HI Spy: Do you ever experience fear while riding?

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    Rider fearNo matter how experienced and confident you are with horses, chances are you’ve experienced fear at some point in your equestrian life.

    Some amount of fear is actually healthy. Fear is a natural instinct that kicks in when you realize that you may be in danger, even if that realization is subconscious. Ignore your fear and you may get yourself hurt. On the other hand, if your anxiety is preventing you from being an effective rider, you need to find a way to work through it.

    Fear can be triggered by a traumatic event. If you’ve had a bad fall or have been kicked in the pasture, you may find that you feel afraid in the saddle or around horses when you didn’t before. Some riders feel fine most of the time, but lock up when they have to do something outside their comfort zone, such as jumping an oxer or riding through a particularly spooky trail.

    Sometimes there isn’t a concrete cause. Plenty of riders feel a general anxiety in the saddle even with a horse they’ve ridden many times doing things they regularly do.

    Fear doesn’t have to prevent you from enjoying horses. The key is to manage it and learn how to work through it. Do you ever experience fear when riding or working around horses? How do you work through it? Click “Submit a Comment” below and share your thoughts with other HorseChannel.com visitors. Some of our favorite responses may be printed in a future issue of Horse Illustrated.

    One selected response may be selected by the editors to win a monthly prize! If you would like to be eligible for the prize, please include your email address in the comment form (email addresses are not publicly displayed.)

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    108 COMMENTS

    1. I have been bucked off of my horse many times, and, for the longest time I was scared to canter her. For a few months, I did strictly groundwork using Clinton Anderson’s Method, which helped boost my confidence. Then, when I was ready to ride again, I had my aunt come out to the roundpen where I was riding and give me instructions so there was no way that I could avoid cantering. Now I ride my horse in our arena at a canter on a loose rein confidently!

    2. My horse has a mind of his own, so it can be pretty scary when he suddenly takes off toward the barn to get food and I’m still clinging frantically to the reins! Plus when I try to slow him down, he tends to fight back and go faster!

    3. I am not scared when riding. I am just scared when I am in the pasture with them. About a year ago, i was in the pasture, the horses(thoroughbreds) started running towards me full speed ahead. I started running towards the fence, but was too late and 1 of the horses kicked me in the head. She didn’t kick in anger. She just didn’t see me. the doctor said if she would of kicked in anger, she would of fractured my skull and I would have died right there and then. I guess that is why scar is in scared. I just have to be more careful.

    4. Sometimes I’m scared when I’m riding. Like if I’m jumping or working with a stubborn pony on the trails. But, I try not to think about all the things that scare me while I’m riding and instead focus on having fun.

    5. When i get frightened i will often pray that the good lord will watch over me and my horses steps, and if something happens i will trust the lord with that, then i go out there and have some fun!

    6. I had a rough experience getting on an Arabian horse named Hawkeim. I had just swung my leg over the horse’s rump and before I could even put my butt on the saddle he bucked me over his head. When I hit the ground I fractured my tailbone. Month’s later, the first time I tried to get back in the saddle of another horse I couldn’t do it. I put my foot in the stirrup, pushed up and he moved so I jumped back. I kept on trying but I was too nervous and scarred I was even upsetting the horses. I have spent a lot of time since then just working with horses from the ground. This helped build back my trust and confidence in horses again. I am happy to say I’m finally riding again after a year. Now if I feel uneasy I smile and talk to the horse. Doing both of these things together helps me to relax and act calm. I also never allow myself to focus on what happened that day. After all it’s in the past and I’m riding now.

    7. I’ve got to admit sometime when i’m with a horse that is known to kick or bite i get scared but someone said to me “you’ve got to stop being scared and trust him” So now I aware but not scared

    8. A few years ago I had a bad fall. When I landed the instructor just told me to shake it off, climb back on, and try again. After that for three whole years I was terrifed of being on a horse. I would still try and it never worked out. I would lean forward in a almost fetal position and use no aids besides jerking on the reins in a struggle to slow my horse down. I bought the hore the bad fall was on and in just the month that I have owned him we have built back of trust and I am finally able to ride again and I can’t wait for show season so I can show my boy off.

    9. i fell off my horse this past fall and suffered headaches for about 2 months afterwards. i had a fear of going faster than a trot but riding with people that i trust and on a horse that i trust i have regained most of my confidence back and now am working on galloping and felling comfortable.

    10. I was constantly bucked off my horse when I first started riding her last summer. After awhile, I came to expect a bucking fit when asking her for anything faster than a walk. My horse has long since gotten past the bucking, but I still haven’t totally overcome the fear. Whenever I start to tense up while riding, I remind myself that my anxiety becomes my horse’s anxiety, then take a deep breath and let go of the fear.

    11. when i feel a bit uneasy i think” just think wisely, make good choices,dont let fear spoil your fun,and most of all just go out there and have fun!

