Monday, January 4, 2010

Mouthy Monday

It's too hot.
It's too cold.
It's raining.
They need trimming.
He looks lame.
It's snowing.
I have to mow the lawn today.
I have to take Mom shopping.
My knee is killing me.
Too many bugs.
Saddle needs cleaning.
Wrong bit.
Right bit, wrong bridle.
All my pads are in the wash.
He just ate.
His tail is blue.
I just grained him.
Too late.
Too early.
He needs a bath.
My hair hurts.
He just had shots.
My clippers are broken.

There are roughly 390 days in 13 months. Believe me when I say......I had an excuse for every one of them to NOT ride after I took a minor spill.

And it WAS a minor spill, as spills go. About the third time I rode Cisco, I decided to try my new/used english saddle on him. I'd never been in an english saddle, but I grew up riding bareback, how hard can it be???? I tacked up and headed down the driveway.

I knew Felix saw me coming, so I cut across his 4 acre lawn to show off a bit (mistake no. 1).
I nudged Cisco into a nice trot, then a faster trot.
I leaned forward to encourage him into a canter (mistake no. 2).

He stopped. That's all he did, he. just. stopped.

I, unfortunately, did not (mistake no. 3). I somersaulted over his right shoulder, landed on my feet, and then sat down.
Hard. In the process, I dropped the reins and Cisco took off like a scalded cat......right for ST HWY 44. I had scarcely staggered to my feet, when Felix pulled up next to me in his Suburban.
*Are you all right??*
*Yes. But we have to get that fool horse before he gets splattered all over the road!!!*

We didn't have to go far. Cisco had taken the nearest driveway, to the farm I grew up on, long ago sold. The house was gone, but the barn and outbuildings were there.....and so was Cisco, calmly munching on stray kernals up by the old corncrib. I walked up to him, snagged the reins, and led him to the back of the Suburban, intending to use the bumper as a mounting block.

Felix: *You don't mean to get back on him!!!!*
Me: *Well, I sure as hell ain't walking home in these boots!!!*
Me: *Dad. He didn't throw me. I fell off. BIG difference.*
(there was some throwing up of arms and muttering as he made his way to the driver's door)

I rode Cisco home, untacked him and put him in the corral, and sat down on the front steps. Instead of thinking about what had just happened, about what I might do to not have it happen again (like, oh, I don't know....ENGLISH LESSONS????)......I started to think about what COULD have happened and scared myself into the worst case of the heebie-jeebies EVER. I did not ride for 13 months.

During that 13 months, I helped the vet geld Cisco, did all his follow-up care, worked on ground manners, did the Mr. Hand thing......I brought Gabby the Nubian home in the back seat of my Beretta because Cisco was lonesome. I bought 2Sox. I made hay, cleaned water tanks, all the things you do when you have horses.......

.......except ride them. The thought of throwing a leg over one of them just stopped me in my tracks. My palms would get sweaty, my mouth would get dry, my stomach would start doing flip-flops. I actually got light-headed.
I doggedly led them back and forth to pasture.

I lectured myself, I called myself a coward seven ways from Sunday.......but I could not make myself ride. I fleetingly considered hypnosis. I tried to shame myself into it, but that didn't work either.
My riding life was pretty much in the toilet, and I wasn't able to fix it.

I can't tell you what the turning point was, whether I had some profound epiphany or just basically decided to pull my head out of my butt. Maybe the riding fairy smacked me one up side the head while I was sleeping. All I know is one morning I was taking the horses down to pasture and it occurred to me: *THIS is not why I got back into horses, to LEAD them everywhere.*

I walked back home, and decided to try 2Sox bareback in the field. She's shorter than Cisco, the grass is high, it won't hurt as much if I come when I went down that afternoon, I bridled her up and did a few rounds of the field.
I even ponied Cisco home that night.

Was I back????

