The Chronicle of the Horse
MagazineNewsHorse SportsHorse CareCOTH StoreVoicesThe Chronicle UntackedDirectoriesMarketplaceDates & Results
 
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 22
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar. 29, 2015
    Posts
    14

    Default Nothing to fear but fear itself - dealing with fear after a riding accident

    *YIKES - SO SORRY FOR THE DOUBLE POST!* (It was a mistake, changed my mind to post in Disabilities forum but didn't realize I'd posted here. I know this is a faux pas, so sorry again! I don't know how to delete a thread)
    First of all, sorry for the extreme length! Being succinct is not my forte. I'm hoping to find encouragement and to be told that developing fear is normal and does not mean the end of one's riding career.

    I've had horses for 20 years, which is almost 2/3 of my life. I've worked as a groom for professionals traveling to shows all over the country, handling stallions in all sorts of environments. I've camped alone in the mountains with my horse and I galloped cross-country bareback in a halter on a regular basis back when my horse was still jumping. I've ridden up & down trails in the Himalayas that would impress a Tevis cup rider. I had my share of falls as a kid & teen (I was an eventer) and never really developed any fear. I backed off of jumping for awhile after I rode an OTTB that would deliberately throw me onto cross-country jumps, but it didn't take long to get confident again once I got a horse who was a point & shoot jumper. I now ride upper level dressage and enjoy working with hot, sensitive horses. I'm older than I once was but I'm not old and while I do have some health problems (chronic diseases & multiple concussions - not horse related) it has only affected my energy level, never my confidence in riding or handling horses.

    Early this year I got kicked rather badly. I was simply walking around a stable yard with a young lady leading a mare behind me, a horse-length's distance away. For no apparent reason the mare spun around 180 degrees and kicked me in the back, throwing me like a ragdoll. Had her hoof landed an inch away it would have been my spine, had she been any closer it would have been my kidney, but I ended up with only a bruised diaphragm and soft tissue injuries. It was the worst injury AND the most unexpected, random one I've had from a horse.
    It took me awhile to be able to go anywhere near a horse's hindquarters, even my own horses', but I mostly got over it. I still get nervous hearing excited or frantic hoofbeats, like a fresh horse being lunged, and I can't easily bring myself to walk behind a horse (even though I've never been kicked that way).

    Fast forward to late this summer when my own horse spooks in the washrack and lands on my foot. I had a few little broken bones and nerve damage. Mid-November and I'm still limping, but not so badly. This was my first ever broken bone, first time using crutches, etc. It didn't affect me psychologically but it was a PIA and a set-back. I continued to ride without stirrups and this did not bother me, even when my horses were high or excited.

    A few weeks ago I was riding an extremely athletic horse without stirrups and he tucked his butt & launched forward. I was thrown neatly onto his neck but being cold-backed this terrified him and he started spinning, causing me to slip. I decided to bail and landed on my back. I had a helmet but I got whiplash and am still, weeks later, somewhat dizzy. He's never done such a thing in the 3 years I've owned him - he's a sensitive horse but is generally very aware of his rider and only does leaps like that on his own time. This was my first fall in 10 years and my first fall as an adult.

    I haven't been on that horse since. He's my own horse, but honestly I'm terrified. My other horse (foot stomper) has been coming back from a suspensory issue so he's also been a bit high - he is usually the easiest horse to handle, great with children, etc but has become full of himself with no turnout and only very controlled exercise. This did not bother me one bit until my fall, but as time goes on it's become a big issue for me. Being slightly dizzy, slightly limping and overprotective of my body I have found myself getting more & more timid.

    My horse has also become progressively more spooky, which is not helping anything. The spooking has escalated to the point where I can't help but predict a blow-up every time he so much as looks at something - and while this may be due to his stall rest (and possible ulcers or declining eyesight - I'm getting him checked out) I'm aware that my fear is making him much more afraid than he would be if I were confident & calm. Last week he was high but very well-behaved about it, but a few days ago he was seeing ghosts everywhere and very suddenly trying to bolt away from them, running backwards and bucking while I was leading him - that day I became afraid of him for the first time in my 12 years of owning him. This is, however, not the first time I've handled a difficult horse so I was astonished to find that I was so beside myself. Today he was quite calm but I was so scared that all I could imagine was him spooking, knocking me over and kicking me in the head. Neither he nor any other horse has ever done this to me, but I ended up walking him with an iron grip on the lead rope and nearly jumping out of my skin every time he so much as looked at something. I handed him off to my non-horsey husband and he walked around like he was an old nose-to-tail trail horse. Even thinking of going on a trail ride or leading a horse makes me incredibly nervous - I can picture myself hanging onto the horn of a western saddle like a first-time rider on an old trail horse.