    12. I am VERY nervous when riding. I have a very stubborn horse, and she bucks whenever I ride her. I never go into a gait faster than a trot. Hopefully my horse and I will overcome this block in the future, though.

    13. I was never really afraid of horses and had been riding for years. Then one day while I was horse searching I came across an energetic saddlebred named Worthy who hadn’t been ridden in years. It didn’t go that well,. he reared up and fell backwards. If I hadn’t slipped off of the rear right before he fell he would of crushed me. I never wanted to get back on. But I did. I said hated that horse and fear overcame me. But I knew sometimes you have to face your fear. I can’t imagine life if I hadn’t. Now I own a sweet kind saddlebred and I couldn’t ask for a better horse. I love my horse Worthy.

    14. I some times I do feel fear but it is not always for me. at times if my horse is having a bad day at a show and bucks or something crazy. I have fear that she will hurt her self or other horses and riders. so what I do is just sit on her and have someone hold her close my eyes, relax and count slowly from one to ten.

    15. When I get nervous, my riding begins to suffer. I’ve ridden my horse for years now and knows when he is about to misbehave, and can stop him in his tracks. I also remind myself that in all the years we’ve gone through, I’ve never fallen off, even when there’s those spooky sounds, new jumps, scary trails and sudden scary bags stuck on a tree. 🙂

    16. I usually don’t get scard alot on my mare. I will get a bit afraid on a young horse when the are canering and lower they’re head or act like they might buck. I sometimes get a bit afriad when there is something on the trails that might hurt my horse. I REALLY get scared when one of my friend’s horses act up. But I rarely get scared enough where I put my foot down and get off or turn around on the trails. 8)

    17. Just about 2 years ago I purchased my first horse. It was about a couple weeks ago I had my first fall on him. I fell because I became too confident in my riding and when something bad came up, I would trust him to take care of me. I had anxiety about trusting him again, and it became clear to me, that he’ll take care of me, but I have to be alert as well, and be the driver of the ride, not the passenger.

    18. I used to get a lot fear when riding. I sometimes still do, even. Usually, I used to get nervous because I was a beginner and wasn’t fully used to riding yet. But sometimes when I have a bad fall, or anything else that could worry me, I do get nervous or I tense up. But the best thing to cure your worries for me is to just get right back in the saddle. If you feel very uncomfortable with your horse, try having a fun day with your horse and try to bond with your four-legged friend even more, so by the end of the day you’re practically dying for the next time you can see him! And remember, don’t give up when you’re feeling nervous. It’s a natural thing to do. All riders get nervous no matter what!

    19. My Horse absolutely hates those scary, white bags flying around. So when I see one I try not to tense up, but I still get a little scared (like uh-oh gonna bolt) and hope it won’t suddenly dance about in a passing breeze. Working on desensitizing him…

    20. As you know, horses are very UNPREDICTABLE creatures…Who knows what they might do? But my fear is my feelings. Horses can feel it, and when you are scared, they are scared. But i get scared of the normal things riders should beware of, like bucking, bolting, falling off. But aren’t these normal things that are part of riding?

    21. If I get scared, all I do is think about what I am going to do over and over again in my head. Like, when I get scared about jumping gates, or oxers, then I realize my horse will get me through it. Sometimes, if I am really scared, I pray to God that he will help me to do my best and stay safe.

    22. Right now I am afraid to ride a new horse that Janice just got. He is a big, black thoroughbred and his name is Thor. I guess the reason I am scared to ride him is because I’m only 11 and I am really small. I’m worried I won’t be able to handle him. And if I fall, it’s a long way down.

    23. When I’m afraid that I’ll lose my balance when jumping with no hands, or no stirrups, I just tell myself that my trainer wouldn’t ask it of me if she didn’t think I was capable, plus, it usually will improve my riding. If I feel like my young mare is very spooky, and she’s acting like she might buck, I pay attention to my instincts and lunge her more, or just stay on alert for bad behavior.

    24. I experience fear all the time! I really try to read my horse, that im leasing, alot. She’s very calm and she’s hardly the problem. I have too high expectations and when someone is watching me, I tense up. When it’s just me and her i ride alot better and all my fears seem to go away.

    25. Fear is something that I don’t experience too often anymore, but something I do have to deal with. I ride a lot of young and green horses at my workplace, so I am always reserved when I go to get on a new one. My advice to those who have fears or hesitations would be to take a deep breath, and instead of letting the fear take hold, using that heightened awareness to be attentive to the horse and what they are doing. Because the horse is so attuned to its surroundings, when the rider has fear, the horse picks up on it. Transfer that energy into something you can work with and tune into the horse instead of tuning into your fear.

    26. After a bad fall I had a couple months ago, I never wanted to get back in saddle, but my trainer told me don’t let my fear take over me, and regret never riding again, so I got back in the saddle and I was happy she got me to ride again, but ever since then, I still fear being in the saddle and around horses, it also makes me more aware that riding is not a safe sport, and horses are unpredictable creatures, and you have to pay full attention to them.

