Part Two: Now I'm Afraid

[Part One: My Horse Betrayed Me.]

Something bad happened. The details don’t need to be repeated for me to understand. It doesn’t matter whose fault it was; whether it was you or your horse. Excuses don’t help and emotions are rarely swayed by logic. Your trust has been broken.

Now you feel fear. Fear in the saddle. Fear about horses in general, but most importantly, fear toward your own horse. 

Disclaimer: I am not a therapist; I just act like it when I give riding lessons. 

First, can we all admit that tight feeling in the gut is something we have all know well? There is nothing unusual about a feeling of anxiety while climbing on a thousand-pound prey animal with keen senses and a flight response. It’s normal human instinct. 

The most common thing that good horsewomen tell me is that they don’t ride like they did when they were kids–as if that’s a bad thing. Kids don’t have good hands or clear cues; what I remember most is going where the horse wanted to because I had no steering. Some of us rode fast and bounced when we fell, but the truth remains. Riding wilder is not better. It frightens horses. Bravado or dumb luck will never qualify as good horsemanship.

And worst of all, there is a huge ration of self-loathing that comes along when a rider admits they’re timid. It takes up as much room in a rider’s heart as the fear does. It’s the self-loathing that hurts the most to hear and see in a client. I’m certain horses feel the same.

Well, words matter. I’m going go back and do some editing before we continue.

Now you feel fear common sense. Fear Common sense in the saddle. Fear Common sense about horses in general, but most importantly, fear common sense toward your own horse.

The problem isn’t that we have fear common sense, it’s that we love horses and aren’t giving them up. Now what?

In my experience, hard feelings grow in the dark. Most of us have some time or place that the bogey man threatens us. I won’t say ignore him; there’s usually a spark of truth there. You should be cautious about monsters under the bed (lock the house, be careful in parking lots, and yes, monitor the dangers of riding.) Part of that fear common sense is an instinct for self-preservation. Like a horse.

At the same time, it’s incredibly powerful to drag your bogey man out into the daylight. The first time you admit that you’re timid, your voice might quiver a bit but right after that, your heart starts beating again. Your jeans feel like you’ve lost weight. And you have.

Riders get told to relax because horses can read our emotions. It’s true but humans who listen with their eyes read them, too. It doesn’t matter what you think intellectually, how much experience you have with horses, or what you should have done. Act timid or act with bravado, but you aren’t fooling us, so why not admit it out loud?

Share your feelings. Notice that the rest of us are just like you and let go of the self-loathing part. Besides, a bogey man doesn’t have a chance in the broad daylight with a bunch of middle-aged women glaring at him.

And while we’re being honest, one more bit of sideways truth. However it happened that your trust was damaged, it wasn’t that you lost control of your horse. You never had control. As a recovering Type-A who thought she could steer her horse, and the rest of her life, to brilliant happiness, I feel qualified to say the sooner we get over thinking we can even control our hair, the better we’ll be.

Let it go. 

Forgive your horse. He responded by instinct; he didn’t betray you or want to hurt you. Forgive him because holding a grudge doesn’t work. Breathe and forgive him again. Feels good, doesn’t it?

If your fear common sense tells you he isn’t the horse for you, then lay down your silly ego and don’t be a martyr, owning him forever in purgatory. Confess that he’s the perfect horse… for someone else. Trade him for a horse who better suits you. It isn’t a failure to do what’s best for both of you.

Then forgive yourself. We are our own worst enemy and holding a grudge against our own instincts is crazy-making. Show your heart some tolerance and ask your brain to rest. Leave the trash talk to others.

Sit a little taller and remind yourself that you have a noble goal. To collaborate with another species in equality has been the life’s work of élite equestrians and children from the beginning of time. You have a rich heritage.

And there’s time. Horses are patient teachers and you’re lucky to have lifetime tuition. Buy the hay and you’re enrolled. On the ground or in the saddle, the lessons will be learned. Horses are perfect that way.

Most of all, count your blessings. Fear Common sense is not a tumor to be cut out. Fear Common sense isn’t a weakness, just as bravado isn’t courage. Think of it as a training aid. Fear is common sense trying to get your attention. Say thank you.

