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Am I ever going to get over the fear??

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  • Am I ever going to get over the fear??

    So, as quick background...I rode as a kid, then didn't for 9 years, then started riding again 6 years ago. Fell off my horse three times in the first year, but *knock on wood* not since then. I don't have that horse anymore, I have a 15yo stallion who's pretty laid back and well behaved. He can be a little bit of a pain to groom and get to the mounting block, but nothing I can't handle, and once I'm on he's completely fine.

    Every time there's anything going on that I can use an excuse to assume he's going to be bad, I have to go through this whole ritual of wondering if I should ride, if I should longe first, maybe I'll ride but just walk and trot. Excuses include a crowded arena, jumps in the arena, wind, rain (arena is covered), horses running around in the turnouts next to the arena, I feel funny, he feels funny, I had a fight with my husband, my trainer made me cry, someone on facebook pissed me off, the moon is in the wrong alignment, etc.

    Time after time, I talk myself into riding, and my horse is just fine. I'll warm up, do some transitions, and he's fine. I'll decide to go ahead and canter and do my normal work, and he's FINE. One time, we were out on the little trail that goes around some trees, and when we came back there was a mare running loose that got away from someone. I stopped him, and he stood stock still and waited for me to decide what to do. He's a good boy. Why do I have to go through all these trepidations every time I ride?? I've gotten somewhat better since I brought him home in August, but will I ever be completely over it and just trust him?

    ETA: his being a stallion isn't the issue, really. I'm not going to geld him or get a different horse. The horse isn't the problem, I am.
    Last edited by twnkltoz; Dec. 20, 2010, 11:38 AM.
    Jennifer Walker
    Proud owner of Capt Han Solo+, Arabian stallion http://www.capthansolo.com
    Author, freelance writer http://www.authorjennwalker.com

  • #2
    first of all, it can get better! if you search, you will find many threads along these lines in the past year. you are definitely not alone!

    are you working with a trainer ? if you are up for it, having someone to push you a little can be a good confidence builder, and then you can push yourself to replicate some of the exercises when you ride on your own.

    and, your horse sounds like a gem. He is not the problem, so you will trust him more once you let go of the past accidents and the fear that they still bring up. I lived this..... the thing that did it for me was to go to a sports psychologist that specialized in riding, and to do EMDR with her. Its a treatment developed for post-traumatic stress - I think of it as re-training the brain so that the accident(s) are just a memory, not "present" with me.

    good luck! you sound like you are actually doing well with your new horse

    Comment


    • #3
      I have a few thoughts. First, beginner riders and new reriders tend to fall off more often than experienced riders. It is part of the learning curve. Even good riders come off horses. So, if you are going to ride, it is important to come to terms with this fact of life.

      Riding defensively is not a good strategy. Being tense and stiff only exacerbates matters and increases the chance of falling. It's certainly not working for the OP, so something needs to change.

      As the owner of a very quiet stallion who excels in performance, I have to question what any timid rider is doing with a stallion. The bottom line is that a stallion has to be handled with the understanding that he may have other ideas about priorities. The OP describes a horse with less than stellar ground manners. I'd be concerned about getting hurt on the ground, not while riding. Unless said stallion is being used for breeding purposes, I'd geld him. Or if he is breeding mares, then I would find a nice gelding as my personal horse. Stallions are not for everyone and certainly not a good choice for someone trying to overcome fear issues.
      Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
      http://www.ironwood-farm.com

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks--yes, I do work with a trainer, but I do most of his training myself.

        I know, having a stallion seems totally ridiculous, but that part is really not a problem. I was a little intimidated when I first brought him home because of my own mental hang-ups, but the stuff on the ground is really just more annoying (he was a little spoiled when I got him) than dangerous. I have handled several other stallions in the past several years, so I'm really fine with that. In fact, being able to handle him has made me MORE confident in my skills. I have complete confidence handling him on the ground, and once I get over my silly little worries when mounted and he reminds me yet again that he is fine, I can relax and enjoy the ride. It's just those few minutes of "what if" running through my head I need to get over!

        Good to know I'm not alone.

        PS...I had the same fears with the mare, even years after I fell off.
        Last edited by twnkltoz; Dec. 20, 2010, 11:33 AM.
        Jennifer Walker
        Proud owner of Capt Han Solo+, Arabian stallion http://www.capthansolo.com
        Author, freelance writer http://www.authorjennwalker.com

        Comment


        • #5
          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!

