Fear is an interesting topic –
Many people speak about their fear of riding or being in certain situations as if they’re wrong, and have been forcing themselves to overcome it. To some extent, fear can be crippling. But fear is also an important indication something is wrong, or missing. Many times in clinics people tell me they are nervous, and they have every right to be. If the rider is older, or under prepared, on a nervous horse with little training, fear is an appropriate response. Fear means the situation is not a healthy one to be in.
Many riders are over faced, without adequate education and preparation, and ride horses with similar lack of preparation and education. The solution here is not to “cowboy up” and get over their fear, but to gain education through a controlled situation where their fear can be eased with knowledge. I prefer people learning to work with very experienced and quiet horses, because as we all know, when fear rises, neither man nor beast can learn.
There is no shame in riding a quiet horse if you have limitations. Your green horse doesn’t get quiet by being ridden by a fearful rider.
One of my clients commented that I was never afraid to ride any horse so I couldn’t relate. This is only partially true – I don’t ride horses I think I’ll be afraid of. While I work with many dangerous or worried horses, fear is my brain’s way of letting me know the horse is under prepared, and therefore I do not ride. When the horse has enough preparation to make them safe to ride, I get on and ride without fear.
You don’t have to cowboy up. Get the right horse for you, get education for you and your horse, and if you’re afraid, simplify the situation so you can relax. You and your horse gain nothing from being afraid.