Word choice matters. We need to understand each other’s instincts for self-preservation because that’s how both species–horses and humans–will flourish.


If your fear is truly too big to have a conversation with and you freeze in the saddle and can’t breathe, just stop. If your anxiety is debilitating, get help from a real therapist. Do it for your horse, if not yourself. No joke. Having the bogey man with his hands on the reins is a truly dangerous place.

Short of that, just keep chipping away. Make friends with your instincts. Smile more. Reward yourself for small wins. Breathe. Go slow. Show yourself the kindness that you show your horse. Let him carry you to a better self.

Ever think about where courage comes from? It isn’t born of arrogance and success. It’s purchased, one drop at a time, by internal moments of persistence in the face of challenge.

You’ve got that. It’s holding to a truth about yourself. And then horses. In the process, keep your love just an inch bigger than your fear common sense and you’ll be fine.

[Next week: Riding Above Fear.]
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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Anna Blake

0 thoughts on “Part Two: Now I'm Afraid”

  1. Anna! Thank you for your magical way of writing and your words just taught me a lesson of kindness, forgiveness, and honesty. Love love love your writings. Thank you! Melanie

  2. This so timely for me. Great way to put this. Changing our attitude makes all the difference. I love common sense!

  3. Nice, Anna. It’s helped gaining knowledge in the face of “fear”. Knowledge in horsemanship, riding, and taking an honest look in the mirror. A lot. Shaunie loved the nose massage, by the way!

  4. Great article,I let go of a gelding,we didn’t fit together at all. I didn’t take it personally,he did nothing for my confidence. Fear,common sense, took over!
    Found a different horse,it took us a while to build trust in each other. In 6 months time, we are on a good path to a relaxed partnership.

  5. I certainly had to learn THAT lesson kind of the hard way. After umpteen years (starting at age 45) of riding my first-ever horse, who was easy-going (except at saddling up, and we reached a truce) and not inclined to “take off” and not afraid as long as she had a chance to take a good look, she developed arthritis in all the important joints, and her back, and had to be put down. I bought another horse who was fine in the ring but a complete scaredy-cat on the trail (even in an open pasture), and was hard to manage when we went out no matter how many lessons I had (on her) and how hard I tried to improve my skills. It took an exciting fall and broken ankle to make me scared to ride. 2 summers of lessons (starting on therapeutic riding horses) and one eye-opening clinic (riding other horses well and my own horse not so much) led by a very generous clinician taught me that my horse needed a more capable rider than I was.

    As a permanent advanced beginner, I always believed that the fault was in the rider, not the horse. It was hard to learn that my mare and I were basically a poor match. (And then I messed up the knee on my other leg, so I just don’t ride any more.)

  6. Your lovely line about courage being purchased one drop at a time by persistence in the face of challenge made me think about our efforts, years ago, to teach my daughter’s pony that umbrellas aren’t going to kill him and eat him. A lot of people had a lot of advice about how to go about that process, but we took an entire day and increased the exposure in small drops. The day ended with him marching around UNDER the umbrella with me, daughter on him bareback. As a psychotherapist I know that this method of building courage works with humans too. It’s interesting that a lot of us are becoming so much smarter about how to work with horses – but then turn around and expect ourselves to just “get over it” in a moment of intellectual choice. We have to intentionally build those small moments – the one drop at a time – into our day with horses after we’ve had a scary experience. I love what you say about forgiving and reminding that the horse didn’t intend harm. There was no malicious intent. Thanks again for a terrific and thought-provoking Friday read!

  7. I love the editing. It also applies to the horse, yes? Maybe our fearful horse is really using common sense as well. With a clenching uptight predator on her back, it makes sense to want to get out of that situation or to shut down and refuse to go on. Compassion for self allows compassion for others. Thank you. This applies to so much. We need to honor and listen to ourselves and our horses. I need to take some deep breathes and do some editing to my inner dialog.

