We’ve all been there, face down in the arena after falling off our beloved horse. Even if you manage to escape injury-free, getting back on your horse can be a scary experience.
Horseback riding is supposed to be an enjoyable activity, but it can feel more like a chore when you are scared to ride. Horses are sensitive animals and will pick up on your fear or stress, so it’s important to overcome it before riding again.
If you’re afraid to ride then this article is for you! Overcome your fear of getting back in the saddle by following our top 5 tips below.
1. Get Professional Help
Horses often display unusual behaviors when they are in pain or aren’t happy about something. If your fall was the result of a buck, bolt, jump refusal or any out-of-character behavior, then it’s best to consult with a professional.
Have your horse checked by your vet for pain or disease—particularly areas that are strained by riding like their legs, back, and mouth. Once your vet gives your horse the all-clear, enlist a riding instructor to help you get your confidence back.
Your riding instructor will be able to help you better if you write down your fears and ways to reduce them.
2. Write Down Your Fears
In order to overcome your fears, you need to identify exactly what they are and what would trigger that situation.
For example, you may be worried that your horse senses your fear and bolts off with you on a trail ride, resulting in you falling off.
The potential triggers for this situation would be a trail ride, you feeling anxious and your horse being spooked. All of these potential triggers can be worked on, so you and your horse can enjoy trail riding again.
Once you have noted your fears, consider how to reduce the feeling.
3. Write Down What Reduces Your Fear
Think about past experiences and what normally reduces your fear of getting back on your horse.
If we continue with the above example of a trail ride, being on a lead rein may help you. Or you could try riding in an arena until your confidence has been restored.
Write down whatever it is that may help reduce your fear and keep you calm. In turn, this will help your horse keep calm too.
If you do hire professional help, these notes will allow them to fully assess the best way to get you feeling confident while horseback riding.
4. Spend Time with Your Horse on the Ground
Boost your confidence around your horse by spending time with them on the ground. Exercise your horse in-hand or on a lunge line to solidify rider aids like ‘halt’.
Knowing your horse is capable of being calm when exercised on the ground will help you to feel confident when it’s time to get back in the saddle.
You can also do pleasant tasks like grooming or feeding your horse. This lets your horse know that you are someone they can relax around. Your horse will look forward to seeing you for their groom or feed.
5. Try a Different Horse
If you ride the same horse at the barn, then try riding a different horse. Many riders downgrade to a calmer horse to get a confidence boost before returning to their more advanced horse.
This is a great way to re-learn to ride calmly and quietly and reduce your risk of another fall.
If You’re Afraid to Ride, Don’t Give Up!
It may take a few months, or even longer, to build your confidence back up and overcome your fear of riding horses. Horseback riding is such an enjoyable activity, and you will be able to enjoy it once again
Follow our tips above to ensure you overcome your fear quickly and remount only when it’s safe. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, the barn manager and professionals like vets and riding instructors.
Leave a comment below and let us know your best tips for getting back in the saddle after a fall!