View Full Version : at a loss

May. 4, 2010, 01:21 AM
So recently Ive been giving my moms friends daugher lessons. Just teaching her the basics on how to ride. However she is a very skitish when it comes to the horses.She was doing so good though and being so brave and was getting really stong and handling riding very well. So we entered her in her first show. She did GREAT! and the horse she rode was so well behaved. However while we were at the show it was raining and cold and a couple horses were not behaving. While she was there she saw people fall horse spook and what not.

So she rode today (a week after the show). She was so scared and histerical that the horse she was riding was going to act like the other horses she watched freak out. We honestly do not know what to do. We tried explaining to her that she is ok and her horse wont hurt her. We tried proving to her that she can trust him and everything. I seriously can not think of a way to build her confidence and prove to her she is ok. She is just so scared. I feel bad cause she really wants to ride and loves riding she is just scared.

What do you think i should do? Have any of you ever had this problem? I am open to many suggestions. I really love this girl and I want her to ride and have fun and not have to be scared.

May. 4, 2010, 01:25 AM
Well, the truth is that her horse MAY freak out about something at some point. Everyone has to fall off and some people just don't have it in them to get back on. No matter how talented they are, they may never want to ride again after that first fall off.

So I'd be honest with her and accept the fact that until she falls of and realizes that she can just get back on, she may be a wreck. Until she experiences it for herself, though, there is only so much that your words can do.

May. 4, 2010, 01:42 AM
Well, this may not exactly shed golden light upon your situation, nor is it entirely politically correct, but... I knew a girl with some pretty intense anxiety issues. She had never been hurt, just was very nervous around the horses and always holding back. I helped her by making it fun. If it was fun, then she wouldn't have to focus on how nervous she was. We did all sorts of silly (but safe!) activities, and I had her come up with rules of her very own "horemanship" (horsemanship with all the "stuff" taken out ;) ). She was terrified of falling, and I told her about how my biggest learning experience was from a fall, that it had changed me as a rider, and I was better for it. I told her that falling was a part of riding, and if it had gotten me to where I was, then it could get her there, too. I told her she wouldn't be able to improve if she didn't fall off from time to time. ;) She wrote me a couple rules of "horemanship," and this was one of them:

Rule #2

Another important rule in horemanship is that every rider must go through some traumatic riding accident, that way they can overcome their fear. So if you do start our program and you're either kicked, trampled, or dragged on purpose, just remember its for your own good.

Sometimes I think if the trainer latches onto an issue and worries about it, then it makes the rider worry about it even more. Or if there is a perceived issue or "problem," then the rider senses that, then believes that there is a problem or that they are a problem, and makes it more of an issue than it should be. Instead, make light of it. Show her that there is nothing wrong with fear, but it doesn't have to own her riding. Don't make light of her, of course, but make light of mistakes and things that may cause fear. Its just simple psychology--if you don't make a big deal out of it and instead reward her for being less anxious, then she will realize there's nothing to make a big deal over. If she's not having fun, then go to her comfort level and build from there.

May. 4, 2010, 08:58 AM
I hate to be the debbie downer, but I'm gonna say it.

It takes a certain personality type to ride horses, particularly over fences. Perhaps she isn't cut out for this sport?

I've had a few riders over the years that loved, I mean LOVED horses, but were not naturally assertive enough to take the role as the leader in the saddle. At first, I was very supportive. I wanted to see if we could build that confidence and make them more assertive. Lunge line lessons were great, and they stayed on it for much longer than the typical rider. But eventually, we had to move on; it was when I set them free that they just couldn't handle being in charge. The fear of falling, fear of lost control, fear of bees stinging the horse, fear of spooks.....I mean, there was so much fear, it became a safety concern.

So I talked to these parents and kids and told them you can love horses, and not ride. Heck, you could own a horse and not ride (ie Halter classes). But that with the inherent risks associated with riding and the kid's overwhelming fears, I was concerned someone might get hurt.

The couple of kids that come to mind in this situation did finally decide that this sport really wasn't for them. One went back to gymnastics (really, flipping on a beam is less scary than riding :lol:), one decided to focus on pottery, and the last wanted to focus on academics. They all left my program with fond memories and great acheivements, but with an understanding it just wasn't for them.

And truthfully, the parents were very relieved as their fears were just as overwhelming. Apples don't fall far from the tree. ;)

May. 4, 2010, 09:13 AM
Try teaching her an emergency dismount. Start at the halt, have her drop her irons and quickly dismount with the landing being push away from your horse (kind of like vaulting off) and land away from the horse with reins in hand. When shes ok with that, do it at the walk and then trot.

Explain to her that while she WILL fall eventually if she feels like she is going to fall or that her horse is out of control she can ALWAYS do an emergency dismount. Then incorporate in your lessons. Be teaching and then in the middle of nowhere call for an emergency dismount (after she's capable of doing one that is)

It will give her a sense of control about the situation.

Also I had a student once who's horse slightly surged forward (I mean maybe cantered a step if we are lucky) it panicked her to the point of quitting riding. We moved her into a private and I got her to relax by putting her into a really easy sitting trot and then talking to her about EVERYTHING I could think of Except horses. What's going on in school what's her favorite class, what are your plans for break etc. Now she just started cantering. When ever she gets nervous and starts to panic I just start asking non horsey questions.

Above all DON'T tell her nothing will happen, because when something does happen she's not going to trust you or the horse. Instead tell her that you picked the safest possible mount for her and you wouldn't do it if you thought he was dangerous or she couldn't handle him

May. 4, 2010, 09:39 AM
thank you so much for your input. I will take this all into consideration. She is still young. She is only 9 and she has not been riding long at all so all she is doing is walk trotting.However before the show and even after the show, besides the fear she is a pretty solid rider. Like I said earlier she was always a little nervous but nothing like she was after the show. I think just watching everything over whelmed her and scared her. I defently have some ideas now on how to help her build confidence. I dont think she needs to stop riding i dont think she is scared to that point. I was really just looking for ideas to make riding more fun for her and show her that even though one day she may fall she will be ok and we all fall. we even fall riding a bike but we get back on and we are ok. Again thank you so much to everyone who replied.

May. 4, 2010, 10:28 AM
Maybe riding just isn't the sport for this girl.

May. 4, 2010, 10:39 AM
Did anyone on the spooking horses fall off? Were they all okay?
If yes to both answers, then explain that in riding we can all fall off, but that most of the time nothing happens.
Discuss how good her horse was with her.
Discuss with her what to do if her horse does spook.
If she is already a nervous rider, it may be due to a feeling of lack of control. If you give her the tools to deal with such a situation, it may take the fear out of it.
Even if it is just to reinforce, hands down, heals down, sit up straight and not to scream. Have her repeat this to you and show you what she would do, until it is ingrained in her head.
I am can be a nervous rider, but have persisted over the years. I still hear my mothers voice in my head if a horse takes off on me (that is my biggest fear) telling me how to get the horse back under control.

May. 4, 2010, 10:42 AM
Sport. Thank you SO much! This is what I am already doing this makes me feel better though. Now I know what I am doing is right. I am glad to hear you overcame your fear and yes the people fell of the horse however her horse (which is my horse) didnt even notice or flinch over everything going on.

Thanks again :)