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coming back from an injury..need advice

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  • coming back from an injury..need advice

    Around the middle of October i was thrown from a horse and sustained a neck injury that sent me too the hospital...i've been off the horse for awhile and started riding again about 3 weeks ago...what i need advice on is this, ever since i returned to riding i've noticed my confidence has been shattered...even working around horses on the ground i get wicked nervous(pre-injury i could go into a stall with/ride any horse and i would be fine)...does anyone have any suggestions on confidence builders?and how to get my confidence back?

  • #2
    First, you are NOT alone. I would suggest Jane Savoie's Freedom From Fear series - I know many have found it useful.
    www.specialhorses.org
    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

    Comment


    • #3
      I second Jane Savoie's books. I found them very helpful.

      Could you also have someone else around while you are at the barn? I know when I was coming back from my elbow surgery, it helped to know someone was around in case anything happened or I needed help.

      Comment


      • #4
        Taming the fear response can be done.

        DressageGeek gave you great advice. You are defintely Not alone in the fear reaction.

        I have broken my back, and when a horse moves the same way as the horse did when I was injuried, the primative part of the brain automatically sends out serious DANGER! signals. It takes replacing the small pieces one at a time with positive "I can Do this safely" images. It is hard, takes discipline and it helps to have a trained/caring person with you who can step in between you and the situation to give you time to regroup, lower the danger reaction and try again.

        Jane's series in very good. There are other books that help, too. I use "THINKING BODY, DANCING MIND" an excellent sports psychology book, as my bible. Are you near any sport psychologists or colleges that teach it?

        Bio-feed back is very useful, to keep from flooding with the physical response of adreneline. Pick a small element of the situation and work on feeling that you can move and control that small bit. Think the positive image of doing it easily and well. The mind can only process one thing at a time, so replacing the negative with positive will change the chemical response in one's body.

        I tell myself "I CAN do it. I have done it before. I feel good and happy when I do it THIS way."

        As one builds the positive images. the body will shut down the adreneline and switch to endorphins. Stroking helps both you and the one being stroked. Talking or humming a lullaby can change the breathing pattern and help you remember to breathe.

        Hang out with the quietest horse that you have a comfortable relationship with. You may need to be outside the stall or have a barrier between you at the beginning. The buddy person may need to be closer to the horse and handling the horse, while you observe. It sometimes helps to have your buddy's hand under yours, at first.

        You can regain your confidence, but you will most likely always recognize and respect the physical leading edge movements, smells and other factors. Your body will always warn you, but you will be free to use the information positively and quickly to prevent it from happening again. There are some good aspects to the primative brain.

        Pm me whenever you want a buddy. I know what this feels like.
        Intermediate Riding Skills

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          i also ride on the outside of my ankles,could that have anything to do with the fear?

          Comment


          • #6
            More info, please

            I am a bit confused about the ankles question. Did you ride on the outside of your ankles before your accident or is this new?

            Generally speaking, if you are riding with ankles or feet out of balance underneath you, you have major balance issues and your body is trying to defeat the forces of gravity.

            If the ankles are collapsing, something is quite wrong. Can you see a P.T. and see if you have something out of alignment in your body that can be adjusted/strengthened/supported?

            The saddle could be not level or doesn't fit you or the horse. It may have too wide a twist and is throwing your pelvis/hips out.

            You may now have a heighten sense of levelness, which is a gift.
            Intermediate Riding Skills

            Comment


            • #7
              I can relate to this completely. I was struck by a mare very high up in the thigh and had to be taken via ambulance to the hospital in July of this year. I didn't handle my horses at all for quite some time. This injury has taken a really long time to heal and so has my confidence especially with the youngsters. After 5 months though I'm getting my confidence back. You've got some really good advice from the posters above.
              Chris Misita
              www.hiddenvalleyfarms.net Home of Bravo and Warrick!
              To dare; progress comes at this price. All sublime conquests are, more or less, the rewards of daring.
              Victor Hugo

              Comment


              • #8
                For many of us this is definately an issue!!!