    I'm aware that my horse has issues that need addressing (and I'm working on that, having a vet out, etc) but my fear is what I'm writing about - I'm beyond embarrassed and it's just not something I've ever experienced. It's also not helping my horses. A friend tried to reassure me that even professionals can become fearful after accidents. Please, friends, tell me that you have been through this and that it got better; that you didn't suddenly become a complete wimp for the rest of your days and have to switch over to riding only 30-year old school horses and therapy ponies.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb. 1, 2008
    Location
    Nowhere, Maryland
    Posts
    5,671

    Default

    If you're still having physical symptoms several weeks later, you need to go to a doctor and get checked out.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 29, 2015
    Posts
    14

    Default

    Thank you. I made a doctor's appointment last week when it felt like I was spinning in circles just lying down, but I was starting to feel better so I cancelled it. I realize I should probably just go at this point. If it were someone else I'd have given the same advice.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 13, 2014
    Posts
    1,425

    Default

    So, three injuries this year and some really antsy behavior from the recovering horse who is coming off stall rest. I don't think it is at all irrational to be feeling apprehensive. Do you read Denny Emerson's posts on Facebook? They are under Tamarack Hill Farm. He is a lifetime eventer. A few years ago he had a really serious injury and he writes very well about how it can/should affect a rider to be hurt, and how to come back. It isn't to keep doing things the same way and bluff it through or white-knuckle it. It's to find your comfort level and build back slowly, and acknowledge that being young and fearless is probably behind you forever, for good reason.

    If I were you I'd ditch the no-stirrups riding and seek out very quiet safe activities to get your wah back. It sounds like your yard is quite active. Pick the quietest times to be there. Let your injured horse slowly find his way back to calm as he resumes turnout and a normal day with friends. Give it a lot of time and give yourself a lot of credit for every minute of quiet interaction with your horses.

    Then assess every 90 days, just as if you were a young horse in training. What's going well; what's making you feel better; what would you like to be doing that you aren't doing yet. Break it down. Select out what you love and postpone the rest for now. No one is judging you and if they are, to heck with them!


    5 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar. 25, 2015
    Posts
    96

    Default

    Yes, I've had to overcome big fear from an accident. When I was young at a camp, my hired horse bolted in an open field with me and I eventually came off and snapped my femur in two. After 2 surgeries, I was terrified of going fast - to the extent that I would insist on collected in any pace, even with the calmest horses. It did take a long time to get over it, and a great instructor, coupled with some trying rides. I didn't actually see how far I had progressed until I was riding a very sensitive gelding at a night show for a client and he bolted into the darkness with me. I clearly remember running in the pitch darkness with a barb wire fence next to us, a bucking, trembling horse underneath me, when I realised I wasn't afraid. (Neither of us came to any harm that night btw - I managed to stop him and walk calmly back.)

    I also got kicked badly this February, right on the side of my ribcage. Definitely had some cracked ribs, and tore the cartilage between my breastbone and my ribcage. I have also been dealing with some particularly um athletic OTTB's in our retraining program. I now have a lovely calm TB but I still find myself flinching when his legs swing too close or when he starts at something in the arena. Its getting better though.

    It takes time. Don't overface yourself now - it'll only make your fear worse. Do things that you can handle and slowly, but surely you will be able to handle more. And one day, you will realise that the fear that crippled you, isn't a big deal to you any more.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr. 18, 2010
    Posts
    4,787

    Default

    wow what a horrible year you've had! First of all, there is nothing wrong and everything right with getting some help, and allowing yourself time to heal. Imo you will get over your fear, but you may have to change some things in your life or horse keeping.

