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Trying to Get One's Confidence Back?

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  • Trying to Get One's Confidence Back?

    After reading the Mod/Admin thread here I figured that I might be able to get some advice here, besides the whole "Get back on the horse!" thing.
    Well firstly, I've got this splinter, and it hurts, should I put some neosporin on it? JUST KIDDING!!
    But actually, in a roundabout way, I will be addressing the neosporin thing LOL.
    To make a long story a little less long, I got my first horse, Pasha, a seven year old arab gelding, when I was about eleven years old. He was the first horse I went to look at and I fell in love with him instantly.
    We spent hundreds and hundreds of hours riding together. He was always my riding horse till, in his late twenties he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. He didn't leave me then. And he had given me a great sense of confidence riding. But after riding the same horse for 22 years the two of you are almost the same being.
    But when Pash got sick a "free to good home" percheron gelding fell into my lap. Cutie (I called him LOL) was sweet as could be but very shy and afraid. But I loved spending time with him and in order to treat his infected mane I had to sit on his back to medicate him.
    I knew only that he'd been a cart horse in the past, but he decided that he was broke. We actually took him to a few little shows and did some stadium and cross country jumping together. The crowds loved us LOL.
    Then one day we went out on a hunter pace. We were having great fun, with two friends, cantering along then all of a sudden, My Cutie tripped and fell. And fell right on top of me.
    My two friends said that they both thought that they were watching me die.
    Thank God for FL sugarsand! It and the fact that Cutie took care picking himself up, saved my life.
    I skinned up one knee and probably messed up the cartilidge or something, but I put some neosporin on it and didn't worry too badly till the next day when my leg was blown up like a zepplin.
    I went to the walk in clinic and after assuring the doctor that I would happily have an MRI done as long as it was free (LOL) he grumpilly told me that most of the swelling was probably due to the neosporin. I guess a lot of people are developing an allergy to it and I use bacitracin zinc now instead.
    There was no doubt about it though, that fall shook me very badly. I rarely rode after that.
    Then, last May, I hopped on my sweet little arab mare, just to go check on a wayward pony who hadn't come up to eat with the herd. (Turns our he was just taking his time, but you know how you worry if a horse doesn't show up to eat...)
    Well about five minutes into our little ride Fantasy (my mare) pulled an amazing spook. More like a teleport, really LOL. Suddenly she was about sixteen feet away from where I was seemingly momentarily hovering in the air. Of course, SLAM! I hit the ground. But when I tried to get up my right leg just kinda went mush. Both the tibia and fibula were shattered.
    I was in the hospital over a week and I the healing has gone badly. I'm in constant pain.
    But what's worse is that I am almost terrified of riding at all. It causes me overwhelming anxiety.
    Has anybody else felt this way? Or am I just being a whimp?
    "Reason is, and ought to be, the slave of passions." David Hume

  • #2
    You are not a wimp. You were in an accident involving a horse, anxiety is perfectly normal. Especially since you got hurt it's more than normal, it makes sense. Think about the stove: you burn your finger once you're going to be wary of doing it again.

    A lot of us who got hurt falling from a horse have anxiety about riding again. I got a concussion and bruised ribs when my new horse bolted and was then scared of every horse that wasn't my geriatric mare.

    Don't worry about being terrified of riding right now. Pain screws us up far more than we think. Get yourself better first. Things won't seem quite so bad when the pain is less intense (I know this from experience.)

    What helped for me when I wanted to deal with the riding anxiety: a very supportive trainer who didn't push, if all I could do one day was walk that's all we did. A sane horse who didn't do more than I asked. A therapist, to help me deal with my fears and my pain.
    Pam's Pony Place

    Pam's Pony Ponderings


    • Original Poster

      Thank you, Topaz.
      A major issue that I am dealing with at present is that the surgery done to repair my leg was done badly (according to another surgeon) or in any case was a bit of a failure. Every doctor I have seen says that I will be in constant pain unless I get a fusion surgery (to fuse the tibia to the talus), which obviously would render my ankle immobile, meaning, among other things that I would probably never be able to run again. And there are other folks who say that their fusion surgeries didn't take the pain away.
      I apologize. I'm just whining now LOL.
      I would give my right arm to have my Pasha back (I could easily and confidently ride him with one or no arms LOL)
      The new trainer here at my barn has been gently encouraging me to get "back in the saddle". And my dear, dear friend Denna left me one of my own stallion's babies (now nine years and I have literally seen him wearing a prom dress while being ridden LOL) when she died just after my accident in May.
      I have ridden him three times on hour-long trail rides and he has been SO good.
      But I still get this feeling of panic when Jeff asks if I want to trail ride.......
      "Reason is, and ought to be, the slave of passions." David Hume