  8. Being dumped myriad times, breaking a wrist, and various low back injuries over the years didn’t faze me. But I finally got hurt bad. The ribs have healed, finally, but the collar bone did not. I’ve been told to have surgery and I’ve been told to live with it. Another week will bring me an opinion I respect. I’ve had lots of thoughts, yes, common sense ones. Don’t feel a bit bad about it. Just sad. Very sad. Not sure what I’ll do. For now, I get immense pleasure out of hanging out with my horse and watching a beautiful young thing ride him. Thank you for addressing this subject….again.

  9. Always read others’ comments to your wonderful writings and feel that anything I could say would be superfluous, but I am compelled to say how much I resonate with this. Part of getting older is learning to trust one’s own perceptions. I have learned the hard way that it can be disastrous to abandon common sense when working with horses. Just because a trainer is more knowledgeable about horses does not mean they know everything, and in fact no one can know everything affecting a horse from moment to moment. In retrospect, I see that my three bad accidents resulted from bypassing my own intuition and relinquishing my independent judgment. There is such a stigma placed on hesitation and fear on the part of the rider in the horse world, when in reality we may be responding out of self-preservation.

    • I made the mistake of listening to an instructor instead of my common sense and, more importantly, my horse. The result was broken ribs and an escalation of my lack of trust in my horse. The next injuries were far worse and I was an emotional mess. In future I will give myself full permission to tell an instructor I disagree without feeling like I’ve failed, again.

  10. Forgive yourself. Forgive your horse. Forgive those who told you it was necessary to be in control. Forgive all the mistakes you and your horse have made (your dogs, your spouse, your kids, your parents, etc.). You can’t have a horse who’s scared or uncertain of you and you afraid of what said horse might do and expect anything good to happen. You can try to be the dictator, but it will eventually get you into big trouble. Isn’t it odd that people will dispose of a spouse they’re just not compatable with but will keep a horse and try to force a relationship to work. It always is wise to keep in mind that thousand pound horse, prey animal that it is, can not really be blamed for its instinctual responses. We have them too but often refuse to acknowledge them for what they are or think we must not pay attention to them. How often common sense is ignored, discounted and disregarded. We’d all be better off if we paid more attention to good, old-fashioned common sense and not just with horses.

  11. Thanks for informing my common sense, Anna! I now realize my love and wistfulness for trail riding was totally borne in my youth, complete with bad hands, dumb luck and bravado. I somehow stayed on those horses that ran away with me through forests and over Montana plains, while I laughed and played jockey. I never noticed the horses’ fear.

    Since 2012 I have been trying to figure out how I am going to get past my last fall off Dodger. My concussion (broke the helmet) still won’t allow me to remember the details. The last memory of riding that day is the one of me laughing and Dodger cantering on cue because I’d finally figured out how to help him get the correct lead; the next memory is of the noises inside a CT scanner.

    I have no more bravado. I care about my horse’s experience and trust in me. I see more reasons to let trail riding go than continue to reach for it. At some point my lifetime, must-reach goal changed deep down and I forgot to notice…til now. Whoa.

    • I almost feel like I should apologize… this is such a perceptive and bittersweet comment. So glad you are still with us and able to reason. When the air clears, know that there is an infinite universe of horses still here and let the adventure begin again. And give Dodger a scratch for me. Thank you, Michelle.

  12. I have two horses who I had to rescue from one of those seemingly ubiquitous overzealous ignorant (no commas: maybe dashes would be appropriate…..or all one word…….) upper level dressage riders. Both came to me complete and utterly hysterical basketcases who couldn’t lead, had absolutely no ground manners and at 17.1 and .2 HH respectively, they terrified me beyond imagination. Had I admitted I was over-horsed and given up on them they would have been put down. The latest one was only 6 years old.

    It took one full year with Vinny, and about 10 months with the younger one, Dashiell, but I now have two cuddle muffins who actually CAN lift their feet for the farrier, CAN stand still without biting your hand and/or head off, DO listen (well okay, at least most of the time), and I rarely see that “I’ll kill you if you so much as THINK of getting near me” look in their eye.

    So the only few lines or paragraph I would have liked to have seen after your one about acknowledging one’s fear and giving their horse away, is the one describing all the methodologies out there one can try, with time and patience and constant forgiveness, before sending a misunderstood horse away to yet another home where lordy knows what will be done to him. IMHO……..

