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Good On Ground
Bad On Back

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"I have a problem. I have horses and love them so much and am comfortable with them AS LONG as I am on the ground beside them. I am terribly afraid of them once I get on their back. (Bad experiences from childhood) I feel like on the ground I have control, on their back I feel like they have control. Do you think one of your clinics could cure this problem or do you think it will take more? I would appreciate any suggestions you may have as I am getting very upset with myself.

Oh man, oh man, oh man, do I understand fear!

Hmmm...poor choice of words because I don't think anyone really *understands* fear. What I should have said is I have been its victim more times than I can count. I'm a little stove up from horses and I know what it's like to get back on one after a near death experience.

I also experience fear from the ground every day. Less than on horseback, but still some fear because you just never know.

The answer to fear is always knowledge. No if, ands or buts...knowledge. The more you know about the things that terrorize you the less likely you are to be affected by them.

In reality, fear is a good thing. There is a joke around the South that goes..."What are a Redneck's last words?" The punch line is, "Hey! Hey! Watch this!" No fear, no life.

The trick is to balance fear with reason. And that is not easy to do sometimes. Snakes, scorpions, roaches and spiders! Whoa! You let me get between you and one of them, I was going over, through or under you! Now I don't give them a second thought.

What was the cure? Knowledge. I studied the little suckers and discovered I had given them a lot of abilities they didn't have. No more hopping off across a field flailing like a stun-gunned idiot.

When I finally was able to get on a horse again after my last wreck years ago I had already learned and discovered some "tricks" that I knew would *lessen* the chances of a repeat. After some ground work I decided to get back on the same horse that had done such a number on me. Even though her attitude was totally different and she was intensely cooperative, I still didn't trust her.

In addition to the training, I also lessened the risk in other ways as well. I plowed the livin daylights out of the round pen. I could have fallen from an airplane and had I landed *in* the pen, I'd have been all right. I also put on and wear to this day, a riding helmet. Not a hunt cap type thing, a real honest to goodness intended to make a cowboy look like a dork, helmet.

And then, I got on shaking like Jello. I then guided her around the round pen until I was fairly certain she wasn't going to goof up. Then I opened the gate. I rode her inside the pen for awhile then when I had guts built up I rode her out the gate and around the pen back into the gate.

I took what I had learned, hedged my bets a little, weighed and accepted the risks, then began expanding the envelope. I'd go just to the edge of fear and return to comfort and the travel time increased rapidly.

When people tell me they're afraid, I say, "Good! That'll make you smart." The trick is to make fear your friend.

Would one or more of my clinics help you with your fear? That's hard to answer. My clinics usually help. They sure help me. There is only one way to find out. Come to one, or bring me to you. As I said, knowledge lessens fear.

I have come back from the edge of numbing fear so many times, it seems second nature to me. I don't really know if I can get you comfortable on a horse's back. I think I can because I have been there myself.

It's nothing to beat yourself up about. These things represent a loss and they cause you to grieve. Grief added to fear can be debilitating.

Do what you can to lessen the chances of a disaster to the point you are comfortable. Then stretch the envelope just a little bit. Pretty soon, it'll be a large one.

Good to you,

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Fear Of Riding