                One thing that may or may not help is breathing excersizes. Breathe thru your nose and exhale thru your lips ...do this slowly, and even close your eyes, and project the fear away. I like to imagine a black ball full of my pain and fear, and then force my mind to reduce the size of that ball until it is small enough to throw it into the distance.

                All this time I have been breathing slowly and relaxing my mind.

                Some have called it self hypnosis, I call it getting rid of the stabbing pain and fear I had. This is after 2 back surguries and MUCHO pain and no drugs.

                This works for me as does SLOW stretching, and GENTLE excersize in our soaking tub. Project your pain and fear... it works.

                Some folks call it mumbo jumbo...Hmmmm might work for you too.

                Oh yeah, and I go ride my lil Arab mare up into the buttes, and talk to her the whole way about 3-5 times a week.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  another thing i've noticed is that my friends who rode with me before the accident(and who are used to seeing me jump,canter,etc) don't buy it when i tell them about my fear and explain why i've stopped jumping and doing more advanced stuff

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    EightBelles - IGNORE THEM. Your fear is real. Not insurmountable - but real. It is a very natural defense. They cannot understand because - thankfully for them - they have not been there (but don't worry, after a while, everyone gets old enough that they start to think, "Am I nuts to do this? I could get hurt!!").

                    How insensitive of them. Negating your feelings only makes it more difficult for you.
                    www.specialhorses.org
                    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I broke my pelvis in a freak fall. Believe me, I know what you're going through.

                      1) If you are just returning to riding, everything probably feels weird. Between the loss of conditioning from sitting around doing nothing and the injury itself, your body dosen't work the same as it did. However, your mind knows what to do and the frustration of knowing how to do something mentally but not being able to do it physically can add to the fear. Assuming your doctor OKs it, do non-riding exercise. I did a lot of swimming (at one point 30-40 minutes, 4-5 times a week) initially to rebuild the strength in my legs.

                      2) Ride a horse you trust not to spook, buck, take advantage of you or do anything that would set you back. This does not mean the horse has to be a deadhead. My mare is sensitive, but she also is very solid (I can count on 1 hand the number of spooks in 10+ years) and has an ingrained "whoa" button installed.

                      3) I did lots of riding on a loose rein, focusing on my position, my breathing, and my mantras (Jane Savoie suggests picking 2 or 3 words representing what you want to be). This is another reason the sane horse is so important. You need to work on you, not the horse. This is difficult to impossible if you're on a horse that thinks riding on the buckle is an invitation to be stupid.

                      4) Learn yoga. I use the deep breathing I learned in yoga a lot to calm myself down when I get tense.

                      5) I will echo others: Jane Savoie's books and her "Freedom from Fear" CD set are awesome. The CD set is not cheap but is totally worth it IMO.

                      6) If you don't have one already, find an instructor that understands working with fearful adults (which is completely different than fearful kids). At my barn, one trainer openly proclaims that she has never been fearful on a horse and can't understand anyone who is. Her method is basically to berate people for not being "cocky" enough. Stay far far away from people like this. The other trainer is very laid back and willing to work through my issues without making me feel silly.

                      7) The flip-side of the people who dismiss your fear as nonrational and push you to get back to cantering and jumping right NOW are those that question why you even want to ride again. In my experience, these tend to be well meaning non-horse people who say things like "if you get that scared, maybe you shouldn't ride anymore" or "I guess you'll sell your horse now" or "why would you want to do something so dangerous? Aren't you scared you'll get hurt again?" They just don't get it and most non-horse people won't. I learned to discuss my riding very minimally with these types. My riding is my business.

                      8) Setbacks happen. My accident happened close to 6 years ago. I thought I was over the fear, and then I had 2 falls within a couple months. I wasn't hurt, but all the fear came back. I look at it as a chronic condition that I can control and overcome but not erase. It's always a work in progress.