    • (That’s the next post.) I’ll be honest, it’s a question for me. Too many folks with no horse experience rescue horses truly out of their skill range and by the time they get to our rescue, the horses are even worse off. I’d call that a bad match. If you faced fear while going slow and taking the time the horses required, then I’d call it courage earned… but that perception is hard to know. Great comment, Corey, and glad your survived it.

  13. Some of the best advice I’ve ever seen printed about adult fear with regard to horses. I believe it to be particularly useful because the word pictures drawn are elegantly clear and meaningful.

  14. Thank you for articulating the emotional journey we go through when returning to riding after a terrible accident. I broke my back riding years ago, and it has been a slow journey back to the place I want to be…riding my horse without anxiety. It started with ground work….then walking…then trotting….then the occasional canter….now small jumps….and on and on. I truly think I am a better horse person now, and perhaps a better rider than I ever was before. I know when to stop and be grateful for a good ride. I know how to avoid trouble and I listen, listen, listen to my horse. Thanks for reinforcing that I don’t have to be embarrassed to go so slowly. I am enjoying the journey and not being afraid.

  15. Looking forward to your next post, Anna, because like Corey I never gave up on my horse though common sense told me we weren’t well-matched. But I did take small steps toward achieving his trust. It’s been 20 years now and I guess you could say it’s a win-win for both of us.

  16. Really perceptive advice! Back when I was riding – there was a mindset that you MUST NOT get off the horse if you are scared, frustrated, etc etc – the horse will “win”! You must stay on & prove who is the boss! Well, listening to THAT advice – I figured I already KNEW who the boss was – and both the horse and I knew who the boss was! Glad to hear that wasnt all fear, but just possibly some common sense popping up!
    Great article

    • Yes! It took me forever to think of the obvious strategy to dismount when I was no longer able to be calm for my horse. One of the other commenters mentioned forgiving the trainer who taught such things (my wording). This is something I need to work on. I feel sad and angry about all the lost time going down the wrong path. But she was just teaching what she’d been taught, so I need to learn to forgive. Anyway, I can relate.

  17. Thank you, Bless you, I could hug you. its been 7 months since I got wrapped around an end post of a large indoor arena, arched backwards, full speed… broomstick break mid upper arm that fractured up to the shoulder and shifted; broken pelvis, lots o fractures everywhere. Neck pain that makes one homicidal, migraines, blah blah blah. After making sure my horse and dog were ok, evidently I fought the EMTs like hell to not cut off my 35 yr old chaps. 7 months later I’ve lost my spunk. I’m in love with this gorgeous, young big Arabian but he’s been the bogey man. Now he’s hurt and in surgery. Poor bunky. Same thing- no body’s fault. What a pair we make… now he’s laid up for 2 months. WOnder if he’ll have a bogey man when he comes home? Do we start all over? Do we pick up from where we left off? I just breathed… I may just cry- haven’t done that yet either… I’m finally, after waiting a lifetime, at 57 yoa living the dream and its been a nightmare… But I know that elation of heart and horse, it’s so addictive and yet so elusive for me. But can I get there still with all the speed bumps? I’m still breathing promise… not crying yet.

    • First, glad you are alive. That sounds like a horrible wreck. As a trainer who used to compete an Arabian, I can attest to how quick they are. As much as I love them, they are not the only breed in the world and I am going to trust you to ask yourself all the hard question that I know you are. Good luck and thank you for this heartfelt comment.

    • Hello Mssst, how sad that your dream turned into such a painful nightmare – I hope you and your horse continue to heal. Could I just say that in my experience of seeing friends go through the times the fear is too much and the horse is too much, there are other ways to know that elation of heart and horse as you so beautifully put it. Art, breeding, photography, writing, having smaller horses, driving minis, and sometimes being in the presence of a horse is enough. What we think will make our heart sing can be re framed so it can sing in so many other situations and still be about horses. Ps Go on – have a damn good cry and let go of the expectations, boundaries and the sadness so the joy can re enter. 🙂

