ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Overcoming the Fear of Horseback Riding

Updated on November 6, 2013

Picture this

Imagine flying carefree through a lush, green field. Hooves pound the earth beneath you as the wind whips past your face. You give your horse more slack in the reins, allowing her to move freely as she carries you faster. You turn your face to the vivid, blue sky above you as you realize something: there is no feeling in the world quite like this. If you have ridden horses before, perhaps you are familiar with this feeling. Or, perhaps the notion of a galloping horse speedily carrying you forward strikes fear in your heart. You would rather stay on the sturdy ground.

Many people relate more to the latter for various reasons. Some have never ridden a horse and find it scary because it’s unfamiliar, while others have ridden but have suffered a bad fall from a horse's back. If you can relate to either case, you are not alone. Even the most advanced riders have experienced that same anxiety at some point during their riding years. But they have overcome that anxiety. And believe it or not, you can, too.

Ignore "what-ifs"

“What if I get thrown from the horse’s back?” “What if I can’t control the horse and he gallops off, taking me with him?” “What if I can’t move the horse forward?” “What if…?” There are many “what-ifs” in life. Most of these “what-ifs” come when we are first learning something or after a mishap. For instance, think back to when you first learned to drive a car. Did you ever think, “What if I get into a car accident? What if I have to go onto the highway? What if I have to parallel park? What then?” But as you gained experience in driving, these fears gradually dissipated. Through experience and, when necessary, instruction, you acquired the skills necessary to appropriately respond to these situations. It is the same with horseback riding. While you currently might not have all the skills necessary to respond to every possible situation, you can learn them. The best way to learn these skills is through experience. Give yourself a chance to learn and grow.

Remove “failure” from your vocabulary

Today, the word “failure” carries a lot of negative connotations. Some might consider a failure to be evidence of something they personally lack. They believe, whether subconsciously or not, that a failure makes them inferior. None of these are the case when it comes to failure. When you fail, it does not mean that you are a failure. It only exposes what you need to work on. If a horse gets scared and jolts forward, throwing you off in the process, this only shows that you need to work on your reactions to the horse's sudden behavior, your balance, and your grip in the seat. Instead of saying “that was a failure”, say instead, “that is something I need to work on”. The later phrase carries much less anxiety and points to what really matters: how to improve.

Your fellow riders want to know!

What's stopping you from riding?

See results

Don’t compare yourself to other riders

Every rider has a different background. Each one is unique. Therefore, it is futile to compare one to the other. Don’t compare your current riding level to another rider’s. Instead, look back at your own riding timeline (no matter how short or long it is), and see how far you’ve come. No one has reached a certain level that you cannot reach one day. In fact, all professional riders were once novices learning how to post a trot. Focus on your accomplishments, not others’.

Others are available and willing to help you

First and foremost, make sure to hire a reliable instructor. Meet the instructor before your first lesson to get to know them a little. You could even observe a lesson that he or she is teaching so that you can make note of his/her teaching style. If you feel like it is not a right fit for you, then do not worry. There are plenty of experienced, patient, and skilled horseback riding instructors out there. If you don’t know where to look, try typing “horseback riding instructors” and your city and state into Google.com. Another way to find a schooling barn is to visit your local tack shop or equestrian supply store. Talk to a sales clerk about finding a riding instructor in your area. Most likely, if he or she doesn’t know of any, someone else in the store will know. Lastly, check your local newspaper for any advertisements. Sometimes, schooling barns utilize these to pique interest in readers. Gather a couple phone numbers, start making the calls, and book a couple appointments.

When you start riding, you can always ask another rider for guidance, too. if you have trouble with something specific like maintaining your balance while posting the trot, look for a rider who seems to do well in that area and ask him or her for advice. Many are willing to help their fellow riding students.

Learn more about horses

Part of your nervousness might be coming from the fear of the unknown. Horses can be intimidating creatures, especially when you don’t know what to expect. But, this can easily be overcome. Observe horses in the pasture, in their stalls, and in the schooling ring while taking notes on their behaviors. Research horse breeds online. Learn about each breed’s unique temperament to gain insight into the personality of the horse you ride. Read books on horse behavior as well as technical aspects of riding. Saturate your mind with knowledge. This will squelch the fear of the unknown.

Just ride

Many are apprehensive when attempting to ride a horse. However, they’ll never know what will happen until they try it. Put away your worry and give yourself a chance to accurately decide if horseback riding is for you or not. Who knows – you might love it! But if you don't, that’s fine, too. The important thing is you overcame your fear and were able to make an informed and rational decision.

So, if you think you’d enjoy riding, don’t let your fear stop you. Don’t get caught up in the “what-ifs” because no one knows the future. Most likely, the positive things that you get out of it will outweigh the negative. Horses can teach us a lot about self-confidence, determination, and perseverance. So, if you are interested in riding but struggle with fear, my advice to you is this: get out there and ride!

About the author

Allison Lark has been riding horses for 14 years. She is trained in the skill of jumping and has participated in many horse shows and Steeple Chases. She has fallen off of horses so many times, she has lost count. But through it all, her passion and love for horses continued to grow stronger as they taught her how to overcome her fears and allow her courage to flourish.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you for a fun hub. Each time I learn more about horses. Horses are a key component of my Weston Wagons Wests series. Hope you'll stop by and check it out. Thanks, again! ;-)

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)