About a week later, I was on 2Sox, ponying Cisco home from the field, when Gabby the Nubian ran in front of Cisco. She managed to hook his lead line and drag it right across 2Sox's nose. 2Sox did a fantastic teleport to the right.........and I did one to the left. As I was flying through the air with the greatest of ease, all I could think was: *CRAP, NOT let go of Cisco, because he'll run!!!*
I landed in the most humongous patch of cockleburrs/burdocks I have ever seen. Well, at least they cushioned my fall.....LOL....
.....and I still had a death grip on Cisco's lead.

The first thing I did was look around, to see if anyone had witnessed my oh-so-graceful dismount. Then I caught 2Sox, remounted and continued on home.

Yeah, I was back.
This cool story was written by Diane from Wisconsin. I loved her intro.


  1. Brilliant! I fell off today for the first time since Boxing Day 2008, and I can really relate to your story.

    Some more reasons:
    It's too windy.
    The fly spray is finished.
    His feet were done today. Or yesterday.
    He's got a bite mark, I think the girth will rub it. Don't want to take a chance.

  2. Great story, I greatfully have never gotten bitten by the excuse for not riding bug. I have been thrown every way shape and form there is and still get back on. However, there was this one mare that slammed me into a telphone pole. I was scared of her from that point on. I did get back on her but I never fully trusted her. However, I did watch my mom go threw it but she is slowly coming along. I think having a horse crazy daughter bugging her to grow up helps.


  3. I am SO glad you overcame your fears - otherwise who would ride that 17hh Saddlebred when she came to visit. Well done, Diane, well done.

  4. Great job! I don't have a good enough sense of self-preservation to not ride... LOL, and my mare has dumped me a few times. Most of them were my own fault, for either not having a good enough seat to sit it out, or doign something stupid. I will say, the sprained ankle kept me out of the saddle for a few weeks, but out of pain, not fear.

    Thanks for posting your story. :)

  5. Hooray for the riding fairy!! Great story... thanks for posting it!

  6. I've come off a couple of times with some serious consequences, but from the get go I knew I would get back on again. My fear comes in the form of the "fear of canter" since both accidents happened at that gait. I'm working through it one ride at a time. Glad you worked through your issues and very glad you wrote that post.

  7. Haha this is such a great story.

  8. "Instead of thinking about what had just happened, about what I might do to not have it happen again (like, oh, I don't know....ENGLISH LESSONS????)......I started to think about what COULD have happened and scared myself into the worst case of the heebie-jeebies EVER."

    This is an incredibly good point. I think older riders and reriders and chicken riders and....anyway I think this is where we rope our own feet.
    We get caught up in the "What if's".

  9. Instead of thinking about what had just happened, about what I might do to not have it happen again (like, oh, I don't know....ENGLISH LESSONS????)......I started to think about what COULD have happened and scared myself into the worst case of the heebie-jeebies EVER."

    In some ways, it's certainly a good thing to think of all the things that DIDN'T happen. Just as easily as we think the next ride could be the last one in this lifetime, we can also easily think that "steady Eddy" will never be a dufus. I like to weigh all the "dids" and "didn'ts" and use them to analyze where I am in my riding, and where my horse is in training. I'm sorry that you scared yourself like that, though! Good job overcoming it! Where in WI are you, if you don't mind sharing? I'd be glad to buy you a cup of coffee one of these days!!

  10. Great story, well told. I've been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Good for you for fighting back. I never quit riding, but I sure did/do ride inside too much because of those "heebie-jeebies".

    Mugs, you're right. It's the "what-if's" that get you. With age may come wisdom, but so does that inner (fearful) voice.

    More reasons: "the kids might be riding their dirtbikes now", "I need company", "I can't afford to get hurt right now" (like there's ever a GOOD time to get hurt?), "Tomorrow will be a much better day".

  11. I can relate. I carry a notecard in my purse with the motto, "Don't think, plan, decide, just do." The only point of worth I have ever gotten from being polite to religious crazies.

    I am a chronic procrastinator and horribly indecisive to boot. Fortunately for me, although I have had a couple of crashing falls, finances meant I always had to get back on, it was never something I could procrastinate over, so I've never needed the riding fairy to administer tough love.