    27. Although I sometimes experience stress while riding, especially when something’s going wrong, my main contributor to anxiety is the fear of not measuring up. I want to do well and to live up to the expectations of my teacher and to stay level skill-wise with my barn buddies. To work through it, I just try to focus on enjoying the time I get to spend riding and not worrying about how I compare to my peers.

    28. Well one time my horse sharpay fell on my knee and left 2 huge bruses on both sides of my leg she fell on. I was a littel nervous riding her after what happend but I got over it and rode her like it never happend <3

    29. The only time I’m afraid is if my horse is going fast around a jump course and I loose my sturrip right as we’re about to go over a jump. Don’ get me wrong I’m not afraid of speed or jumping. I just like to be balanced.

    30. I am fearful when riding on the roads/hwys, because of an experience I had. It was on a back road, and a farmer was pulling two chopper wagons, which were swaying back and forth. Even as I did the hand signals for him to slow down and even ask him to stop, he did neither. So I jumped off my girl, and started walking her past the tractor and wagons.

    31. I am fearful when riding on the roads/hwys, because of an experience I had. It was on a back road, and a farmer was pulling two chopper wagons, which were swaying back and forth. Even as I did the hand signals for him to slow down and even ask him to stop, he did neither. So I jumped off my girl, and started walking her past the tractor and wagons.

    32. this past november i took my arab gelding on a group ride just a few weeks after getting him. i didnt start riding until i was a teenager, and i’ve been riding for over 13 yrs, with that i was confident in my riding skills on a new horse. then out of nowhere a dog came running up behind us and scared the life out him. he started bucking, rearing and spinning throwing me off and clipping me in the side with his back hoof. it knocked the breath out of me, bruised my side, and i was real sore for several days. i was then hesitant over the next several months getting on him, and he was nervous too thinking everything that moved was out to get him, nearly losing me again 3 different times. so i started over from the ground, with more lunging, desensitizing and despooking with whatever objects i could find. it is now 6 months later since my fall, and we have taken quite a few rides together even once in a group. he is more trusting of me and not as spooky, which gives me some of my confidence back. i try not to be nervous, but instead calm and cool, so he will too. im more alert and observant when we ride as well. i am getting older……and with age comes experience and wisdom. knowing that im on an animal with a mind of its own where things can happen and change in a split second, does and always will promote some fear in me. yes, im not as brave as i once was, but im not going to let that stop me from doing what i love. instead, its just another obstacle my horse and i must overcome……..together!

    33. I used own a horse that hating to be ridden. A couple times he would behave, but not usually. One time he had bucked me off and i was so nervous to hop back on him. I actually ended up taking a 2 year break from riding. Now I have overcome my fear of riding and own a much better horse.

    34. There are really two types of fears: a fear for yourself, and a fear for your horse. I ride a Morgan gelding named Dial Wild aka Scooter, and in the winter he bolts and takes off. I was one of two riders who could ride him during those long, cold months. Scooter is capable of bucking in the air, rearing and every danger a horse could provide. You have to ride that horse like he’s a perfect pony, but stay alert at the same time. Your horse can sense how you feel, so don’t give him a reason to spook by being tense. After eight months of my Morgan gelding Passion having an abscess, he finally healed. I was in fear of hurting him. Caution is good to have, but you can’t keep riding your horse with such hesitance because it will make him nervous. Be sure to start him off with short, walking lessons when he first heals from problems such as abscess or lameness. And besides, there is a quote that says: “You can’t be a true rider until you fall three times.” This has gotten me through a lot, and every time I fall, somehow I feel more professional the next time I ride!

    35. You can’t ride horses and never experience fear. I was riding an OTT thoroughbred gelding. I’m pretty sure it was rats in the wall, but suddenly he spooked and began bucking after that he either cantered very fast or galloped, i can’t remember (partly because I was hugging his neck). It seemed to have been forever, but lasted in only a few seconds. I remembered seeing a jockey pulled around a track in a steeplechase with his foot still in the stirrup, but I couldn’t do anything to prevent that from happening to me. But when I slipped down his left side…which happened to be on the rail, my feet came out of the stirrups.

    36. I’ve fallen a fair amount of times, but during my last I got injured pretty badly, and couldn’t ride for a month or so. Not getting back on immediately is always a bad idea, but what scared me was the injury. I knocked my spine out of place and I was terrified that I would fall again and be paralyzed. Not completely rational, but there you have it. I still get a bit nervous if my horse is acting up but I’m getting back to normal. I owe my confidence to my trainer who one lesson started telling me hilarious stories the entire time I rode. I was laughing and talking and I realized I hadn’t had time to be frightened. It was brilliant of her, and relaxed me and gave me my confidence back.

