Lost confidence after fall

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primrose

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Jun 21, 2020
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I posted 3 weeks ago after having my first ever fall during a lesson. It wasn't a bad one at all- I was winded and bruised but got back on and finished the lesson, and I didn't think it had really affected me psychologically...but apparently it has :(

My lesson the week after was an absolute disaster. I stayed on, but that's only because I spent most of the half-hour plodding around doing very little.

In my defence, I don't think it was just the fall- it was absolutely pouring with rain, the ground was very wet, it was Tilly's first lesson of the day and she wasn't in the mood at all, and I had a different RI to normal, plus I'd just found out about 5 minutes before my lesson that my OH is being made redundant so my head wasn't in the right place at all! But I do think the fall has knocked my confidence a lot more than I expected.

Basically whenever I got to the corner of the arena where I fell, my brain would just go "nope" and I'd automatically pull on the reins, slowing Tilly from trot to walk, then expend a lot of energy getting her going again, only to do the same thing in the same corner. It didn't matter which rein I was on, I just couldn't get past the mental block. To make it worse, Tilly slipped and lost her footing a little at one point and although I stayed on, I burst into tears! The instructor was lovely about it and didn't push me but I felt like such a wally. A few weeks ago, before the fall, I was confident with what I was doing and enjoying every lesson, now I feel like I'm right back at square one.

I didn't have a lesson last week because my RI was away, but I've got one this afternoon and for the first time ever, I'm nervous.

Is there anything I can do to get over this new fear of falling or is it something that will fade with time and experience?

TIA!
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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First of all, you're NOT a wally so don't even go there.

If you need a few weeks plodding around and avoiding that end of the arena then do just that. Bum in saddle time with nothing going wrong is one of the best cures for nerves that I know of. Explain to your RI how you feel and hopefully she'll be understand. Maybe she could stand in that corner of the arena for reassurance? I also find it helps not to keep reminding myself what went wrong, and if I do find myself thinking about it I'll replace those thoughts with memories of rides that have gone well and I've coped well with things.

Good luck, you can do it but don't force yourself to do too much too soon.
 
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Trewsers

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Oct 13, 2004
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As already said you are not a wally! Loss of confidence after a fall can affect us quite deeply. I've been riding quite a while now but I fell off on Christmas day. Haven't been back on board since (that's mainly down to the virus and it's affecting my head in that I worry if I come off again I might spend some time in a & e :( )but I know I will get back on eventually. I know when I do get back on I'll be wearing my bp and having mr t walk with me in the sandschool. The weather conditions will have to be nigh on perfect and I don't want any distractions. I know if it goes well I can build on it. And I think that's all you can do -build it up again slowly. I'm sorry to hear your OH has been made redundant that was probably playing at the back of your mind - so hopefully your next lesson will be better if you're able to clear your troubles away first. And don't worry about crying either. I blubbed last year when I was on Zi in the school - poor mr t wondered what on earth was so wrong! But I was having a bad day riding wise and he had spooked and speeded up, and I just sat there and screwed my eyes up and then demanded to get off. At the time I felt pathetic, but you know, there's no shame in it. Things will get better!!!
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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Try not to dwell on the fall too much (easier said than done I know), take 5 minutes before your lesson to close your eyes and think of the dozens of times you’ve ridden that corner well, remember how it felt, the movement and tempo and how your breathing was, really focus on it being good and successful, and ban your mind from wandering to the not good, it really helps 🙂 Bad weather, bad news and a non-compliant horses really didn’t set you up for a good first one back in the saddle, this time it’s bound to be better because the sun is out and it’s a new day 😁
 
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chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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...la la land
More saddle time will do wonders.
I always get wobbly on the corners.
Try having a plan of trotting the long side, then go back to walking the bend. Then as you come off the bend prepare, and then trot again as you come into the staight.
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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I think one should be very careful with the language one uses.
"Plodding" around sounds as if it wasnt something you enjoyed nor learned from. May be it would surprise you to know that most of my lessons from a very expert RI (when off the lunge) were spent in walk.
Admittedly I was also going for hacks from another yard. But my walk lessons stick in my mind as something miraculous.
You were plodding around sounds as if you were going round the outside of the school? Did the RI have poles so you could steer small circles and squares in walk? Did she show you how to lengthen and shorten the steps taken by the horse in walk? Or how to do any turns?

