I second caradino and Lucassb; they are absolutely spot on. I attended a sports psychology clinic with this guy last year: http://www.ridingfar.com and it was impressive to see how some of the riders progressed in such a short time, all just by changing their thinking. And as others have said, you are SO NOT alone. I was there, too, after some pretty tough falls from my mare. But finally, I got with instructors I trusted and put a lot of miles on my mare by exposing her to different things at a pace I felt comfortable with. Now, we are accomplishing so much more than I ever dreamed we could. You'll get there...just be patient with yourself and don't beat yourself up over it!
"It is not necessary for you to let everyone know everything about you. In fact, it is probably wise that you don't. There are some things that you need only discuss with God."
It will get better. 5 years is not too long.... ask me how I know!
Every time you have a successful ride is a step forward.
I would suggest you do lots of groundwork with your guy. It sound like he needs it - but more importantly, it will develop a connection between you, and will build your trust in him. Having trouble at the mounting block is no way to start a confident ride!
Good luck - it sounds like you have a great horse to help you down the path.
Yes, we've been working on the ground manners a bit. He's definitely gotten better since I got him, and I've gotten more confident handling him. He's really not that bad...everyone at the barn keeps remarking about what a good stallion he is.
To some extent I have to conquer fear every blessed time I mount. Its the mounting itself that spooks me. I've come off both my horses more times than I would care to admit and one horrendous fall early on as a re re rider in my FIFTIES was certainly traumatic. Why that trauma translated into fear of mounting as opposed to fear of RIDING is anyone's guess. Once in the saddle I am fine but back in the Bad Old Days it could take me close to half an hour just standing there psyching myself up to swing my leg over. It didnt help that I am fat with bad knees and ankles in addition to being old and creaky.
These days, going on four years after the Big One, it is just a momentary pang of anxiety, but yeah, its there every ride. Even though I manage to get on, off, back on, and sometimes repeat that process several times in the course of a long ride, I still worry that I'll fall under the horse (been there) or otherwise get hurt getting on.
My two horses are now champs at lining up next to a mounting block or anything else that can be used as a mounting block. I trail ride and I trail ride alone for the most part. I HAVE to be able to get off and get back on, or it will be a looooong walk home with those bad knees and ankles (feet aint so hot, either.) I also have to be prepared for an Involuntary Dismount at any time, because horses will be horses and s**t can happen even on a good day.
The last ID was more unscheduled than involuntary, since a brilliant manuever on a steep hillside caused a tree to collide with my uphill knee popping me out of the saddle, over the cantle, and kerplop on my mares big butt. No stirrups, and her rump was too slippery for me to be able to stay on it for very long. Not being agile enough to vault back over the cantle and into the saddle I sighed, looked for a soft place to land, and swung one leg up so I'd topple gently over to the uphill side of the slope. I did get a softish landing, found a tree root sticking up, parked the horse next to it, and got back on.
Jeano, that's so funny...I can just picture that last scene in my head! You know, I often have anxiety about mounting, too, even though nothing has ever happened to me while mounting. I just get these images in my head of the horse taking off while I'm halfway on. I've gotten much better about that, too, but it's part of the set of worries whenever I think it's going to be a bad day...even though once I park Solo at the mounting block, he stands stock still until my butt is in the saddle.
I have the same pre-ride anxiety as you, OP. Once i'm on and we've done the first lap around the ring (or field), I am muuuuch better, but it's the beforehand part... If the TB displays his usualy antics to be caught in the field, I start thinking Oh he's too worked up today, it's going to be horrible.. If it's windy- like you said- I'm only thinking about the wind and the strange smells and objects that wind will carry around...
I have the same issues before I go on trips/vacations. I'm much better once I'm there, but it's the packing and driving part that gets me. It's prep-stress and the number of things that COULD happen (and even the number of things that still need to be done) that makes me want to say, Let's Just Stay Home. Actually DOING it, accomplishing the 'getting there' part of vacation or the 'getting on' part of riding seems to be the cure for me.
I've just been pushing through. Not trying to FORCE myself not to think about those stressful things, but realizing it's just anxiety and letting the thought pass over me like a wave. It's there and then i just let it go (you can't capture a wave- just let it pass through). And knowing that I actually get much enjoyment from riding and realizing that the horses I ride are not Masters of Evil helps, too
Best of luck!!
(A decidedly unhorsey) MrB knocks over a feed bucket at the tack shop and mutters, "Oh crap. I failed the stadium jumping phase."
(he does listen!)
Thanks, bits! Funny...I have pre-travel jitters, too! What if there's traffic? What if I get selected for extra screening? What if we can't sit together on the plane? What if I can't figure out how to get a taxi? What if they lose my bag? What if I can't find the person picking me up? It pervades my whole life, actually. It's annoying.