    37. Check out http://www.InspirationalRidingSolutions.com for a highly effective way to rid yourself of fear and anxiety when you ride, using a variety of techniques, including NLP. This really does work – I’m living proof that you can definitely overcome a lifetime of fear and anxiety when riding, enabling you to live your equestrian dreams!

    38. Once while riding my instructor had me canter over a 2 or 3 foot jump. I had never cantered over a jump that high before. When I came around the turn I began to feel very nervous. The horse I was riding sensed it and pulled out and cantered around the jump before I could stop him. I then cantered around arena and came back to the jump. I was really nervous then but I pushed forward and we jumped it. It was not a very graceful jump but at least we cleared it. It felt good to know we jumped it, and I wasn’t as scared of cantering over jumps after that.

    39. Once at a show my trainer wanted me to do a bareback class. The horse I ride was acting up and throwing fits that day. I’ve also only ridden bareback once before. While practicing I felt like I was going to fall off, I went up to my trainer and said that I couldn’t do. My class was then being called into the arena. She looked at me and said, “Morgan, I know you can do this, just don’t be afraid. Your a good rider and you can do this class.” I then went into the class and actually had fun and didn’t fall off. I didn’t place, but I now know that when you have fear about something. Think of the positive, and then you won’t be afraid.

    40. To alleviate fear/anxiety, I always wear a helmet! Also, I always eat some protein and avoid caffeinated beverages before I ride. When my blood-sugar level remains even, my fear/anxiety-level remains low and confidence remains high. Also, protein increases my energy and strength. Finally, if my “gut instinct” is telling me not to do something–even if that means not to ride, at all–I listen to that. I can always groom and hang out with my horse and ride, a different day!

    41. If I ever feel scared or anxious (usually about something new), I think of another time I got nervous about something I do with ease now. If a jump is looking more like a mountain, I think about how smooth I’ve gotten my gelding’s lead changes or how awesome he did in flatwork that day. It gives me the confidence to say “Hey, if I did that, what’s stopping me from doing this?”

    42. Yes, mostly if my horse is being stubborn and I suddenly tense up when I think she’s going to buck or misbehave. Tensing up on my part will always make her more tense, which will make me even more tense, etc. You get the point. So to alleviate this I loosen up on the reins and try to relax my seat. If she’s still fussy, I’ll go back to what we know—tight turns, backs, sidepass, etc to get her focused on me.

    43. I used to have a fear of having a really bad fall, but now I have relized that if I have confidence in my horse and myself then it is not as likely to happen.

    44. Owning a horse is the dream of almost every little girl. I, was no exception. However, I was not so little of a girl when my dream came true. I was 25 and had lost my dad several months prior and it just so happened that the planets aligned perfectly and I was given permission to keep a horse at my boyfriends farm. From the word yes, it was ON! It wasn’t long before I found the perfect horse…A 3 year old Bay thoroughbred gelding named Hurry, Hurry, Hurry. I know what you’re thinking. Every green rider needs a 3 year old green broke thoroughbred. HA! Well, long story short, Hurry was and is an amazing horse and I still believe the perfect horse for me. However, I pushed my limits and his trust in me. One beautiful day in mid March, our second ride outside the indoor arena led to a broken fence board (by my non helmeted head), concussion, fractured ankle and the grace of God that I was still alive. Some people learn their lessons the easy way, I am not one of those people. After the accident, I lost all of my confidence around Hurry. He knew it and I knew it. I made several attempts at riding again, and just succumbed to the discouragement. I thought I had lost it for good. He became a chore, it was another task everyday twice a day and I felt I was never going to enjoy my horse again in the way I so desperately wanted to.
      I took a couple months off. Stopped pushing myself. And more importantly stopped trying to find ways to force myself to fall back in love with my horse. I was still in love with him and never for one second wasn’t. I made a mistake, and it was okay. We started working in the arena from the ground up. Lots of ground work and patience. I think my horse is now better at verbal cues/commands than my dogs. We took our time and developed a stronger bond and more trust than we had before. Now, I am no elite equestrian, but I am back in the saddle again and slowly, but surely enjoying each ride with Hurry a little bit more. I still get a little antsy when he does, but I take a deep breath and focus on being relaxed. If owning a horse and enjoying riding is that important, one will eventually find a way to do so. It took me some time, but I have Hurry, my horsey soul-mate and riding partner, the horse I always dreamed of having.

    45. I usually get nerves at shows, but i just have to remember to have fun and i am doing this for my hores and the esperance. Than i always do great and have a good time!

    46. I had one bad run running barrels once where my horse tripped going around the barrel. I fell and sprained my wrist my horse was fine. I had a hard time running barrels again but we started at the basics again and worked our way back up.

    47. While on my mothers horse, he took off, I fell off, and I broke my arm. Five days before that, my horse reared, and I fell off. What helped me was I started with the basics and since I am blessed to have a calm horse, he brought me back to running barrels again!!

