Have you ever been scared of your horse? Not the “oh please don’t step on my toes while wearing something other then boots” scared. I mean truly scared bordering on terrified of your horse?
I have. Yup…you heard that right…I have literally been on the boarder of scared and terrified of my own horse. Its not a fun place to be.
For me it was an utter loss of confidence in myself as a rider after a really bad fall off my, at the time 3 year old, Cash. I was slightly nervous to start. He was young, and easily excitable and there was another rider in the ring. We were working on some easy trot and canter transitions when the other rider in the ring decided to pass us.
Cash, being young, wanted to race the horse that had just passed him. He wanted to play. When he went to go after the horse I told him no (and probably used to much bit pressure) and Cash started bucking. Boy oh boy can that horse buck! I managed to stay on two or three really good bucks before the final one caused me to slide over the pommel of the saddle and onto his shoulders. It felt like ages as I saw the ground coming towards me. I attempted to tuck and roll but I landed horribly wrong. Cash took off for a lap around the ring while I curled up and tried to make sure everything was still intact. Thankfully I always wear a helmet with him so my head was fine. After a quick inventory everything else seemed to be in order. Adrenaline was pumping and I was a little shaken but not to badly.
The other rider had caught Cash and with shaky legs I got back on. I didn’t ride long. Everything already hurt so with a quick few circles and a little trot I ended it on a good note. I carefully untacked him and put him away. I thought I was fine. I really truly did. I have fallen off many times in a variety of untimely dismounts but had never gotten seriously injured. I went home, took some pain meds and a hot shower and called it a night.
It wasn’t until two days after my fall that I found out just how badly I had hurt myself. I went to go to work, and bent over to pick up a backpack when my entire back spasmed and I couldn’t move the pain was so bad. I was taken to the hospital by a good friend where after X-rays I found out I had slipped a disk and twisted a vertebra in my lower back due to the impact from how I had landed. It was months before I could walk well, much less ride again. As I got better my fear of riding got worse.
When I was finally able to ride I became terrified to go any faster then a trot. I was scared that I was gonna fall again and re injure myself. I had lost every bit of confidence I had in not only myself but in my horse. Cash knew of my fear, I can guarantee it, and those moments I rode him he really did try his hardest to be good. Being so young he was a super star with me. Which naturally made me feel even worse about being scared to ride him. Working with him on the ground great. I loved playing with with him and working on the moments like turn on the forehand and haunches. Even free jumping him! If only I wasn’t scared to get in the saddle!
Then I had to leave the state for work so my horses went back to my parents ranch. Obviously I love horses, even if I was scared to ride, it didn’t take long for me to find a place near my job where I could take an occasional lesson. I will forever be grateful of those lessons. Slowly, as my riding muscles got stronger, and the lessons pushed my comfort zone, I began re-gaining my confidence.
It wasn’t until I began jumping with my lesson horse that I finally regained all the confidence and then some, that I had lost from the fall. With being confident in myself I was able to trust Cash and our partnership was reformed. But it wasn’t an over night thing. It took me nearly a year to regain all my confidence and trust my horse 100% again.
There is nothing wrong with being scared. Its a natural reaction to situations we cannot control (and we humans love our control!) But everyone will come to a point in their riding career where their confidence is shaken. Some will choose to push through and carry on. Others will hang up their boots and move on to something else, leaving horses as a fond memory. There is nothing wrong with either approach if thats the right thing for you. But don’t let go of something you truly love deep down in your soul because of fear! Some of our greatest accomplishments are over coming our fears no matter how small they look from the outside.
I’m not scared to admit I feared my own horse. It was a huge learning curve for me but one I am glad I had because if I can overcome my own fear then I can overcome anything anyone else puts in my path!
Have you overcome any of your fears? are you still working on it?
Let me know in a comment below!
(Now I just feel like this every time I think about what I’ve overcome! whoohooooo)