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Totally irrational fear

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  • #21
    Here's a strange little mind trick a friend told me about when I was suffering from running bad scenarios through my mind...

    Identify the "gremlin" in your mind that is giving you the negative self-talk..give it a name..and then banish it. Maybe it is saying..be careful, you might get hurt, its too dangerous, what if your leg misses the horse, what if you get your foot in the stirrup and your foot gets caught...you are not good enough..go do something else...you are a chickensh*t failure...you can't ride...blah, blah, blah. Get a visual picture of that tyrant in your mind and hang up the phone on her/him. Get bigger than the gremlin. Get into the moment, stay in the moment, check your tack, breathe, and remember that you can do this and then do it. Wash, rinse, repeat. Safety first, of course. LOL


    • #22
      Search for an extra wide, extra tall mounting block and see if that helps you feel more stable as you mount.

      I moved barns three months ago and miss the wooden mounting block at the old barn. I have only ridden once since I moved, thanks to surgery, but I was so worried about using the usual plastic mounting blocks that the new barn has.


      • #23
        I have had similar, seemingly irrational fears and have taught adults that have developed fears. Fears like this are not irrational, though - they are your subconcious' way of telling you not to do something because last time you got hurt and if you get hurt and can't get away from the predators, you may die! (The subconcious does not live in the 21st century)

        I always start with planned baby steps, similar to training a horse.

        For a mounting issue, I would fall back on something I learned from John Lyons. He taught that when teaching a horse to be mounted, start small and be very repetive. So, put the mounting block next to the horse on the left side, step to the top step, then back down. Verbally reward the horse. Repeat 5 times, then repeat on the other side. If needed, repeat more times. Next step is foot in stirrup with same repetitions. Then foot in stirrup and a little weight, with same repetitions. Then foot in stirrupe and lean over with same repatitions. Then swing leg over and dismount, same repetitions.

        Next time you are out and alone with your horse, make mounting work the entire plan for the day and start where you are comfortable and work on that aspect until you are bored, then move on to the next step. It doesn't work for everyone, but it may work for you.


        • #24
          You have gotten GREAT advice. I would just like to add - not to scare you! That mounting is indeed probably the most dangerous/vulnerable moment, ND yiu have had an accident so dont try to dismiss you fear.. Work with it. At the same time, your horse *absolutely* should stand there as long as it takes, so do up your expectation of her behaviour, too. Good luck!
          "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


          • #25
            I dont think the fear of mounting post accident is irrational at all. I was getting on a hot tb years ago and she took off when I had one foot in the stirrup. I went face first into the dirt and could have broken my neck (how I didnt, I dont know).

            A few years ago, I was taking a lesson, cantering along merrily on a 14h welsh, and she bounced. I tore my bicep tendon and sprained my ankle.

            The results?

            I mount REALLY fast on my pony, and take forever with the mare, who is also 15.1, because if I don't feel confident, I'll never get on. She likes to swing her butt away from the block too...

            And I owned her for a year before I ever cantered her. She's never bucked or bolted on me, or bounced or pulled anything even close to dirty, but MAN is she powerful, with a very rocking horse canter, if she bounced, I'm dead.

            Now, when I do canter, I take a deep breath. I was told by a shrink (about my TOTALLY irrational debilitating fear of flying), that if something is going to happen, it's going to happen whether or not you are worried about. So *try* not to over think it, take a deep breath and try your best.


            • #26
              I don't think it's an irrational fear at all.

              I think you need to be absolutely sure your horse won't move a hoof during the mounting process.

              I trained my horse to stand still at the mounting block and wait until I was fully settled with sugar. This has worked so well that there is no way in hell he is going anywhere now without his sugar cube, which is perfecty fine by me, unless I forgot the sugar...

              (My poor trainer took over the ride from me at the drop of a hat and without any prior instructions as to his idiosyncracies a while back when I had a non-horse related accident. She couldn't work out why he wouldn't walk off from the block and got quite shirty with him. When I started riding again and really NEEDED him to stand still, we had to start again. Took about 30 seconds before he realized that it was the sucker riding him again...)


              • #27
                Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post
                I'm sure this is public knowledge, but it wasn't something I learned til later in life as I'd not used mounting blocks before I was nearly 30!

                When you're going to mount, shorten your outside rein so that as you mount, if the horse moves out, he/she is going to have to move into you while turning away rather than away from you if you shorten the inside rein or forward if reins are even.

