The Savvy Station

Afraid of Horses? What to Do About It as a Horse Rider

por Parelli Professionals en Aug 30, 2023

Afraid of Horses? What to Do About It as a Horse Rider
By Ryan Pfouts - 4 Star Parelli Professional and Horse Development Specialist — 

Equus… loosely translates to “equal-us.”  We know that there is something special about horses that catches our hearts. Whether we’re a child or a seasoned adult doesn't matter. Horses are beautiful animals that have captivated our imagination. However, for some aspiring riders, fear can be a significant obstacle to thoroughly enjoying the horseback riding experience. If you find yourself feeling anxious or afraid around horses, fear not! Before we dive into some suggestions to overcome fear, know that many support options are available. Seek help from a Parelli Professional, chat with a friend or even set up a call with a sports psychologist. No matter your strategy, fear will be replaced by confidence when you feel you have a skill set you can trust. Don’t let anyone push you past your comfort zone. You’re in charge of the timelines. 

1. Understand the Nature of Horses:

Fear often arises from a lack of understanding or unfamiliarity. Take the time to learn about horses' nature, body language, and instincts. Understanding how horses communicate and react to different situations will help you feel more in control and confident around them. 


2. Seek Professional Guidance:

Enlist the help of a Parelli Professional. A Parelli Professional can assess your abilities, provide valuable insights, and offer specific exercises to keep you focused on your horse. 


3. Start Slowly and Build Trust:

Pat often says, “Take the time it takes, so it takes less time.” Horses are our recreation, and it is unnecessary to rush the process to the point that it is unenjoyable. To overcome your fear, you must “want” to. If you push yourself to the point of not wanting to be around your horse, you’ll fall victim to the Five F’s –

  1.     Fear of getting hurt 
  2.     Frustration 
  3.     Feeling like a Failure 
  4.     Lack of Fun
  5.     Therefore lack of Funds.


4. Groundwork and Communication:

Parelli is way more than riding. Riding is a great goal, however, there is immense benefit from starting on the ground. Learn the Seven Games. The Seven Games will guide you towards positive reflexes and show you how your horse will respond in certain situations. There is also a great deal of information in the Parelli Levels Program about pre-flight checks. Don’t get on your horse until you go through the entire checklist. 


5. Develop Riding Skills:

Improving your riding skills can significantly boost your confidence. Work on your balance, posture, and coordination through regular lessons. A knowledgeable instructor can guide you through exercises that address your specific concerns, such as mounting and dismounting, controlling speed, and riding through different patterns. Increasing your skill set will help to replace fear. 

6. The Natural Power of Focus:

Understanding the natural power of focus can be interpreted from many different perspectives. In the context of fear, what you focus on you’re going to feel. If you focus on the things you don’t know, you’ll likely feel more anxious. When you’re fearful, check in with your skills, and ask your horse to do something you both know well. Teach your horse to have a few “defaults” or skills you know are always available that you can call on in times of stress, such as Neutral Lateral Flexion or Indirect Rein. Having a focus will significantly reduce the fear and allow you to focus on the many simple wins. 

Overcoming fear is a journey that requires patience, persistence, and when you’re ready, a willingness to step out of your comfort zone. By employing the principles of Parelli Natural Horsemanship, you can gradually overcome your fear and unlock the joy of horseback riding. Remember, horses are perceptive animals, and as you develop confidence, they will respond positively to your newfound sense of ease. So, take that first step, embrace the journey, and discover the incredible bond that can be formed between a horse and rider.

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