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Getting past a riding accident

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  • Getting past a riding accident

    I'm looking for some help on overcoming fear that came about from a recent riding accident where my horse stumbled and fell landing on my leg fracturing my ankle.

    Now that I can finally ride again I have some old fears that surface when I get in the saddle. I can walk and trot but forget trying to canter or try a cross rail at the trot. I'm surprised and frustrated as I thought I had put all those old fear gremlins from past riding accidents behind me forever. My gelding is a saint and patiently puts up with me but I want to get past this.

    I do have access to a professional trainer that comes to the barn once a week and plan on starting lessons with her. But I thought in-between lessons if there was some good self-help material I could use.
    I came across Jane Savoie's Freedom From Fear course. Anyone try it? Any recommendations?
    Moving on doesn't mean you forget about things. It just means you have to accept what happended and continue living.

  • #2
    I had a very similar situation, and time was really the only thing that worked for me. My horse stumbled, went to his knees, and I pitched forward onto my head and then somehow over on to my back. I don't remember the full sequence really, just watching the ground come at me quickly and thinking "this is no good!".

    I had physical injuries from it that took several months to heal, and even years later my back has never been the same. The mental part was harder though. For some reason I think it was even harder for me since I wasn't doing anything stupid or that I can avoid. We were trotting around the ring and down he went.

    All I can say is take your time getting back into things. It was several months of being in the saddle before I felt relaxed and non-anxious. In time I am sure you will get your mojo back! Good luck and take it easy on yourself when you get worried, it is only natural!

    Comment


    • #3
      I broke & dislocated my ankle in a riding accident in 2007...I was a H/J trainer and owned my own farm at the time (I still am). What helped me was playing little games with myself. I broke my riding down into very small challenges (micro steps for most people, but to my they felt like big steps). For example, I rode my beginner medium pony for 1 month after I was cleared to ride. W/T only...first ride was a pony ride at the walk for 5 min just to see if I could put my heel down again. I tried really hard not to judge myself, just as I would not judge one of my students that had a fear issue due to an injury.

      I remembered the first time I cantered....It was 2 steps on my beginner pony. The next day I did 4 steps of canter. Next day I went down the short side of the arena...and so on.

      Jumping happened over a pole on the ground, then I raised one side of the x-rail off the ground about 4 inches. Next day, I did a little more. Breaking it down into very small steps and milestones took a long time, but helped my body get used to the new ankle. If I was scared, I would make the step so small that it seemed manageable.

      I hope this helped, and best wishes for you and all your future "steps"
      Certified Spiritual Medium/ Animal Communicator
      www.heatherevebristol.com
      www.meliorastables.net

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      • #4
        Propranol is used in the treatment of PTSD and I have used it to get past the fear that came after a terrible fall. My recovery was 9 months before I was able to ride again. I had broken bones, a plate and screws as well as a major concussion. The careful use of propranol got me going again and then I was able to stop it. It is a beta blocker that lowers the heart beat so that you stay in a calm place while you reintroduce the fear producing activities. It is taken approx a half hour before the ride. I think in PTSD it is used at fairly high doses while I use 10mg which is the smallest size it comes in I think. I would guess that everyone is different in terams of dose and for how long they take it. My suggestion would be to take it for say 4-5 rides then do a ride without to see what one's brain has re accepted.

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        • #5
          Logical approach.

          Ask yourself this, overall do you trust your horse? How many fun, successful rides have you had on him before this accident? Was this a random unfortunate accident as opposed to normal behavior for your horse?

          Sounds like you just had one bad incident on a sweet gelding you adore who wouldn't intentionally try to hurt you.

          Since this was a result of him stumbling maybe it would give you some peace of mind to have the horse looked over by a vet for lameness. I'm not suggesting he's unsound but it might give you some peace of mind to be told by someone you trust there is no physical reason you should expect this to happen again. The cost of the vet appointment might be worth the reassurance you get from it.

          As for the riding just take it easy. Do stuff that will keep your mind working, like navigating around cones, over ground poles etc. Give yourself obstacles to focus on that will distract you from worrying about another accident. Go as fast or as slow as you comfortable doing and build your comfort level back up.

          You'll get over it, lots of us have went through this at some point.

          I dunno that I'd go so far as prescription drugs, that seems like overkill for this situation. As rational adults I firmly believe that we can overcome challenges like these without grabbing a pill bottle.

          Comment


          • #6
            Be kind to yourself. It's okay to be afraid of doing something. It's okay to take the time to do baby things until YOU are ready for the next step. Beating yourself up and saying "I should be able to do this by now" is not helpful in rebuilding confidence. Do what you are comfortable doing until you want to do the next step. I mean really, really WANT to do the next thing (for you that might be canter). Then set your self up to do that next thing as easily as possible. For cantering you might make sure your horse is very much going forward off your leg by doing some halt-trot transitions. Ask yourself what about cantering makes you afraid - what is your subconcious saying about cantering? If you find yourself afraid the horse will run away you could try asking for the canter going into the short side, and coming back to trot after 3-5 strides of canter (before the next corner). Each time you can do this thing you are afraid of doing your subconcious mind learns that "hey, that was okay." The more times you get the okay message in there, the more the fear is reduced. It can be quick, or it can take time. But rushing too fast can make things worse.

            Example - someone afraid of hacking out in the field because they fell off when their horse spooked at the canter. The first time they go out for a hack it might be fives minutes at the walk and the message goes in "walking around the field is okay." But say the walk goes well in that first ride, so they decide to try a trot, which also goes well so they dare to canter but then their buddy horse bucks and their horse does something in response and the rider falls again. The subconcious receives (again) the message that "hacking out in the field is DANGEROUS!" But if that same person had walk hacked for a while, then walk/trot hacked for a while, then had the fall at the canter the message going in is "CANTERING in the field is dangerous!" and while they might be a bit nervous about walk around the field next time out the fear isn't going to be strong enough to keep them in the ring.

