Riding Fear Free – How to Know if You’re a Fearful Rider

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by Laura Daly

Do you schedule rides with friends and then cancel? Do you feel guilty for not spending more time with your horse? Do you worry if your horse makes the simplest mistake or change in gait? On the other extreme, do you find yourself doing risky activities around friends just to “keep up?” Do you always compare yourself or your horse to others? Do you long for the “good old days” when you were a carefree kid and could ride like the wind? These are only a few signs that you may be a fearful rider.

The good news is that you can truly learn to ride fear free. The first step is to identify the times when you feel anxious. One of the fastest ways to become fear free is to start a journal. Record the reasons you avoid your horse. Once you identify when you feel fear, you will know where to start. 

You can learn to control the impulse part of your brain. Right now you are conditioned to think negatively about you and your horse. You can change your state of mind by doing something physical and then taking control of your thoughts. Ask questions like this: Is my first reaction based on fear or reality? Why don’t I want to ride with my friend or enter that event? 

Once you find the core reasons for anxiety, you can decide to change your circumstances. If you discover that your friends want to force you out of your comfort zone then maybe you need to set some boundaries or find new friends who are willing to go at your pace. The first step in riding fear free is to identify the times when you feel fear. Then, capture your thoughts and decide to do something about the real problem.


Published March 2014 Issue

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