You guys are probably going to get sick of me, but I wanted to share something. I don't know if it was the advice on this thread or just talking about it or what, but I've been thinking a lot about this the past couple of days...about how good my horse is, and how many wonderful rides I've had on him, and how every time I think it's going to be bad it turns out fine. I also thought about how far I've come since five years ago, both in my skill level and my confidence. I basically told myself I was being unreasonable and silly, and that next time I go out to ride, no matter what's going on, I'm going to get on my horse without worrying about it and just enjoy the ride.
So, today I went out to ride. I got on and started my warm-up, and there were jumps in the arena and my trainer was giving a longe lesson at one end and there was another rider in there as well. I was halfway through my work before I realized that I hadn't even thought of it being scary or wondering if I should skip it or if he was going to be bad. I had actually talked myself out of worrying!
Time will tell if this is a real breakthrough, but I'm going to keep up with the positive self-talk until riding without doubts is my regular habit again. Woot!
OK, just for fun, here are some pics for comparison. This first link is from 5.5ish years ago, my first year back to riding. Please don't comment on my bad riding. I was awful and I know it. This is just for reference! http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v7...%20Cedarhaven/
Another way to combat fear, see every "scary" thing as a desensitizing and training opportunity, and I even create some of my own just for this purpose. Because of this, all my horses seem to take new things in stride.
An example, I ride a sensitive TB mare. Her previous owner stopped riding her because she would "awfulize" about all the ways the mare could act up, the mare picked up on this anxiety, and it just wasn't fun for either of them. So the first thing I did with this mare was a lot of ground work with scary objects--tarps, balls, plastic bags, etc. I also do strange things around her, like jumping up and down, jumping jacks, skipping, etc. My whole objective is to get her to the point where she just rolls her eyes and sighs whenever I, or someone else, does something stupid.
Most of this training was for my mare, but it really helped me as well. I knew how she would react, and the more I worked with her, I saw her reactions get smaller and smaller. That, in turn, gave me confidence in her. Now, if a situation arises, such as a few weeks ago when someone brought their toddler to the barn and let her run up and down the barn isle screeching, I was simply annoyed rather than worried about how my mare would react. I'll do anything with my mare, and I expect her to take it in stride, and as a result, she does. The barn owner has even made the comment that she is much calmer now than she was with her former owner.
Congratulations, Jennifer! Your last post sounds as though you're making real progress. I could only access the first pictures you posted, but it sounds like you now have a horse who's much better suited for you. And even though it may be rare, a stallion can be steady enough to help you overcome fears. I'm glad to know you seem to have one.
If you find books helpful, you may want to read some of Jane Savoie. There's another one out called Overcoming the Fear of Riding. I thought that one was absolutely terrific.
wow, jennifer, you did not just "fall off' your first horse 3 times...you glazed over and uncontrollably threw yourself face fiirst to the ground every time you tried to canter, and had no recollection of doing this. the last time you concussed yourself and we wouldn't let you ride her here anymore because you had become a huge liability. you didn't have a clue what you were doing, and it went far beyond being normal inexperienced rider falling off occasionally. i told you then you needed to find 1)a sports psycologist or regular psycologist for that matter,,, and 2)a more appropriate horse as a green broke 14 hand arabian mare couldn't handle your size, let alone your issues with moving at speed... once again, you are going to others to provide you with answers that you don't want to hear or deal with..it has been years, and you have yet to understand that you have to "own" your issues as a rider and take responsability in dealing with them every day you are around a horse....its great that you haven't given up horses..but ...this anxiety you go thru...it isn't a horse issue!
Wow that was really mean-spirited.
I saw the angel in the marble and I set him free. - Michaelangelo
Well, I can say from personal experience, there was a time, after several falls in a row, I was terrified of cantering. The problem was me of course, because I got too stiff while cantering, so if the horse did something unexpected, down i went. Then I started leasing a horse who was infamous for bolting with people and I got over it. Once I learned how to deal with the bolting, I realized I got a lot more relaxed and it allowed my body to adjust to unexpected situations. So, yes, it does get better.
Btw, and i probably just jinxed myself, I've yet to have a fall from my ex bolter.
Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that to be a problem.
Originally Posted by DottieHQ
You're just jealous because you lack my extensive koalafications.
You said you started riding again 6 years ago? Well, six years is about the right time for many riders' fear to creep in: before you didn't know how bad it could be, now you all the sudden realize many bad things can happen, and you have not yet developed skills essential to deal with those bad things.
So, your fear is very normal, and will definitely lessen if you persevere. Others have given your great advice in overcoming it, so I don't repeat them. However, one thing you might want to consider really hard is, your own physical condition: are you a strong and balanced person?
Here is the thing, the stronger and more balanced you are on the ground, the better equipped you are to deal with problems you will encounter on horse back; and the better equipped you are, the less fear you will have. I used to be a very weak person physically, and that means, when the horse shied or bolt, or even stepping unexpectedly to one side, I had no muscle tone to keep me upright in the center of the saddle, and the direct result was falling off. When I finally become stronger, many things that used to rattle me no longer bother me. Why? The body automatically adjusts to unexpected things, all without thinking, - the horse can shy and buck and spook, I can now maintain balance much easier than I used to, and that is the power of overcoming fears.