          Comment


          • #6
            Most riders have fear issues that crop up at some point. Good for you to acknowledge them and seek some help working through them.

            Since you are already working with a trainer, I'd start there. If you haven't already, can you discuss this issue with him/her and come up with a plan? A good sports psychologist is also probably going to be very helpful in overcoming this fear, learning to channel that energy, "re-wire" those thoughts and help you get past whatever previous bad experiences you might have had.

            BTW, congrats on getting yourself a horse that you feel more comfortable with and that you can enjoy riding. I know lots of people will get cranked up that he is a stallion but as long as he's properly schooled, frankly I don't think it's automatically a disqualifier. I've had horses for many years, and the easiest/quietest one of all was a TB stud colt that eventually became my conformation hunter (which is why I kept him entire.) Small kids could (and often did) crawl all over him, handle him, and ride him bareback. He was as reliable as could be.
            **********
            We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
            -PaulaEdwina

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Small Name Trainer aka SNIT! View Post
              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.
              Jennifer Walker
              Proud owner of Capt Han Solo+, Arabian stallion http://www.capthansolo.com
              Author, freelance writer http://www.authorjennwalker.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Small Name Trainer aka SNIT! View Post
                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!

                Is this for real? No, really? Is the OP being punked? Because that type of response is really uncalled for.

                The OP is ADMITTING there is a rider issue. She's not saying its the horse.

                I think we all deal with fear everytime we leg up. I know its always in the back of my mind and every time it seems like my mare might be stupid, I do get that feeling in the pit of my stomach. However, it doesn't stop me from enjoying my ride. I find that being aware of the dangers instead of feeling invincible is actually better for my brain. That way when something happens like a bad spook or a fall it doesn't throw my world into a tailspin

                ETA: there is a stallion at my barn as well and 99% of the time he is the most well behaved, wonderful horse to be around. 1% of the time he does feel the need to remind his owner he still has his junk, but its very rare

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Small Name Trainer aka SNIT! View Post
                  wow, jennifer, you did not just "fall off' your first horse 3 times...
                  Holy Horsecrap Batman!

                  OP Your first paragraph could have been written about me, except the stally part.

                  Yes there is hope. Three things that have helped me are 1) getting on and doing it scared. 2) and awesome trainer who know just how to snap me out of it 3) a very supportive group of friends.

                  Now I actually ride for other people, including green Arabians.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    To clarify SNIT's post:

                    1. That was five years ago. I made the mistake of buying a 4yo green broke mare who was too small for me. I did not throw myself off every time I tried to canter. I fell off twice at Teresa's place and cantered many times without falling off. The third fall was after I left there. That mare ended up being a great horse once I learned how to ride better, and we had a lot of fun together. I even let little kids ride her.

                    2. Teresa never banned me from riding there. I went back as soon as my doctor cleared me after the concussion and started riding in the round pen in Teresa's western saddle at her suggestion. I left because I couldn't afford it there anymore.

                    I could say more, but I won't be that ugly. Teresa, nice to know how you really feel. Next time I see you, I'll know the friendly attitude isn't genuine.
                    Jennifer Walker
                    Proud owner of Capt Han Solo+, Arabian stallion http://www.capthansolo.com
                    Author, freelance writer http://www.authorjennwalker.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Small Name Trainer aka SNIT! View Post
                      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. With this kind of attitude and public response about what I assume is a former client, you will always remain a small-time trainer. Totally unprofessional.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        OP, every time you have a good ride, you're remodeling the part of your brain that's afraid. So focus on that. There's nothing wrong with getting a "weather report" before you swing on. And then deciding moment by moment whether we'll ride, and then, what we'll do. Just walk today? Trot? Feeling good? Let's canter!

                        Those of us who are older, not professional riders, have other responsibilities and have to be prudent about the how and when of our rides. We don't have anything to prove to anyone.

                        I think over time, we build a history with our horse. When it's nearly always good, we develop confidence in our abilities - the horse and ours - to work together.

                        There are some good threads and suggestions on the Riding w/Disabilities forum.

                        Enjoy your boy, and happy riding!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm not going to comment on the rude post, but others have given great advice. Also check Leena's entire thread on the disabilities section. While not so much fear based on horses so to speak, it may give you a different perspective.

