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Getting Over Fear of Riding Outside The Ring... Help?

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  • #41
    Perhaps the OP will come back and give an update, 3 years later.
    \"Non-violence never solved anything.\" C. Montgomery Burns


    • #42
      Ha @ Mandy. I didn't even notice the date when I said it was a timely thread.

      I guess fear will always be with us. And yes, I'd love to hear from her too.
      Ride like you mean it.


      • #43
        It is a timely thread...for us.

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


        • #44
          Many, many people deal with this issue and different techniques work for different people. So this is just my advice - your mileage may vary. I suggest you just walk your horse out of the arena and sit on her out there. If you're comfortable doing that, walk away from the arena a little. Keep building on it until you can get further away. Having an understanding friend with you really helps - you don't need someone belittling you or someone who doesn't understand. Now here's the trick - you need to push yourself a bit to go further even when you're nervous but you need to stop before you get that horrible, miserable, sickening fear. I think there's a type of fear we need to push past and there's a type of fear we need to respect. The fear I respect? It tells me it's ok to get off my horse when I truly thnk things ate going to go horribly wrong (being pelted with hail, which my horse hates? ok to get off). The fear I work through? It's a bit of an irrational fear because I've got a steady Eddie who hasn't put a foot wrong in years, I ride safely (helmet, good tack, sometimes body protector), I'm prudent (I haven't jumped in years so I wouldn't even pop a cross rail in the field), I don't overtax myself or my horse, and when I'm in a lesson I'm riding with a trainer I trust. I feel good when I work through the irrational fear. I still feel nervous when I try to work through the reasonable fears, even if I make it through the situation.

          if you haven't already, try hand-walking your horse on the trail. One day you might find yourself wanting to hop on!


          • #45
            Originally posted by ezduzit View Post
            Not taking it personally, it's the internet. Hard to tell who you're 'looking at' when you speak.

            But really, you suggest people ...what, roll off their horses until they've perfected it? Or are you talking about the emergency dismount.

            I think maybe I shouldn't be riding then because I can't swing my leg over in one movement either to get on or get off.

            I am not critical of your posts. How does one practice coming off until it's second nature. Do you trot along and then just flip off the side? Or at the canter? It's hard to write this and not sound sarcastic but I really can't get a picture of what you mean with the word 'practice'.
            Why would you assume I was posting to you since I don't think you had even posted until after I did? I'm lazy. I'm not going to bother to go back and check.

            I "practiced" as a kid who had horses that liked to get me off. They had some dirty tricks - crazy nags.

            Honestly, I don't care how you fall off. There are videos and people out there who say they can teach you fall safely. But yes, I've come off at a canter, a trot, whatever. Learn how to roll and you'll be a bit safer. You'll never be 100% safe when you ride horses, though.

            Didn't realize this thread was 3 years old or I wouldn't even have commented.
            "Dogs are man's best friend. Cats are man's adorable little serial killer." -- theoatmeal.com


            • #46
              I had a bad fall from a previous horse while riding in the ring. Long story short, broke my hip, cracked an elbow, months of healing. When I started back riding, I couldn't get over the fear(horse was really a little too large for me and a little hotter than what I needed). I decided to sell him and get a replacement. Next horse was pretty quiet although he could misbehave on occasion, but for some reason I was never afraid of him and would trail ride him and do ring work. He started having soundness issues and I couldn't afford a fancy made horse so bought a yearling from my trainer. The thought was if when she was made up if she suited me, fine keep her otherwise sell and buy a made horse. She was spooky when young and a little hot, but generally sensible. I did come off her a few times. I decided I wanted to trail ride, but was very nervous. I didn't have a steady eddie buddy horse to go out with us. I would tack my horse up and take her for a trail walk with me leading her. Luckily, my fear never came to me while I was doing ground work. I did the leading and then after I started to see how my mare reacted to things, I started riding her. If anything started to make me nervous, I would get off and lead her or do little excercises, like back her into the woods or step over logs or little ditches, walk thru low hanging branches. When I was calmed down, I would get back on and continue to ride. Inadvertantly, I taught my horse that it was ok for the other horses to leave and now I have a horse that I can ride out by myself or leave the group, or hold her back if the others want to move on at a faster pace than what I want to do. I still after all these years have nervous moments now and again, but I trail ride extensively, show occasionally in various disciplines and try about anything that sounds fun. One thing that really helped get me to this was in addition to the "trail walks" was doing a lot of obstacle/bombproofing clinics. By seeing how my TB mare would react to a variety of stimuli put more confidence in my riding.