  18. Wow! This was amazing as were all these comments. Can’t believe it arrived on the very day I actually expressed to my husband that I think about selling one of ours. I vowed several years ago never to let one out of my hands because I fear they’ll end up in the “pipeline” and it will be my inadequacy as a horse person that put one there. But I bought a horse five years ago who was a “ranch gelding”, rode him briefly at the dealers, rode him once when he came here and that was the last time. He was a different horse at my place. Found out his history after I traced his papers and found out some things I would rather have not known. Fear set in. Just when I think we’ve reached a point where we’re “friends” and he trusts me, we have one of those “crazy eyes” irrational moments when he turns into Dr. Jekyl. It scares me down to my boots. He tries to stomp or head but me over something really easy. He literally throws what seems like a dangerous tantrum. I’m a pretty agile 65, have done the 4H, show, lessons, professional training thing with a couple of my others over the years. But this is the one who brings out the self-loathing in me. Thank-you Anna, for helping me feel my thoughts might be justified. Just can’t believe I read this today, when I struggled to express what I was thinking to my husband. Synchronicity.

  19. Anna, Thank you so much! I have never read anything more truthful about common sence concerning horses and riding ever. I struggle a lot with with the bogey man and I feel most empowered by your words. Words matter. Thanks!

    Camilla in Sweden

  20. This is a huge huge huge subject for us middle aged riders no matter where we started! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve shoved away fear (common sense) out of embarrassment that I wasn’t some super sonic tough as nails devil may care Horsewoman. Your comment about the bogey man with the reins in hand on the back of a thousand pound animal with free will is just perfection. My God. What are we thinking! I don’t believe our horses want us to be brave. They want us to have some common sense. Thank you for addressing fear, especially for us in the middle years since we are such a huge group championing the amateur ranks. We aren’t perfect but we’re feisty!

  21. “Fear is common sense trying to get your attention. Say thank you.”
    Oh this is fabulous Anna, thank you so much. Love love love all of this article it makes so much sense

    “Ever think about where courage comes from? It isn’t born of arrogance and success. It’s purchased, one drop at a time, by internal moments of persistence in the face of challenge.”


  22. You are either psychic or have a hidden camera in our barn. It is uncanny how close your blog comes to my life!!! I’ve used a lot of your “wisdoms” over the last few years – and they have helped me tremendously.

    Recently, my mare I’ve had for 21 years had problems saddling up – bucking and trying to escape – in turn scaring me thoroughly. I got very nervous trying to saddle after that event even though this mare is very kind, knows your space and usually was fine. The trainer I work with stepped in to help, and suggested I try to “act” like nothing happened, since of course she did not react at all when he was saddling her. This was not easy, knees knocking, couldn’t breath, watching her like a hawk – the normal human fear thing for me – read “timid” here.

    Well, now a few weeks later, all is back to normal. The same trainer says she was feeding off my fear – and that “she knows you better than you know yourself”. So I guess the reason I wrote this was to solidify that sometimes fear of the human can effect horses too since they are so very sensitive.

    Thanks again for guessing what is happening in my life!!! I love your blog!

  23. I can’t tell you how liberating it is to admit you don’t have to ‘win’ every battle. I had my old guy for 23 years, he figured I could save him from anything, total trust. It’s taken a bit for my ‘new’ girl to realize I mean her no harm. She isn’t a fearful horse but she needs to stop and scope out new situations. In my younger years I probably would have listened to the misguided idea that I had to ‘make’ her do what I wanted and go where I wanted right now. Now I don’t really care if anyone thinks I’m coddling her by letting her stop and look and take things in. If I do, she’ll (eventually) go where I want her to with very little encouragement. I find that it makes me be more relaxed which I’m sure, in turn, allows her to figure it must be ok. I don’t know if this makes any sense at all to anybody else but it seems to be working for us!

    • I know exactly what you mean. My mare likes to stop and look too. She always needs to take a minute or two of contemplation before she will step into her trailer. The old me would have urged her in. The new me just waits and she always walks in when she is ready with no resistance. My patience irritates the local trainer (not mine) but I don’t care. My mare and I like each other and we are happy just the way we are.

    • The idea that anyone wins by picking a fight is hard. I like to challenge horse and I like to do some fancy dressage movements. What you describe is pretty much how I train it. Because it works best. It makes plenty of sense. Thanks, Sherry.