    What I did have to do at one point though was force myself back on while I was only half healed, because I was so frightened of getting back on that I was dreaming about the fall that had injured me. I knew that if I let the fear settle, irrational though it was, I might not be able to make myself.

    In my case too, it wasn't the injuries or even fear of them; it was the sheer unexpected randomness of what had caused the accident that frightened me. The fact that I hadn't seen it coming (not ever for a split second of 'Oh shit,' and nothing I could have done would have prevented it. Basically, what if it happened again?

    I've never really gotten rid of the what-if; it basically hovers in the back of my head every time I ask a horse to go downhill at any speed faster than a jog. I dunno if it's an age thing, because I never had any what-ifs before, not even after the crazy horse that threw itself over backwards at unpredictable intervals.

  12. Great story and so glad your are back!

    I agree that the "what ifs" can submarine you. Fortunately I haven't had a case of them yet.

    I was riding with a 16 year old girl the other day, she on her 4 year old warmblood mare and me on my steady paint horse. As we were leaving the barn to go out to the gravel road we were going to ride down, I was thinking to myself - Lord don't let anything happen to this kid while she is riding with me. She is a great rider and the mare seemed to be fine out of the arena, but you know you always worry when you have someone else kid with you. On the way back we encountered some llamas. My steady trail horse lost his little mind. He saw the first one to his right and whirled, snorted and felt like he was about to explode underneath me. I was kind of laughing, the 16 year old was laughing hysterically because her mare was just standing there as quiet as could be. Then steady eddie whirls and notices that they are llamas on both sides of him. Wow he can move! His neck was ridgid and his head was so high in the air, he was blowing and whirling, gravel was flying. I was still kind of laughing but their was this little voice in the back of my mind saying... Dear Lord please don't let me get dumped and have a serious head injury or spinal injury or... I haven't ever heard it before but it was there this time.

    I came to the barn the next day and now have a sign on my stall doors that says "Say NO to LLamas" with a picture of a llama with a red circle and a line through it! You got to love 16 year olds!

  13. DeeDee ( 4, 2010 at 2:57 PM


    I took a bad fall (totally operator error) back summer of 2004. I kept riding, experiencing bad fears all the time on the steadiest horse in the world.

    What saved my riding was having friends that put my dignity ahead of the trail ride. They promised to help me remount anytime i felt the need to dismount. They encouraged me to go on more technical trails than I would have on my own. They kept a pace that didn't scare me out of my saddle. And they didn't ridicule me when I said no to joining a ride that was going to be too much for me.

    For years I rode with 'Whoa' in my heart. Recently I realized I was riding with 'Go' in my heart and my horse responded. We tore up the Very big arena and the long trails. Even my girth becoming loose didn't stop us (thank goodness I didn't come off!).

    Winter Storm Ranch, support your mom, don't ridicule her. She obviously set you up for a confident and 'get'r'done' kind of life. Cherish it!

    Loved this. Happy new years you all.

  14. Wow, her intro sounds like my everyday live with my crazy TB!! It makes me feel like there IS hope!! I DO think about the What If's ALL THE TIME. I wish I could get over it!! Soon, I hope! It's been a year, I've ridden once in a while, but still the biggest chicken this side of the Cascades!

    This gives me SOME hope! Thanks SO MUCH for sharing!!

  15. Good grief.

    I just came to the conclusion this weekend I am a crappy rider. I have a good seat. I know the hows of riding having ridden my whole life, but my mind gets in the way sometimes lately. Didn't even own a saddle until I was 20.

    I've ridden lots of horses, scary horses. Green horses. Snuck out in the night and jumped on nakid horses in a field with my girlfriend. I've ridden horses I have no business riding.

    Yes, have taken lessons, many, over the years. I've shown, even won a national Championship. I'm still a crappy rider.

    I've riden bucking, rearing, bolting horses.

    I've ridden 50 miles in the dark.

    I can't say any horse has ever "thrown" me (except one pissy mare who bucked hard and high at canter). All the falls (and let's call them that, I FELL OFF) have been at a walk or trot or some stupid spook.

