Yes, we change, physically and mentally. Our goals become different. In the past, I loved competing, now, not so much, so I just don't do it anymore. I just ride my horse whenever I feel like it. Thankfully she is now well past the stage when if I didn't ride her regularly she'd be wild the next time I rode. Now, I can just pull her out of her paddock and have a good time.
There was only one time when I felt I needed help with her. We were not making any progress anymore and I was starting to be uncomfortable jumping her. So, we both went to dressage boot camp for a couple month, at a local indoor. Having regular lessons made a world of difference.
In a nutshell - you don't HAVE to ride. You don't HAVE to be fearful. If you don't want to tackle and control your fear of riding, you don't have to! You can just be with horses and enjoy them from the ground.
Just find what you enjoy, and do it!
I'm 43, have one young child at home and my horse was laid up for 3 years. So I'm in the fearful zone as well, but I've never experienced shaking hands. I found it helpful to recognize that I was afraid and then tell people (like my riding inst) about my fear. Next was some internet searching on the topic of fear (not very helpful) and I agree that b/c of your physical manifestation you would do well to see a qualified specialist and talk to them. But the big no brainer was the realization that I am Totally and Completely Out Of Shape. Holy cow I had no idea until I bought a yoga ball and a very simple basic and easy exercise dvd..... after that I realized that my lack of fitness and muscle tone probably adds to my fears in the saddle.
I had a student with similar fear issues, and find it interesting that she would also be one who said something like "my horses do X because they're happy, not because they are trained to". I don't know if it means one is overlooking One's role in the horse's behavior or what....
I found it helpful to recognize that I was afraid and then tell people (like my riding inst) about my fear.
I agree. The times I've been really rattled, it has been very liberating and "de-fusing", if you will, to just say out loud "I'm scared to death right now" and in each case the instructor I was with has dialed down the exercise or had me done something different. When this has happened out solo, it is not pleasant. So just articulating this simple thing to someone else who's in a position to help us in any way is very helpful IME.
I am your age, with a young child, and also a re-rider. While this may not be the case with you, some of the best advice I ever received was: "buy a horse for the rider you are now, not the rider you once were."
A few years ago, I bought a hot young horse that truthfully only my trainer could ride. I wanted to get back into hunters but found that all of my mojo was just gone. I sold him and took a break from riding to figure out what I wanted. I decided that I liked trail riding, hunter paces, and a dead quiet horse that I could trust. So that's what I bought. And riding is fun again.
Absolutely ^ this! The last thing I did was hunt my old 3rd Level mare in 2004-2005. She was then retired and maintained for 5 years. I LOVED taking care of the horses but didn't have anything to ride and all the $$ went to maintaining the old girl's comfort. She left us over a year ago and I've been toying with what to get. I do have a sense of fear about certain things...I can't define it but I think the quote above sums it up. I think maybe it's a trust issue...I know I am physically compromised b/c I'm not riding fit but the only thing to do to get riding fit is to ride...which I can't do if I can't trust the critter I'm on.
I've got a giant mare in the barn right now that arrived b/c of a friend in need (divorce issues). When I went to ride her for the first time yesterday, I was really worried - which was so irrational b/c the mare is solid & steady. All I could do was just get on. I think this mare is going to stay forever. It's been great to have no pressure to buy her; try her, connect w/her, etc. Turns out she's sort of the perfect fit for me in a bunch of ways...serendipitous. She's not what I would've chosen for myself 20 years ago - not b/c she's not nice...oh, she is - but mainly b/c I tended to end up with hot and quirky. I'm too old for hot & quirky.
Good luck to you! My short ride yesterday was amazing...and worry free after that first 20m circle. I wish that kind of ride for all us re-riders!!
Fine I give up, do it your way: heels up, eyes down!!
To answer your title question, you fit right here with the rest of us!
I am more cautious after having kids, for sure. For my next prospect, I bought a young Appendix quarter horse that, while young, is far more of a puppy dog than I would ever have considered ten years ago. At this point in my life I kind of like horses I would have found boring as a teen. I am sending him off for someone else to start, despite the fact I am 99% sure he will sigh and walk off calmly when I get on for the first time. It is so nice to have a horse that says "okay, sure" instead of "OMG NO!!". So different than my last few horses. He is maybe not grand prix material, but neither am I any more. I will be happy at 3'6.