  24. Logical and sensible advice. I am very fortunate tot have a horse that I trust. I am currently doing a lot of no stirrups work ( in an indoor arena) and despite the fact that my horse gets quite “hot” doing the work I have absolute faith that he will not do something that would have me out of the saddle. But in years past I have been in difficult situation with a couple of horses. What you say is all good and will , I think , help people.

  25. Perfect. This is my specialty. I often discuss and rate my students anxiety so we can propose answers to the “what ifs” ahead of time. I’m constantly reminding them to check the small, dark closet where their bogeyman is hiding and whispering negative words instead of positive solutions and encouragement. Together we open the door and shine bright light on the little monster and respect the origins (common sense) and strengthen our weak areas – mental or physical. That happens in baby steps as we rebuild our foundation. Often quite literally in our legs and seat! Common sense tells us that anyone off balance or unprepared will have a fearful voice hiding in the dark!

  26. Anna, thank you so much for this post. I had a horrible accident with a horse in 2015. He taught me that he was the wrong horse for me and I returned him to the charity I purchased him from. Some months later I bought a beautiful, gentle, Irish giant, but found that I’d transferred my fear to him. I felt like a total failure, some days I still do. Your blog this week has hit the spot and I feel so much better about where my horse and I are now. I’ve found a therapist/instructor that I like and trust and who doesn’t make me feel like an idiot. Now to keep chipping away, whilst thanking my common sense.

  27. my goodness thats so wonderful. i have just got some real help from someone who could help; and am riding again with a lightness of heart- but I have not lost my common sense(love that edit!) and got off the other day and felt great because i did so. I am still wondering if he is the right horse for me, but if he is not then I can do it from a position of strength, and confidence, and because it is the right thing, for both of us, rather than from a position of failure and that other f word! your writing is fabulous and always seems so timely! thank you Anna.

    • Huge smile here… this is the best senario. I can guarantee that the next horse would feel your anxiety. It’s great to hear about good help, usually people complain about the wrong trainers. Congrats on finding the right one!

      • thank you. i have a great trainer, and a great hypnotherapist, who has gone deep although i still have plenty of work to do myself. (of course) and yes,so right another horse would still feel my anxiety if it were still there. when i got off there had been loose horses in arena,falling offs, and generalised anxiety with scared horses and slightly flakey energy ; my boy was fabulous but I stil l got off as others were making me anxious. lots of people questioned why I got off ; i just said my self preservation instinct had kicked in. 😉 next time i may just say common sense!!

  28. Thankyou Anna. Wonderful blog again.
    I do have feelings of fear or common sense whatever you wish to call it. Not because of my horse. I have ridden horses with more outpsoken behaviour than mine. Even though mine (11 yr old gelding now from Don Picardi/Donnerhal) is over 1m70. With a beautiful, strong and “manly” personality. The thing is that I had never really until in 2011 broken any bones in my body and I have been involved with horses for more than 60 years. And then in 2011 and 2012 I broke bones in my body. One at a moment of lungeing my horse (fractured collar bone and pulled shoulder on the right side of my body), one when “only” falling off a ladder resulting in a fractured elbow and upper arm on the left side of my body. So there is balance again. This last one needing operations and metal wiring and plate put in.
    Besides I was told by the medical professionals that there was some osteoporosis showing in the region of my pelvis. They had done that as a routine check as I was at that time 64.
    In the meantime Marcello having turned 11 has settled down some. But it seems I still do not trust myself. And yet again I am changing. My feelings of common sense/fear are changing. We have lots of walks in nature the two of is. We do in hand dressage work which is a joy to be doing together. We do some liberty training.
    And yes he has had a saddle on again.
    And yes I have been sitting in the saddle a number of times.
    It is not yet the riding I was used to, but I am taking small steps.
    And I confess I have never been afraid of falling of a horse. Now I am …. well, perhaps not afraid but apprehensive. Which may be another word for fear?

    So this is not about me and my horse. This is about me and me. Does that resonate with anybody?