    But it doesn't stop there. I've also been hurt on the ground, stomped on, run into, slammed into, kicked. If there's a way to be hurt I'll find it.

    They say to be a better horseman you must ride lots of different horses. I've done that.

    Right now I'm training a horse I have no business training. She's coming along well but scared the heck out of me the other day for no other reason than being green. Just baby stuff. She doesn't have a mean bone in her body, but I almost fainted after I mounted. Was fine till I got up there then sort of just, freaked. Like a lifetime of hurts came tumbling into my mind.

    This mare is my future horse as my lifetime horse is getting older (and I've never come off her). I know her like the back of my hand and there is nothing she can throw at me I can't ride.

    It's my dirty little secret, being afraid. It breaks my heart every day I have to suffer to do what I love. I think about it at night, and dream that the fear is gone.

    Every ride is met with dread, like I'm on some sort of death march. Once 15 minutes have passed though it blows away as I exhale.

    And I celebrate once it is over, like I've just completed a 50 miler.

    Despite this grim picture, I can't stop riding. I'd rather die I guess. But it's a lonely place to be, in this fear. And it's even lonlier admitting to myself I'm a crappy rider.

  16. Anon- I'm confused, why are you a crappy rider?
    I didn't read anything in your post that wasn't very similar to the fears and bumps and lumps we often discuss here.
    I deal with fear, but I don't consider myself a crappy rider.
    I've known many a fearless rider who I've considered pretty crappy and lots of scared riders who get along pretty well.
    I feel a need for some clarification.
    Surely you're not implying if your fearful that means you're crappy?

  17. I figure anon maybe means that his/her (demonstrable) accomplishments mean that the fear is irrational, and therefore if the fear is irrational and yet she/he can't 'get over it' or not feel the fear, that they are being irrational and that a 'good' rider would not feel these fears or at least be able to 'get rid of them'.

    After all (sarcasm) riders are supposed to be in charge, and everyone 'knows' that horses react to your emotions, so fearful people shouldn't ride horses because it makes things worse and it's not fair on the horse.

    This has actually been said to me by a strapping 6ft plus (rich) white bloke who had been fortunate enough never to have anything go wrong or to have a fall or even have the need to worry about what could go wrong if he did. He was just thick and un-empathetic, but unfortunately, I've heard versions of this from other people who really ought to know better, as though fear is a personal failing and lack of it was due to willpower. Ugh. If it's a mindset you've grown up with it's bloody hard to eradicate.

  18. Thanks Mugs, Just wanted to say I've been reading your blog from the beginning.

    The reason I think I'm crappy is because I've had so many broken bones and trips to the ER. If I was a good rider I don't think this would happen.

    I think accidents happen when you stop actively riding your horse and become a passenger. This is what happens when fear takes hold, and then the horse takes over.

    It used to be I had automatic responses to some of the antics horses can pull. Now the first response is fear. I hate that. That's not riding, that's hoping I don't fall off!

    If I was just fearful and never fell off I wouldn't think I was crappy lol. But I've been on backboard three friggin times. And that isn't counting the other trips to ER.

    There comes a time I guess you look at your limitations and I think mine are riding a dude horse.

    I will say I feel safer when a horse is moving out, but then again I've never been hurt at speed.

    I read your words and have a hard time thinking you could be afraid. I mean, sick to your stomach scared. You seem to be able to push past it and still actively ride.

    Thanks for the blog. Love it.

  19. and yes FD, that's it exactly.

  20. My first horse was a 3 yr old green broke former big lick TWH. She had never been taught whoa. She could beat racing QH with her bouncy rocking chair show ring canter. (worst canter ever to ride, trust me)

    I fell off that horse every time I rode her. She could do a 90 degree turn at a full gallop, and when I did try to stop her would slide to a stop and rear. I feared for my life every time I rode her, and yes I did come up with many excuses not to. What kept me climbing back up there was that I loved horses, and loved to ride, more than I was afraid.

    Now, many years later, I ride all kinds of horses, but still every once and a while I get a twinge of something when a horse starts spooking, or trying to take off. I like to think I ride through it better now.

