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Problems leaving home (me, not the horse)

1028 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  AllThePrettyHorses
Ever since I began taking lessons this fall, my confidence has improved SO much. I'm not sure how much that's saying, seeing as I had zero confidence before, but I still feel like a much, much stronger rider.

No matter what, though, it seems like I just can't get over my fear with my horse. I just want to clarify, it's only THIS horse. Any other horse I ride, I'm totally fine. I'm totally confident. But my past with my horse has just conditioned me to be nervous riding her.

Which is the weirdest thing, because nothing bad has ever happened to me on her. She's done some scary stuff (terrifying to me, as I was a total beginner, probably a *yawn* 'Wow, that was rather ignorant of you* deal for someone else), but I've never gotten hurt and never even come close.

My trainer (who also broke this horse) said: "I don't understand why you don't trust her. I always thought the world of this mare." Because my horse is amazing. It's just that I'm not.

I can trailer her away anywhere, pull her off, saddle her up, get on and go ride without a twinge of fear. But when I ride her around or directly from my home property, I just..can't. That's the most frustrating thing ever. I don't know why I can ride her in new, totally strange and scary places but I can't ride her in a familiar environment without my nerves playing in.

When I 'hack' her out from home, my mind is constantly on home. I'm: ':shock: We're leaving home. She's going to get nervous because we're so far away from home. What if she tries to pull for home? What if she wants to run home? Maybe we should go home soon." And because I'm constantly thinking about and worried about home because I think the horse will be, then naturally, my horse starts worrying too, even though she's not barn sour, she really couldn't care less about leaving the other horses and she's not a naturally spooky or nervous horse. She never throws tantrums, she never spooks big, she never does anything bad, I just FEEL like it's way, way, way, way worse than it ever is. It's just a toxic mess of emotion that I start. My trainer has told me that I never ever LOOK unconfident; I ride really..well, confidently. All this uncertainty is in my head.

I think part of the reason I can ride her so effectively trailering away is because not only are we nowhere near home and the barn, but whenever we do that, there's always someone there riding with me, and there's always something to do. I really wish I had someone to ride with me at home, but my friend I usually go with, though she's a good rider with more years under her belt than me, isn't a terribly enthusiastic rider. I'm lucky if I can get her out once a month. Twice is way too much to hope for. Which isn't much help for me, who wants to ride every day.

So I guess that leaves me with trying to find something to do to keep my mind busy and off of home and my horse acting up. What sorts of things or activities can I do off the property while trail riding that you think might help keep me occupied on the task, not my horse or any possible pulse she might have :p?

Also, do you think getting out more, as in trailering away, and riding her a whole lot out there (even though I'm not scared in those environments) will help with riding at home?

And I know it's probably crossing a lot of your minds right now, but please, I don't want to hear people telling me I should sell her. Not because 'She's my best friend and I love her more than anything in the world!!! You guys are mean poopy heads and you don't understand the bond we have!' It's because I want to try. I know I've been trying for several years now and I'm not 100%, but as long as we continue to progress, I'm going to keep going with her. My trainer has said that she'll bring me riding a lot this summer, she'll take me camping - all that jazz, to try to teach me to finally trust this horse.
I just don't want to give up. I don't want to fail. I want to conquer this long, incredibly difficult obstacle and beat my fear. I won't run away from it.
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It seems by reading your post that it is because you are riding alone. Is there anyone there at all that you can go with for a short time? I have found that most people could care less if one more person goes even if they do not know you that well. I think it is smart to ride with another person anyways for safety reasons. Can your trainer go out with you once a week? Maybe when the weather is better you will find more people.
I don't have anyone, besides the one friend I mentioned, to go with occasionally. I really want to be able to comfortably ride alone, like I do on my pony, but right now...I'm having some trouble with it. Do you think riding a whole lot with other people will translate over to improved confidence when I'm alone?
I notice that when I ride(and I have confidence riding issues) I feel much better when I am with just one person, less so in a group and I am fine alone ONLY if I am in the pasture or arena. My horse is much better with one horse rather than 3-4 as well. Are there others at your barn that just do not ride in the winter?
Having someone to ride with will help your confidence a lot!

Stop yourself from thinking those things. I used to do the same thing. I'd think "oh my oh my oh my.. he's going to bolt on me and I'm going to crash into that tree.. and I'll break my back and never ride again..." and then I realized how tense I was and then thought "Why am I thinking this???" so I told myself "Nope you're wrong, you're going to have the best ride, he'll take good care of you and even if he does bolt, you can handle it!!" and it helped. Even when Sky decided to go strong at the canter and I felt like I was literally a hair on his back and had no control.. I trusted him and he sunk down into a trot and got back to a walk.

No psyching yourself out, lady miss!
I notice that when I ride(and I have confidence riding issues) I feel much better when I am with just one person, less so in a group and I am fine alone ONLY if I am in the pasture or arena. My horse is much better with one horse rather than 3-4 as well. Are there others at your barn that just do not ride in the winter?
Well, there are no others at all at my barn. We keep our horses at home, on our property, and I don't know any horse neighbours. So if I want to ride with people, we have to trailer out or they have to trailer in or else ride one of mine.

I feel ok in any sized group, but my horse is better behaved when there's fewer people.

I'm fine riding out alone on our pony; I can confidently go anywhere on her. And we don't really have pastures or arenas to ride in - anywhere fenced is inhabited by horses.

That's what I'm worried about (even more than my horse being barn sour :p) - I don't want to become an 'arena rider' or make my horse an 'arena horse' who have to have a fence around us to feel secure. I want to be able to ride anywhere I want with no nerves.
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