Monday, February 18, 2013

Why am I Afraid to Ride?

Finally got the chance to get on my horse today.  And I wasn't looking forward to it.

The entire time I was tacking up I was making silly excuses in my head about why we shouldn't do much today.  The ring was going to be muddy.  I should probably get home to finish the laundry.  I had spent enough time at the barn already with the farrier appointment.  I should certainly lunge him first.  If he was nuts then maybe that was all we would do.

Because of a vacation last week, it had been a little over 2 weeks since our last ride.   After tacking up we headed to the ring.   I hooked on the lunge line and asked him to move out.   He ambled away in a circle.  After a minute or two I asked for a trot verbally.  Nothing.  I swung the lunge line at him.   An ear flick.  I THREW the lunge line at him.  Ah... there is the trot.   I needed the lunge whip but figured he'd wake up and didn't feel like going to gather it.    A few more minutes into the lunging I realized that he was VERY quiet today.   Okay... maybe close to asleep.    I obviously did not need to lunge him to get the friskies out!

So I used my extra tall mounting block and got on.   He was stiff but relaxed.  We spent about ten minutes getting some more flexibility by counter bending, flexing and doing lots of circles and turns.  Nice work.

Then he started getting anxious.   Alternating between jigging and nearly stopping so he could look around.   I wasn't sure what the issue was but figured I better stick with the walking because surely the trotting would lead to something nutty.   I did a few trot circles ... but not many.  What was wrong with him?

My friend was coming to ride the second half for me as my leg is still not all that strong and was I glad she came.  When she got on, she realized he was stuck and moved him out.  Really asked for an engaged and moving trot.  Didn't worry about collection until she got him moving.  He even offered a few really nice canter transitions.

Watching her ride I realized there was not a thing wrong with my horse.   It was me.  I was shutting him down because of fear.  Each time he offered a flowing moving horse, I shut him down.  I was afraid and it made no sense whatsoever.  He was relaxed and happy.  He was a good horse.  He trusted me.  

Since I started riding again after my surgery I have been afraid.  Its similar to the feeling you get after a fall.  You get back on but in the back of your head you are imaging all the worst case scenarios.  What if he takes off?  What if my leg gets stuck in the stirrup and he moves off while mounting.  What if he slips in the mud?  What if.. what if...

I'm not sure why I am doing this but I am grateful to my friend for reminding me that its okay (and for coming out and riding my horse).   Today was the first day I've ridden at home without someone there when I mounted.  It was the first day I've ridden in 2 weeks.  Its the first day that I've ridden there since a new horse arrived at the barn and disrupted the day to day living of Golly's routine.   I had left my pony and the new horse in the stalls and the pony was yelling for her buddy.   There was an airplane buzzing the ring during our ride.  A cow mooing in the neighbors yard.  They are all reasons to be a bit afraid.   BUT.. all this existed for my friend as well and all went well as soon as she told him that she trusted him to move out and forward.

Best I can figure it that I am afraid both because of the still healing leg (I had my knee replaced recently for those readers who are just joining our journey) and because I haven't ridden much lately.  Like most things. .... practice practice practice.... I just need to be in the saddle more and the old feeling of eager anticipation of the next ride will come back.  


  1. Hi, just found your blog through Haynet. Hugs to you, I know how it feels to be so anxious about riding, but you are right there is nothing for it but to keep on keeping on! Good luck wth your journey, he sounds a lovely horse =)

  2. Thanks! He is a lovely horse and is certainly my partner. I took a look at your various websites and blogs. Your stable sounds wonderful. My husband and I took a whirlwind tour of Italy last spring and Tuscany is top on our list of places for a return visit. I will certainly be looking you up when we do!

  3. I found your blog through Haynet, too. I've had a few fear crisis's in my life, so I know what you are going through. At least you can get in the saddle and ride. Some people can't even do that.

    I suggest that you do what you can and gradually push yourself to do a little more. I couldn't ride the whole arena because in the early days with Cole, he kept bolting there. I spent months on one side. Finally, I decided to walk 5 laps each way at the beginning of each ride. In a few weeks, I was able to trot laps without any problem. There was no looking back after that.

    Fear can be irrational, but in your case, it is totally rational. Don't be too hard on yourself. If the dream is strong enough, the fear will lose and your love of riding will win.

  4. Excellent suggestions. I plan on writing a blog soon on some of the things that helped me get over my fear when I had a bad fall years ago (and would love to add your suggestions too). This fear isn't nearly as bad as that time but the same steps should work so maybe putting the ideas to paper will help me this time too.

  5. I think it's brilliant that you're not giving up, you are able to understand what's happening and seem determined to press on - that's wonderful. As Judi said, when something happens it can be extremely difficult to get back in the saddle and push the fear away, however much someone (or even yourself) keeps telling you to do that. Take it slow, trust your best bud, as he trusts you, and re-grown the bond. Will look forward to reading more.

    Elaine (through Haynet too!)

  6. Thanks Elaine! I love all the wonderful support on my confidence issue. Fear is a funny thing -- sometimes it makes sense and sometimes not. I love the great suggestions and will keep plugging at this!


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