Overcoming Riding Fear – Part 1

Okay, so my last post started out talking about having the confidence to just give things a bash and ended up with me facing the fact that I really have a lot of fear still when it comes to riding.

A little background:

I was a fearless rider most of my life, brought home from the hospital on horseback, or so the legend goes. I took a horsey hiatus during my late teens and 20s, as we often do, to go to school and get married and all sorts of that boring ‘grown up life’ stuff. When I moved to Australia, I got back into horses and really felt no different. The confidence was still there, the ability still there, and added to that was a willingness and interest in trying different things. I went through a few horses:

Jordy – a horse I rode for a friend. He was sold because he was a bit of a loon, but I loved Jordy. Can’t find a picture of him just now…

Maxamillion Glick

Max – a freebie ex-pacer who used to ‘rack’. Very interesting, and surprsingly comfortable to ride! (He didn’t pick his feet up as high as the Paso in the video, but had the same four-beat gait at speed.) He died of a twisted gut and is burried on my friends property. Very traumatic day.

My Baby Cassie

Cassie – my beautiful Cassie. She came to me skin and bones and was free-leased to me. When I made an offer to keep her, she was sold out from under me because I couldn’t come up with enough money. I’m still bitter about that.

Switch the Bit**

Switch – this is where things start to go pear shaped. She was a big pain in the ass, and she bucked me off as I was mounting. This continues to plague me. She gave a hell of a whoop whoop and then every time I tried to mount, she would try to buck me off. Sometimes I succeeded, sometimes she did. I finally gave her away – with 100% disclosure.

Matilda

Matilda didn’t last long. She was very pretty, but had some serious issues. She was a bit loopy, and went through a fence, destroying her front legs and had to be put down. I didn’t feel half as bad losing her as I did Max.

Wild Cougar

Cougar was a beautiful wild animal, strung like a bow and just lightning quick. If he hadn’t been such a live-wire he would have been awesome. But he was too much horse for me. I came off him and ended up in hospital a few times. I tried to be strong, but he was hard hard work and I wasn’t having any fun with him. There are lots of ‘maybes’ and ‘if onlys’ with Cougar… but we weren’t a good fit, and I was afraid of coming off all the time. He was the most nimble, athletic, capable horse I’ve ever ridden, but constantly feeling unprepared and worried erroded away at my desire to ride him. From him I learned to fear lack of control. He was sold to a lovely man who loved his raw nature.

After selling Cougar, I decided to take my time and find the right horse and pay what he or she was worth. No more freebies, problem horses, rescues, etc. These horses all had issues and I needed a nice safe horse. Enter TK. TK really ticked all the boxes. He was taller than ideal for me, but for a 6 year old off-track thoroughbred, he was a pretty level headed sensible sort. He mostly didn’t spook or bolt. He generally didn’t need lots of attention and daily riding. He was usually really good in company. About as good as you can ask for a horse that age.

Of course, he came with issues. Who doesn’t? He hates/fears cows and sheep (though is getting better about sheep). And he ran away with me, twice. Once at our first endurance ride, and twice during the Blackwood Marathon.

After the Blackwood, I had less reason to ride him, and through busy summer holidays, only rode him once after a month off. After that ride, which was a doozey, I avoided riding him, and then we left for Canada for six weeks. When we came back I ferverntly avoided riding him, and told myself that ‘horses just aren’t my thing anymore, it’s time for a break’ and decided to move him on to a new home. I felt good about that. But in realitly what I was doing was avoiding facing my fear of having to bring him back to ridable, and my lack of confidence in my ability to do that. I felt good about moving him to a new home because then I wouldn’t have the reminder in the paddock every day that I am not willing or able to deal with him.

So, let’s see if I can work through all this and come out on the other side with my confidence in tact, my fear under control, and a nice horse to ride.

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