                It's a bit counterintuitive at first, but it really does help give you the extra second or two of contact with the horse to either bail off or get on. (I advise the latter. )
                While my horse does not move an inch at the mounting block and the last thing that he would think of is running off........ I always tighten the left rein so his head is arched slightly towards me when mounting. If the horse tries to take off all you have to do is pull their head around and all they can do is circle. All the cowboys I know who start colts do this when getting on!!
                RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
                May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
                RIP San Lena Peppy
                May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010


                • #28
                  Originally posted by Diamondindykin View Post
                  While my horse does not move an inch at the mounting block and the last thing that he would think of is running off........ I always tighten the left rein so his head is arched slightly towards me when mounting. If the horse tries to take off all you have to do is pull their head around and all they can do is circle. All the cowboys I know who start colts do this when getting on!!
                  yeah, I was taught that way as well so that the horse circles around you but if you think about it, that lets the horse swing his/her butt (and body) away from you. Whereas if you tighten up the outside rein, the horse is swinging into you which means that if you already have a foot in the stirrup, you have a horse coming under you instead of away.

                  Like I said, it's a little counterintuitive but mechanically, it makes a lot of sense. And it actually has saved my butt more than once.
                  A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                  Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                  • #29
                    I'm right there with you. I was leasing a horse a few years ago and he took off while I was mounting. I came off and ended up with a torn MCL. After that, I was terrified when mounting - to the point where I would start hyper-ventilating and was a nervous wreck just driving to the barn. Thankfully, I had a great support system of friends at the barn. It really helped me to have someone hold the horse when I was getting on. I did wind up ending the lease on that horse and buying my own, but he could also be a bit fidgety when I got on or off. It took a while, but we've worked through that. If he stands still, then he gets a treat. I'm definitely not above bribery if it works! Also having a three step mounting block with a stable base helps - I get nervous when the block wobbles as I'm getting on. I also get nervous cantering and jumping...but am working through those issues now as well! Best of luck to you!


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post
                      I'm sure this is public knowledge, but it wasn't something I learned til later in life as I'd not used mounting blocks before I was nearly 30!

                      When you're going to mount, shorten your outside rein so that as you mount, if the horse moves out, he/she is going to have to move into you while turning away rather than away from you if you shorten the inside rein or forward if reins are even.

                      It's a bit counterintuitive at first, but it really does help give you the extra second or two of contact with the horse to either bail off or get on. (I advise the latter. )
                      This is exactly what I do when I'm mounting, especially if I'm nervous, and its helped me a lot. With my outside rein shorter, if they get silly I feel life they step underneath me rather than me hoping along after them. I also find that the less I key myself think about it, the easier it is. I take one deep breath, double check my girth, and go, because if I let myself stop and think about it, or take to much time, I get myself more worked up about it than I would otherwise be.


                      • #31
                        I think it happens when it finally occurs to you that what you do for kicks is dangerous. Don't beat yourself up, just find a way to work through it. For example, can you throw leg over and pull yourself into the saddle? Maybe that might help you get around the fear of mounting. You can have someone hold the horse for you while you get on. You just have to trick your brain I think.

                        And stop berating yourself about it. It doesn't help.

                        He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


                        • #32
                          I HIGHLY recommend a book called Riding Fear Free: Help For Fearful Riders. I downloaded it on my kindle on a whim while I have been dealing with some big time fear of jumping and riding fast. I'm not totally fixed yet, but the visualization and other techniques have been a huge help. She explains very well how fear works, and what will and won't help.
                          ~Former Pet Store Manager (10yrs)
                          ~Vintage Toy Dealer (rememberswhen.us)
                          ~Vet Tech Student
                          Mom to : 2 Horses, 4 Dogs, 2 Cats


                          • #33
                            I had the typical fear of going faster than a trot after I had a mare bolt with me and I saw my life flash before my eyes. I literally thought, this is it, I'm going to die right now. Scariest moment of riding I've ever had in my life! And then also the typical fear of riding bareback after I fell off and got injured badly for the first time. Now I ride w/t/c and jump small fences bareback on the same horse. He completely restored my confidence, but it took well over a year before I attempted trotting and then cantering.