    48. About 3 years ago an Appaloosa Mare flipped completely over backwards on top of me… Bad enough it happened at all, it was at a parade. Fear? yes. I could not make myself ride that horse 10 mins before i was supposed to carry the American flag through our town i decided that if i don’t get back up there what kind of cowgirl would i be? A deep breathe and some encouragement from friends i got back on and rode her. After that is when it got sticky i didn’t ever want to ride her on trails ect. One day an older gentleman gave me these very valuable words of advice”if you don’t want er to buck take her to the creek then its just between you her and the water” I listened to what he had to say, after riding and swimming that mare bareback it was like the trust and respect between us returned. Sometimes the simplest solutions can solve your biggest fears.

    49. I used to have such a big fear of falling off. I used to be so free in the saddle but after 3 falls and a very sore body, I became afraid. I would loose my balance, couldn’t relax and most of all, could not trust some horses. I had a great instructor tell me one day ” Horses can sense fear over anything else. If you are scared, they pick up on that and they think ‘something around me is scary’ not the actual horse itself”. I broke down crying. I got over a huge hurdle and had a great lesson.
      Some things and exercises that help me a lot are:
      1) Practice falling! Not off a horse by fall onto your bed. Get your helmet out, strap it on and fall onto the bed. It can be so much fun. Remember to tuck your head, arms and legs in. Putting your hand out can cause a break or sprain on a real horse so be careful. Remember to roll.
      2) Breathe! It sounds so easy, but if you practice deep, controlled breathing, it will relax your mind and body. If you feel comfortable,you can drop your reins and relax your leg while you breathe. Even drop your stirrups if you feel ready.
      3) Smile 😀 Smiling instantly relaxes your body and mind. Your horse will be happy to. Don’t smile OUT of fear, smile to PASS your fear.
      4) Spend time with your horse. I go from horse to horse in lessons and work on one horse individually to practice trust and technique. It can be hard to bond with only one horse. A couple of treats and brushes before a ride can be just as rewarding.
      Remember why you began riding and the feeling you got the first time you rode.
      I hope you have a lot of fun and I hope this helps a little.
      Happy Trails

    50. I have plenty of fear while riding – just not the kind you’d think. I’m afraid that I’m not doing this right, afraid that I’m not a good rider, afraid that people are judging me because I’m only 14, afraid that I’m not capable of doing this, afraid that that woman riding that beautiful Grand Prix horse is laughing at all my mistakes. I just have to keep telling myself that I can do this, and that I’m doing it for myself, not for anyone else – so it doesn’t matter what other people think.

    51. I have never been afraid around horses, but my advice for riders who are is to go back to basics and have fun with your horse. Whether it’s spending extra time grooming or just standing around the pasture while your horse grazes, getting to know your horse better will help build your trust in each other and any fear you had previously experienced will quickly melt away.

    52. The horse I ride (amethyst, is her name) is nervous and used to be much more so. When I am riding I have to be fearless. When she freaks out I, for a split second, freak out too. The only way I can stay calm is knowing that if I stay calm and keep my wits about me she is less likely to throw me when she has a panic attack or gets excited etc. etc. When I am falling up onto her neck when she is bucking my body pulses with adrenaline. The fear of the unexpected is one of the things that I love about amethyst, she keeps me on my toes and even if I do an unexpected dismount (as my teacher calls them) I laugh and get back on and we do whatever it was that she didn’t like again and again until we are both happy about it.

    53. My horse, Wizard, is more experienced than I am, and I’m pretty rusty at riding. I’m not really afraid of him, but occasionally I’m afraid I’ll lose control of him when I ride. It hasn’t happened, but I sometimes worry about it.

    54. I had a little bit of fear after not riding for 16 years and then going back to it with a body that was not as fit or strong as before. But I think the fear was good because it prevented me from doing something too stupid and from rushing things. Now that I’m comfortable in the saddle again that fear is gone though I have to admit to feeling apprehensive when the horses spook causing them to bolt and buck simultaneously.
      I recently had a young rider visit who is absolutely horse crazy but has a very unhealthy fear. She was desperate to ride, and obviously has some skill, but was too afraid to have me let go of the lead rope.
      I learned that she had had two accidents in the show ring which sent her to the hospital. No wonder she was afraid! She’s a good example of why trainers and parents should not push young riders to accomplish more than what their skill is ready for. Both times her horse bolted and she had no training on how to properly react.
      If she had taken things slowly I believe that she would have been a much better rider both mentally and physically.

    55. I am afraid if I see a car, because of something that happened years ago, but somehow I still get that same feeling.

    56. The thing that scares me the most is horses that break through the gate when you go to get another horse. Even though all of my gates are secured at all times, it scares me every time they push past me and take off running!

    57. I used to have a lot of fear while riding because of a previous fall, but I got over it because my horse i have now has never thrown me, and trusts me completely. I think that if you expect your horse to trust you no matter what, you should trust them just as much.

