Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rider: Help! How Can I Get My Confidence Back After a Bad Fall? blogs - Full Article

I often get requests for specific topics to cover about riding or horse care, and this one from a woman who was hospitalized after a bad fall and needs help getting her confidence back really touched me.

Luckily for her, I knew exactly who to send it to–equestrian mental skills coach Tonya Johnston, who just published her book, Inside Your Ride: Mental Skills for Being Happy and Successful with Your Horse, which is available on

I think many of you will find this helpful; I know I did!

Reader question: Can you do a feature about getting back in the saddle after a major fall? You may have done this, but I have been unable to find a reference.

I had a major fall that resulted in a hospital stay and a break from riding for some time. I have ridden since, but it is just not the same. I used to excel at training young horses and doing the first rides never used to be a problem, until my riding accident.

I know I have fear, but it is getting past this that I can’t seem to manage. I have read various books and articles on the subject of fear when riding but I found them to be extremely vague on the “how to” of getting past the issue of fear itself.

I have read many articles on riders who have overcome the issue of getting back in the saddle, but the “how they did it” parts always seem lacking. Just sucking it up and getting on again just won’t work for me. I can easily handle horses from the ground, and still do all my own ground work and first saddling’s, but now I send them out to be started and for the first 30 to 90 days of riding and training.

When they come home the horse sits in the field and becomes an expensive pasture ornament. Sigh…
I have done what a lot of the articles have suggested as far as being safe- i.e.- helmet, good fitting tack, safe place to ride, safe horse, coaches, etc., , but fear still tends to paralyze my efforts in the saddle.

I am not saying I have not been able to ride- I am saying I need to get past this to be able to do what I love to do.
 I have halter horses, so can show from the ground, but I want all-around horses, and it is putting on miles that stops me in my tracks.

This is driving me to consider selling all my horses and just getting out totally, but I know I would have a hard time living my life without them as they have been a part of my existence since I was a child.

I need specific exercises to do to help me get my confidence back, and to help me understand my reluctance when riding. I
know it has turned into a mental game now, so need the tools to go on.

I recently spoke with a friend of mine about some show tack she was selling, and to my great surprise, she is going through the same thing as me! She had a major fall and has been struggling to ride since. She has now resigned herself to showing from the ground only, and said she needs to find a “steady Eddy” before she would ever get back in the saddle. 
I know I am not the only one out there struggling with this issue, and the older I get, the more discouraging I find my situation to be.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.


Tonya Johnston: Thank you, Marilyn, for writing such a clear request for help about returning to riding after a serious fall. You’re right, this is an issue that many other people have faced and/or will face at some point in their riding careers and the more people that have positive ideas about how to handle it the better.

I completely agree that what is most helpful is specific, take-action instruction that enables you to face your fear and craft solutions that help you regain your confidence.

Therefore, here are some detailed, concrete ideas for you to do both away from the barn, and when you are tacking up and successfully getting on your horse for your very next ride.

Before you go to the barn to ride:

1. Use your motivation to trump your fear.

The starting place is to ask, “Do I want to ride?” When the answer is “Yes!” the next important question is “Why?”...

Read more here:

No comments: