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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a new horse owner. I got a horse for mostly therapeutic reasons, my mom passed away last May and she was a horse woman...and I am a person that is afraid of many things in life. Well, I am so glad that I decided to get a horse, I love my boy. I got him on new years eve and we are just now really getting to know each other on a deeper level. I have done groundwork, he is smart so it is easy. He is a great horse that has been there/done that. The thing is, I am very afraid to ride him. I have been on him 4 times (in the arena)for a short while and I know it will take some time, I really want to get comfortable in the saddle, but I don't want to ride too soon because I know if I am nervous that will have an effect on his behavior...
Anyway, if anyone has been where I am, just letting fear get in the way, and have conquered it, I would love to hear your story!
 

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Are you at a boarding barn? Make friends and ride with them. If there's a group of people, talking, laughing just walking around the ring your tension will melt and you will "forget" about the scariness of riding and just enjoy it. When you ride alone you can easily mentally psyche yourself out and your horse is more likely to react to your tension. If there are other horses around your horse that are calm and happy, even if you're tense they probably will ignore you for the most part and just follow along with the "herd". Also, just getting on and riding once or twice around the ring and getting off will help you build confidence. If you ride for 5 mins one day you will say, well that wasn't too bad and kinda fun. And then the next time you might ride for 6mins, etc etc etc. Also, give yourself a goal and stick with it. Say, I'm going to ride once around the ring. Or I'm going to go over to that post and back to the mounting block, etc. If you give yourself a goal to think about other than staying on the horse you start to focus on that and you relax. Good luck and keep us posted!!
 

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I am exactly where you are, but a little bit worse off. I am afraid to ride my horse, Honeycutt, after I had an accident a few years ago. She is the opposite of yours I think! She was four years when I got her, She was my FIRST horse, and she was GREEN, GREEN, GREEN!!! Not to mention even if she was well broke I think she would be strong willed, and try to do things her way! Classic beginner's mistake ;D

I'm glad you started this thread. I finally decided to get over it and start riding this summer. The only thing I can tell you is that your probably simply psyching yourself out and you have a great horse to learn on it sounds like. So you don't have anything to worry about!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I am at a boarding stable, have had great help from the people there. For now I feel good riding with one other person with me(I don't like people watching me, weird I know). I have made the goal that I would like to get on the trail by the anniversary of Mom's passing, May 8. I haven't thought as much about making smaller goals, that is a very good idea.
Yea, my horse is a great horse and very well broke but he does have some "go" to him so that can kind of play with my mind too.
 

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I am at a boarding stable, have had great help from the people there. For now I feel good riding with one other person with me(I don't like people watching me, weird I know). I have made the goal that I would like to get on the trail by the anniversary of Mom's passing, May 8. I haven't thought as much about making smaller goals, that is a very good idea.
Yea, my horse is a great horse and very well broke but he does have some "go" to him so that can kind of play with my mind too.
Okay, to control his "go", practice on the ground bending his neck back to the girth so that he gives willingly in both directions then do it standing still in the saddle and don't release until he gives into you and doesn't brace. then at the walk practice the bend (one rein stop practice). this way he is used to you bending him like this and if he speeds up then do it and bend him into circle and hold rein short until he gives into you and stops moving then release and you can exhale big to get him to stop he will read you that way. this is a good practice to get you acclimated to his movements at a slower pace and gives you complete control.
now then, what i do to get rid of my anxiety (as I am damaged goods as a rider) I say the alphabet one letter with each stride out loud or count out loud same tempo. this forces you to breathe and distracts you, allowing your body to get more in rhythm with your horse and sometimes i do pledge of allegiance or something different to switch it up. a few lessons with your horse will work wonders. do similar routine with each ride, walk both directions then trot (dont forget to practice one rein stops) both directions then circles then figure eights but all along practice your one rein stops. this will keep him checked into you and anticipate your stops which can have him slower to get ready for them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Those are great tips! I love the alphabet, seems like it would totally help! I really don't know what comes over me and the last thing is to fall victim to this fear, I want to conquer it! I know once I get my fear in check this horse is willing to do anything for me.
 

