Friday, April 13, 2012

It's Back

And by 'it', I mean fear.  I thought it had faded, but yesterday it took me ten minutes to get up the nerve to get on.  Today, I puttered around grooming and chatting and grooming and chatting for half an hour before I even started saddling her.  I got her saddled up and took her to the arena to get on.  She has been ridden every day since Monday, but now that I'm not lungeing her I'm a hot mess.

So, of course, she won't stand still at the mounting block and I'm too chicken to just get on.  Even though when I finally do get on, she's fine.  She might walk off for a few steps but it's not like she's bucked when I got on.

Then I get on and she bucks when I want to trot.  She bucks when I want to increase the trot.  She bucks when I want to canter.  She bucks when I discipline for bucking.  She bucks harder, I tap harder.  Then she bucks and takes off.  I try to praise her but my fear is screaming "You're gonna dieeeeeeee!!!!!" and I'm sure I'm curled up in the fetal position.  I pull myself out and urge her to trot on.  She slows down.  I tap with the whip.  Buck. Tap. Buck. Tap.

She only bucks for Laura once at the canter.  She is testing me.  I know this.  But I'm so tired of this fight and then fear sneaks back in and before you know it, I'm leaving the barn in tears.  I've been here before so it's doubly, no make that triply frustrating to see this spot again.

I'm pretty sure the fear is back because I've removed a crutch (lungeing) and that if I just push myself through this time, we will come out the other side.  But ugh, blurgh, blah and now I'm going to settle down this afternoon/evening with the family and have a nice glass of wine.

The weather is gorgeous and is supposed to be sunny and 60 all weekend.  I will be going out to the barn both days, but not riding one of them.  I have my first group lesson (AAAAHHHHHHHH) on Monday evening so I'm pretty sure I will give the pony tomorrow off and then ride on Sunday.  Though for my sake, I feel like I should get on both days and ride.  I only rode 20 minutes today because I was such a chickenshit.

What do you think?  If I ride both days am I risking pony mental burnout for Monday's lesson?  Or should I just buck up and get through my fear and ride tomorrow and Sunday.


  1. I know how you feel, and it sucks. I think your instructor is getting you to do the right things (from what you've told us) so trust in her and believe that she will not put you in a situation that you cannot handle (the group lesson). I really wish there was a sports drink called 'Courage' and we could just drink it before we ride :)

  2. : ) For one, I don't think for a second the princess would have a mental burn-out because she was worked all week. Considering she spends 20-someodd hours relaxing and eating, and hour or so a day or actually working is hardly exhausting or going to lead to burnout (wish I only worked an hour a day...). I find my horse is BETTER the more I work him.

    As for the fear, are you a highly competitive person? I could see group lessons being advantageous if you are (be more worried about beating everyone then worrying about your fear).

    My next question is why not lunge her if it makes you feel better? (I'm clearly not one for psychology). It does no harm really to lunge her even for four laps, and if you feel better and get on her more confident, isn't that a good thing?? I'd do whatever I need to do to feel comfortable when I'm riding, and who cares if people think it's a "crutch" or I that shouldn't.

    : ) Trust yourself. I think you know best what you need to move past your fear, and no one can tell you what that is. : )

  3. Group lessons are fun and your instructor would not put you in harms way. When fear caused me to resist riding, my instructor always reminded me that the more time spent in the saddle, the more my confidence would improve. She was right. :-) You will be fine.

  4. I don't think there's any shame in lunging for a few minutes before the ride. I use it as a tool to assess how the horse is doing that day both in attitude and soundness. I wouldn't feel bad about it at all. I think at this point it's less of a "crutch" and more of a "confidence booster."

  5. When my anxiety is up, I don't hesitate to lunge. Doesn't need to be anything elaborate, sometimes just a few circles walk, trot, canter each way on a rope halter, just enough to give me that little piece of mind. Besides, I always figure that with a nice warmup on the lungeline we can spend more time on business when I get into the saddle. I don't see it as a crutch at all.

  6. I'm with the choir. Putting the Princess on the lunge line for a few rounds is fine for her and even better for you. You have to focus when you lunge a horse, and doing that can shift your attention away from your own anxiety and toward connecting with the horse. It's a good warm-up task for both of you, doesn't have to be labeled as a crutch at all.

    I tend to groom my mare very thoroughly before tacking her when I'm hesitant about riding. I love grooming and I'm good at it, and it pulls me away from myself in a way that lets some of my BS evaporate. Anything to dial it down a notch is okay in my book. Because fear won't ever be gone until it is actually gone. In the meantime, we have to try to manage it, don't we?