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Has anyone else had an accident, gotten older or just all of a sudden developed an unreasonable fear when riding?

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Hi, I got in a bad horse accident in the 80's. I was galloping race horses at Suffolk Downs in Boston, Mass and on a muddy day, the horse I was riding lost his galloping bandage and got tripped up init and I fell off underneath the horse. He hit the side of my wrist and when I got up, I saw one of my wrist bones sticking out of my skin. Any way I spent a month in the hospital with abadly infected arm because the mud had gotten in there. I almost lost my hand, they were thinking about amputating it. I got better and beat the infection but the break never healed, so now I work with a permantley broken arm. So, come time to go back to riding, I was frightened. I went back to riding the racehorses for only one week. My arm was only 50% strong. I went 10 years before I started riding again. I rescued a horse from the track and began retraining him. Slowly I got my confidence back, with the help of some barn friends. Now my arm is stronger, but I stillhave to be careful as it still is weaker. I ride 2 to 3 horses a day now and my confidence is much better. Point is... don't give up riding!
FEAR is captalized here. I too, got bucked off from a little horse that just came back from the trainers. Ha. I got the Ha. I've been riding all my life and have broken many horses before. But since this horse was very small, I sent him to a trainer, plus he was a bugger from the get go. He was born on our place and I already knew his personality. Anyway as soon as he got home my son wanted to ride him. Well he tried to tell me that he wasn't acting right and I just told him don't you let him get away with it and the next then I knew he had knocked my son off and ran over him with all four feet and he had shoes on. I saw that my son was fine and then I got on him in a pony saddle and he bucked me off first thing.
Well I broke my back and was in a back brace for 3 months. As soon as my back was well I resumed riding again, but with my favorite mare that I would have trusted anyone on. The same thing happened with this horse except this time it was my daughter, well I got on her and all the sudden she got into a bucking frienzee or however you spell it. This time I was knocked uncausious and in that moment everything I ever thought I knew about horses were totally gone. I tried riding lessons, and everything else i could do, but the FEAR just wasn't going away. I just showed halter horse for almost 10 years and being my daughter groom at her horse shows. I still had many horses but I just couldn't ride any more. Then I started having dreams about my old spotted saddle horse and that I should go back to what I knew. My love for horses never left. Anyway I started searching the web at spotted saddle horses. I found a horse that a 75 year old man was riding. She was everything I needed. He sent me about 3 dvd and I knew everything I needed to know that this was the horse for me. I drove all the way to Strawberry Arkansas. I've own her 2 years now and we go everywhere together, on the rail and the trail. I don't dare change horses thought I'm 51 now. I just hoping she last as long as I do. Happy Trails
I am currently going through a very difficult transition. Due to medical problems I am retiring my long time trail partner, Pegasus, an 18 year old TWH. He has been a "once in a life time horse" for me. From the first time I rode him, I knew that he would open many doors for me. He is not smooth gaited, quite pacey actually but there is a connection of trust and respect we have had from day one. Riding has been a real pleasure and what I have come to expect and enjoy. I now am riding some of our other horses and we have many. They are all very nice horses but they are not Pegasus. I took a ride on our KMH on Saturday and had what I inititally considered the worst ride of my life! He is normally a perfect gentleman, but that ride he was spooky, prancing and worse than that at one time he acted up so badly that I would have gotten off if I had been able to keep him still long enough. I was terrified and felt as though he would explode underneath me at any moment. I knew the problem was me and not him, but I went into the FEAR zone so badly that all the knowledge and training I have had went completely out of me for about 10 minutes. I have gone off a horse a number of times before but I have never been so frightened. I am 60 so I do not bounce any more when I hit the ground I splat!

Many of my most important spiritual life lessons have been taught to me through my horses. This was an example of one of them: "THERE IS NOTHING MORE DANGEROUS THAN FEAR"! It clouds your thinking and deprives you of making good choices. It leads you to react rather than being present in the moment. For me a fearful horse and a fearful me is a wreck waiting to happen. So as soon as I calmed down, started breathing again, particularly to do long exhales, he calmed down and the rest of the ride was without incident. I should also mention that I had said a prayer which was answered! You see, I was never really alone in that situation, but had forgotten that through my fear. When I got back to the barn I wanted to cry. I said to Roger, "That was the worst ride I have ever had!" It took me hours to process everything and by that evening my attitude had done a 180 degree turn. I told Roger that it had been a great ride, just what I needed.