    58. I have never been afraid to ride a horse, but in the past year or so I have become so much more confident in my abilites because I have been taking lessons and have gotten to know my horses so much better. The two horses I ride I now trust so much, I know all their little quirks and ways, and I am never afraid to ride them. I’ll ride pretty much any horse now- they all have something unique to offer to you as a rider, and I could never pass that oppurtunity up.

    59. if i ever experience a fear while riding it would be if my horse acts up or is just not having the best day otherwise I am always relaxed and focused on what i am doing

    60. I, being 14, am known around the barn as the kid you thow onto all the ponies when they are having their “moments”. But I also own a 10 yeear old arab mix who isn’t the most sane but I love heranyway. I have had some not so nice falls in the past which have shattered my confideence but I always find a way to get back on, afterall it is what I love!

    61. Like Stefani, I (at 15 going on 16) have had those ‘moments’ but have always got back on. When I became the owner of my first two horses at 14 I had no fear of riding. With a little more experience now I can nod my head at my helmet and say thanks for all the times my head hasn’t cracked open. I’ve lost track of the falls, no bones broke yet. Right when I’m falling I’m scared. After that I lose the fear and all I’m left with is a sore spot and wanting to get catch and get back on my runaway horse. Fearlessnes runs in the young?

    62. Oh yeah, I have definitely experienced fear. The first time was probably three or four years ago when my first horse almost fell with me, and that really shook my confidence when I was on her for a few weeks after that. Then, just last weekend was the most recent case when my horse was acting up There is always that every present possibility that something could go wrong. Yet, it doesn’t (and probably won’t ever) stop me from riding.

    63. I have a few times when I was quite fearful. The most fear I ever had, was being bucked off a horse that wasn’t mine. I have had a couple good falls on my 5 year old quarter horse, but never really scary. I being 15 just bounce back up and keep riding.

    64. I am 36yrs old,was practically born on horseback and have never experienced real fear until 3yrs ago.I had an accident,non-horse related,6yrs ago,went through painful physical therapy,and didn’t ride for 3yrs.When I got better,I could ride my mare I’ve had since I was a teen,but if I got on a different one my hands would start to shake and I would have to dismount.I have gotten a little bit better lately by building my confidence by riding my mare,but if my new horse spooks my hands start shaking again.If anyone has any advice I would love to hear it!

    65. When I first started riding, I was fearless. I’d get on any horse that was thrown at me. I got on a big 16 hh when I was 8 years old. I was about to start crying, I was so scared. I get on the trail and we do fine. He’d fall behind and I had no problem trotting him to the group. Now I ride at my friends farm often, and her horses are still a bit funny. I don’t experience fear on them as much as I did last year. Its more like an adrenaline rush isntead of fear. Horseback riding is where the quote ‘If it doesn’t kill me, it makes me stronger.’ comes in.

    66. Whenever I feel fear while riding, it helps to think of a ‘just in case’ action plan before something dangerous happens (If my horse bolts, what will I do? If my horse spooks, what will I do?). This makes me feel more prepared, and when something does happen, I can react right away.

    67. Yes, but I don’t mind being a little afraid because what’s there for you and your horse to over come if niether of you are afraid.

    68. Yes, very much. I love horses, but the stories heard about being injured or worse while working with them can be quite scary. I can’t help but think about the slight chance that I could, fall, get hurt, etc. But, I do have a back up plan. I simply close my eyes, take a deep breath and mount my horse. Then I open my eyes and think about why I love horses. This always calms me down. Then I look at my horses eyes, and I instantly now I can trust him.

    69. I used to ride a mare that always tried to buck me off- and succeeded. Now I get nervous when a horse starts acting up.

    70. It depends what horse I’m riding. If it’s a new horse that I’ve never ridden before, then I’m usually nervous. But if I’ve been riding for awhile on the same horse and know how they act, then I’m alright.

    71. After my horse has fallen on her knees twice and fell on me twice,(shes rather clumsy) every time she stumbles, i get nervous. Espessally when its damp. But riding always seems to make me happier, no matter how nervous (:

    72. Whenever I get scared, it’s mostly for the horse. Like if my horse slips in the sand or stumbles, it makes me very nervous. Also, the horse I ride is very hyper and whenever we are with other riders, he wants to follow them so I get nervous that he is going to bolt. But I always start to talk to my horse to relax myself and him. It usually works.

    73. When I was younger my biggest fear was not having a horse to ride. As I got older my fear is for my daughter. I don’t want her to get hurt. Now my fear is being unable to ride because of past injuries. Life without horses I don’t think so.

    74. Even though I do experience some anxiety while riding, I think about how I am fully prepared for anything my horse throws at me, because I have the helmet on my head and the bit in my horse’s mouth! With that knowledge, I am assured that I can do anything.

