad's laid back horse and he rode mine to keep him in shape. Part of the break was because my family (not my dad but the rest of the extended family) fueled my fear, and I was terrified that as soon as I got back on my horse would blow up since I didn't get back on.

I woudl just give her some time. Don't push her, and she will either come back to it or not on her own.
 

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I am working on starting an Arabian mare, and first time on her, she spooked at a cat, and I jumped off her. Honestly I am very nervous now when I get on her, as she is a high strung horse, and because she always looks at everything, I tense up when I'm on her, and her being an extremely green horse, she gets upset about that which of course makes me even more tense. What one of the other girls at the barn does when she's leading my horse around while I'm on her, is talk about anything and everything just to get my mind off the horse and being nervous.
I realize that this is off topic for a moment, but you are not doing your horse much good if you are afraid of riding her. Whether you realize it or not, what you are doing is transferring your fear and discomfort to her. I'm sure you mean well but you are creating a nervous horse. You need to step back and let someone else take over the training. It isn't much good for your confidence either. If a horse spooks and you bail, that is teaching your horse the wrong thing.

(Sorry to hijack the thread but i felt it needed to be said).
 

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Thanks for answering so quickly! Luckily my daughter would groom, muck stalls, do anything at the barn anytime! She loves to walk him around..play with the big ball with him .. it is just the riding that is an issue right now :( She reads to him, plays her ipod with him and just in general loves to spend time with him .. I am just not sure how to build her confidence back up .. without pushing too hard. Unfortunately there isn't a "barn babysitter horse" that she could ride to get her confidence back up. I think I will have her work on her ground skills with him .. work on showmanship and just in general spend time being with him... I just didn't know if the time out of the saddle will make the issue harder to resolve when and if she is ready to ride again .. any thoughts?
 

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Thanks for the quick reply and the welcome! I definitely walk a fine line between whether this is my passion or hers .. She loves to groom the horses, plays with them and is always asking for more barn time. Right now it is just the "riding" issue :( I don't know if her fear will grow with time out of the saddle .. or settle down? Just so hard to tell! Thanks again for the welcome :)


Welcome to the forum!

When my kids were younger, I bought them pony after pony and they rode well. In truth, they didn't like it at all but did it because it was my passion. The more I pushed, the more they resisted and now could care less if there was a horse on the property or not.

Son #1 and his wife came down from Boston to spend this past weekend with us and never once went over to the barn to check out the new horses. Neither would son #2 or his wife. My youngest (daughter) still lives at home and if the horses were missing, I doubt she would notice.

Horses are my passion, it was never theirs or my wife's. If you tried getting her to groom them or help around them and she still finds an excuse not to, then let it go. If she wants to ride again, great; but if not, there are other things she may have an interest in and you need to promote that interest.

I know that's not what you want to hear but that's been my experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks so much for the advise! I think she would love the obstacles idea! She will brush him for hours, tell him all of her secrets and all the while she is just as relaxed as can be. But once she gets into that saddle .. the fear takes over. Thanks again for the ideas! She recently lost her riding buddy (who moved away) so I am sure that is playing into it too! Thanks again!

Is there maybe another lesson horse at the barn who is very calm and quiet, and will ignore her being uptight? My suggestion is to make it fun again, in a way that clicks with your daughter. I don't know what she is into, but maybe a trail course in the arena, walking over a bridge, turning in a small circle in a "box" made up of jump poles, opening and closing a fake gate, we used two standards with a piece of rope, and the rope is what we moved. We also had a mailbox that we opened and closed. Stuff like that with hidden rewards in the mailbox maybe. I am working on starting an Arabian mare, and first time on her, she spooked at a cat, and I jumped off her. Honestly I am very nervous now when I get on her, as she is a high strung horse, and because she always looks at everything, I tense up when I'm on her, and her being an extremely green horse, she gets upset about that which of course makes me even more tense. What one of the other girls at the barn does when she's leading my horse around while I'm on her, is talk about anything and everything just to get my mind off the horse and being nervous. Works pretty well for me. Anything you do will take a while to have an effect, but I'd see if she's open to possibly just walking around the arena playing around with obstacles, whether on her horse, or a lesson horse that she trusts, and give it a few weeks. Maybe have a trainer talk to her as well, let her know that she's not alone in being scared to work the horse again. If after a few weeks she still wants to give it up, then I would back off. Maybe lease the horse out for a bit, just in case she changes her mind, or she ends up realizing that she misses going out to the barn. At the very least, she can still go out and groom him, and spend some time on the ground with him. Sorry for the really long post lol. Hope it all works out.
 

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Thanks for your quick reply! WOW! What a great idea LOL I think that could be a great motivator! I have tried to explain to her some of the same things .. but not to that extent! Thanks again :)




So far this isn't something I have had to deal with myself, my son has taken a few falls but it hasn't put him off. But a good friend of mine went through it last year. Her daughter (9 years old) had taken a bad fall and wanted "out". She told her daughter it was fine if she didn't want to ride any more and she wouldn't make her, but she told her daughter that she had bought and owned a horse and was therefore committed to the horse. She made her daughter take on the responsibility of all the daily chores of the horse, including feeding, grooming, and stall cleaning. When her daughter complained about the work her mother reminded her that the "payment" for all this work was getting to ride, that was what made owning a horse worth it, and sympathized with her that when you just have to do all the work and not get any of the riding, that owning a horse wasn't as much fun. But she kept telling her daughter they would not just "get rid" of the horse, that she didn't believe horses were disposable commodities. It wasn't long at all before the daughter wanted to get the "fun" out of riding again - her mother started slow, didn't push her to show or compete, and just let her trail ride, and soon the daughter was back into riding full force.
 