    First, for right now, stop riding. Get a physical exam re address why dizzy. You might have a mild concussion or skull fracture and need time to heal. Hire a trainer to ride your horses or turn them out to pasture for a few months, and then when you bring them back, hire a trainer to help you . Even though you are pro level yourself, why not do that why endanger yourself.

    Future: You can make some changes to make things safer. For example, you could ride with a safety vest and even groom and lead with one on. You can revisit your protocols re we can get in to careless habits...leading a mare behind you a horse distance away is like leading a dog on a retractable leash (I hate retractable leashes)...as you know best to lead walking by horses side near their muzzle never let them get behind you.

    I boarded for a short time with a cowboy he know a lot...he had a great saying...your eye on their eye. In other words, never be where you cant see your horse, except for those brief moments you must go behind them and then speak a few words or pat them to let them know where you are. I owned a stallion once and though he was nice he could nip and I learned to walk backward out of a horses stall which I do to this day. That way you are not turning your back on them as you leave and close the door. I also walk backward if turning a horse out so I can see them until I have closed the gate. Little things like that can make a big difference and become second nature.

    Instead of trying to wish away fear, take concrete steps of making some changes and that is what will reduce the fear, that and time.

    There are control halters available as well and your horses may need some ground work/manners training which you can do or get someone in to do it. I am sure hiring people to work with your horses goes against your nature but this is your life, confidence and safety on the line.

    As a bit of time goes by evaluate if these are the horses for you, if you want to keep both or just one or trade to a talented but quieter type.

    I had a crappy year about 7 years ago. I am an ammie not a particularity good rider but not terrible, and had ridden as a teen/kid in my twenties etc, and never gotten hurt even if fell. Fast forward to years away , I half leased a horse in my forties, then decided to own again. Bought a very green, lovely, but spook and bolt 4 year old (DOH, right). He dumped me in injury falls twice, a year apart...first broken pelvis, that healed rode again, then 5 months later dumped with broken ribs. Needless to say I was filled with fear and every ride was torment. On the ground he was unpredictable, could rear sky high and once in a round pen free lunging he galloped straight at me and I jumped out of his way . FINALLY I sold him (to a professional trainer with full disclosure). When he wasn't acting out he was the sweetest thing on hooves but I could never trust him . Forward a few months later, on impulse, after swearing off horse ownership, I bought a green but 12 year old horse, smaller, slower, has some talent, less athletic than the other one but I love riding again and am not afraid.

    Being older now I work on off horse fitness yoga, etc. It helps a lot me be a better rider and with confidence.

    Don't rush yourself, take things slow, evaluate everything and you will work through this and eventually get over the fear but it won;t be immediate. You can't will fear away, you have to work through it and address the issues causing it as well. Best of luck you can and will do it! Be nice to yourself.
    Last edited by Countrywood; Nov. 19, 2015 at 06:32 AM.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar. 29, 2015
    Posts
    14

    Default

    This is all excellent and very helpful - thank you. I want to clarify a few points that I probably wasn't super clear on since they've been addressed in answers.

    When I was kicked I was not leading the horse. It was a barn I was visiting and it was someone else's horse being lead, quite far behind me (the handler had actually asked me to open a gate for her so we were walking together, but not closely). A complete and utter freak accident. You'd never expect to get kicked like that. I found out later that the mare had a history of attacking people. I never went back to that barn - it wasn't run safely.

    I am mindful when handling and riding, safety always being first, especially lately. I do have my stirrups back now and I was only walking in the arena when that leap occurred. However, that day was busier than usual and there was some booming bass from Dia de los Muertes festivities in the far distance - lesson learned. I've done more than my share of stupid things but that was not what caused me to become injured and that's almost more scary - because I feel like there wasn't anything I could have done to prevent it.

