How To Regain Your Confidence After Falling Off a Horse
Have you fallen of a horse and are now nervous about getting back on? Here are some ways you can help regain your confidence.
In November of 2013 I had a bad riding accident. I had spent the summer looking after and riding a mutual friend's horse. I loved this horse but he was ornery to say the least. He had chucked me off a few times but I'd always just dusted myself and jumped right back on. This particular incident didn't end as well. I was riding him bareback when he suddenly decided he wasn't going to listen to me, I sternly told him "don't fight me." Next thing I know I am sailing through the air thinking, "I can fly." Obviously what goes up must come down, and I hit the ground about 3 feet away from the horse. I landed directly on my back and had the wind knocked out of me. It felt like forever before I was finally able to suck in a breath. I eventually managed to stand up and walk the horse back to his stable; as I was putting his bridle back I started coughing into my hand. When I pulled it away I saw blood. I showed my mother who rushed me to the hospital, all the while I was continuing to cough up blood and my breathing was ragged. When we arrived at the hospital the trauma team was waiting for me. I was strapped to a backboard and given emergency x-rays along with a CT scan. I knew it was bad because they bought the x-ray machine to me. I was terrified. 40 mins later I was told that I had collapsed my lung and had a compression fracture of one of my vertebra. I spent the next 3 months unable to lay flat, turn my head, or lift anything weighing more than 5 lbs. I was sure that I would never get on a horse again but I did. Here's how I managed to regain my confidence.
Take It Slow
If you've lost your confidence then don't expect to be back to where you were within a couple of days. Imagine that you are learning to ride again, you wouldn't start out jumping and galloping. Start with ground work, learn to feel comfortable around horses again. Once you're feeling less nervous then get back on. Once you're on just walk, don't feel like you have to canter or even trot. Just stay at a leisurely pace and remember how much you enjoy it. Once you feel comfortable at a walk, then progress to a trot and so on. It can be tempting to try and rush through this but don't. Even if it takes you six months to progress from a walk to a trot that is fine. Regaining your confidence takes time.
Get a Good Instructor
If you don't already have an instructor that you like then find one. A good instructor will help you feel more at ease. If possible, find one that has helped people regain their confidence before. They will be able to come up with a plan that suits your needs. Remember, a good instructor will NEVER try to push you to do something you aren't ready to do. If they are trying to pressure you to do something that you are too scared to do, then find a different one.
Ride a Calm Horse
If you've had a bad fall then the last thing you want is to ride some bucking bronco or nervous nelly. Find a horse that is calm and responsive. Lesson horses are great for this because they are used to working with new and unsure riders. Knowing that the horse you are riding will listen to you and is unlikely to take-off will make you feel more at ease. The first horse I rode after my accident was a fat little pony that probably wouldn't have run even if a lion was chasing him. Since I wasn't worried about him bolting, I could focus on remembering why I loved horse riding so much.
Invest in Proper Safety Gear
I have always worn a helmet when riding. If I hadn't been wearing one the day of my accident I honestly don't think I'd be here typing this. I buy a lot of my riding gear second-hand (lets face it, riding is an expensive hobby), but my helmet was the one thing I splashed out on and I'm glad I did. Investing in a good helmet and also a protective vest will make you feel better. Riding is a dangerous sport, nothing you do will make you completely safe; but if you know that you're making yourself as safe as possible you might not be so scared.
*Please note: If you have had a fall while wearing a helmet DO NOT reuse that helmet. Discard it and buy a new one. Even if it looks alright on the outside, inside it could be damaged and will not protect you if you fall with it again.
About the Creator
I am a 22 year old student therapist. I am passionate about mental health, women's rights, and women's health. I love to write, both fiction and non-fiction. I also enjoy riding horses and rock climbing.
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