    • Yes, I understand. I used to be a bold rider. I foxhunted and rode jumpers and then I had a terrible trail riding accident that broke my back. I had an eight-hour surgery to repair it with six months in a body cast to heal. My desire to ride never went away, but my sense of self- preservation kicked in and now I am very careful with my riding choices. Trail riding on my 5-year- old OTTB is not fun for me. It is too uncontrolled on a horse with that much power. I have been out on seasoned trail horses which is just fine. I ride dressage every morning in an indoor arena and that is going very well. I have even jumped a few small fences. I started very slowly and built up my confidence over time. I even fell once and banged up my hip pretty badly but was thrilled to know that it did not shake my confidence. I figured out why it happened and learned from it. My advice: Go as slowly as you need to build your confidence, but try to move forward in baby steps. It is surprising how far you can go even if you tiptoe forward.

    • Yes, and for this rich life and wanting to share more of it with your good horse, I’ll still call it common sense. Wishing you two more time together… Wonderful comment, Geerteke.

  29. Hi Anna – just wanted to thank you for such a kind, loving and affirming post. Everyone I know struggles with fear at some level and this is such good advice… I”ll be thinking about it tomorrow at my lesson!

  30. Thank you for putting this in words. It will be a big help to me on this journey of love for a horse who once was bad, but now is just waiting for me to get it together. I will smile more and breathe more. Little steps will get me there.

  31. Thank you Anna, I am going to make a copy of this article and leave it in the boarding barn I manage for the owner and his friends (all over 55) to read. I won’t say anything but just leave it on the bulletin board for them to notice LOL. I too can relate to all the “war” stories here, had a few myself. Perhaps the saddest rider fear story or I-better-do-what-the-trainer-says-or-else story I heard about was from a local dressage trainer who had a student actually die in the saddle during a lesson. I kid you not. She thought the student was being a wimp when the lady said she felt bad and didn’t want to ride anymore. Very sad, I didn’t know the lady but as you can imagine it was a wake up call for that trainer (who has since retired from teaching dressage). Listen to your instincts so you can love what you do with your horse for another day.

  32. just reading this now, after being tossed by my very first horse. I’ve been riding for over 50 years, but just bought my first horse this winter at age 64. He did well for while but he’s a worrier. he’s cold-backed and nobody respected that and tried to help him. So, one day I was riding at a walk and decided to trot and put one of my legs on a bit too abruptly (not kicking, mind you) and he bolted and bucked me off. I was afraid I had broken my femur but didn’t. From that time on I felt unsafe on him and decided to sell. A sale just fell through and looks like I’m still owning him. So I am trying to use my common sense/fear to learn something from it. One thing with him….less is more. My trainer has been wonderful with him and I know the right person will come along, but I still need to ride him and learn how to listen and keep my seat stable.

    • I’ve known some horses with similar behaviors to have ulcers, Mary… but you’re right, you have to find your way back, too. Glad you have a good trainers, and thanks for sharing…

      • This is how it resolved….I ended up giving him to the girl at my barn whom he adores and she adores him. It was meant to be I think. Her mom has long-term mental issues, her dad is retired and she suffers from depression. Having my horse has given her something wonderful to look forward to each day. Her vibe is better than mine, I am spooky myself. Yes, I didn’t get my $ back but it’s the best thing for him and for her. He’s still in the same barn with the same pasture buddies and yes- we have deduced that he does have a mild ulcer. Meanwhile I am waiting for the right “old lady” horse to come along. I can ride the 20+ year old Appy mare at the barn in the meantime.

        • May the horse gods bless you. Facilitating this switcheroo will have a wide-ranging ripple effect that we can’t image. You made the world a little kinder! Thank you for that, and sharing it with us. (And don’t under-estimate an old Appy mare. 🙂 )

  33. I was actually glassy eyed reading this…both your post and your other readers experiences. So much rings true for me too…Thank you for your continued support and understanding in your writing(s) I just wish I lived nearer it would be wonderful to attend one of your clinics (or just chat over a coffee!).

    • Fear the biggest challenge that riders face, it isn’t easy. I don’t know if she’s asked for help or not… but the best thing I do in this situation is to make deep breathing audible. It works with people as well as horses. It’s what fear strangles out of us. So yes, breathe! Good luck.

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