Fear of Riding – Part 2

As identified in a previous post on fear of riding, I came across a web site with some good steps for tackling fear of riding. I won’t do all the steps in order, because they require actually working with your fear and getting started. These ones are more about preparation and are where I’m ready to start. This is probably a bit dull. Sorry. 😦

Step 1: Identify your horsey goals:

Trail rides, riding with friends, endurance/social rides. I like riding with friends, in particular. For me, a horse ride is a social event. I also love going on trails and seeing things, enjoying new places. I am competitive, but I don’t like not being able to stop and see the scenery. I don’t want to be in a rush or working hard the whole time I’m riding.

Step 2: Identify your comfort zone. Where does it end?

  • Not so thrilled about a ‘wild’ horse on the ground.
  • Mounting.
  • Canter/gallop if ‘stop’ isn’t working.
  • Also, very nervous about bucking behaviour.

Step 3: Enlist a Support Team:

I’ve talked to Mat and he’s behind me 100%, and knew this all before I did. I would also like to use the vanVliets as they are fabulous trainers with a gentle way that I trust. My riding instructor Chris, if she has time. And Lauren, who was my very good riding buddy who has also given up horses. She does NLP, and trained TK in the first place. I’ll have to speak to all these people about getting their assistance.

Step 5: Know your body’s response to fear:

  • At mounting I feel trembling, increased heart rate, hesitation, holding my breath. Once I’m on, I’m fine within a few breaths, but just planning to get on starts the reaction.
  • At gallop: wailing, screaming, crying the first time, but that went away, and was replaced with feelings of anger and fear and helplessness. I also have thoughts of “when will this end,” because it seems to go on forever, and I also have flashes of ‘death’ scenarios (hitting a fence, sudden stop and going over head, stumbling and falling, etc) Undoubtedly, I also have increased adrenaline, heart rates, trembling, etc, but just don’t notice! Too busy holding on and trying to stop my damn horse!

Step 9: Know your fear arousal on scale of 1-10 and be able to talk about this with trainer

  • 2-4 = comfort zone
  • 5-7 = learning zone (not frightened, just aroused and interested)

This is interesting and I’ll start using this as I start ground work.

Step 13: Evaluate your horse: is he a good match?

I think so. We’ll just have to wait and see how things pan out after we get all this going again.

Step 14: Make a plan using your comfort zone and baby steps:

  • ground work to re-develop connection and ‘boss’ status
  • lessons from Chris
  • NLP from Lauren
  • Teach TK to stand for mounting (mounting block or odd objects)
  • Send TK to van Vliets to get him back under saddle if I can’t get past this myself
  • Spend a few days working on mounting and other control issues with them
  • Walk/trot only until ready for more
  • Install ‘brakes’ in TK with the help of van Vliets and Chris
  • Canter in confined area and practice brakes before taking it out into the real world
  • Lead and eventually ride him in busy environments so he gets the idea he doesn’t have to be busy with other horses around. Keep his focus on me and my requests and not on other horses.
  • Work on riding in groups and get rid of that “we’re in a race” mindset he gets into before he shoots off at a gallop.

Okay, a bit of a boring post, but, hey, they can’t all be gold! 🙂


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