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As far as relaxation the best thing to do is belt out your favorite song. Even if you just keep going through the chorus. I had a horse that I was jumping and he was a scary horse to jump as he flung himself over fences and I had a hard time rating his speed. So I found a song that matched the canter that I wanted and I sang it the WHOLE way around jump courses. At schooling shows my best friend and trainer at the time made me belt it out so the rest of her students could hear me. To show them that it works. The judge ate it up because I was jumping 3'9" on a little chestnut QH(15.2) and belting out the star spangled banner. I was like ok...what the heck right? And it worked magically because I was concentrating on the singing and just riding unconciously and my relaxed and sure aids were making him pay attention to me. I think quite a few of my friends have it on tape somewhere...but it is not allowed on youtube!! haha
 

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RoxanneElizabeth, I share the same problem...well, shared. For almost a year after my parents bought me a riding horse, I had trouble EVERY time I tried to ride her-she would spook and bolt with me, and rear and generally make me so terrified of riding that I barely wanted to see her and kept telling myself I didn't deserve her. My greatest piece of advice to you is: GROUNDWORK. It's taken me 7 months to finally get my act together and really start working with her. Take your horse for walks. LOTS of walks. Enforce your leadership. Make him respect you. I'm not saying you should take as long as I did, but groundwork is what really forged the bond between me and my horse. Only a few days ago I finally kicked myself and said: "You know what? You need to stop making up excuses and get your cowardly *** out there and ride her." And I did. For the first time I was able to tack her up myself (previously she was so wired you needed help). It was AMAZING. She was perfect-quiet, calm and well behaved. I figure it's because I never had her respect before while riding, and it freaked her out. As far as keeping YOURSELF calm, it's probably a good idea to have someone with you to talk and joke with, to keep you relaxed. If not, give yourself-and the horse-something to think about and do. Do circles, patterns, weave around pylons-anything to keep your mind occupied. If you tense up, take several deep breaths and sing, or smile. You might look crazy, but it's scientifically proven that smiling eases stress. Good luck! You can totally do it!
 

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Hey, YOU CAN DO IT!

I have had a lot of students that are just terrified of their horses, and many of them (although not all) have totally bombproof schoolmasters that are perfectly comfortable just plodding around-- no reason to be afraid.

What do I do? At first I'll put their horse on the lunge line, and ask the rider to climb up. It's like fear melts away when the rider thinks the lunge line means the horse is under total control by me. Which, yes, I've got some control, but it isn't like I could really stop the horse from flipping out if it wanted to... but still. That line is so reassuring for so many people.

Anyways, I'll ask the person to walk their horse. Then, I'll start talking about anything. Anything at all. A funny story I heard, a stupid joke, anything to make the rider laugh and offer stories of their own. Once the rider is fully enveloped in conversation and the fear melts away, I'll casually throw in a "ask your horse to trot within the next circle, whenever YOU are ready", and continue conversation. That way, the rider can trot when they are ready, and by now they are probably very confident too. I'll let them trot, and when I ask them to walk again, I'll slowly walk up and unclip the line, just walking next to the rider. Then, I'll back out to the center and ask them to trot again, whenever they are ready.


The point is, especially since you have a been there, done that horse, you don't have to get anxious. Breathe, put the radio on your favorite station or put in your favorite CD. Belt it out, laugh, just HAVE FUN!

Don't be afraid of others seeing you ride. We have all been there at some point, and I know I personally wouldn't be where I am now without the help from my trainers and others watching, riding with me, giving me pointers, and building up my confidence.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wow, you are all SO nice and helpful! I will take all your advice and the book too!
As far as "what exactly am I afraid of"...I think I have post traumatic stress disorder, bad car accident(death involved) and very sickly hubby for years & years, a friend of mine described it like I am in constant emergency mode...but I got a horse to help me with that :)
 
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