    Also, my horses are quite safe, lovely, very sweet semi-retired horses. This isn't their fault. If they were truly unpredictable or hot-tempered I'd have sold them long ago - I don't need that. One of them, now 17, carried an 85-year old around regularly when he was 5-6 years old. He's fabulous, but it's been windy and he's been stall-bound and I'm beginning to think he's developing vision problems ("seeing ghosts" and all - he was my favorite, bravest trail horse who would walk up to anything he was afraid of and suddenly he's rearing & shying when he sees a cow in the distance). In general they have excellent ground manners and before I hurt my foot I did a lot of work in hand with them - as I said my husband can lead them around easily, although I do have to re-school them if he handles them too often since they can get a little naughty (grab bites of grass or leaves off trees, etc). My husband was caring for one of them almost entirely on his own when my foot was broken so I'm currently trying to remind him of his ground manners. The other horse needs to be reminded of what lunging is. This is all hard to do when you're dizzy and slightly limping but I'm trying my best. How I wish I could just hand it off to someone else and trust they'd do it right! (I promise I don't have control issues, just that there are not many trainers around here that are any good).
    They're mine for keeps, whether I like it or not (fortunately I happen to like it). When I can afford it I'll get another horse that I can keep riding at the levels I want to ride at, and rest assured he'll be calm and easy to handle but I don't want him to be boring.

    Our barn is very quiet, but there is one rather animated horse that I tend to avoid working around. These "jumpy" reactions are very unlike my horses. One is in a pasture and can stay there for the most part (aside from grooming & shoeing). The other needs to get out daily since he's in a stall-paddock. There is no turnout at our barn, although I'm on the waiting list for a larger paddock, and it's the only nice place in the area that doesn't require a training program. I actually looked for a nice retirement/vacation/lay-up place to keep them earlier this year for a few months so I could take a job that required a bit of travel, but since I couldn't find anything that was taking new clients I had to turn down the job. I'm on the wait list for a place but it could be years. Also if it's just a temporary vacation for the horses I'm concerned I'd lose my spot at my boarding barn. My wonderful barn owner actually set up a temporary pipe corral for turnout for me but it was somewhat isolated with only one horse next to him - my very herd-bound horse was quiet until I walked out of sight. He then went into a screaming panic and that set us back quite a bit in our rehab program. So no turnout for him without lots of buddies nearby and that's not going to happen unless someone vacates a large permanent paddock.

    After I broke my foot I had a trainer long line and lunge the stall-kept horse but she had him working in a manner that was hurting him and she was unwilling to recognize that. This horse is very difficult to keep sound & happy and I've put intensive efforts, training and care into making him sounder than he was when I bought him 12 years ago. Every time I've let someone else work him I've felt terrible and regretted it. The only trainer I trust with him in the area is my own trainer, but she's an hour away and only comes by every couple weeks. That said, there is one young trainer at our barn who I would trust to hand-walk him for me. I used to let him relax in one of the arenas but my vet told me not to let him run at liberty, not even to canter under saddle for now. I would really love to be able to take just one day out of the week to not have to drive an hour round trip and get my horse out. So as you can see I'm between a rock and hard place.

    It is not my horses' fault I'm afraid. Really. My husband can handle them and while they love him his skills are only basic. If I'm afraid of them I'm afraid of all horses that aren't plodding school ponies. Keep in mind just one year ago I was handling stallions I never met in a busy national show environment while managing a tough chronic illness. I had to quit grooming, though, at the end of the year since I couldn't keep up the pace anymore, but I never lost confidence until my injuries.

    It is so helpful to hear others' experiences. Thanks again to those who've replied so far.
    Last edited by alter-real; Nov. 19, 2015 at 10:43 AM.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar. 29, 2015
    Posts
    14

    Default

    Also, I agree that once I'm a bit steadier (no more vertigo) I should find a very solid, quiet, boring horse to ride a few times. I realize that every time I face an untoward circumstance (spooky horse, etc) I'm rewiring my brain to be afraid. I need to create positive experiences. When I was a teenager our barn had just the horse for that - an Irish-import Gypsy tinker. He was a giant couch with lots of mane to hold onto and a frustratingly slow gait. He'd be perfect right about now!



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov. 4, 2003
    Location
    Douglasville, Georgia
    Posts
    17,371

    Default

    Alas, as we age, our self-preservation level is much higher. You've had a series of falls, injuries, etc. and what you're experiencing is TOTALLY normal.

    A) Listen to the others and get thee to the doctor for the total once over.

    B) Give yourself time. Lots of it. There is NO ONE holding you up to some standard. There are no judges lurking behind corners.

