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HI Spy: Do you ever experience fear while riding?

Have you found a way to work through your anxiety?


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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 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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HI Spy: Do you ever experience fear while riding?

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Reader Comments

Tesla    Western, NC

12/4/2012 6:01:05 PM

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.

Philomena    Dickinson, ND

6/7/2012 2:13:28 PM

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.

Lauren    Columbia, MD

6/5/2012 6:53:17 PM

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.

Lindsey    Sanger, CA

2/25/2012 8:38:57 AM

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.

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