As I have recently, been dealing with this myself – I thought it a good topic for the blog this week. Overcoming fear in riding.
Fear is a feeling I would say the majority of amateurs have. I’m not so sure about the professional riders but like any other humans, I’m sure they do. I do. Not only is there fear of falling but there is fear of failing.
In this post – let’s tackle the fear of falling. As we get older the fear generally becomes greater. As adults we worry if we get hurt who will go to work and make money for our family, who will pick up the kids, do the dishes etc. To be honest, its real. Getting hurt is a real fear, especially with horses. They are fight or flight animals in other words, prey. Their answer to anything that seems odd is to run (spook in rider’s terms). If a horse spooks and catches you off guard – there is a good chance you are hitting the ground.
The fear can effect our riding in many ways. It may make us more tense our body and thus setting the horse on edge as well. Which certainly won’t made the situation any better. Let’s get to the nitty gritty though. How is it possible to conquer it?
The truth be told, I’m not sure it is always possible to conquer it. However, I think its definitely possible for everyone to manage it. First, let’s outline that everyone’s fear is different so more extreme and some less extreme.
The Steps to Overcoming Fear in Horse Back Riding
The first step, once you have admitted it, is to discuss it with your coach. Your coach has a unique view on this as she/he sees how many riders deal with their fear and how it has worked out for them. To be honest, I had one student so nervous she went to the Doctor and he prescribed something. Now, this particular rider felt this way in every day life but her want to ride was so great that she went the extra mile. Note that I am not advocating drugs to conquer your fear of riding but I am advocating speaking to professionals about. That professional could be your coach, your Doctor, your psychologist, whoever you have in your support circle.
In discussion with your coach, discuss what the proper way of falling is. Here at our farm once a year we have a lesson on falling. Where we educate riders in the proper technique to try and fall that way when they know they are falling. It also gives you a bit of confidence that its possible to fall and not get hurt. You certainly don’t hurt yourself every time you fall. Hell, I’ve been falling for decades and the only thing I have done is pull a ligament. Riders then get to practice proper falling technique off the horse. It’s usually a good week for laughs.
The third step is to lower your expectations for each lesson and plan to push yourself just a little bit each lesson. Rome wasn’t built in a day and riders certainly aren’t. Push yourself, discuss with your riding coach this plan, just a little bit. Put yourself just slightly out of your comfort zone and once you have accomplished that, go back to something that isn’t scary. Think of it like building a tower using Lego, each week you will add a new leg but also add a few more blocks on the same level to create stability.
The last step is KEEP TRYING! It won’t be easy but only those who persevere will push through it.