  21. Anon. I see what you're saying now. But you have to understand, my fight with fear was getting so big it was interfering with the quality of my training.
    Talked to the Big K and he admitted he has days when the 2-year-olds just get to him.
    I guess that's why I'm so fascinated by the whole mess. It seems to grow no matter what.
    I wonder if race car drivers get this way. Hmmmm, I'll have to try to find a race car blog.....
    Shadow Rider- Isn't it a trip the way those Walkers can slide stop? Too bad they can't spin.

  22. I know the feeling! My major excuse? "I have no company" or, "There's no one home." My boyfriend tells me I should just go ride, and I have to point out to him that he won't go kayacking by himself because it can be a dangerous sport...

    Today however, I bit the bullet and took my lovely boy out for an hour around the block. He hasn't been out in about 2 months, though I jumped on him bareback this sunday and walked around the paddock and he was fine. We trotted slightly more than I had anticipated (read, nearly the whole way!) and by the end I was sweating and he wasn't! Time to start going to gym again if I'm going to keep up.
    I agonize over weather to ride or not. I've only ever ridden at lessons, under supervision so it's scary riding my horse out alone. I have to say though, so far the fears have come to nothing, and while I have butterflies for ten mins before and the first 10 mins of the ride, they soon wear off.
    I find that if I go to sleep at night thinking of how wonderful it is to be able to ride, and visualizing cantering (sedately) down the grassy verge and smiling... The next day I am MUCH MUCH more likely to get onboard.

    Does anyone else have any tricks to beat the fear?

  23. I believe it's an age thing and it's just variable onset. Most people get more risk aware and averse as they get older (even if they don't have any concious fears about mortality) and what is fear really but a reaction to perception of risk?

    I know there are young riders who have fears, but mostly the young (12-20ish) riders with serious fear problems I've seen have had other emotional issues to go with it.
    A case in point; I have a friend who was a competitive long distance runner who is over forty. He tripped while competing and suffered knee and hamstring injuries and was unable to run for months. After the injury was successfully rehabbed he was unwilling to enter competitions again, kept putting it off, even though he was as fit as he had been before. He eventually told me that he was afraid of racing at speed now, even though he had no particular reason to be worried the same thing would happen. The thing that baffled him about this fear was that as a teenager he'd had a gory injury playing football (compound thigh fracture) and that hadn't put him off football at all. The only difference was age.
    In his case the fear didn't go away; but betablockers helped him handle it for a short period and he was able to go back to competing, although he still gets sick with nerves the night before.

    I sort of actually think it's the people who aren't ever afraid that are the wierd ones - horses are risky and rationally speaking, there's no denying that.

  24. My mom always said I was too dumb to get scared by horses...until recently she was right.

    Then I had an epiphany: it's no FUN to ride a horse who scares me. I talked to his owner that afternoon and I gave him back. We had spent 8 years and more than 2,000 miles together, and he still unloaded me whenever it struck his fancy.

    Fear can be useful for, like, keeping you alive. Not a bad thing, I'm thinking...

  25. ALL those excuses I have used! Partially because I got launch by the cutest little gelding in NFR Bronc-mode, and partly because last summer I lost 7 fellow barrel racers to freak accidents. My confidence was already shaken, then to have "old hands" lose their lives, just didn't seem worth it.

    I WILL say that I climb on old trusty bareback on Saturday and rode ALL THE WAY around the house!

    What a rush!

  26. Being a drag race car driver here...

    Yes, you get afraid. And at least the smart ones are. But you don't let that take over.

    You make sure your car is built correctly, all the safety equipment...tranny shields, roll-cage, backup throttle return springs, safely-neutral switch, solid fire wall, emergency shutdown switch...list goes on. You practice what to do if this happens, or that happens, over and over again in your mind.

