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My physical fear/tension is causing major problems

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  • My physical fear/tension is causing major problems

    I've struggled with confidence on and off for a while, but over the past few years have done a lot better.

    Things have been going great, and I even have a bunch of prospective clients in the works.

    The problem is, I am over my mental fear but my physical fear is taking over. I had a fall off of a colt a few days ago, didn't hurt at all and got right back on, but ever since then my fear is taking over. I'm fine on other horses who I haven't fallen off of, but I know this will continue to be an issue beyond this colt, if I continue to train.

    My legs start to shake and my seat gets tense, which makes him even worse.

    I try deep breaths but it isn't helping, and I'm not sure how to get past it. Usually once I start jogging I snap out of it, but I can't even get to the point. We've been doing lots of groundwork in the meantime, and I've been just getting on, walking a lap or two, and getting off. He's just a personal project so no client and no big rush that way, but we need to get him sold.

    Any tips? It's so frustrating when my mind is coping but my body is still uncooperative.

  • #2
    Confused, are you a professional trainer? Outside help, meaning seeing a physchologist, often helps with anxiety in sports and life in general. And perhaps breaking colts is not your strong suit, not all trainers are good at that and many don't accept colts to break.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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    • #3
      Agree that, if you are a pro, it might be worth talking to a therapist to get a handle on what you are feeling and work on coping mechanisms. I also struggle with anxiety and fear issues. Jane Savoie's book, It's Not Just About the Ribbons, has also helped me quite a bit in working through my fears.

      I still have to take a moment to close my eyes and breathe before I step into the stirrup, even on the dead-broke lesson horses I use at work. After all the wrecks I've had, I don't think that will ever go away. But at least I'm (mostly) able to get myself together after a few seconds now. We'll see how things go when my new filly is ready to start under saddle, though...

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      • #4
        Agree with the others - therapy can do wonders for getting your head back in the game. Otherwise, take it slow, if possible. Ride some quiet horses to rebuild your confidence and help your mind remember why you enjoy horses.

        It's more common than you'd think to find people who've ridden for years suddenly start experiencing anxiety. For me, a bad fall/ambulance ride/night in hospital a few years ago really shook me up - brought up my mortality. Now that I have a family to think of, much of the no-fear/ride-anything-drive of my former teen/young adult riding years has been tempered and I find my confidence comes and goes.

        Not sure if I'm allowed to link to FB, but there is a group called "Riding Fear Free," which is based off a book by the same name. It's a nice group of individuals focused on support, no negativity allowed. I haven't purchased the book, but have founds some good advice within the posts.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by bitsandpieces18 View Post
          I've struggled with confidence on and off for a while, but over the past few years have done a lot better.

          Things have been going great, and I even have a bunch of prospective clients in the works.

          The problem is, I am over my mental fear but my physical fear is taking over. I had a fall off of a colt a few days ago, didn't hurt at all and got right back on, but ever since then my fear is taking over. I'm fine on other horses who I haven't fallen off of, but I know this will continue to be an issue beyond this colt, if I continue to train.

          My legs start to shake and my seat gets tense, which makes him even worse.

          I try deep breaths but it isn't helping, and I'm not sure how to get past it. Usually once I start jogging I snap out of it, but I can't even get to the point. We've been doing lots of groundwork in the meantime, and I've been just getting on, walking a lap or two, and getting off. He's just a personal project so no client and no big rush that way, but we need to get him sold.

          Any tips? It's so frustrating when my mind is coping but my body is still uncooperative.
          I gather from your post that you are a professional trainer?

          I agree with findeight that you need to seek yourself some professional mental help. Yes, the "fear" is a mental game. The body does what the mind tells it. You need to learn to control your mind and get past the fear.

          Yes, easier said than done. I trained some colts when I was in college. One particular 2-year-old filly was tough, even rearing and coming over on top of me. Thankfully I never got hurt though, but still scary nonetheless. She had already been to another trainer and repeatedly bucked that trainer off, and said trainer was scared of her. Of course, the owners never said a peep about this when I bought her and straight out lied to me, but that's another discussion........ But my heart would start pounding and I could not will my legs to climb on her without about 30 seconds of mental preparation to get them to move.(well, before she started taking off, anyway). And even then, I was terrified. I don't know why it shook me so bad as I never had any problems before her, but I did.

          For me, it was not a profession. Just a way to make some summer money. Since then, I honestly have no urge to start colts anymore. I'll let someone else do it. But I am for sure careful when getting on a strange horse for the first time. And yes, lots of mental preparation.

          But if you paycheck depends on it, then I would seek out the resources you need to overcome your issues.
          Last edited by beau159; Aug. 2, 2018, 03:43 PM.
          It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

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          • #6
            I would add that if you are just in the beginning stages of setting up as a trainer, you might want to put that on hold or at least modify the jobs you accept until you have the fear issues really sorted out. Maybe you could specialize in ground work, or in schooling broke horses, rather than colt starting.

            The pros really are crazy fearless, foolishly so at times IMHO. And many excellent trainers don't start colts but rather refine flying changes etc in good well broke horses.

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