                      Good luck and PM me if you want to talk.
                      BES
                      Proudly owned by 2 chestnut mares
                      Crayola Posse: sea green
                      Mighty Rehabbers Clique

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The way I see it, our bodies have an autonomous built-in security system.

                        After we have had our toes stepped on by a horse, I can tell you my toes have their own eyes and can move out of the way faster than I can think and before I even notice the horse's foot is moving my way.

                        When I had my arm operated on two years ago, I was feeding several horses in the big lot and my arm kept getting on the other side of any horse approaching and really didn't want to be there, just in case.

                        Seriously, our bodies and minds tell us so much in an instinctive way, to keep us safe, but we eventually have to compensate for that overly cautious body using reason and that takes effort.

                        Try telling your body that you are listening, but to let you decide if to act.
                        Learn to stop the instincts that make us overreact with anxious thoughts and act with more thought behind what you do.
                        I consider that a kind of retraining of ourselves in those situations, just as we would retrain a horse that had a bad experience, so they can get over that.

                        Works for me.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm working through the same thing right now. The first time I went out on the trail after falling off from a spook my leg shook for most of the ride. My fear has gotten better as we go out on little rides to build my confidence back. I do the breathing thing and visualize a successful ride. My biggest problem is feeling disconnected from my horse. Before I felt balanced and moved with my horse naturally, little spooks didn't bother me. Now I'm stiff and feel like a strong wind will blow me off, I live in fear of a spook. I tried to explain this to my trainer and I could tell by her expression that she didn't understand why I was afraid and that it was really affecting how I rode. It sucks and you are not alone although it very much feels that way.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho" View Post
                            EightBelles - IGNORE THEM. Your fear is real. Not insurmountable - but real. It is a very natural defense. They cannot understand because - thankfully for them - they have not been there (but don't worry, after a while, everyone gets old enough that they start to think, "Am I nuts to do this? I could get hurt!!").

                            How insensitive of them. Negating your feelings only makes it more difficult for you.
                            Drassagegeek,
                            I was not discounting the O.P. fears. In fact since I am 63 yrs old, and quite experienced with pain, surguries, arthriis, ECT.
                            What I was saying was, that IF you want to start back riding, you must conquer the fear and tension that keeps you from enjoying the companionship and freedom riding gives you.
                            I am now on s/s disability, and can assure you if I could go back to work, and not have to live on a budget of "Pennies", I would in a heatbeat. Unfortunately, companies don't want to take the liability of you possibly getting hurt and suing them. ( I would be so grateful that no way would I sue unless it was gross negligience)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I injured my back and sciatic nerve (and 2 slipped discs) last August. I have NOT been able to get back on a horse yet, but I feel that I am finally both mentally and physically to do so now. I have a good friend who offered to let me ride her horse and I may do that next weekend. I'll need a mounting block to mount as I cannot extend my leg that high anymore. I also appreciate all the advice! I'll keep you guys posted as to my progress. I did saddle two of my horses last weekend, but I wasn't ready then to mount them...nerves, I guess!
                              Mom to 5 rescue horses: Sunni, Gigondas, Scout, Cali, and now Quad!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                sisely...i think maybe dressagegeek was talking about the op's friends who couldn't understand why she wasn't cantering and jumping....

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  more frustration, had another bad fall today and was injured again..i think it may be a hamstring this time...and it didn't help my confidence issues either,i got tossed from a "Confidence builder" mare

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by EightBelles134 View Post
                                    more frustration, had another bad fall today and was injured again..i think it may be a hamstring this time...and it didn't help my confidence issues either,i got tossed from a "Confidence builder" mare
                                    That is terrible.
                                    I hope you didn't get hurt too badly this time.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I too battle major fear issues.

                                      I had an ISH gelding, 17.2 hh that reared and flipped over, landing on me and three occasions. All three times were out of the blue, and cause minor knee problems, mostly bad bruising and soreness. Nothing life threatening, or even requiring a trip to the doctor. This was a CCI* event horse that I was competing succesfully and had brought up through the levels myself.....I purchased him when he was 3 and this started when he was 7. I no longer have him, as he has a new rider that doesn't have fear issues.