                          Terri
                          COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                          "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Thanks for the advice. This isn't so crippling that I can't function or ride, and I always get past it (with one exception, when there was a jumping lesson going on in the indoor and several other riders were also in there and it was too wet in the outdoor arenas so I decided to just hack instead, but I think that was reasonable). It just bugs me that I have to wrestle with all these silly doubts. I'll check out those threads!

                            I would probably benefit from some kind of therapy, but I'm not in the financial position to do that, so I'm going to have to figure this out on my own. My trainer is pretty good at pushing me and reminding me that my horse is a good boy and there's nothing to worry about. It's just good to know I'm not the only one who struggles with this!
                            Jennifer Walker
                            Proud owner of Capt Han Solo+, Arabian stallion http://www.capthansolo.com
                            Author, freelance writer http://www.authorjennwalker.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by twnkltoz View Post
                              It's just good to know I'm not the only one who struggles with this!
                              Oh, no. You are not alone.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by twnkltoz View Post
                                Thanks for the advice. This isn't so crippling that I can't function or ride, and I always get past it (with one exception, when there was a jumping lesson going on in the indoor and several other riders were also in there and it was too wet in the outdoor arenas so I decided to just hack instead, but I think that was reasonable). It just bugs me that I have to wrestle with all these silly doubts. I'll check out those threads!

                                I would probably benefit from some kind of therapy, but I'm not in the financial position to do that, so I'm going to have to figure this out on my own. My trainer is pretty good at pushing me and reminding me that my horse is a good boy and there's nothing to worry about. It's just good to know I'm not the only one who struggles with this!
                                Good for you!

                                A thought if a therapist is not in the cards right now... check out Jane Savoie's stuff. I believe she has a website and has books and tapes that you might find helpful (possibly available in your local library?) Or you can scan ebay for her stuff.

                                Meanwhile, I applaud your very tactful response to SNIT's truly appalling & inappropriate post. Again, good for you. (BTW, I'd say her post says a lot more about her than it does about you.)
                                **********
                                We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                                -PaulaEdwina

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
                                  Good for you!

                                  A thought if a therapist is not in the cards right now... check out Jane Savoie's stuff. I believe she has a website and has books and tapes that you might find helpful (possibly available in your local library?) Or you can scan ebay for her stuff.

                                  Meanwhile, I applaud your very tactful response to SNIT's truly appalling & inappropriate post. Again, good for you. (BTW, I'd say her post says a lot more about her than it does about you.)
                                  Thank you. I really appreciate that.

                                  I read someone's (arrow something?) post about fear in the disabilities forum. Wow...I feel for her, and I'm thankful I'm not in that place!
                                  Jennifer Walker
                                  Proud owner of Capt Han Solo+, Arabian stallion http://www.capthansolo.com
                                  Author, freelance writer http://www.authorjennwalker.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    It sounds like you are taking the right steps towards finding your bravery, good on you!

                                    I have a dear friend that I ride with who, a year or so ago, was one of the most fearful riders I've ever seen. She was completely physically capable and skilled enough to perform the exercises our trainer asked us to do, but she would get scared and psych herself out to the point of trotting around in a tense, tiny circle for ten minutes instead of jumping the course.

                                    What has helped her a LOT are these things:

                                    -I tell her all the time: "RIDE THE HORSE YOU HAVE!" don't think "what if he spooks?!?!?!!!!?!?" Take a mental inventory of the horse underneath you. Feels a little pokey? More leg! Feels attentive and focused? Ride on! Feels a little quick? Steady with a half-halt! Ride what you've got, not what you're scared of!
                                    -Just do it. Even if you are so scared you feel like you're about to pee your pants, if you KNOW you are physically capable, just do it anyway! When you complete the scary thing successfully (cantering, jumping, trailriding, etc.) you will be that much more confident and be able to say "I DID IT!"
                                    -Ride with a trainer you trust. This has been a HUGE help to my friend. Our trainer knows her very well (has been teaching her since she was a kid) and pushes her just enough. Ms. Trainer knows her limits, and never asks her to do anything that will get her hurt, and when my friend trusts her, she can do some great things!
                                    Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique

                                    PONY'TUDE

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      caradino

                                      That was brilliant.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Small Name Trainer aka SNIT! View Post
                                        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!
                                        Well bless your teeny weeny little black heart. I didn't read anything that made me think the op was blaming her horse.
                                        You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.

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