    C) Seek professional help. Not saying you need weeks on the couch, but just someone outside the industry that you can talk this stuff out with and get some guidance as you process it all. It's a lot to process and there's no hurry!

    <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov. 5, 2002
    Location
    way out west
    Posts
    3,527

    Default

    I came off my horse while jumping, and broke my shoulder blade in half. Yes, it was painful! The worst part was that I couldn't get right back on, and in the ensuing weeks I found myself getting afraid to ride again. I had to sleep sitting in a chair for six weeks. During that time I'd get sweaty palms just thinking about riding, and all the things that could go wrong.

    When I finally could go out to the barn again, I spent a lot of time just hanging out with my horse. I knew it wasn't his fault I came off, which helped a lot. And when I eventually rode him, I just walked around for days, with a little bit of trotting. Time took care of it, to be honest.

    This was 22 years ago. A little fear is natural, and even good, I think. It keeps us from getting too casual with the horses we trust. That saying that "it's the good one who will hurt you" is definitely true for me.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug. 30, 2013
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    1,706

    Default

    I agree with first getting checked out and ensure you are appropriately diagnosed. FOLLOW the orders given by the doctor.

    I also feel that it would make sense not to ride until you are feeling 100%, so that you can feel safe and secure in the saddle again. If you are compensating due to an injury you are not going to be able to react as effectively if things get hairy.

    Get a friend or trainer to ride them to keep them in shape and schooled so that you feel confident getting on them when you do again. When you do start again, go slow. It's not a competition. If a walking hack is all you feel safe doing, then that is what you do. I think Countrywood's suggestion of a vest is a good one, and of course a good helmet. Making yourself feel safe will assist with the confidence.

    I haven't had an accute issue that has instilled fear, but as I get older I find I am more aware of the possible repercussions of a bad fall or injury. I have people who rely on me, bills to pay, a job to do. So I find I am more cautious. I ride a really sane little guy, but there are days he can be a bit of a dimwit and those are the days I quite while I am ahead. No shame in that.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun. 14, 2006
    Location
    MI
    Posts
    12,710

    Default

    Great advice thus far.

    When I Barbaro'd my arm back in 2007, I was on a horse that wasn't mine. I had just jumped a course, had a lovely ride, was doing a bit of a courtesy circle and he tripped. I bailed because I thought he was going down and over and I didn't want a crushed pelvis. Well, I was out in a big field so I held onto the reins. I was LAUGHING as I bailed. Big huge smile on my face, all tucked and ready to roll. But he recovered and as such, the rein yanked my arm out and when I landed on it, there was a sickening crunch.

    I was terrified to ride my "athletic" mare after that. And it wasn't even her that I got hurt on. But that sense of self preservation is STRONG when you're an adult and have been injured and see all that entails. It wasn't until this year that I threw a leg over another horse that wasn't mine and I wasn't real hip to the idea.

    Were I in your shoes, I'd try to find a steady eddy horse to start back on while you regain your fitness and confidence. And I'd try to find a friend or trainer to work with your horse after his health issues are addressed. Because you're right, you're probably not helping HIS confidence if you're being a nervous/timid rider right now. And you don't necessarily have the balance, strength, or sticky seat to ride through some of the stuff he might need to be ridden through.

    Bottom line though, don't be so hard on yourself. You're not a failure. You're not done with horses. Your horses aren't going to be relegated to pasture puffs whilst you take up mall walking as your new, safer, hobby. Horse related injuries aren't a matter of if but when. Eventually it happens. My first big accident happened when I was nearly 30 years old and I'd been riding (and doing really stupid, dangerous things) since I was a wee one.

    Be kind to yourself and your horse(s).
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


    4 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct. 9, 2000
    Location
    Oregon, sitting on my couch looking out the window at a mountain
    Posts
    10,541

    Default

    I have dealt off and on with a lot of fear over the years with various accidents and falls, so let me tell you it CAN get better, you can get your confidence back, and you can return to your level of riding. BUT. It takes time. It will not happen overnight, and it might even take a year or so. I'm in my mid-40s now and have more confidence as a rider and handler than I've ever had, so it is possible.