My walk lessons taught me how to place each foot of the horse where I wanted it. How to start and stop with the horse completely straight and square. Moreover I learned how to reduce the cues I gave the horse until just the tiniest touch (or even a thought) was enough to control her.
When one rides in walk one has one's seat in the saddle so it is the time one learns how to feel through one's seat. Think how your hips rise and fall altertnately as the horse walks. When your right hip dips down, that is the right hind leg of the horse leaving the ground.

Lots of new riders think that when the horse lifts its leg your seat rises too, That isnt so, Imagine taking away one leg of a table -That corner of the table will dip.

And feeling the movement in walk prepares for sitting trot which itself prepares for canter. Riding round the edge in walk teaches you how to steer on the straight (not knocking your knee on the fence) and how to ride round corners where the outside legs of the horse need to travel further than the inside legs.
So you may think you are going nowhere - but you are laying foundations for all the most exciting riding you will eventually do.

Something else - about falling off. My OH is the only person I have known who has learned to ride without falling off. Everyone falls off learning to ride and one gets right back on again. Buy a body protector and a good hat and let yourself enjoy riding. Even professionals fall. And it is good to get the first fall over, because until an adult learner falls, there is always the worry that their bones may be fragile and break.

And by the way, because of the falls, riding is a high risk sport. If you dont want to ride, it is best really not to. Or to stop lessons for the moment until you feel you really want to ride again.
 

primrose

New Member
Jun 21, 2020
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Thanks so much for the lovely replies.

I had a bit of a cry after posting this yesterday and OH noticed and offered to come up to the yard with me and watch me ride. I felt a bit daft but actually the moral support really helped. Plus the fact that it was a dry, bright day and it seemed like Tilly was in a good mood too!

I told my RI beforehand that I felt like I needed a bit of a 'back to basics' lesson, which I then had- walking, halting, changing the rein, then some rising trot. It was all going well, and felt very different to my last lesson when I felt totally 'new' again and wobbly and far too high-up!

Then towards the end of the lesson, my RI put a pole down (just the one!) and suggested walking over it a few times to try and take away some of the fear. So I did that fine. Then she suggested trotting...well, I had a few false-starts, trotting around the outside, getting ready to approach it and then bottling it and dropping down to walk and/or avoiding the pole altogether. OH was videoing me and now has a fair few clips of me trotting towards it and then saying "I can't, I can't!" 🙈 but I knew it was almost the end of my lesson and didn't want to end it on a negative note, plus my RI said I wasn't getting out of the saddle until I at least attempted it in trot! So finally I did and it was fine! Tilly caught her back legs on my first go over, I heard the clunk and my heart was in my mouth, but my bum stayed in the saddle. After that we repeated it a few times on both reins and it was absolutely fine. I finished the lesson feeling so much better. I don't think my anxiety about falling again has completely vanished but I'm feeling so much more positive and like I'm actually looking forward to my next ride rather than feeling apprehensive about it.

Thanks again :)
 
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Huggy

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Nov 11, 2018
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Well done! Non riders don't get how daunting it can be after a fall. I've realised at my age, I really can't afford to come off, I won't bounce anymore! But eventually, that worry heads to the back of your thoughts. The more good lessons you have, the less likely you'll worry. Your RI sounds good, and knows your limitations - she pushed you because she knew you'd be ok. It's scary how much of this is in our heads!
 
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carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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Well done! I hope your next ride is soon so you're still on a high about this one going so well. You did fantastically, and it sounds like you get on really well with your RI which also helps. Thank you for the update :)
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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Well done. Tell yourself now that youve been over the poles so its fine.

To help the horse not get into bad habits and help prevent you coming out the side door.
If you keep bottling it and avoiding the pole you will set your horse up to anticipate this each time he comes to a pole, and they will learn that avoiding is acceptable. Which obviously it isnt. So now you know going over is fine keep going over. If you teach the horse to vear, once you start putting the jumps up the horse will start refusing and vearing, and you will begoing over the pole alone.
 

carthorse

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The other thing you can do to calm yourself down about poles is do a lot of work riding between them and around them as well as over them.
 
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