I addition to the therapy/medical help, You need a horse you can trust, and a trainer that understands and works with people with fear issues and is willing to work with you to help implement the suggestions you get from your med team. Work together to develop feasible goals...not your childhood dream goals necessarily. And start to have fun again!
To answer your title question, you fit right here with the rest of us!
I'm 31 but with two young kids I find I'm more cautious. I don't have anxiety, but I do think twice before doing things that I used to not even blink at.
There are days I just don't feel like riding-- so I don't. Maybe my horse has the crazy eye going on, or it's 40 mph winds and she hasn't been turned out yet, there's no one else on the property, or I'm just plain tired.
When I became more *sensible* I was a little self-conscious about it. Like, OMG, everyone will think I'm a weenie! But the bottom line is, there's nothing to prove anymore. And at this stage of my life, I get something different out of my horse than I did at 20 or even 25.
The best thing I've done is move my horse to a barn with a legit professional. I feel like I have back-up. I can put her in training for a month, have lessons available, and plenty of college kids looking for saddle time. It has taken a lot of the pressure off to keep her going myself.
I say just enjoy your horses, in whatever capacity you desire. There's no right or wrong. Do what you're comfortable with.
We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.
All great advice above. You just need to sift through what will work for you and what you REALLY want to do.
I went through this a few years ago. I love my horses, love watching them compete, love grooming at shows, love the care and the training process (from the ground). I made a decision a few years ago to stop riding. I don't like it, I don't feel safe and that just isn't going to change. Makes no difference what is under me. Breyer horse or fire breathing dragon. I know that I am going to die or be hideously disfigured. At any moment.
I really liked Wildlifer's comment that there is no one way to have a horse in your life. I found my niche as an owner of an upper level horse who is currently giving a young up and comer a chance to be out there on the national scene. In addition, I got offered a throwaway broken down sad excuse for a welsh pony gelding 3 and a half years ago. I love fixing things, he needed fixing, and he was a combined driving pony to boot. We finished our second full year of competition last November, with top four finishes in 10 out of 12 CDEs. Despite all appearances, I find something very safe and secure in sitting in a carriage behind them.
Don't sweat the small stuff. Life is just too short NOT to be having fun with what you do.
You say it isn't fear of falling--is it performance anxiety?
That's what I feel more as I age--more drive to do it perfectly, to do right by my super, super lovely young horse. Two years into owning him, I'm more casual...maybe it is a new horse thing? I found starting over w/ a new horse to be tough, but the partnership is really blossoming now. Perhaps just give yourself some time to bond/trust this new horse? I felt a lot more at ease after I fell off him the first time!! Lessoning and pushing my boundaries helped me trust him/myself faster. Give it time and really work on getting to know and understand your new horse's personality.
I have a great new horse, he's in training nearby, and enjoying it... But I am a 45 year old re-rider with two young kids, and my skills have gone to pot.
I'm not a good enough rider to get the new guy along (why he's in training), but I love horses... I hope to hunt him this year. He'll do well, he's a good boy. But at what point do I realize that I like horses as company vs. performance companions, and should I?
It hit me tonight, as I was walking to the barn to feed my three retirees/rescues, that I really enjoy the smell of the barn and the company of my horses even though I don't ride most of them. They're all good horses. They all ground tie for the farrier/blanketing/anything -2 OTTB's and a 2000lb, slaughter-saved, abused Belgian - not out of training, but because they're happy.
But I get nervous every time I go to ride, even though my beautiful new boy is so good...(I got nervous with my now retired mare, too, but she was wicked hot). I'm not afraid of falling off, I don't know what it is that I'm so afraid of. I start tacking up, and I'm shaking. I still ride...but should I?
Has anyone else experienced or gotten through this? What do you do to remember the fearlessness you had, when you rode as a kid? This isn't a horse problem, it's a me problem. I grew up riding OTTB's (mostly bareback), and had great fun. This started just after I had my daughter - is this a "I have kids now" thing? Any input would be great.
confused by this thread as I know you... ????