            Logic and reason don't work on the subconcious. I had my confidence for jumping destroyed by a horse with an unrecognized physical issue. Once the issue was found it didn't help my confidence in jumping other horses one bit because my subconcious had a firm grip on the "jumping is dangerous" message. Allowing myself to ride on the flat, progress to polework, and tiny (I mean really tiny as in under 12") jumps as I was ready to try them DID help. It did take a long time, but you have to let it takes how long it takes. Give yourself permission to be a chicken for now, and when you're ready take small bites (3 strides of canter).

            Edited to add : That last paragraph has nothing to do with GaitedGloryRider's post (which I agree with) - we just happened to be typing at the same time.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by RedHorses View Post
              Be kind to yourself. It's okay to be afraid of doing something. It's okay to take the time to do baby things until YOU are ready for the next step. Beating yourself up and saying "I should be able to do this by now" is not helpful in rebuilding confidence. Do what you are comfortable doing until you want to do the next step. I mean really, really WANT to do the next thing (for you that might be canter). Then set your self up to do that next thing as easily as possible. For cantering you might make sure your horse is very much going forward off your leg by doing some halt-trot transitions. Ask yourself what about cantering makes you afraid - what is your subconcious saying about cantering? If you find yourself afraid the horse will run away you could try asking for the canter going into the short side, and coming back to trot after 3-5 strides of canter (before the next corner). Each time you can do this thing you are afraid of doing your subconcious mind learns that "hey, that was okay." The more times you get the okay message in there, the more the fear is reduced. It can be quick, or it can take time. But rushing too fast can make things worse.

              Example - someone afraid of hacking out in the field because they fell off when their horse spooked at the canter. The first time they go out for a hack it might be fives minutes at the walk and the message goes in "walking around the field is okay." But say the walk goes well in that first ride, so they decide to try a trot, which also goes well so they dare to canter but then their buddy horse bucks and their horse does something in response and the rider falls again. The subconcious receives (again) the message that "hacking out in the field is DANGEROUS!" But if that same person had walk hacked for a while, then walk/trot hacked for a while, then had the fall at the canter the message going in is "CANTERING in the field is dangerous!" and while they might be a bit nervous about walk around the field next time out the fear isn't going to be strong enough to keep them in the ring.

              Logic and reason don't work on the subconcious. I had my confidence for jumping destroyed by a horse with an unrecognized physical issue. Once the issue was found it didn't help my confidence in jumping other horses one bit because my subconcious had a firm grip on the "jumping is dangerous" message. Allowing myself to ride on the flat, progress to polework, and tiny (I mean really tiny as in under 12") jumps as I was ready to try them DID help. It did take a long time, but you have to let it takes how long it takes. Give yourself permission to be a chicken for now, and when you're ready take small bites (3 strides of canter).

              Edited to add : That last paragraph has nothing to do with GaitedGloryRider's post (which I agree with) - we just happened to be typing at the same time.
              Excellent post! Basically, do what you're comfortable doing until you're bored and confident enough to do a little more. I have a fear both green horses and bucking because of a serious injury from a bronc bucking tantrom on my own first green horse. I absolutely won't get on a know bucker - that's just common sense. But it also became a fear of any type of unwanted behaviour, like head shaking, jigging, etc.

              The first step for me was was to look at my fear dispassionately, and I realized that before I could get beyond it, I had to feel more balanced and physically secure in the saddle. So I slowly and carefully worked on my balance and seat until I gained the confidence that I can stay centered and in the saddle through some minor sillies.

              I'll still never get on a bucker, but I now feel a lot more secure at the canter and over fences, because my main focus was on learning how to balance myself over the center of the horse and how to use my seat,upper body, and legs more effectively.

              Its all about building confidence in your own skills while also assessing the strengths, weaknesses, and reliablility of your horse. If you feel he's a good boy, but you still don't feel strong enough to do canter work, try doing some trot work in a 1/2 seat until you feel strong and able to balance your upper body if your horse trips or stops suddenly. Its amazing what 5 minutes of 2 point work will do for ability to use your leg to help balance your upper body.
              Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
              Witherun Farm
              http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                Julie Goodnight has some great stuff about overcoming fear.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Trevelyan96 View Post
                  Excellent post! Basically, do what you're comfortable doing until you're bored and confident enough to do a little more. I have a fear both green horses and bucking because of a serious injury from a bronc bucking tantrom on my own first green horse. I absolutely won't get on a know bucker - that's just common sense. But it also became a fear of any type of unwanted behaviour, like head shaking, jigging, etc.

                  Yep.

                  I used to ride just about anything with hair. Ok, not what I meant but I was sorta fearless.

                  No more. I got hurt last summer on a misrepresented mule (oops) and while I wasn't hurt that badly, it scared me. A lot. Smacking the fence hard enough to damage a hamstring, blur my vision and give me a whale of a whiplash concussion...yeah. It blew my mind.

                  I recently rode with a good friend and had the lovely opportunity to ride 4 of her gaited horses, feeling their different versions of a running walk. It was great. Then I was sick all afternoon and weekend. I realized it wasn't my chicken dinner...it was four strange horses. I got myself sick with anxiety. Not fun, and not a fun realization. Same thing back in December. Bought a new horse,brought him home- and realized I was nauseated at the thought of climbing up there.

                  So.....ride what you can where you can. The rest may come, give it time.

                  I like Barbara Shulte's performance DVDs if you want a mental punch list and visualization techniques. I can't tolerate J Savoie's voice LOL

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