      • #4
        I would concentrate on getting yourself well first. Whether that be reconstructive surgery or pain management, whatever it takes. Obviously constant pain is a reminder of what went wrong which gets you thinking it could go wrong again.
        Secondly, get on the right horse, whomever that may be. It doesn't sound as if it is one that you currently own although it may be if you got someone to tune them up for you in the meantime. Your old horse isn't the only truly bombproof horse in the world. You just need to find one. Maybe take some lessons or even look into therapeutic riding. It's not a contest of wills, it's supposed to be fun so find a horse that makes you comfortable enough that you can enjoy yourself. Then take it one step at a time.
        I had a horse fall with me while we were cantering. No apparent cause, he just dropped like he was shot out of the air. Didn't try to catch himself either. I was not really injured, just sore more than anything but it took a very long time to recover mentally. I did not ride that horse ever again. I got the perfect horse for me and let him take care of me. I was terrified to canter over a pole on the ground, let alone jump at first but eventually he got me over it.
        McDowell Racing Stables

        Home Away From Home


        • #5
          You are sooo not a wimp!!!! When I was injured and recuperating, I put hours of research into finding a dressage trainer who would deal with my chronic health issues. Once I was physically able, I began dressage lessons on a short, squat gray mare with an unflappable temperament. As I improved and asked more of the little mare, she would show a tiny bit of an attitude at times, but she never did anything remotely dangerous. I gained confidence and regained the memory in my muscles. The bits of fear evaporated as my skills increased. Riding with an empathetic trainer who has a good school horse is a great way to build confidence!
          Best of luck


          • #6
            And I'd like to add something else.

            It's not all about the riding.

            When my horse has been off, due to injury, whatever, we have done a huge amount of work on the ground. I am very fortunate to have a trainer who is skilled in classical in hand work and long reining. What I do h=]on the ground helps me enormously in the saddle.

            It is okay if you never get back in the saddle - you should go there only if you want to. There is plenty you can do with horses besides that.
            a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


            • #7
              Oh dear, that's not fun at all. I'm 9 months post tib/fib compound fracture (fell off while galloping). If you figure out how to snap your fingers and make your confidence come back, let me know, because I'd love to do it myself. The only thing you can do is give it (lots and lots of) time. Find a super safe, quiet horse to ride. Take it slow and easy and don't do anything until you really really want to. Don't push yourself just to push yourself. Wait until you're so comfortable with what you're doing that you're practically comatose before you do anything harder.
              Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
              Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
              VW sucks.


              • Original Poster

                Thank you SO much, all of you!
                I have a conundrum here; My two horses (the mare that I am too afraid to ride now) and her gelding brother of the same year (both by my marvelous old stallion). I love them both too much to part with either of them. But economy being as it is, I cannot afford a "bombproof" horse right now.
                However, I have a wonderful new trainer here who is all dressage, and I respect him tremendously. He has been encouraging me to get "back in the saddle", but on the gelding, Lexx.
                (A brief history of Lexx: he was by my arab stallion out of Denna's old mare, Love. Denna thought he was gorgeous as a yearling so after I had him gelded here she bought him from me. Two years later I had the pleasure of watching him compete in a halloween show, dressed in a wedding gown with a twelve year old on him LOL. He spent a few more years teaching youngsters how to ride, was sold twice and then came home to Denna. A year and a half ago I asked Denna if I could lease a horse that might make a falconry mount. She suggested Lexx, so he came home to me. Then after Denna passed, her mother gave him to me. A huge gift!)
                So, Lexx I have been trail riding, with a small group headed by my trainer, and we have had three beautiful, non-scary trail rides (knock on wood).
                My soul sings while we ride. But I am still afraid. We are starting really slowly. Mostly walking, then a little trotting when I just can't stand walking anymore LOL. I'm still too nervous to canter. But I think we're getting somewhere .
                "Reason is, and ought to be, the slave of passions." David Hume


                • #9
                  Quick, sign up for this

                  Just saw on FB that this is the last day...

                  I can't recommend Jane highly enough.

                  I had "confidence " issues after I broke my ankle, tri malleolus fracture and then a clinician really put me down to the point where I COULD NOT ride.

                  To the point where I would sit on my mare by the mounting block and cry, unable to get her to walk off.

                  Or move my tack and riding stuff around the house so it would look like I had ridden when no one was around.

                  Jane's books. "That Winning Feeling" and "It's Not about the Ribbons" really helped, though it's not an instant process by any means. And I still get twinges of anxiety. She has a new program "Freedom from Fear" that is supposed to be very good.

