If you or someone you know has had a bad experience with horses, or if their big size and strength scares you, you may become afraid of horses. Although it may take time, you can overcome your fear. Sometimes it may not always be a bad experience, it may just be that you have seen someone else being injured by a horse and now you are afraid to go around them.
Find out what caused the fear. Everyone has a reason on why they have a fear of something. Is it their size? Did the animal do something bad to you in the past? Discovering this piece of information brings you one step closer to getting over you’re fear of horses.
Talk through your fears with someone. Accept and think about the reasons on why you are afraid of horses. This will help you understand your fear and possibly conquer it.
Focus on the positive instead of negative. Instead of thinking of all the things that can go wrong when being near horses, think about all the good things.
- Read some books about horses. The book content will teach you to be cautious, but will also explain clearly how to have a good time with horses. You will learn how great horses are through learning about their habits, their physiology, their needs and their behavior. Understanding horses better is an important way to conquering the fear.
Consider seeing a horse up-close. This is a big step so do not rush it; only attempt this if you feel comfortable with it and know you can do it.
Spend some time around horses. Go to shows, or just hang out or volunteer at your local barn. Being around horses will help you to see that they are not so bad. When a human is training a horse not to spook, the constant exposure is what eventually makes the horse realize that there’s nothing to fear. You will find the same thing can calm your fear too.
- If you are afraid of a specific horse, ask the instructor if you can lead the horse, help others tack him up, or give him a bath. Doing things other than riding the horse but still involving interaction will help you to gain confidence in you ability to handle the horse.
When you feel ready, find a stable or riding school. Explain that you are trying to get used to horses, and they will pair you with a gentle, reliable horse or a pony. If you are not ready to ride, don’t let anyone force you. Just pat the pony and realize that he will not hurt you.
- Bring a close friend or family member along. They will most likely encourage you and take your mind off your fear. If you have a friend or family member who has experience with horses (or has rode a horse before) then take them along too! At least then you will have someone who knows what its like to ride a horse.
- Observe the horses. It is perfectly fine to keep your distance and to be scared of certain movements, but understand that most horses that people own are very friendly and not dangerous at all.
- Ask questions about the horse. Don’t hold back as understanding a horse is very important and the owner of the horses will most likely be very happy to answer them.
If you feel confident enough, assist the owner with caring for the horse. You can groom the horse, feed it and more importantly, bond with the horse. Do not let any movement discourage you, this is perfectly normal as some horses are sensitive to brushes.
- Feed the horse a treat (with permission of course). Lay your palm flat with the treat in your hand, even try to pet or stroke the horse.
- Pet and offer the horse treats. This will boost your confidence and make you bond with the horse, you might even get attached.
- Lead the horse with the rein. Remember to stay on the left side of the horse and to hold the reins securely and tight in your hands.
When you are ready, get on and ride. Have someone supervise you, in case you lose your nerve. Ask for a quiet horse that is known to take care of beginner riders; most stables will have at least one such caring horse.
- Only do this if you know you have the confidence to do this. Be sure that the owner is assisting you whilst riding. He should be leading the horse rather than you riding on your own for the first time.