My experience is not the same as a serious personal injury, so I can only speak for where I am right now. I have had an experience that has helped me shift my thinking about what is ahead of me in finding that new trail partner and my responsibility in developing that. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I go through this major transition and shed the fear and worry. Thanks for bringing up the topic. Happy and Safe Trails to all of us!
The getting older bit has definately had an affect on a lot of things in my life, but losing my confidence after a fall and injuries 2 yrs ago is still having the Frozen rider effect on me, as i walk over to the barn with the intention of riding my stomach churns, just putting my boots on- my stomach churns, i tend to focus on what could happen and the aftermath !! what is HARD to do is to focus on the fact that i got educated and i do have some tools to work with in the event of a problem, i get all wound up about something that has not happened yet ! its hard for people like my husband (who is not a horsey person) to understand this feeling of being overtaken by this and fighting with it while you are saddling up or driving to a trial ride, the feeling of accomplishment when i have completed a trail ride and enjoyed it, and i am on my way home is wonderful- i know its all in my mind and i am getting better, getting the right horse is paramount, and talking to people about it also helps, I love riding, wish i could do more, and the love of doing it keep us all pushing our boundaries that little bit more each time, I am glad i do it, its a natural protector to have some fear, i just seem to have some extra that i need to off load- any takers !!!!! lets keep doing what were doing- happy trails-B
In the 90's I had an accident, not horse related, and was laid up for about a year and a half. When I started riding again I was consumed with fear over everything! Even hooking up my trailer caused a panic attack. I just worked through mine over a couple of years. I made sure I had a steady trail horse/buddy that trusted me and I trusted him. I also got my hormones checked and straightened out. Let's face it women have a whole different set of physical issues to deal with in para-menopause and menopause. I also practice prayer and memorize scripture that is relevant. At least 360 times in the Bible God has given us some form of 'do not fear or do not be afraid'. He knew this would be a problem for all of us. Finally remember that fear is usually: False Evidence Appearing Real...
Blessings and Happy Trails, Linda
"has anyone else had an accident, gotten older or just all of a sudden developed an unreasonable fear when riding?"

Why yes, yes I have! No matter how I try I get older and older and older . . *G*

I do wear a helmet when I ride, I do not want to come off, hit a rock and trust my husband and kids to wipe the drool off my chin, not to mention my father died as a result of falling off his RV and hitting his head, riding horses is much more dangerous, I do not want to particularly follow in my father's footsteps . . and yes, I can definitely relate to feeling tense, scared and having that unreasonable fear come up on you, not to the extent of some of the other writers, I wonder if I'd ever ride again if I ever had fear that great. My hat's off to you that push thru it.

Like Belinda, knowing what could happen is not conducive to ridding oneself of fear.

I hadn't realized that there's so many references in the Bible to not being afraid, thanks Linda. I pray before almost every ride, asking God for angels to surround us, to keep us safe.

One other thing I do that may be controversial for some is get a little chemical help. I can't control my pounding heart or the adrenaline flooding my system, so when I am in a riding situation that I know will amp me up I take a bit of Xanax, as in 25 whatevers (mg? mcg?) a not very strong dose, it doesn't put me to sleep but it does enable my mind to dismiss the irrational fears that try to flood it. I've found I'm much more able to relax which is conducive to having a good ride. I believe tension in the rider is reflected in the horse.

I probably would never have thought of getting some chemical help were it not for a friend of mine, a VERY respected high-level eventer friend that related how the judicious use of Paxil (I think that was it?) helped her conquer her fears after she'd come off and broken her shoulder. She knew when she broke down in her arena during a lesson that she had to do something. She'd ridden all her life, foxhunting, jumping, dressage and eventing are all things she does very well and that enabled her to get past her fears and focus on the riding.

Like another writer, I'm older and am much more picky about the horses I want to ride. I think back to my first horse and I wouldn't ride her now for love nor money. I also think about great riders I've known that have bit the dirt, one fracturing her arm to the point she had to have major surgeries on it, yet she still rides, and that gives me some sense of relief in a weird sort of way, a far better rider than I got dumped in her front yard by a horse she'd raised that spooked over something, she survived and rides again - I will too.