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That is my biggest fear .. pushing her too much and actually causing her to walk away from it for good :( I know she enjoys it so much .. owning a horse has really increased her sense of self, her confidence has really blossomed .. it is just so hard to sit with my hands tied :( But patience was never my strong suit! Guess that's why God keeps give me the lesson over and over again LOL Thanks again!




I agree with the above advice. I am younger, and my litte sister went through this. Your daughter may or may not get back into horses, but if you push her it is more likley she will not. Allow her to just "play" with the horses grooming and grazing kind of things. If there is another horse she is more comfortable on you may even give her the option of just poking around some.

My sister quit riding for about 5 years, and then she decided to get back into it. When she quit I took on riding her pony until we sold him, but she knew that if she wanted to ride she was wecome to borrow anybody else's horse.

I on the other hand had a bad fall when I was 12. It included ambulance in the pasture, splint for a fracture on my arm, nice concussion, and some major fear of my favorite horse on earth. (even though if was COMPLETELY my fault) I took a break from him for about 3 months. I rode my dad's laid back horse and he rode mine to keep him in shape. Part of the break was because my family (not my dad but the rest of the extended family) fueled my fear, and I was terrified that as soon as I got back on my horse would blow up since I didn't get back on.

I woudl just give her some time. Don't push her, and she will either come back to it or not on her own.
 

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If she is still interested in the barn work but not the riding, I would just let her come around on her own. At the very least, you have help and a companion at the barn. If she comes around, it will be her choice and that would be great.
 

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XXX my fingers that my spring she will be feeling more confident and be ready to ride again! Until then we will just let her take it at her speed.. Thanks for the advise.


If she is still interested in the barn work but not the riding, I would just let her come around on her own. At the very least, you have help and a companion at the barn. If she comes around, it will be her choice and that would be great.
 

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Just give her some time. If she still loves spending time with the horse, playing with him and such, more than likely she'll come around. I know how it is to be nervous, and to be afraid of something that has previously hurt me. Luckily in my case, it never came from coming off of a horse. I've come off PLENTY of times, broken arm; broken leg; and this last time, back in May, 5 broken ribs, collapsed lung, partially collapsed other lung, punctured liver, and a small piece broken off of my spine. After 1 day in the ICU, and 9 more days in the hospital, when the doctor was talking about maybe having to send me home with an oxygen tank, I made the joke that I needed one for a back pack. When asked why, I told him that I needed a way to carry it while riding the horse. Within a month after getting out of the hospital, I was back on my horse doing a very careful walk with my husband and mother-in-law right beside me all the way. The Halflinger that threw me went back to her owner (I was trying her out for my mother-in-law) before I even got a chance to get back on her...thanks to my hubby.

My daughter on the other hand is a totally different story. She fell off when she was 8. She's been on one horse since then. When she comes to visit, she doesn't even want to go to the barn with me to feed...much less get on the horse.
 

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What your daughter needs now is time to come to terms with her fear.

She still loves being in the barn and around her horse, so that's good.

But you, as the mom, need to step back and let her take her time deciding what she wants to do.

Riding isn't always the end-all be-all for everybody. Some folks just like having horses around, and never ride them.

I took a bad fall almost 3 years ago. Broken ribs, clavicle, bad concussion. I wasn't merely afraid to ride, I was terrified.

I spent 8 months just taking care of my horses, and finally decided that not riding was worse than the fear of getting hurt again.

THAT'S where your daughter needs to be mentally and emotionally before she's ready to climb back on again.

Leave her alone and let her work this out on her own. You're not helping her by pushing her to get back in the saddle when she's not ready.
 

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I didn't read everyones responses. My thoughts on this are she needs to fall off again! LOL. Fear is a really strong emotion that can be very controlling. The hardest thing is going to be for you not to loose YOUR cool while she's being insecure.

Let her work it out. I probably wouldn't let her quit all together just yet beause she might only need a little push in the right direction but if she needs to go back to the leadline or to the basics for a while... I'd let her.
 

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I am not sure what you think of this because I have never really had a fear issue with horses. I have fortunately not been seriously hurt but my sister had to learn to walk and talk again because of a head injury when we were 5 (we are twins), she stills rides on occation but not as much as before. But have you ever considered letting your daughter do groundwork with the horse to become more confident around it. The horse will become much respectful and it might help your daughter overcome her fear.
 

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Time... I am 45 rode all the time up until about 8 years ago.. quit... started back riding in 08 late in the fall... got dumped( nasty fall all my fault not the horses..) I am just now getting my nerve back.. give her some time.. if she has the passion for horses she will start when she is ready..
 

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I think that your daughters worst enemy as far as getting her confidence back is any non-competitive riding. If all your doing is letting her walk around an arena then all she needs to think about is falling off. Ride wtih her and try to find something fun to do that will make her want to go faster to win. It doesn't have to be organized or with more than two people. If you have a race around the arena to see who can get thier horse to walk faster or play tag or one of you can pretend to be a cow and other can "cut" you. If you make it fun and competitive most peoples drive will overcome thier fear and before you know it she will be loping circle around you. do anything that will make her forget about the horse under her and ride.
 
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