              • #47
                I had a bad accident (lots of injuries) outside on hard ground, which cemented a fear that I'd never even had before. Gave me PTSD about riding at all, much less outside of the ring.

                What helped?

                Expanding that boundary little by little. At first even being near the horse triggered the panic response, so I stayed 15 feet back, and went home. Next day, 10 feet back, stayed calm, so went home. Did this until I was back on the horse (which was a process of mount, get off, put away). I still have to mount new horses like this, since it was the combination of the above accident and an accident the week before on someone else's horse while mounting that screwed me up so badly.

                Once I was riding successfully in the ring, I had to determine how successfully I was really riding. If I was "ok, but not super", I stayed in the ring until I felt "super" confident.

                Once I felt super confident, I did just as you would do with a green horse. A short in-hand trail walk to see how he'd do (he was fine)...then I got on, left the ring for about 30 feet, turned around *before* I got too nervous and went back in the ring (or back to the barn). Rinse and repeat, going a little further each time.

                Now I'm back to showing and trail riding. I still get off and lead him if something screws us up along the way. No biggie.

                I never had fear issues before an it was heartbreaking to sit on the mounting block and cry because I couldn't do the one thing I really loved doing. I had to be super kind to myself and go slower than I thought I could go. Really. Pushing myself through limits only heightened my fear. It was only through approach and retreat (just like a horse) that I fixed it.


                • #48
                  I plan to expand my boundaries little by little as suggested. There are a couple of places at home that bother me and so I don't ride there. They are non-descript places, like on the bridle path alongside the pasture fence. For some reason that is scary and yet it's only a few feet from where they live every day...hardly a 'strange' place for them.

                  So I'll be doing work outside the school everyday ride even if it's just one go around in the yard or a bit down the bridle path.

                  For me it will school my mental ability to put him to work when I'm afraid instead of panicking and getting off.
                  Ride like you mean it.


                  • #49
                    I'm similar to OneGrayPony.... never had any issues or fears when I was young. At age 19, I had a horrific fall. Think lawn dart, Chris Reeve type accident. I'm actually quite lucky to not be in a wheelchair. But I am very busted up because of it.

                    I can ride and do anything in an arena. But my accident happened out in the open. When I first started riding again (I had to take an 11 year break because of my accident), I would start to shake uncontrollably if I left the ring still on the horse. My trainer at the time then started to lead me around. Little by little. So it truly is baby steps. To make a long story short... after many years and many other trainers, I was able to do cross country and ride out around the farm w/o any real issue. I still had some nerves but it definitely helped having a friend come along on a packer. My horse is a very good fellow. But grew up as a show horse so wasn't ridden out. He can be a little silly from time to time but nothing major. And I know when I get a bit nervous, it makes it worse.

                    As long as I stick with it regularly, I'm okay. The problem I have is when I take any kind of break (over the winter when the footing/weather isn't compatible with riding out). At my current barn, there aren't any trails. Just 2 open fields, the pastures and walkways. Which is plenty for me.

                    My nerves did get rattled last Fall. I came off my boy for the very first time (yes, I've had him almost 8 years and never fell off him... came close a few other times). He went one way, I went the other... unfortunately, he stepped on my arm. Thankfully, he didn't break it. Just bruised the hell out of it and it swelled up really bad. He wears shoes and I had a perfect shoe print (along w/ nail holes) imprint on my arm for awhile. The rest of my body actually held up okay after the fall. Which I was surprised at since I'm still busted and get therapy for it every week.