                                      I had never been a fearful rider until this happened. I did have a year where I had my wrist stepped on after falling off of a steeplechase horse I was galloping, and was flipped on several times.

                                      I am still battling fear issues 4 years later. I chose to not ride horses that trigger the fear response very often. The bad part is, I have several young homebreds that need the work. I do get on them, but have to battle through the fear response. I deal with bucking, and spooking just fine, but the minute a head comes up and front feet leave the ground, my body screams to get away from it. I freeze, tense up, heartbeat races, and I am non functional until someone, or sometimes myself, can talk me down. I can work through it, and try very hard to every day. While I use to get nervous about horses I was working with in hand rearing, I have pretty much gotten over that. It used to be so bad I would want to drop the rope and run for cover.

                                      It is something that I know I have to work on every time I get on a horse. I have a huge fear of rearing, and getting hurt again. I am learning to push through it though. I do know that I am not a fearful rider all of the time. But, there are things that can trigger a fear response that is paralyzing and like no other.

                                      I will look into the books that have been reccomended, and to the OP, you are not alone. I am an Advaced level event rider that is battling the same thing.
                                      "Animals can sometimes take us to a place that we cannot reach ourself"

                                      ** Support the classic Three Day Event! Ride a Long Format **

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by QHEventr View Post
                                        I too battle major fear issues.

                                        I had an ISH gelding, 17.2 hh that reared and flipped over, landing on me and three occasions. All three times were out of the blue, and cause minor knee problems, mostly bad bruising and soreness. Nothing life threatening, or even requiring a trip to the doctor. This was a CCI* event horse that I was competing succesfully and had brought up through the levels myself.....I purchased him when he was 3 and this started when he was 7. I no longer have him, as he has a new rider that doesn't have fear issues.

                                        I had never been a fearful rider until this happened. I did have a year where I had my wrist stepped on after falling off of a steeplechase horse I was galloping, and was flipped on several times.

                                        I am still battling fear issues 4 years later. I chose to not ride horses that trigger the fear response very often. The bad part is, I have several young homebreds that need the work. I do get on them, but have to battle through the fear response. I deal with bucking, and spooking just fine, but the minute a head comes up and front feet leave the ground, my body screams to get away from it. I freeze, tense up, heartbeat races, and I am non functional until someone, or sometimes myself, can talk me down. I can work through it, and try very hard to every day. While I use to get nervous about horses I was working with in hand rearing, I have pretty much gotten over that. It used to be so bad I would want to drop the rope and run for cover.

                                        It is something that I know I have to work on every time I get on a horse. I have a huge fear of rearing, and getting hurt again. I am learning to push through it though. I do know that I am not a fearful rider all of the time. But, there are things that can trigger a fear response that is paralyzing and like no other.

                                        I will look into the books that have been reccomended, and to the OP, you are not alone. I am an Advanced level event rider that is battling the same thing.
                                        Hey there,

                                        I didn't know all this happened to you! Thanks so much for sharing your fears like this as I expect something similar will happen with me as I come back to riding after this broken neck. My old horse did a LOT of wicked bucking and bolting whenever he'd decide he wasn't gonna play the XC game for one reason or another. That same fear response you described is probably part of the reason I got tossed at Christmas and broke my neck - I now tend to freeze rather than DO something proactive when a horse gets tense and is obviously scared.

                                        At the same time, I don't want to talk myself into fear I may not even have...just want to have a way to deal with fear period. Jane Savoie's books would no doubt be helpful, but little horse that tossed me (actually a fairly honest spook - golf cart loaded with kids waving oversize red UGA flags came at us down the road..) is over in Aiken with Lellie Ward getting education from a pro so the extra $$$ for Jane's books just isn't available...maybe ebay? What have you been doing to help yourself? I'll follow your lead! Good luck - you've got some very, very cute babies to get going.

                                        Lynda
                                        ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan

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