    75. Not really, now, anyways. I understand the fear that some riders feel, the feeling of falling, the worry of being injured. I used to have that, as a young beginner rider. You get used to it. After riding long, hot days in the summer sun and cold, wet winters, days and days of polishing up your skills in every general area of horses, you just forget about being worried. As a trainer now, I have rode about every kind of disposition and I can say that the fear has completely left me. The way I see it, I will either ride a little with a fear of being injured, never ride at all because of fear, or ride in complete acceptance of the fact that I may be seriously hurt, but not give a second thought to it. I choose the latter. As long as I’m careful and practice good horsekeeping and horsemanship, their really isn’t much else you can do. I have came to terms with the fact that whatever happens, happens. You just gotta trust in God and your horse, hopefully nothing bad will come of it.

    76. Sometimes I get anxious…I mean I’m on a horse! The danger of being thrown off crosses my mind a lot, but I always ware a helmet it definitly doen’t stop me from riding!

    77. Well it depends if I’m on a reliable, dependant horse that I’ve been riding for more than a year, or if it’s a green, spooky 2 year old that I just got on. I usually wear my helmet when riding a horse that I don’t know/don’t trust. But I do ride a 17 year old Tennessee Walking Horse gelding over at my boarding barn, and I know that he would never rear, buck, or bolt. He does spook but definitely not as bad as some horses I’ve been on before. Also, whenever I’m in a new area riding, such as a new trail/new arena or pasture, I wear my helmet, because you never know how your horse is going to respond to new situations. But I trust my horse, and he trusts me so I never get fearful while riding him.

    78. My fear is getting too excited (in the way that I’m looking forward to this ride). I get excited just thinking about riding and this energy bounces on the horses and I get alittle scared when the horses have too much energy so to calm me down so the horse will calm down I focus on the rhyme of the horse’s hooves or counting to 30.

    79. When I get scared I tend to tense up everywhere. I’ve learned that when a horses gets bucky or realy excited I myself calm down. If I just use that calm vocie to calm the horse down(i dont just flipout if the horse).

    80. I find peace in knowing that I can trust my horses. In 6 years my horses have never kicked, bitten, bucked, or tried to run away with me. It really helps if you know the horse well and he trusts you. That way you can both feel safe and comforable being together.

    81. Sometimes i do have the fear of falling and getting injured or the fear of my horse getting injured if we are trying something new. But i have to keep myself calm because then my horse will stay calm. We have to trust eachother in order to stay safe.

    82. I have a lot of fears riding considering, I only started a year and a half ago. I always have the fear of falling off, but to lessen my fear I keep calm, cool and collected. Horses can sense your fear especially when your very tense. My horse is a 23 year old thoroughbred who acts like a 3 year old. She tends to run and take over when jumping. I always have the fear of her running off with me. My trainer tells me before any jump to count to three and the say jump. Then this can keep you not only knowing when your horse is going to jump but it also gives you the feeling of being in control of your horse jumping.

    83. To the question ‘Do you ever experience fear around horses?
      Fear tends to creep up when I am dealing with a horse, especially one that I don’t know well,in close quarters,such as a stall for instance. Knowing this I can often short circut any fear by heightening my senses to ‘read’ the surroundings for anything that could telegraph to me any conditions that could be dangerous. Such as being in some woods and knowing a bear is somewhere close by. At the same time I begin to use soothing words and sounds to let the horse pick up my presence and let him begin to relax. Still things can go wrong and then the best thing to do, in my opinion,is simple, don’t make things worse by ‘mirroring’ the panicky behavior of the horse. Keep relaxed, keep the environment as calm as possible and let the horse know you are there and are taking control of things. And, coincidently, taking charge of a crisis with your horse, is the best way to get rid of any fear you may have.

    84. Im pretty secure while rideing my horse because i can trust that he can take care of me but sometimes i feel that he is even insecure so it is a little scary but a think of a happier moment while riding and it makes me feel better.

    85. My horse spoons a lot on trail rides, and about every time he’ll throw a bucking fit and take off. Even when we ride just around the corn field, he’ll be scared, and so will I. To conquer my fears, though it may seem odd, I like to sing to him. It gives me something to focus on other than my fear and surprisingly calms him a great deal. It really helps both of us on the trail!

    86. My horse spooks a lot on trail rides, and about every time he’ll throw a bucking fit and take off. Even when we ride just around the corn field, he’ll be scared, and so will I. To conquer my fears, though it may seem odd, I like to sing to him. It gives me something to focus on other than my fear and surprisingly calms him a great deal. It really helps both of us on the trail!

    87. Going over huge jumps really unnerves me sometimes, but I try to concentrate on the horse, because if I don’t help him, he might not get over it correctly. I just think how I should look, and put myself to work. You can’t think about getting nervous- there’s no time to when you’re riding.

