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Afraid to ride after accident

Hello Franklin,

My name is Tabetha, I am 25 and have 2 horses of my own. I own a 7 year old TB mare who is 16 hands and a yearling Paint colt (whom will be gelded next month).

When I was 19 I had a real bad accident, I was galloping up a dirt road at full speed when my horse decided to take a sharp right hand turn as I went straight. I flew about 50 feet and landed among trees and boulders. After I finally got up off the ground, I was determined no matter how much my body hurt that I was getting back on, which I did for only about 5 minutes until the pain was unbearable. I was brought to the hospital with a fractured hip and shoulder and a very severe concussion which caused me to have seizures for a couple of weeks. I rode my horse which was a 4 year old Appy maybe once or twice a month after that and only at a walk, I was afraid to even go up to a trot, Skip was sold shortly after that.

I have since moved on with my life and a couple times have taken riding lessons to get my confidence back, but nothing has worked. When I start to get up to a trot I freak out and am afraid I will fall again. I now have FlyAway (my TB) who I rescued with a extensor injury and I know she needs to be worked to build her strength up, but I only ride her maybe once a month, I have this fear inside of me just will not seem to go away, and I love my horses, when I am on the ground I have no fear, it is just when I am in the saddle. I want to be able to set aside my fear so I can enjoy my dream. I was wondering if you had any rider confidence suggestions.

Thanks ~ Tabetha

Hi Tabetha,

Over coming 'fear of falling' after a person has had a bad fall is a very challenging endeavor indeed. As with post traumatic stress after any dangerous or traumatic event, occasionally counseling is not a bad idea. So, I want to suggest you get a bit of professional assistance from a counselor. I do believe this will speed along a return to confidence. As far as what to do when with the horse, a lot of ground playing is a great idea. When you deside to ride, have someone lead you for a good while. Then have a competent person lunge you (they hold the line) on the horse. Do this for a good while until you have the confidence and skill to ride without hands, arms outstretched at a walk, trot and canter. Then consider doing this without stirrups as well. This would also help build your confidence, but is not essential.

Basically you are going back to the initial stages of learning to ride. As you are a rider already, your progress will be a lot faster than a true novice. But taking the time to do it this way and going slowly and not proceeding to the next step until the previous one is mastered, will insure success. You can do this. I have help many people who have had serious falls and the stress of that trauma prevented them from riding. Go back to the bginning and begin again is the best suggestion I can make.

Couple this with a bit of professional counseling and you'll beback in the saddle before you know it. The best of luck and horses to you. Please keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

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