Hopefully my ramblings make some sense!
I have had a few wrecks in the 30 years of riding. A few concussions, broken knee and last year I fell off a mustang jumping....yes a 12 inch log! LOl!
I try not to think about it. I guess I have been lucky cause it has never stoped me from riding.
Oh my gosh yes. I came off projectile style head first into a barn door and broke my neck. It took me a long time and several horses to regain my confidence. I went from riding anything that came in the barn to only wanting to ride a dead head. I went through 5 or 6 horses during my "confidence rebuilding" and each horse brought me a little further along than the previous horse. I am happy to report that I was able to get back to the confident, albeit a bit more cautious, rider that I was before the accident. Thanks to Kari & Hal here on TTR I found my lifetime horse, Soldier a.k.a. Nemo. He has the right combination of spunk, smooth gait and kind temperment. I am so very thankful to my husband and friends for not trying to push me too quickly as I returned to riding again.
Yes, and it has to do with those God given 'hormones' I posted about earlier.,preservation of the species...etc. . I work in a medical field (I'm not a doctor or nurse)and also believe in medications for certain people and situations. I also took Welbutrin for a little over a year to help work through my fear issue and balance my brain chemistry after three surgeries. But, talk therapy can be just as effective and is necessary along with any medication. In my opinion, Paxil is a more effective and safer treatment than using xanax or other benzo type meds that only temporarily mask the problem. Benzo's also have what I call a 'rebound' effect and can make your anxiety worse. Some fear is normal and prompts us to use common sense safety measures/precaution. However, irrational and extreme fear can definitely be caused by a chemical imbalance and if it continues for weeks/months we should see a qualified medical specialist for treatment. I also found that when I quit using allergy medication, such as benedryl, my anxiety went away. I hope this is helpful to someone. We are all different and what medication works for one my not be effective and in fact my harm someone else. Always, make sure you go to a 'qualified specialist' and don't just listen to us if you need help. We are all just sharing our own stories.
Wow Linda, I sure like what you said! I'm in medical field and have been for over 30yrs. I work for a doctor now. I have lived with panic disorder most of my life. I do take something for it. As little of it as I can get away with. I have wondered about the "rebound" effect of benzos and have probably experienced that myself. Problem is, I have never benn able to take antidepressants. ALWAYS made me feel worse. So if a little dab of "nerve pill" will get me through it, I'm cool. My father had horrible panic attacks as does my daughter. Guess it has to be genetic. Now fear issues with riding. Not so much in the beginning 15yrs ago but now plenty of fear! I was hurt once pretty badly by my first horse who was much tooo much horse for a green rider! Had four horses since then and have been very lucky. I don't put myself in dangerous situations and I do wear a helmet!
'Now, I try to "turn the fear around" when i'm on a horse that stars to act up or misbehaves. You have to go in agression mode. I like to longe a horse that i'm not sure of and that gets me an idea of where the horse's head is at before I mount. If the horse's eyes are on me and his or her head is lower, and is responding to my cues, then I feel ok to get on the horse.When I do get on and the horse acts up or misbehaves, we go back to longeing agressively. If the horse is nervous still, I will do some very fast trotting in serpentines and figure eights until the horse settles down(and gets a little tired and sick of me doing that) Clinton Anderson has some real good exersises for getting a horse to settle down and listen to you on the trail and in the arena. And do wear a helmet. I don't like the idea of taking any medication. You need a clear head.
I am not on any medications at present, but know within reason sometimes they are necessary. We wouldn't think of not letting a diabetic have insulin. The interesting fact is that if you are on the 'correct' medication it can actually clear your thinking. That is what it did for me in the past. I do however think we tend to 'over medicate' our problems in this country. Much has been done in the last few years to advance our medical knowledge, but also to show us we do not have a clue how much we really do not know about brain function and chemistry. I am a big believer in trying the natural approach with diet, exercise, talk therapy and vitamin/mineral supplements first. Instead of using sinus/allergy meds I now use a natural sinus wash with a warm sea salt solution, working great! Now at least, since we are all being honest, we can help each other on and off the trail. Don't let fear hold you back....call someone or tell us when we ride, next time I might be the one needing help.
Blessings, Linda


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