                    5 days later, I was able to use that arm again and got on my boy. First time out, I just rode in the ring for a bit. 2 days later, I went out to the spot I got dumped. I was nervous, of course, but I just sang to myself and talked to my horse. It went just fine. I knew I needed to do it as soon as possible. The longer I wait, the more the fear creeps in.

                    To this day, I still just follow my gut. It's also self preservation for me. I'm not young anymore. If something just doesn't feel right (regardless if it's outside or in the ring), I just don't do it. But I do push myself (as does my trainer) when needed. But every Spring I have to kinda start back all over again. Baby steps out of the ring and just walk around the perimeter. Then slowly walk away from the arena for a little bit and then back. And just keep slowly extending that distance. I know the key is my being relaxed. My horse definitely feeds off of me. This point was proven at my previous barn. Right before I left there to come to my current barn, a few of my fellow boarders talked me into doing a REAL trail ride. Steep hills, water, and very steep uphill with boulders to get back out. I rode one of my fellow boarders packer whom she does trail riding trips with. And she rode my horse. My guy was a GEM!!!! Didn't spook or have any issues at all. And she rode him up front (there were 3 of us... I stayed in the middle, felt more comfortable there). Of course, even though I was on the packer, I still had 2 melt downs. The biggest one was going up the cliff/boulders. But we made it... and I cried. It was such a relief to know that I survived. Thankfully, these 2 friends knew my past and were very patient with me. And were very generous with the praise when I accomplished it. Even got a bottle of champagne afterwards! But I was so proud of my horse... he did so well. So this just proves, it's the rider.... not the horse.


                    • #50
                      Originally posted by ezduzit View Post
                      I plan to expand my boundaries little by little as suggested. There are a couple of places at home that bother me and so I don't ride there. They are non-descript places, like on the bridle path alongside the pasture fence. For some reason that is scary and yet it's only a few feet from where they live every day...hardly a 'strange' place for them.

                      So I'll be doing work outside the school everyday ride even if it's just one go around in the yard or a bit down the bridle path.

                      For me it will school my mental ability to put him to work when I'm afraid instead of panicking and getting off.

                      Riding by the fence where they get turned out (or any critters get turned out) can be an issue if there are other horses still out. If they come up to the fence, especially if they are acting excited it can set your horse off. This issue might be why your nervous in that area.


                      Who also didn't realize this was an old thread.


                      • #51
                        It doesn't matter that it's an old thread -clearly the topic is current.

                        So the take home lessons are:

                        1. Be easy on yourself. Beating yourself up is not constructive.
                        2. Choose your riding buddies wisely. Let them know your issues, go out with steady eddies and sensible people.
                        3. Baby steps, but do challenge yourself.
                        4. SING it will help you breathe and relax.
                        5. Take your time. This will take time. Build on successes. There is no point in overvacing yourself -it will work against you.

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


                        • #52
                          I'm ashamed to admit that I've had Rico back in work for 4 years, and still don't have the nerve to take him on a hack any further than our front pasture. Part of it is that he has a tendency to totally freak out in new situations. My goal this summer is to take him to some local shows and just lead him around the grounds. If he gets quiet on the ground, I'll try getting on.

                          I'm fearless on a school horse, but on my own heart horse, I'm a total chicken. He needs to spend some time with my trainer, but I've had such back luck with sending my horses out in the past, that I'm terrified to do it, so I play with him at home and keep telling myself 'this summer, next summer'.

                          We spent a ton of time and money getting our back 40 cleaned up, which has access to a small trail right off our property, and the most I've done is hand walk him down there 2-3 times, only one of which went well. And since he always has such a 'meh' attitude about scary new things around the barn, I know the problem is probably me.
                          Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                          Witherun Farm


                          • #53
                            The ideas in this blog post helped me.