How to deal with fear around horses

Julie Goodnight sent me the following article about coping with fear

I, Joni Solis, have added my notes in [] throughout the posting.

Fear around horses is a normal emotion to have [boy that is right for me]; it’s what keeps you from doing something that could be deadly. There’s nothing wrong with being afraid at times; but fear is a negative attribute when it impacts your enjoyment or controls your actions. [Yep, fear around horses does curtail my enjoyment of them. You too?]

‚ÄúYour fears are not walls, but hurdles. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the conquering of it.‚Äù — Dan Millman

If you ever feel fear, remember three simple, calming steps:

  1. keep your eyes focused
  2. breathe deeply (abdominal breathing)
  3. and control your body language.

If you can keep your eyes up and active, looking around and taking in information, you can actually prevent other symptoms of fear (dry mouth, butterflies, increased heart rateyou know the drill) from occurring. When your fear doesn’t escalate, your horse will continue to view you as the leader, so he won’t become fearful, too.

Deep abdominal breathing eliminates breath holding and shallow breathingmovements your horse easily associates with fear. Inhale deeply, filling your lungs from the bottom all the way to the top, then exhaling fully, emptying every last bit of air, from the top of your lungs to the very bottom. [I find it helpful to count to four when breathing in and then again when breathing out to slow down my breathing and to make me take much deeper breaths.]

Finally, controlling your body language gives your horse more confidence in your ability and helps you over-ride the emotion of fear. Adopt a confident posture, no matter how you really feel. Stand with your shoulders up, hands on your hips, eyes looking around, with a posture that says, “Give me more!” [This is so hard for me to do when my legs are shaking like autumn leaves!]

Your mind, body and spirit are all interconnected. If you allow your emotions to take control [and it does in a split second], your mind and body will succumb; if you control your mind (using your eyes and breathing) and control your body language, your emotions don’t stand a chance. [Boy, do I have a lot of work to do. I am trying EFT tapping to help me deal with emotional fears. EFT For Equestrians]

— by Julie Goodnight

For a longer article on how Riding instructors can help their horseback riding clients deal with fear check out, “Coping with the Fear of Horses by Julie Goodnight”. If you have a horse business it is a good idea to learn more about how to help people with horse fears.

I also found a good article about how to help a horse recover from fear from an accident.

And this one about how EFT calms a spooking horse.

Equestrian Safety

Horses are big and can be dangerous. It is said that it is not IF but a WHEN that you will be hurt riding or handling horses. Did you know more people are hurt handling a horse from the ground than when on a horse’s back? So having fearing about being hurt or even killed by a horse is completely natural.

You can also help reduce your or your riding client’s fears by practicing as many safety habits around horses as you can. Like using the safest tack and equestrian equipment…

  • always wearing a riding helmet and asking that your riding lessen clients do too
  • use drag-safe riding stirrups
  • lounge your horse first and check out how he or she is feeling and acting before mounting
  • do a test ride in a safe riding arena or round pen

For fear of death you may want to read about Julie’s near death experience caused by a horse accident.

I would love to hear your comment about how you deal with fear around or on horses. If you are trying out Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) let us know what that is going for you. Thanks!