One day or another, every rider is faced with fear on horseback. Whether it is conscious or unconscious and justified or not in relation to the present situation, fear is an essential source of blockage in riding, which prevents the rider from fully enjoying his passion.
But then, how to control your fear and free yourself from it?
Fears on Horseback
The most common fears are fear of losing control (getting boarded, not controlling speed or direction) and fear of falling and getting hurt.
Sometimes the fear is related to a specific activity (trotting or galloping, jumping, going for a ride, etc.) or a specific horse (live horse, etc.).
Some riders are also afraid of failure: they get nervous when they imagine not succeeding in performing an exercise. Others are anxious about doing wrong and damaging their horse and hurting it.
The danger of fear is that it can completely invade the rider and make him lose his means: he panics, can no longer manage the situation at all and has inappropriate reactions. Worse, he then transmits his fear to his mount, which can amplify the situation and the danger.
Where Does Fear on Horseback Come From?
The origins of anxiety on horseback are multiple and it can occur at any time in the rider’s life, regardless of their level or the equestrian activity practiced.
It can be due to a traumatic event experienced by the rider (fall from a horse, accident, loss of control) or to a traumatic experience which was not directly experienced by the rider, but which he appropriated (for example an accident that someone else told him or a movie he saw).
Sometimes it can be linked to age (“I worry when I ride because I am no longer old enough to fall and hurt myself”) or to responsibilities (“I am always anxious on horseback, because if I hurts myself I could no longer work, take care of my children, etc.).
It can be real and justified (for example when riding a poorly educated and uncontrollable horse outdoors) but it can also be completely irrational to the current situation.
What Is Really Going On?
The problem with fear is that it feeds itself. The experience lived by the rider (or the one that he has appropriated) creates an emotional trauma to which is added a belief: “If I gallop, I will lose control and I will not be able to stop my horse. I’m going to fall again ”.
With these negative thoughts in mind, the anxious rider sets off at a gallop paralyzed by fear and loses his means and his vigilance. He tensed up, got into a safe position: he leaned forward, pulled on the reins and tightened his legs.
The horse, perceiving the anxiety and stress of its rider, and facing contradictory aids, itself becomes stressed and begins to gallop faster and faster… The fear of the rider grows stronger… Each member of the couple intensifies fear of the other.
Eventually another traumatic event / fall occurs, the fear is validated again and continues to strengthen.