                            My irrational fear that is completely unrelated to horses?
                            Losing blood. Started after I cut my finger open in middle school and it was just gushing. Not even that much blood - maybe a few tablespoons? But I thought I was going to die! Lol. So now any time I bleed badly I freak out.
                            Originally posted by katarine
                            I don't want your prayers, tiny cow.
                            Originally posted by Pat9
                            When it's time for a horse to go to a new person, that person will appear. It's pony magic.


                            • #34
                              It may help to move the mounting block down to a corner of the arena, and have horse facing the rail, and the rail on his rt side. The horse is effectively blocked from walking off/moving away.


                              • Original Poster

                                I guess it feels irrational because I have been mounting and riding since the injury just fine, its just in the past month that I have suddenly found myself fearful. I am looking into possibly getting a taller mounting block, but holy cow are they expensive! I can't mount from the ground, I am not flexible enough, and I don't think that would help me either. The mounting block that I use is an old stool, it actually feels much more stable than the real mounting block that the BO has. Its not tall enough to just swing my leg over and mount like how I use to .
                                Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
                                The Blog


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by wendy View Post
                                  I'd suggest consulting a professional- this sounds like a serious, but luckily very specific, kind of panic attack you are having. Panic attacks are self-reinforcing- fear of the fear, and then actually feeling the fear, feeds into a positive-feedback loop making it worse and worse each time you try to overcome the problem. Generally you need medication plus coping skills/therapy to help you break the cycle of anxiety- once you've broken down the feedback loop you can go off the medication, but you probably will need it to help you stop the cycle of fear.
                                  This. How old are you? When I was 20 I had a terrible riding accident that triggered PTSD/Panic Disorder. I have terrible terrible panic attacks nearly all the time when I'm not medicated. It's been 10 years, and I'm pretty much convinced that something in my brain chemistry changed after that accident. I did try, after 5 years, going without medication and had a terrible, terrible, relapse.

                                  Panic Attacks suck. You literally feel like you are dying and that the world is crashing down on you. There is not a worse feeling in the world.

                                  Can you try using something else to mount? I use the tailgate of my truck


                                  • #37
                                    First off, ouch! Buddy roo gave a really great tip, think of the process and convert it into a nice steady rhythm.

                                    Since your mare has no mane to grab on to, what about a simple neck strap? It could even be a rein or lead rope tied in a knot so you have something to grab onto while mounting.

                                    I would also have someone hold your horse for you while you mount, that way you can eliminate that extra stress element.

                                    Good luck


                                    • #38
                                      today i went to get on my horse via the mounting block and forgot that my stirrups were too long (due to saddle being last ridden by my loooong legged friend). as i went to swing my leg over, i actually ended up kicking poor pony right in the side of his arse. thank goodness he's a good egg. my anxiety starts AFTER i get on. i try to quell all the 'what if's' so that i can actually enjoy the ride. after about 20 deep breaths, i had a good (walking) ride.
                                      i have to keep in mind that when i have a positive experience, i need to shove that 'negative' thought over and replace it with the positive one. good luck. a taller mounting block seems like a good idea.
                                      R.I.P. my sweet boy Tristan
                                      36 years old, but I was hoping you'd live forever


                                      • #39
                                        I have had confidence issues. I wouldn't say any were totally irrational, because I think some part of me wants to keep the rest of me alive and unbroken.

                                        I recently met Cathy Sirett of Effective Horsemanship. She's a confidence coach who formerly worked with Fortune 500 companies ... and a horsewoman. She's taken her deep knowledge of how to develop confidence and applied it to her horse hobby, and is now helping people develop confidence.

                                        Cathy lives in the UK, but has been visiting the US for the past couple weeks, and staying and studying at my barn. (what a gift!!) She offered two, two-part workshops on developing confidence for riders. Amazing. Simply amazing.

                                        Cathy maintains her Confidence Blog at effectivehorsemanship.wordpress.org and has published a book, "The best of 'The Confidence Blog' 2012" that's available via Amazon.

                                        Each chapter an installment of her blog.

                                        The workshop and the book have been a serious help to me and to others at my barn. I can honestly say that for the past couple weeks, my riding has become joyful and confident. Finally.


                                        • #40
                                          How could a stool be safer than a mounting block? Is it a step stool or bar stool? Do you have pictures of both stool and block for reference?

                                          I can't picture a mounting block that is not safe unless it's cracked or broken...