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Love my horse, afraid to ride him
I found your website searching for help for fearful riders. I have not been on a horse in well over a year. I used to ride often with my in-laws. I have been on some seriously spooked horses and stayed on. One day my stirrup leather broke during a canter with a strong-willed horse (the type that grabs the bit and runs). I lost my balance and I landed on my head. I like to think I would not have fallen if the leather didn't snap, but I still can't seem to shake my fear. I have since tried countless times to ride on trails (on borrowed horses) and always have ended up turning back because I fear the worst and cannot trust the horse. I am around horses all of the time as my daughter rides and shows. I love to be with them on the ground. I am not scared at all to do much of anything on the ground. Put me in the saddle and I get scared and I know the horse knows it. So, I bought a horse that met all of my criteria for a horse that I could trust and that would build my confidence to where it was. He is a 6 y/o, QH, sweet, willing, he has been to police (bombproof) schools, he has ridden in parades, he doesn't have a fast motor, his only bad thing I have noticed is a little head tossing. I have had him a month. I have been trying to get to know him, grooming, bathing, loading on trailers, leading him around on a lead rope, riding him in a round pen. Two days ago I tried to go on the trail and I turned him back because it was very windy and I didn't want a bad first time out. He has never once done anything to even make me afraid of him. Have I not given myself enough time? I know how to ride, I long to do it again like I used to. How can I get there? Should I just continue riding in the ring until I absolutely trust the horse completely? Are there lessons I can practice to overcome fear? My Father-in-law says I should just stay on the ground with him for a while until I get to know him and then I will trust him better. Your thoughts and expertise would be greatly appreciated.
You are not alone. I get numerous emails from folks in exactly the same situation you are. They have lost their confidence in themselves after taking a fall. Their trust has turned to fear. It can be the same for a horse whose faith is shaken by a unknowledgeable leader. Anyway, overcoming your fear can be a daunting challenge. However, fear becomes trust through knowledge, familiarity and practice over time. Whatever your fear is about, it will be alleviated through knowledge, familiarity and practice over time. A willingness to face the fear is imperative as well. But that comes after some time. Your father-in-law is right to suggest that you should stay on the ground with the horse until you come to trust who he is implicitly and he you. Get to really know him and let him know you. It won't take long, perhaps a month or even a few weeks depending on how much time you can put in. Forget the human activity of riding for a little while and focus on the horse itself, and yourself. That has nothing to do with the un-natural practice of humans riding horses. Let you and the horse get to be very 'natural' with each other first. Let your successful relationship be your first agenda.
Once the relationship is at a higher level, there will be a 'knowing' and trust between the horse and you. You will know it is the right time to start riding him again. You will take the wonderful relationship and knowledge you have gained 'dancing' on the ground with him into the saddle as you begin to ride him from this place of confidence and knowledge. Be patient with yourself and the horse. Take a few lessons, have fun around the stable or nearby before going too far out. Develop your confidence naturally through practice and patience. Take your time, one step and then the next. Not too fast, nor all at once. Let things build on themselves. Lay a good foundation.
These things will help you to replace your fear.....with trust. Please keep me posted and many Blessings to you. You can do this......
Sincerely yours, Franklin