                  About your ankle....ICE is your friend. I used to carry a pouch of ice packs and leave them on my mounting block(Before the disasterous clinic) There was many a day that I would dismount, loosen my mare's girth, remove my boot and ice the ankle before i could walk enough to put her away.

                  MDC Intelligent stirrups are also a big help and my Thinline half pad. I also still, almost 6 years later, do strengthening and ROM exercises, but ask your PT, my surgery healed "perfectly" and they might not be indicated in a less than successful procedure.

                  But yeah, it's still sore much of the time. You learn to ignore it, take NSAIDs and keep it warm in winter.

                  FWIW, my surgeon was very strict about my activities post surgery. As in NONE. I was NWB for 11 weeks. He said that the repair was very delicate but if I did everything he told me to do my ankle would heal perfectly. My foot was not even to touch the floor. I was not even to wiggle my toes. And pretty much it did. But those 11 weeks were rough. And Mr P was out of work at the time so he made sure I behaved
                  Last edited by carolprudm; Feb. 24, 2011, 02:00 PM.
                  I wasn't always a Smurf
                  Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                  "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                  The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


                  • #10
                    There are several threads in this forum (disabilities) that deal with "fear." There is quite a lot of good information and advice. I've been dealing with fear, waxing and waning, for years. One thing I try to abide by comes from a BNT who says "Ride where you can, not where you can't". So if all you can do comfortably is get on, sit on the horse, and then get off, that's fine. If it's just walking a few laps around the arena, that's fine too. I gave up cantering years ago and don't regret it. That's why I am "walktrot." I decided I have nothing to prove to anyone else, especially since I started I hit the early 60s. So I do what I am comfortable with and am very happy.

                    Jane Savioe's books are great. I've read them each a couple of times, and it's probably time to go back to them.
                    Providence sometimes takes care of idiots. Agnes Morley Cleaveland in No Life for a Lady.


                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by walktrot View Post
                      There are several threads in this forum (disabilities) that deal with "fear." There is quite a lot of good information and advice. I've been dealing with fear, waxing and waning, for years. One thing I try to abide by comes from a BNT who says "Ride where you can, not where you can't". So if all you can do comfortably is get on, sit on the horse, and then get off, that's fine. If it's just walking a few laps around the arena, that's fine too. I gave up cantering years ago and don't regret it. That's why I am "walktrot." I decided I have nothing to prove to anyone else, especially since I started I hit the early 60s. So I do what I am comfortable with and am very happy.

                      Jane Savioe's books are great. I've read them each a couple of times, and it's probably time to go back to them.

                      Thank you both very much!
                      Yeah, I feel like a looser for being so scared. Plus, my horse knows I'm scared, which makes him nervous too.
                      I've never been much for showing. I just loved to spend hours exploring trails with my soulmate.
                      But, yeah, I need to pace myself. Now that I've had a few good trailrides on my grandhorse, Lexx, I can't help but want to trot (and I really want to canter, but I'm just too scared to as of yet).
                      "Reason is, and ought to be, the slave of passions." David Hume


                      • #12
                        you have some great advice here, and if you search, there are lots of threads like this in the past year.

                        I had a couple of bad falls and could not shake the fear that I had while riding. this went on for several years. I worked with a psychologist that specializes in riders and did EMDR. Its a therapy developed for PTSD. long story short, it worked! such a relief

                        for the OP, please forgive yourself for being afraid. Janet Edgette has a great chapter on fear on her "Heads Up" collection. /www.headsupsport.com/. I recommend the entire book. basically fear is useful; it helps keep us alive. you cant will it away, its pretty primal. time will help, too.

                        good luck with the physical healing as well, that is so unfortunate.


                        • #13
                          You are not a wimp at all. You have experienced two serious riding accidents that have really hit home the fact that as much as we love it, riding is a dangerous sport.

                          I had a bad fall about ten years ago on a TB mare who threw two huge bucks. I was feeling pretty good about myself for sticking the first one when the second one launched me into the air over her head. There was enough hang time for me to think, 'My kids!" before I hit the ground. Hard. Like you, I was fearless as a kid and into my 30s, and mildly cautious after having children in my 30s. But the reality of what was at stake if I really hurt myself hit home in those seconds in the air and it changed my whole outlook.

                          My advice to you is to find a NARHA certified Therapeutic Riding Program that also offers lessons to the general public. Therapy mounts can help you regain your courage on a dependable horse while you strengthen your leg and a good instructor can help you regain your confidence and rekindle the fun.

                          Best of luck to you with your healing.


                          • #14
                            Just saw this on eBay we ought to all chip in and rotate it around the forum as needed
                            I wasn't always a Smurf
                            Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                            "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                            The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.