    When I came back to riding in my 20s, after taking my college years off, I bought a very unsuitable horse who dumped me all.the.time. First it got to the point where I wouldn't jump him anymore. Then I wouldn't canter. Then I wouldn't ride in a group. Then I wouldn't even trot. Then just riding at a walk in a circle scared the bejesus out of me. I sold him when he dumped my trainer, too.

    Fast forward to my next horse. While I was nervous and I carried that residual fear, having him slowly allowed me to get my confidence back to the point where I'd ride out of the arena for a short cool-down walk, then I'd take him for trail rides around the property, then I'd cross a street and explore other streets around town.

    Eventually I moved to the country and brought my horses home and decided to try eventing. Got a horse (my current TB, Paddy) who was great fun, but quite the handful when schooling with other horses in that he'd generally leap about and have ants in his pants the whole time, but we'd hack out and gallop down the trails and have a grand time. Sometimes I was scared, but not really fearful.

    Eventually I ended up with my mustang because I wanted a project. He had been started by a guy who used him as a pack horse on hunting trips but otherwise didn't know much about being ridden so was very green. I remember once after hand walking him and him pawing and snorting and leaping around I thought I should get rid of him, that there's no way I could work with him. But I kept at it. He was mostly good until he wasn't. One day at a horse trials - the weekend after a dressage schooling show where he had been perfect, and at a place where he'd been a few times before - he dumped me. BIG TIME. I knew something bad was coming and I just wanted him to stand still, to stop his feet for two seconds so I could get off. And he couldn't do it and exploded and I went flying through the air and landed on my back. It was the first time I had come off where I didn't jump up and say "I'm okay!" But I couldn't not get back on. I couldn't have in my head the knowledge that he had such a huge explosion in him. So I got back on and rode him all over for another hour and got off and was in so much pain. I could barely walk. The next day I did my dressage test and every move he made I was scared to death. Then after that we had a stadium round which was horrible but I got through it. When I got off I decided I had had enough and didn't want to tempt fate and do XC with the possibility of something else happening, so I packed up and went home. Mr. PoPo came out to drive the horse trailer home and I drove the car and cried the whole way home (and I am NOT a crier!). Got in the shower and cried some more.

    Since I keep my horses at home, I had to work through this on my own. I had a dressage trainer I was working with, but realized that I needed more. What she had us doing wasn't enough (and I don't think she really liked him anyway).

    I ended up focusing a lot on ground work and got the 7 Clinics DVDs. It really helped me to have something to focus on other than riding and it gave me a new way of working with my horse that I didn't know about before. It was hard, he is a dominant sort of horse and I had to put any emotions aside and work with what I had and try to make him better. And I did. I rode in two Buck Brannaman clinics (riding in groups REALLY scared me because that's the type of situation that bothered him so much in the dumping incident) with 30 or so other horses and we survived and actually more than survived and did really well.

    Looking back on it, while it hurt me physically and really scared me emotionally, that fall was a blessing in disguise. It forced me to go out of my comfort zone of the h/j and dressage training I had done and find new tools for working with a difficult horse. He's come a really long way and now I'll even let Mr. PoPo ride him. I've ridden him in clinics, we go trail riding a lot, I can trailer him wherever and do whatever with him. I've ridden him nekkid (him, not me), save for a neck strap, I've done some cow work with him, ridden with a flag, dragged stuff, done CTR, used him to pony my pony off of, walked over tarps, jumped over ditches, etc. We have a really strong bond.

    So that is my very long story to say it is possible to work through it. Throughout it all I've always done yoga, and I credit yoga and meditation for helping me get through my first serious bout of fear. I would use breathing exercises and mantras before I rode to help me calm myself and get into a zone. Then I wouldn't talk to anybody - a lot of people have nervous energy which I don't want in my space.

    You might try to find out also if anything has changed in your horses' management that is making them more nervous. A new neighbor, new feed, different management, new groom or handler or ???