    88. Laura, It’s not odd at all. When I get nervous while riding I sing too. I think it helps me relax my muscles. I recently took a good tumble in the arena durning a lesson was was nervous when I got back on. My instructor even told me to sing. And we both started “row row row your boat.” Too, funny! It really helps, and now any time I get nervous she tells me to “row my boat.” (haha)

    89. My mare and I have had two falls, this year and last (both in Jan./Feb.). Ever since our falls, I’ve been nervous of riding down hills (our falls were downhill). I worked through most of my fear of hills, though, with the help of my mare. I had to learn to trust her again, and I did that by closing my eyes and letting her pick her own way downhill… trusting her unconditionally. Whenever I start to feel nervous on a ride with my mare, just close my eyes for a few moments and trust her.

    90. I took a nasty fall a few years ago from a young horse I was working. It’s taken me nearly 10 years to work through the fear of speed. I still have some issues with it, but riding a lot of different horses (I worked as an assistant trainer) helped. And then I discovered the song “Soft Kitty” from the show The Big Bang Theory. Not only does it help me relax and make me breathe, but it even calms my gelding down and we both relax and can focus on work!

    91. The biggest fear I have ever had was when my horse Phantom and I were out on a trail ride with a bunch of horses and a new horse was boarded and he didn’t get to meet him so he thought it was alright to bolt back to the barn to see him. Man was I scared. He wouldn’t stop when I pulled him back with the reins and tried to turn him in circles but he was determined to see that horse. so I bailed ha but when I got to him boy did he work after that.

    92. I used to be in an organization where I rode a different horse every Saturday. Just the fact of not knowing what horse I was going to get, and whether or not we’d get along, always put butterflies in my stomach. My hands would actually shake waiting for the wrangler to assign me my horse. At this point I would just be praying to God, asking him to keep me and my teammates safe today regardless of what horse I got. In all my eight years there I never had a bad accident. God really came through for me, and I believe that is one of the reasons why I am such a confident rider today. Thank you, God!

    93. I use to always get nervous before a IHSA show. I was showing western (I’ve always been a hunter/jumper) and showing horses I never knew before. Those two things combined made me nervous wreck. So I found out music would calm me down. I’d always start singing to myself and to the horse while going around the area before everyone entered. It calmed both the horse and I and we’d do great!

    94. I used to be wet-my-pants nervous of riding the colt that I have been training. However, I’m not anymore, because I expirienced a ‘flash moment’ when everything was going wrong, but then I did something, and I got control of the situation. Then I had that ‘flash moment’ when you realise that you CAN do that, and you have NOTHING to be scared of, because you were in a death-sentance situation, and you were able to get control of it, and everything was OK.

    95. My mare, Raven, had an injury in her hip and she had been bucking at the canter because of the strain. Even after she had healed, I was still a little bit apprehensive about cantering. Once, I said I had to sue the bathroom and when I went in there, I gave myself a pep talk. I said, ‘You can do this. You’ve been thrown plenty of times before. If she bucks, she bucks. If she doesn’t, awesome. You’re just gonna go out there and canter on your mare. You’ll be fine.’. I went out there, relaxed, and asked for the canter. She did wonderful.

    96. I experienced fear while riding when I was learning to canter a horse named Yada. As soon as I would ask for the canter she would go into this extremely fast, out of control trot. But when she would canter it seemed so much nicer than that fast trot. And I was scrared of cantering I should have beem scared of the trot.

    97. I think what I fear most is the horse slipping and falling sideways onto my leg while I’m riding him. My horse has never come even close to doing this, but it still seems to haunt me sometimes.

    98. I was bucked off after a couple weeks of riding, and have a fear of pain. Since then any horse that bucked would freak me out. I had to sell my horse because I trained him to do all kinds of reigning manuvers, and he couldn’t hold up, and I needed a horse that could work hard for Rodeo Queen and barrel racing. I finally got over my fear of getting bucked off by riding an off the track thoroughbred. He got in 7-8 really good bucks before I did cartwheels through the air and landed in the deep sand. I was ticked that he got away with that, lunged him till he was lathered, and got back on. Since then the mare I got will playfully kick out, or strike when I am riding her to protest something, and I’m not scared. She gets in trouble for doing it instead of me baacking down out of fear.

    99. I definitely do experience fear while riding sometimes. I started leasing a new horse a couple months ago and she is very fast. The horse I used to lease was older, so he was slower. This new horse can get really fast while jumping, and when she does, she jumps early. One time I fell because of it. To calm myself, I take deep breathes and remind my self that I AM in control.

    100. Like anyone else( I’m sure) I experience fear while riding. Sometimes when my horse seems to forget that I’m on her back and starts to “act up,” my body wants to panic, but my mind stays peaceful. By being calm and firm, I eventually get my horse under control again and reward her for good behavior with an affectionate pat.

    101. Sometimes I’ll get scared or nervous when I’m approaching a jump that I know my horse might refuse but I quickly take I deep breath and remind myself that if I become afraid then my horse will too. So I just put a goofy smile on my face and urge him on if he tenses up.

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