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Overcoming Fear

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"
Pres. John F. Kennedy


In working with people and horses I have noticed that most equestrians at some point have to overcome fear. Fear manifests itself in as many forms as there are people. Fear of falling, being stepped on, or just performing in front of a judge or others are just a few equestrians have to contend with. Whatever fear you are dealing with one thing is for certain, if you hope it goes away without defining, confronting and consequently overcoming it you will be fighting a losing and frustrating battle.

There are two basic fears when it comes to working with horses. One, physical harm and two, performance anxiety. In this writing we will concentrate on the primary fear of getting hurt.

The majority of fears are based within the instinct of self preservation. Putting oneself in the space of a large, powerful and potentially harmful animal for some people can take work. However, Iím going to bet you place yourself in a large, powerful and potentially harmful vehicle at least once a day without a second thought. So why can you overcome fear of harm in one situation and have trouble in another?

The answer, confidence.
The more times you get in a car and successfully get where you intended to go without injury builds confidence in your ability to drive a car. So to overcome fear you must develop a plan to have a series of successes to boost your faith in yourself and your horse. I must caution you human nature is that if you fear it you will avoid it, so if you truly want to overcome a fear you must determine in your mind to follow through so that you will succeed. NO ONE CAN DO IT FOR YOU!

First, define your fear. This is a good time to write down or talk with a friend or trainer to get to the root of your fear. Does it have to do with all horses or a particular individual? Is it situational ( a place or circumstance)? Are you afraid of getting hurt or your horse getting hurt? Could you be afraid of getting your pride hurt?

Second, confront and admit you have this fear. Once you can identify the problem you can take steps to work over, through or around it. Pride is one of the worst reasons that people get hurt. If you are in a situation where you feel uncomfortable donít let peer pressure or your pride get you in trouble. Knowing your limits and boundaries will help keep you safe. Those limits will stretch as you continue to learn and build confidence.

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