    You check your car before each, steering driving to lanes, listen for any sounds that are not right. Double-check your brakes. You make sure your helmet is on tight, you have your racing coat or suit on for fire protection, you are strapped in a 5-point harness. You think of all that can go wrong driving up to the burnout box. The last guy you saw make a pass and kiss the wall. The car that had a nitrous explosion and torched the car. The one who's tires broke free and careened into the next lane, just missing the other driver.

    Then that goes out of your mind as you focus on the lights. The thrill of hauling-ass down the track at very high speeds takes over everything. The adrenaline rush overcomes all fears. You are hyper-aware of everything as it goes speeding past. This is why your race! You reach the end of the track, and take a deep breath as your brain returns to normal and you realize you made it to the end...and you are ready to go again.

    Geez, now I need to post this on my blog!!!

    I think the drivers who let their fear control them are the ones who have been really injured. We have a friend who almost died...his car when past the end of the track when his brakes failed and he ran into a tree. He is racing again...the first thing he did was get a helmet with a skull on it, as if to say "f-ck-you" to his fears and death.

    Oops! Sorry for so long!


  27. Thank you, Mugs, for using my story.

    I can't speak for anyone else, but I believe in my case, some of my *fear* came with age. It comes as you grow older, as an awareness of how many more responsibilities you have than when you were a kid.

    I broke bones with my horse when I was younger....both wrists, an ankle......and it was *Cool, I get out of chores for the next few weeks!!!* In the case of broken wrists, I even got out of doing the despised supper dishes.

    When I fell off at was *If I get hurt, I can't work. If I can't work, I can't feed my horses.*

    *I can't get hurt, I have too many people and animals depending on me.*

    I could never ride now like I did at 16. Does that make me a worse rider??? Absolutely not. It means I have accepted the fact that I am not as limber as I was, as quick to react......and my body sure isn't going to heal as quick as it used to.

    So maybe I err on the side of caution a little what??? I have nothing I need to prove to anyone......

    And there are a lot of ways to enjoy horses besides riding them. I can see me not riding someday, when I am very very old and cripply.

    But I can never see me without horses.

  28. LOVED the list!! But seriously, because the horse's tail is blue? I have to ask!

    I had a weird memory triggered this week. I've moved to a boarding barn and feel the need to get bridle plates and girth tags with my name on it to remind me what tack is mine when I leave it around. I suddenly got a flashback to college. A new girl at the university barn had ordered the same thing from me at the tack store I worked at. She died the next day. Literally one day we we're mentally counting girths and bridles in the store, the next day I hear her horse spooked on the trail and came down on her. Gone just like that.

    The freak accidents like that are the hardest to stomach... but the good days make it all worth while!

  29. I've been thrown too many times to count. I too went through the excuses of not riding, eventually I decided that the fear was all in my head. I took it one day at a time and I've only been afraid once since. Unfortunatly I just had knee surgery, hoping to be back in the saddle by summer but I imagine that I'll have fear by then.

  30. FYI - I don't push my mom I just encourge her to move on. We went on our first trail ride since the freak accident that broke her arm in 2008 a few weeks ago. She was on a good mare and she was shaking but that crazy mare never took a wrong step....Yes the mare is awsome she takes great care of my mom but she HATES ME!!!! I call her crazy and my mom fellows it by she just don't like you hehehe.... However our injured gelding can't handle trails anymore so after I wean the colt I think I can get her out some more. I think 2010 will bring around a group of new trail riding memories.....

  31. Another racing thought...

    Car racing is a male sport. I know there are women, butlet's face it. There is a lot of testosterone around. Most of these guys won't admit to being afraid...can't let the other guys know! You should go to the track sometime and watch all the strutting around LOL!

    You might want to compare this to sking instead....


