Scared of falling off your horse

Scared of falling off your horse?

Reducing fear and improving rider confidence

When you are riding, do you feel overwhelmed with the concern you might fall off and the effect this might have on you and those around you? Are you too scared to get on a horse anymore as your anxiety levels are just too high? Sometimes the fear makes sense – perhaps you have had a fall and it has shaken your confidence? Perhaps someone you know had an accident. But sometimes there is no obvious reason why you have become fearful, but you are unable to work through it.

Our fear response can be created through real experience i.e. we fall off and then we are scared this might happen again. However, sometimes our fear response is created through an imagined experience – perhaps a friend recounted a bad story and it has now made you fearful or perhaps you are nervous even though nothing bad has happened to you or anyone you know. Our fear response is found in part of the primitive brain called the hippocampus. Each experience, imagined or real, is written down as a memory file and each time it is thought about or recalled to others, it gets rewritten as even more ‘scary’ to point where getting on a horse becomes an impossibility.

The problem is that this part of the brain cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality. So, whether you have actually had a bad experience or have just kept thinking  ‘what if I did fall?’, every time you think about it, talk about it or just let your imaginary worries get away from you, the brain thinks you have actually gone through that experience again. Each time you are updating your ‘falling off’ file and it makes for scary reading!

Heightened stress levels lead to a more ‘scary file’ re-write and so we can see the importance of lowering our general stress levels to help with this fear of falling off. This is pertinent to other common riding issues to include nervousness when jumping or competing and of course to other challenges in our life beyond riding too. Why? Because when we lower our stress levels we have access to the intellectual part of the brain, which enables us to make a proper assessment of the situation and to focus on the positive changes we need to make new and more positive neural connections in our brain. It is here we gain perspective. By focusing on building new thought and behaviour patterns our old fear responses become dormant and instead they are replaced with increasing levels of confidence – a focus on what we can achieve rather than what we cannot.

Hypnotherapy can be extremely helpful here because hypnosis enables a relaxed state where you can access this part of the brain to help build new and more positive neural pathways – we can choose what responses we build. In essence we can reduce the fear of falling by focusing on confidence building and the positive effects riding can have for us and our horse.

Here in Devon, at Inspired to Change, we can harness the value of hypnosis to ensure you are maintaining your stress bucket, so you and your horse can get the very best from your partnership. So, if you are inspired to make that change, please contact Emma to book your free Initial Consultation at her Winkleigh or Exeter clinics.

Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are based across the UK in Cambridgeshire, Devon and Kent, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Peterborough. If you would like to find out more about how hypnotherapy can help you click here to find your nearest therapist and book your free initial consultation.