~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan
3 years ago I had a very serious accident on my horse that resulted in a broken neck (3 fractures to the C2, hairline fractures to the C1 and C3)...post miracle recovery, we had my horse fitted for a saddle that ultimately almost lamed him, but in the 9 months I was supposed to be "coming back" from the seriouly broken neck, every single time he was ridden in the saddle, he protested the horrible pain by bucking and bolting and I went through even more trauma, resulting in panic every time ears go up and back tenses and new places - NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! because that = TERROR.
Long story short, almost sold the very talented horse, but love won out, got him in the right saddles and am riding him again...but emotionally have to take it very, very slowly. Happily I have Mary Bess Sigman Davis helping me and while she takes it ever so slowly, cm by cm forward, everything within those cm must be ridden well, over and over...oh yeah, long story short = my confidence is returning, my shaking is a thing of the past, and while the spectres of horror will likely never go away, never will the need to ride and be happy with my horse...ONWARD!!!!
~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan
You have received great advice on this thread. I have had similar fears and issues. One thing that helped me was 2 books by Janie Savoy: It's not about the ribbons and That Winning Feeling. They were instrumental in harnessing my fear and negative thoughts!
"I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way."
There are more of us out here than you know! I'm 50-ish, took ten of the past fifteen years off to get kids through high school, college, sports, and re-establishing my professional career.
Here's what I finally figured out: It's my hobby and I get to do it the way I want. I don't really care about competing anymore. I have two OTTB's that I enjoy. We do some local shows/derbies and school XC and that is it, and I'm fine with it. I used to take on the horses no one else would ride, and I've discovered (the hard, painful way) that I don't have the seat/legs/reflexes that I did when i was 16/25/35 to take on that kind of ride.
We've all been there! Having kids absolutely changes things, and it is ok not to take risks like you used to. Go back to the beginning -for me, it has been a great opportunity to fix some lifelong bad habits. If you decide that owning horses is enough and riding is not necessary, well, that is ok too.
I'm in the same boat, closer to 40 than 30 with a toddler, and fighting with fear. Now to be fair, I always battled anxiety, but these days I' have new fears that never bothered me when I was younger.
Add to this that when I was young, I could ride 5 days a week. These days I'm lucky if I get three rides a week. I feel guilty if I miss birthday parties, etc or even leave my son home with my husband all weekend so I'm hesitant to go ride all day long. The "Mommy Guilt" plagues me.
With the help of 1) a treatment plan put in place by my doctor 2) an understanding trainer who's willing to slow down and back off when I say I'm afraid, and 3) a schoolmaster type of horse, I'm tackling my fears. I have re-evaluated my goals. Right now I'm happy to be the best BN/N rider I can be. I'd like to get comfortable enough to do training level some day, but upper levels are no longer even anything I aspire to do.
Welcome to the club! Lots of great suggestions here. I'm in my late 40s and picked up riding at age 42 after a 25 year break. One of the first things I noticed was that I was way more cautious and thoughtful about riding than I'd been as a teen, and I was never a brave rider to start with.
Shortly after I bought my mare, I became seriously afraid to ride her. She's a bit hot and spooky and was moreso back then. I traded horses with the Fearless Teen (HawksNest here); Trump was a *doll* and not at all affected by my fear, but just challenging enough that I didn't get bored. After a few months, I took the mare back and put her into training, still afraid to ride her. Conveniently enough, I took a bad fall off Trump and couldn't ride for a while, which gave the trainer time to fill some holes in her training.
4+ years on, I *love* my mare. She has a very good brain, and she's quite predictable, which helps me deal with the sillies. For whatever reason -- I am not a great rider at all -- I have "stickability" to get through her spooks (which are explosive but over within 2-3 seconds.)
I do sometimes take an anti-anxiety med before I get on her, but these days it's more to help me become less frustrated with her if she's in a "Don' Wanna!" mood than because of any fear.
I happen to love Morgans, and that does mean, for the most part, a bit of "hot" and "go", but they usually have great brains and there are some that are a bit calmer.
Would highly recommend the Jane Savoie books/DVDs. She has one DVD series specifically about fear. Her stuff is pricey but worth it if you actually stick to the program.
---- "You have to have experiences to gain experience."
It seems like most have given good sugg's- from sports psych to the right horse to seeing a medical professional to loving the view from 2 vs 4 legs.
