How do you help someone trying to start riding again to overcome their fears?

Baby - This is Baby, my registered Tennessee Walker Mare. She is almost 5 now.
@mehale (2200)
United States
February 27, 2007 7:45pm CST
My step-daughter rode and barrel raced when she was a teenager but has been away from horses for a long time. She finally found a horse late last year that is gentle enough she can ride her - although watching her ride, I have doubts that she did much riding while she was younger. She is not very good or confident at it yet. She is also still scared of not only HER horse, but horses in general. She has not fallen, or been thrown since she has started riding again. The horse is gentle enough that I would not be scared to put our 9 year old, or our 6 year old on her. She also does not deal well with someone making suggestions to her to improve her riding - no matter how gently they are made. Does anyone have any suggestions that might help? I am running out of ideas....
3 responses
3 Mar 07
Maybe an outsider would help, her either riding with a very experienced rider that can give some pointers without sounding critical or even getting a riding instructor, if she'd agree to that, make it more of a refresher course, because she already knows how to ride. I was raised with horses, learned how to fall and everything. I'd been bucked off a few times, and I would always jump back on. (many more since then! lol) But the first time my mare took off on me, I was 6 or 7 (we were in an open field and some new horses were being unloaded from a trailer) we jumped over a fence, ran past a horse tied to the hitching post that kicked her in the flank, jumped in and out of a chicken pen, what finally stopped her was a 7ft fence, my aunt came running from the side and grabbed the reins. My uncle grabbed me off of her. They couldn't believe I'd stayed on through all of it. I was very shook up because I couldn't control her when she took off, I just wanted to go home. My aunt jumped on her and had my uncle throw me up too, as we rode past my mom I screamed for her to get me off the devil horse! She just turned around and walked away, later told me it was the hardest thing she'd ever had to do. By the end of the ride I was fine, if my aunt hadn't made me get on her right then I don't know that I ever would have. I still have the devil horse :), and she's never done anything like that again. I think it was a mix of her being a young, spirited Arabian and me being young, and so small she probably forgot I was up there! Have patience with your step daughter, she needs to find her way around horses again. And she has many years of that fear building up that she's trying to get over.
1 person likes this
@mehale (2200)
• United States
4 Mar 07
Thanks for the suggestions. That is something that I may check into and see if she would be interested in. That sounds like quite a ride that you took - glad you stayed on!
@biwasaki (1745)
• United States
28 Feb 07
If it's been a long time since she's ridden, I would suggest that she do some work around the horse first to build up her confidence again. Things like grooming and feeding the horse will help her bond with it and may help increase her confidence. Some people don't take criticism or suggestions well no matter how gently they are I would keep my opinions to myself about her riding unless it looks like she may hurt herself or the horse. Good luck!!
@mehale (2200)
• United States
1 Mar 07
We have been trying to get her to at least brush her if not ride and saddle her when she comes out every day. That does seem to help some. I am a little worried about it though, if she gets the mare out of a walk when riding, she comes very close to falling. There is a play-day coming up in a couple of weeks and she is planning to try to ride the barrels, poles, etc; I am a little worried about this as she is NOT balanced or stable on the horse. Hopefully we will be able to help her and get her to put in some extra time in the saddle first. Thanks for the advice! I tend to get over-protective sometimes :)
@raydene (9874)
• United States
7 Mar 07
The best way to get over it is time. Time hanging with the horse. Time grooming. Time cleaning the area around the horse. Time for her and the horse to be alone together is good. Time in the saddle. im certainly wouldn't groom and tack the horse for her.If she is tall enough to do it I would show her and then act like I had confidence in her ability to do it.I would probably walk away and find something to do where I could watch out of the corner of my eye in case it turned bad. I also wouldn,t say much.Sounds like she doesn't want anyone to know that she isn't much of a rider so rather then saying "I think you should do this" I would say hey so in so can you see if she(horse) will react when you put your right foot here and your left foot here.See if she knows how to sidepass."You would be instructing her how to side pass and letting her have her dignity. Some people have a very hard time accepting advice from anyone much less her step mom. Asking her advice on simple horsey things that she would know will help you bond and build her confidence. If you have a horse you can ride with her,take her on a slow trail ride.If she was scared at one time she may not have a solid seat and the cure for that is getting her butt in the saddle alot. As far as her entering the gymkhana, I would say "I'm not comfortable taking this horse with you until the two of you have had more time to become partners.Maybe the next games." Good luck it's a long hard process to come back to horses and it must be like walking on thin ice working with a step child. Despite what they say for some it is not like riding a bicycle!. Raydene