    Good luck to you. I know the experience of fear, and I also know that you can get through it. Don't do more than you can confidently do. If that's just feeding your horse, then so be it. If that's grooming or petting him across a fence in turnout, whatever. Don't think that because you were accomplished "before" that you have to immediately return to the same level of work. Do what you can do until you are bored and blue in the face, then try just one more thing but no more. Don't rush yourself, that will be the quickest way to overload your system and not be able to work through it. Have patience and you will get there.
    My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


    3 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug. 22, 2012
    Posts
    200

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by thoroughbred21 View Post
    So, three injuries this year and some really antsy behavior from the recovering horse who is coming off stall rest. I don't think it is at all irrational to be feeling apprehensive. Do you read Denny Emerson's posts on Facebook? They are under Tamarack Hill Farm. He is a lifetime eventer. A few years ago he had a really serious injury and he writes very well about how it can/should affect a rider to be hurt, and how to come back. It isn't to keep doing things the same way and bluff it through or white-knuckle it. It's to find your comfort level and build back slowly, and acknowledge that being young and fearless is probably behind you forever, for good reason.

    If I were you I'd ditch the no-stirrups riding and seek out very quiet safe activities to get your wah back. It sounds like your yard is quite active. Pick the quietest times to be there. Let your injured horse slowly find his way back to calm as he resumes turnout and a normal day with friends. Give it a lot of time and give yourself a lot of credit for every minute of quiet interaction with your horses.

    Then assess every 90 days, just as if you were a young horse in training. What's going well; what's making you feel better; what would you like to be doing that you aren't doing yet. Break it down. Select out what you love and postpone the rest for now. No one is judging you and if they are, to heck with them!
    I had about the same injury as Denny, within about a week of when he did. Still have the same horse today. I still get nervous at times, but try to ride smarter, and not let horse know if I am nervous. If I am we just don't work on anything complicated that day. At first I was terrified to get on his back, and some days would just walk a bit and get off. You just build up on what you can do. It takes time, but gets better. There really is no rush. Just go out and keep at it.
    This may seem really odd, but one of the things that helped was coming off the horse after I recovered from the broken neck. I made me realize that I was probably not going to get hurt like that with every fall and chances are I would come off again. It gave me some of my old courage back. I have come off him a couple of times since then and been just fine, other than being sore for a few days. I guess I just figure the fun of riding is worth the risk, but don't we all figure that anyway?
    If there are days you don't feel up to riding, don't. But at least get out there and do something, groom, longe, or just give him some treats, etc...
    PM me if you think it would help


    2 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov. 2, 2006
    Posts
    2,505

    Default

    I am going to do what I hate, and respond without reading the other posts, b/c people have really had a lot to say! So, I think you should work on your own physical strength for a bit, specifically balance and core strength. Perhaps some PT? You have been through a lot physically - and I think combined with having your confidence shattered is a bad combo. So when you feel strong and solid, you will be ready to ride again, and take what comes at you.

    I had a bad fall when I was 12. It didn't bother me until I was 18- when I started having panic attacks riding, to the point that I would actually almost pass out. Yikes.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan. 23, 2000
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    1,957

    Default

    I used Jo Cooper to help me over the phone. http://www.equestrianconfidence.com/about.html Made the difference between not being able to ride without crying, and having fun! Years later I was started on low dose beta blockers and one beneficial effect seems to be that after falls, I am not overly frightened to get back on.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct. 16, 2015
    Posts
    55

    Default

    About 15 years ago I had a bad fall where I thought I had broken my neck. I hadn't, and I recovered fine, but it took me a LONG time to get over that. For some years after that I often rode with fear in the pit of my stomach. As you might imagine, I was unable to effectively break and train young horses any longer. I could no longer be the calm and cool rider shepherding them through the little anxieties of a windy day or a barking dog.

    Ultimately I had to accept the cards I had been dealt. I was unwilling to stop riding, so I bought a QH and switched gears. I hired a rider to help me with the breaking and training, and who I could call on to ride anything fresh or difficult. I bought a protective vest, which made me feel more safe, and which I often wear to this day. I bought an extra longeline and longe whip, which I used whenever I was uncertain of a horse's mindset. I also developed a wonderful appreciation of well behaved horses. Little by little, my fear dissipated. I'll never be the fearless rider I used to be, and I accept that. But I foxhunt and show in the h/j world and I'm quite happy.