  32. Great post!!! Loved the list - could add: I've got an itch, the horse has an itch, I think my dog has an itch, the sky is the wrong shade of blue, my horse looked at me funny this morning, my horse didn't look at me at all this morning, and I just can't deal with this again....the fear, I've had it all my life, to the point were I wouldn't leave my home (DH was a saint). Now I have good med's that help me function. But now that we've paid a whole lot of money to bring the horses home, by setting up the place I can't let the fear win again. I often wonder though if I haven't made a huge mistake staying with these equine friends of mine. The other day I rode my (new to me) 18 year old QH mare and she was giving me herd bound issues, (and I of course started to panic) but then I remembered the advice I've read here and I started singing, and then I started riding a clover leaf pattern over and over and then I just held on to the saddle horn and sang and went in circles. And I made it through the ride!! Good thing no one was watching!!! lol!! I won a victory that day, for me. So I try to think of the wins, not losing to fear, and every time I win that's one less part of me the fear takes claim on.
    I've been thrown a bunch in my life too and I really believe it's those little unexpected falls that get me worse than anything. It's hard to stop myself from what if'ing them to death. What if my horse really goes nuts and I really end up hurt. Those goofy little spooks can really get inside my head. That loss of control when there shouldn't be any.
    But what am I if I don't have my horses any more. I think I would be so much less than I am.

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. Great story to share. But I still can't understand why some people fall from horses and don't get hurt at all, while another person falls from a horse in a similar way and they end up in the hospital getting surgery for a severed ACL, and then spend 12 months struggling to heal with loads of pain and try to get their balance and agility.

    Yes, that's what happened to me. I finally got back on my horse for about 20 minutes right before Christmas, but I went through all those same excuses, dread, fear, panic and anxiety about getting back up there again.

    But I'm back....but now very cautious.


  35. A couple people mentioned "replaying the wreck" and running the "what ifs." Yes, that's what we do! Over and over. The challenge with that is your subconscious can't separate the replays from the actual event. The more you replay the wreck or what if's, the stronger the fear message grows because your subconsious wants you to stop the unsafe behavior so you survive. I've learned a couple strategies for countering fear that might help: Play the "happily ever after" version: where you do everything right and it all ends well for you and your horse and you feel happy, relaxed and SAFE. You can even substitute rides on other horses as long as you feel happy, safe, relaxed at the end. You can also watch other people riding well and enjoying themselves. OR stop replaying anything that's less than relaxed and safe.

    Yes, age is also valid factor in our fear: Yes, as we get older we're smarter about the risks as well as the consequences. Another factor is our bodies process nutrients less effectively. We may actually be deficient in some of our "confidence" nutrients. So, we may want to supplement with some essential "stress management" vitamins, minerals and herbs: A B vitamin complex, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.(Talk to your doctor or dietician)

    Also, for women, our estrogen decreases, so some experts recommend adding the supplement DHEA.

    Finally, get physical. Animals stress/experience fear and then fight or flea. But then they reset back to "normal" pretty quickly. How long does a horse's "spook" actually last? Humans don't. Our stress builds and builds, and we're often in low level panic in our day-to-day lives (Mark Rashid). For us to reset to "normal," we need to burn off the stress toxins in our bodies through physical exertion. So get physical--crunches, running, squats, etc. Work those large muscles. Then include other relaxation strategies--meditation, yoga, Tai chi, biofeedback, or self-hypnosis which get you breathing deeply.

    Mugs has mentioned importance of breathing. How often during the day do you think about taking nice, deep breaths? Or are you taking shallow chest breaths? If you are, you're probably short on oxygen. Are you easily startled? Do you jump when your alarm goes off or the phone rings? Guess what--you're already in low level panic. So start thinking about breathing. How does it change when you start thinking about riding?

    Resources I found helpful in conquering my fear: Yvvone Oswald's Every Word Has Power. Barbra Schulte's The Gift where she talks about importance of positive visualization. Kelly Marks' Build Complete Confidence with Horses. Mark Rashid Horsemanship Through Life.

    Peg/Maggie Z (Or is it?)

  36. Yes, I agree whole heartedly that the "what if's" will get you...and if we listened to every bad story on the news or from our friends, we'd never let ourselves out of the padded room!

    I purposefully don't read bad horse wreck stories...and that's because I need to keep confident and not build up fear in my subconscious that could eventually become a problem...and CAUSE a wreck when the subconscious fear takes over clear thinking in a tight situation.

    This was a really good story. Thank you Diane for sharing!