Overcoming a Fear of Horses

Overcoming a Fear of Horses

Many people struggle with a fear of horses at some point in their lives. For some, it happens right away as they are getting into the industry. For others, it rears its ugly head after an accident or a close call. If you are nervous in the saddle, on the ground, or both, the most important thing to know is that you aren’t alone. 


Being scared doesn’t mean you have to get out of horses, or that you are a bad horse person. Horses are enormous free-thinking animals. Respecting the fact that we can’t control, every aspect of our horses is normal and healthy. However, if your fear gets to the point where it’s getting in the way of your enjoyment of horses, it’s time to make some changes. 


Overcoming Your Fear of Horses


Continuing your regular routine (especially if you are returning after a fall off your current horse) may not be the best way to overcome your fear. Your horse will sense your tension, making a spook more likely. It’s always safer to go back to the basics, where you are comfortable, and build up to where you left off. 


Step one in overcoming your fear of horses is making sure you have a safe horse that you can trust. This doesn’t mean you have to sell your horse right now if it doesn’t fit this description. It means you should take a few lessons, or hang out with a friend’s horse until you get your mojo back. If you feel confident on the ground, do some groundwork and other bonding activities with your horse to strengthen your relationship. 


Ask For Help


If left unchecked, fear will build up in your head until it is this huge mountain that is impossible to climb. Talk to a friend, trainer, or barn buddy about your fear (this is not always an easy conversation, but it’s an important one). They have likely experienced something similar in the past. Just talking about it will help you put your fear into perspective, and it will feel more manageable. 


Take lots of lessons. Tell your instructor what causes your fear, and have them work with you through those moments so you can have some tricks in your back pocket for when it crops up in real life. The more you can normalize working through your doubts, the better off you will be. 


Work on Your Mindset


Visualizing yourself riding without fear may sound silly, but it works. Imagine yourself as a confident rider guiding your horse through any situation. You may have to trick yourself into believing it the first few times, but the more you do it, the easier it will be. If you keep at it, you eventually will become the confident rider you imagine yourself to be. 


If your fear arose from falling off, or close call, journal about that moment. Write down the facts, and then next to that, write down what you are grateful for in that situation. Explore how the skills you already have helped you get through that moment. The more you turn your fear into logic, the easier it will be to overcome. 


If you are looking for horseback riding lessons to overcome your fear of horses, use our map to find an instructor near you.