    The key to my recovery was riding solid, well behaved horses and having fun on them to the point where I wasn't thinking about the "what ifs." The first time I fell off again after that fall I was terrified that I would relapse. Instead, having a minor fall reinforced to me that falling really isn't usually that big of a deal.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan. 7, 2011
    Posts
    32

    Default yep. been there, still there

    I've been riding for at least 45 yrs. Last January my horse spooked when I was bringing him into the barn aisle. Long story short, broken humerus, that still ain't right, probably never will be. I'm still riding after being out of commission for like ever, but now handling him on the ground really terrifies me. Sometimes I just let him bring himself because that accident still gives me nightmares. Riding makes me nervous mostly because I know that physically I never want a wreck like that again. I find myself hanging onto the horn, something I never did. I tell myself that I am almost 60 years old, and maybe I have to admit that I will eventually scale back to just admiring the fine creation called Horse. I'm not physically ready to hang up the tack. Hugs to you and hope you can work thru it. I guess we just keep at it rather than surrender to our fears. It is so hard though


    1 members found this post helpful.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb. 25, 2012
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    3,395

    Default

    So sorry you had this happen, OP. Me too and it was not fun! I went off one of my guys hard - had thirty stitches over my eye, you could see the optic nerve. I went home, saddled him up and got on, and realized I was very, very scared. It was like I was hollow, just nothing. Could NOT get on him again and hated it.

    Then he kicked me (he was aiming at another horse and I was not paying attention) and broke two ribs. So, I decided to give him to nice friends who packed a lot, but they couldn't come get him. they never did! So...I looked out the window at him and figured something had to be done.

    I did two things that really helped. One was, a s others have noted, riding the steady eddys, really getting my confidence back. And that very much worked. Rode our two other Good Horses. Went to a friend's ranch and rode their nice geldings that that helped. And I enjoyed it very much! I could still love riding, could still get to an open field or long stretch of plains and let 'er rip! But yes, riding the steady eddys, getting confidence-no shame, telling people what happened- so many have been through it!

    The other thing was I started using the horse that dumped me as a pack horse. So I was doing stuff with him and dragging him along on every ride we went on, as I figured he wasnt' learning in anything standing in the pasture. If I had to do it again, I would even just pony him along on all the rides. The packing helped because he had to think about it. I mantied up hay bales and loud silverware and whatever else for him to tote around.

    And then, one very hot afternoon after we had had him on a ride with us, my DH swung a leg over him and he was perfect. So of course, I did too and I will never forget the joy of looking out between his ears again, of taking him around that parking lot - my boy! my boy! And we did have several more great rides together. It was not quite like before but I felt I could ride him.

    he now has feet issues and will never be ridden again, so I am so grateful that we have those good memories (and plenty before The Accident as well!)

    I bought another horse since then who was a lot like him (RIP Harley). And it felt very good. I was confident, even though he could be spooky. So, all the steady eddying and confidence building really helped. Self preservation indeed! But no need to give up completely!

    Good luck to you!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar. 29, 2015
    Posts
    14

    Default

    Thank you all! Yesterday it was sunny and in the mid-70s so my horses were calm as can be. I took both horses for short walks but asked my husband to walk them near places that I know are "scary" (even though I used to jump this horse into shadows on cross-country, I'll accept that I'm doing this). I lunged my rehab horse and he did not, in fact, have a fit - he was almost too slow because of my trepidation. I also held a friend's sedated stallion for the vet and doing that gave me confidence as well. Getting more fit outside of riding is a great idea - I lost condition with all that time off with a broken foot and the weakness isn't helping. Very good point! One more idea a friend gave me was to borrow a more secure saddle, if only for the psychological effect. My saddle is very roomy and doesn't in any way hold the rider in place so a western or Portuguese saddle may be in order to help me gain confidence.
    I'll just take it slow from here and certainly look into possible medical explanations for my protectiveness. Thank you all again for your kind responses.



Similar Threads

  1. Nothing to fear but fear itself - dealing with fear after a riding accident
    By alter-real in forum Equestrians with Disabilities
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: Feb. 18, 2016, 09:50 PM
  2. Replies: 17
    Last Post: Dec. 15, 2015, 10:50 AM
  3. Replies: 61
    Last Post: Nov. 27, 2013, 12:57 AM
  4. Replies: 28
    Last Post: Nov. 25, 2010, 08:06 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
randomness