Regain Your Confidence After a Horseback Riding Injury

It isn’t easy to get back in the saddle after a bad fall—it takes confidence, determination, and hours of hard work. Particularly if you were involved in a serious accident, it may take a lot to overcome the fear that’s been getting to you.  

While you may feel apprehensive about riding right now, there are a few ways you can persevere. Here are our tips for getting your confidence back after a horseback riding injury.

Start now, and start slow 

Other avid riders will tell you that the longer you wait to get back on your horse, the worse your fear becomes. Start now, but be cautious—the first step to regaining your confidence is being patient with yourself. As you’re returning to your sport, only start out with what makes you comfortable. Rushing into it and challenging yourself may startle you more, so don’t be afraid to take your time and ride at a level that feels right to you. 

Other avid riders will tell you that the longer you wait to get back on your horse, the worse your fear becomes. Start now, but be cautious—the first step to regaining your confidence is being patient with yourself. As you’re returning to your sport, only start out with what makes you comfortable. Rushing into it and challenging yourself may startle you more, so don’t be afraid to take your time and ride at a level that feels right to you. 

It may be a good idea to work with a trainer to adjust post-injury; it can feel comforting to have someone else with you as you ride. If you feel yourself getting nervous, your trainer can take control of your horse as needed. You may even need to borrow another horse for a while before you get back on your own. If you’re having difficulties with your horse, it can be good to take a break and remind yourself that you know how to ride. Riding a different horse will show you that you’re able to ride with confidence again.  

Acknowledge and accept the past 

One of the most difficult steps of working past injury is accepting that it has happened and that you’ll need to move beyond it. It’s going to take time, but by consistently working toward your goals, you’ll get to where you want to be.  

As you’re riding, you’ll likely remember your fall, slipping back into the mindset that you can injure yourself again at any moment. It’s perfectly normal to feel scared after an injury. It’s okay to feel that way. You may also feel angry at first because your mind is translating your fall as failure—but the key is a fresh perspective, reassuring yourself that you can overcome the past. Every devoted horseback rider is going to fall at some point, even those who are the best of the best. You’re no failure, and you’re far from alone in this experience. 

If you love the sport, don’t let anything keep you from getting back on your horse. Remember that the bond between you and your horse is strong and that you’re in this together. If you’re still feeling anxious about the past, speaking with a professional, such as a qualified riding instructor or sports psychologist, can help you reduce your nervousness. 

Build back your physical and mental strength  

Regaining your physical strength after an injury is straightforward—stick with what your doctor advises you to do. Then, you’ll need to make sure you’re physically prepared before revisiting the sport. Riding too soon after an injury only puts you in a more dangerous situation.  

However, concentrating on how to mentally heal from past events is often more difficult. When it comes to rebuilding your mental confidence, there are many strategies you can implement to succeed. Your mind is powerful—it greatly influences the way you ride. Therefore, it’s important that you don’t deny your feelings; recognize how you’re feeling and develop a way to get through the hardships. Here are some ideas to consider: 

  • Write in a journal about your horseback riding experiences. What are some measurable goals you have? What does success look like? How will you train your horse to help you succeed? How will you feel after achieving your goals? Create an actionable plan that you can follow to work your back way up to your pre-injury riding level. There’s no need to set specific deadlines; however, having an idea of what you’d like to achieve and how you’ll reach success will motivate you to get back on track. 
  • Practice your breathing. This is an easy way to be kind to yourself and slow your anxiety, keeping it from progressing and making your ride even more nerve-racking. Focusing on your breath is going to help your racing thoughts calm down. Horses can sense when you’re tensing up out of fear, so don’t be afraid to take a break when you need to. 
  • Start replacing negative self-talk with positive affirmations. As the saying goes, we’re our own worst critics. You can tell yourself you’re scared, but follow it up with encouragement. Tell yourself you’re growing stronger every day, because if you’re putting in the work, it’s the truth. 
  • Change how you’re visualizing scenarios that haven’t happened yet. Like other sports, horseback riding is a mind game, and your mind may be seeing the coming events unfolding in the worst possible way. If you’re continuously replaying the moment you fell over and over again, you’ll see future moments in the same light. To move forward, you need to win the game that your mind is creating. 
  • Even if you’re out of the barn for an injury, be sure to visit periodically. Give your horse a little love while you recover! Exposing yourself to the environment again will help you associate riding with the close bond between you and your horse, rather than with anxious thoughts. 

Invest in new equipment 

Purchasing new equipment can give you a mental fresh start. Plus, if you need to treat an injury, it’s a good idea to invest in effective therapeutic gear. This will provide added comfort and put you in a better place as you get back out there. 

Back on Track offers a wide range of therapeutic products for both horse and rider. From horse boots and wraps to saddle pads and more, we provide everything you need for a better riding experience. For those still on the mend, we offer FDA-approved arm and leg braces, as well as rider back relief products. 

Overcoming the mental blocks that keep you from the saddle is the most difficult part of recovery, and we hope our tips make that process a little easier for you. We also know that when you’re ready to ride, it’s important to provide soothing physical relief for both you and your horse. Search our online selection for the products you need to get the two of you feeling relaxed, refreshed, and ready to perform.  

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