The only thing I didn't see, that is a cause of my own riding anxiety, is whether you've had an injury from riding- like a concussion, fracture, or as simple as the wind knocked out of you. That would definitely cause the panic reaction you seem to be having; one that causes a surge in those lovely hormones that cause the shaking.
I've had several bad falls- resulting in permanent injuries- and am very very anxious about riding a new horse, esp the young "up" ones I grew up riding and never had probs with. Plus, I moved from the safety of a trainer I knew and trusted to a new one- who is equally nice, encouraging and a good trainer- but doesn't know me the same way my last did. And, I'm no longer on my own horses so that adds to it. Long story short- I've had the same questions pop up for me lately and I don't have the answer yet.
And the wise, Jack Daniels drinking, slow-truck-driving, veteran TB handler who took "no shit from no hoss Miss L, y'hear," said: "She aint wrapped too tight."
You fit in right here with me, and all these other generous posters on this thread. (Thank the gods you started it, OP!) I'm about to turn 43 with one kiddo who is just starting eventing now. Some people's lost nerve is other people's gained sense. It matters not...there is no prize in this life for the person who gets on when very part of their being is screaming at them that it is a bad idea. The prize from this sport is the joy we find in doing it....when the sense/fear/anxiety eclipse the joy, the sensible thing to do is change.
Life is too short and this pastime too expensive to ride, or feel pressured to ride, any horse that you don't enjoy right now. We all have to push ourselves to overcome the edges of our limits sometimes, but if you are having to summon the mental and physical energy to push past limits for the whole ride? Do something else. Trade the rock star to a courageous, childless and ambitious youth and find a horse that give you joy to get on. Or find joy in owning but not riding said rockstar. Whichever fits your life.
And I don't believe for a moment you aren't "good enough" to ride your young rockstar now....without the judgment, right now he just isn't the kind of ride that you wake up looking forward to every morning. That's really all that matters.
I didn't read all the posts carefully but when I scanned them I didn't seen anyone suggest finding a schoolie/babysitter type to borrow. I will shout it from the mountain tops that the right horse makes a huge difference. Case in point - I haven't gone advanced like you have etc... used to retrain TBs off the track and event etc... after kids I got back into riding thoroughbreds. It was OK - deep down I was afraid - after all, I had a family counting on me to come back alive and unhurt. I found myself dreaming of how I felt as a junior rider - fearless and fun.
One of the best days in my life was the day I sat on my horse for the first time. He's a 15.1 h app in his teens. He'd been a trail horse and hunt horse his whole life. He was AWESOME. Every ride I shake my head and pinch myself because I had no idea riding could be like this. No fear. None. I don't even think "oh but it's windy today, or oh, they're harvesting the corn next door," because EVERY ride is fun.
I will admit, that it was hard to swallow my pride and the first few months of owning him I was embarrassed. I got the odd "Is that horse for you or your kids?" comment or "When are you going to get a real horse?" I "should" be riding a fancy TB or warmblood but I don't have the mental energy anymore. There are days when I just want to "ride my pony" and because I have the right horse I can. Now I could care less what anyone says... I'd ride him in any BNT clinic and say, this is my horse, he has no tail but he kicks ass now let's do this.
So, point being -- yes you "should" be OK on your horses but you're not for whatever reason. So find someone to lend you an embarrassingly easy, steady-eddy, school horse type. If you don't shake when you get on then you found your answer. If you still shake then thats OK too... but you have a different answer.
FWIW - foxhunting, trail riding and improving myself/my horse have become so much more important to me than competing. It's pressure-free fun -- and I don't know about you but I work, I have kids, I'm crazy -- I don't need extra pressure now. Horses need to be my escape not another thing I have to do. Which keeping a TB in work right now would be a drain. But hopping on my appaloosa whenever I have time is pure therapy. Don't give up the - the answer is out there.
Ones to teach you to ride, ones to teach you to ride through tough, and ones to relax on and enjoy.
At this point in my life I know my limits and I accept that they will get smaller in terms of horse mentality but that does not mean they have to be less talented or athletic just honest and reassuring.
I would lease or lesson on another more finished horse and then I would simply keep trying them until I found that was "boring" almost so that I was putting the leg on more and feeling more confident on.