Riding can be one of the most exciting and thrilling activities there is. There’s not much that can top galloping through the field on your horse’s back, soaring over a big jump, racing around a barrel, or gliding across the long side of the arena at a big, bouncy trot. But as most riders know, these thrills don’t come without a few spills. The time will come that you do hit the dirt, and this can really take a toll on your riding confidence. How do you regain confidence after falling off a horse? These five tips will help you to tackle your fear after falling off and get you back in the saddle with a smile in no time.
1) If you’re not hurt (and your trainer gives you the OK), get right back on.
Many people wonder what to do after falling off a horse. After you fall off, the top of your pony’s back can feel taller than the Empire State Building, and the anticipation of swinging your leg back over the saddle can seem like the scariest thing in the world. As long as you aren’t hurt and your trainer gives you the all clear to get back in the saddle, do it right away. This will help guarantee that you don’t have any lingering anticipation about mounting up. You don’t have to go right back to the activity that you were doing when you took your spill, but a few laps around the ring at the trot after a fall can go a long way toward kick-starting your confidence.
2) Go back and do something you’ve already mastered.
If you took a tumble while working on a new skill, take a step back and do something you already feel great at. If you had a hiccup while working on perfecting your flying change, take some time and go back to the trot-to-canter transition. If you lost your balance galloping on the trails, take a few outings at a relaxing trot through the woods. Practicing something you already know how to do well will help boost your confidence and keep nerves at bay.
3) Talk with your trainer.
Losing your confidence and feeling afraid after a fall is completely natural. While it may feel embarrassing to admit your fear to your trainer, talking with him or her about it can actually help keep your nerves from getting even worse.
Having an open communication going between you and your trainer will help him or her assess what you need to work on to get your riding and confidence back on track. This helps you to refocus and keeps you from getting sucked deeper into your post-fall worries. It is your trainer’s job to make sure you and your pony stay safe and to help you to achieve your riding goals, so keep anyone you work with in the loop on how you are feeling in the saddle.
4) Challenge yourself in other ways.
After a fall it can be tempting to start obsessing over exactly what, how, and why you fell off the horse. However, concentrating so heavily on the fall can start to take a toll on other physical and mental aspects of your riding.
In your rides following your spill, try to keep your mind busy and challenge yourself in different ways. Make a goal to try to do the first 10 minutes of your ride without stirrups, or ask your trainer for a longe line lesson where you ride the whole time without your reins.
Setting attainable goals that challenge your mind and body will help keep your focus centered on the ride you’re currently having, instead of the fall that happened last weekend.
5) Remember, falls happen to all riders.
Falling off a horse is just one step along the way in your journey to becoming the best rider you can be. Every great rider has fallen off—lots and lots of times. Riding is a fun and challenging sport that will definitely come with a few bobbles along the way. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t give up, and you’ll be back to feeling like a superstar in the irons before you know it.
Falling off can be scary and can definitely take your confidence down a few pegs. While it’s a normal part of riding, it’s also normal to feel some fear after you hit the ground. These five tips will help ease your worries and help improve your riding confidence until it’s better than ever!
This article about getting over fear of falling off a horse appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!