Returning To Horseback Riding

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Hosscrazy

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Does anyone here have experience returning back to horseback riding after having a serious horseback riding accident?

I would love to hear how you did it - did you take private or group lessons, did you work with an instructor who was experienced in rehab riding? Did you return back to your original riding style (English, Western)?

I had a bad accident years ago, and am looking at getting back into riding. Would love to hear what others did!
 

Sterling

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Yeayyy Liz!!!!!
I think you'll be just fine!!! It takes patience, a good teacher and a quiet trustworthy horse. Once you're on your way I think you will be able to enjoy the big fellas again. Good luck sweetie! I'm rooting for ya!!!
 

ChrystalPaths

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I recommend an instructor. Tell him/her "everything" and a good one will work it out for you with the right horse. My daughter has had so many horrendous accidents but got right back on, me my last was 11 yrs ago. I got run over by someone else's horse. I cracked 3 ribs and suffered a concussion. My problem was I neglected the concussion and 2 wks later collapsed. Seems I had a bleed and part of my brain died during that time. Unfortunately it was the part that controlled my balance and co-ordination. Took 5 long years walking with a stick for my brain to reprogram itself. You be careful now!
 

Ferrah

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I had a really big riding accident a year ago. Me and my horse Ferrah were cantering along in the arena and she was doing a really nice collected canter I had never had her so round and on the bit as she was that day. Then something went really wrong, Ferrah took a bad step and literally fell down and sumersaulted! Luckily I was thrown clear. I'll tell you how I got over the accident.

My riding instructor put Ferrah on pasture for awhile while I went thorugh 'rehab'. I had lots of private lessons on a steady 15 year old Appaloosa gelding I used to lease. She used him to help me gain confidence again. When I wasn't worrying about every little thing (this took about three-four months of good lessons) she started me in group lessons where we did cross rails and pattern and trail work together. Riding with my friends put me at ease and I spent less time worrying. During this time I would haveone lesson a week on Ferrah and for the first month all we did was walk and trot. We started cantering again very slowly and going right back to square one if Ferrah tripped and I freaked out.

Basically is took me about a whole year. We started small and worked our way up building on old skills until I was more sure of myself.

My riding instructor says I'm not the same rider I was a year ago, but that all the lessons we did and work we put in made me a better rider than I was before the fall.

It's really hard to get past the fear but with the right horse and the right riding instructor you can do it. Just be patient with yourself. I know that I still get afraid when a horse trips, not as bad as before but I stil do. It will take lots of patience for me to get over that. I say go for it! If I can do it, you can do it!
 

Equuisize

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My doctors have no sense of humor and won't let me ride any more.......

I did ride after the accident until about, oh gosh almost 10 years ago now and then they said 'Uh Huh no way Jose, get off those horses'.

I've never lost the desire to get back on, it's always there in the back of my mind.

And I still keep a full size horse in case I decide to blow caution to the wind one day...

I envy you if you give it a go.......

I've no suggestions for you but you've got my good thoughts!

Come back and tell us how wonderful it is!!!
 

Marty

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How ironic you brought this up as I was just considering selling my saddle and the rest of my riding tack today.

Liz, my big race horse stallion went nuts on me when I was about 24 or so, when I was schooling him in our arena at home and busted me up very badly. I was in a lot of pain for a long time. As I laid in the hospital bed, casts and stitches everywhere, I really had some time to think.......about how scared I was going to be to climb back on top of him. He really did a number on me.

When I was ready to climb back into the saddle I couldn't get up the nerve. I could not seem to bring myself to get on him or any of my horses at all. I was a nervous wreck. Just one foot in the stirrup was all I could do, then I gave up, went back to the barn and un-saddled. No one knew, and I couldn't tell anyone either. I was too ashamed of myself. To be scared of your own horse is the worst feeling to have.

I finally called one of my former trainers that was like another mother to me and confided in her and that taught me so much. I had trained my first two horses under her and she was very understanding and patient with me. She had me come to her place every day. She put me in the round pen to ride all her school horses, a different one each day, until I could ride them all out in the arena. She stayed right with me and nursed me along every inch of the way and gave me lessons again. My confidence was restored and I sure did need that tune up. Sometimes when you ride too many green horses you can't be so worried about your equitation and that goes out the window, but thanks to her, I got my seat back again too. So this was the best thing that could have happened to me.

Now I wonder if the old fart out front would quit his bucking after all these years and take me for a ride if I lost some weight. Then I'd keep my saddle and my butt would shrink so I could fit in it again. Now there's a plan.
 

CKC

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I have been taking baby steps. Many years ago I was riding in a round pen. The mare slipped and fell and I fell with her and hit my head. Lost my memory for 24 hours and still have some memory loss. I was younger and had no problem getting back on. Then at the beginning of my senior year of high school I had a horse rear while riding and flipped over on me. I got messed up pretty bad. Physically and mentally. The entire right side was hurt the worst. I lost all confidence to get back in the saddle.

Fast forward to now......

I recently rode a lesson horse and it was awesome. It came right back to me. I was in the ring and felt safe.

Just last week I tested a horse that has lost an eye and I was fearful, but got on him and again it was great. I think it's the best exercise for me. I forget everything going on around me and I feel like I had a great work out.

I am fulfilling one of my dreams on Friday. I am at the beach and will be riding on the beach for the first time.
 

whitney

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Don't dwell on the fear, dwell on the JOY of being up on a horse.

I have been dumped off from EVERY direction, fallen on, dumped onto the top of a T-Post. Broke a leg 4 fingers stitched up my face twice, not to mention bruised everything at least once. After all that NOTHING compares to the feeling of connecting with at 1200 pound horse NOTHING!

After some of the serious ones, I tied those horses to a fence with their halter and sat on them for hours the fear DOES leave but it WON'T if you don't GET BACK ON. It will just get BIGGER.

In an outdoor arena, I used a halter with the lead rope tied to both halter rings and looped around the saddle horn, I intentionally bailed off heading toward a corner at the walk, trot and extended trot. To get over my fear of falling from a really tall horse, and also to teach that horse to stop when they lose their rider. The trick is to roll and get up QUICK. Horses don't want to step on you, your squishy, and not really good footing.

Good Luck
 

justjinx

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After my last bad fall (i passed out on my mare and she bucked me off---it was a SHOCK, she was so sweet and calm---must've done something wierd to her when i passed out) my instructor was great and lunged me first on my mare and then we took it slowly. she was wonderful with me as i was never a confident rider anyway. loved it, had a good seat, but was never confident in myself and my ability. on the ground i was very confident handling stallions or whatever. any time i ride a new horse i take it slowly.

i have a 2 yr old paint and now that i am turning 50 i find myself reluctant to train him. SIGH. he is for sale and i love him so dearly---it is soooooo hard for me!

jennifer
 

Horsefeathers

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I fractured a vertebrea in my back in a jumping accident...couldn't ride for a year afterward (dr.'s orders). My advice is start back on a horse you trust and start back at the basics. You're gonna be a bit shakey, and starting with a good solid horse and working your basics for a bit will help loads! You'll be fine!

Chris
 

Shari

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I know this is not the same, but I was hurt in a cart accident. And after almost 5 years now, still in major pain because of the damaged caused.

Granted it was not a horse that hurt me, but I became scared to ride a horse. Scared of getting hurt even more and ending up in a wheel chair.

I did not ride at first, sold my 16 hand appy, and three Icelandic mares. Took me 2 years to be brave enough to try ride again. What I found out is I lost all the natural balance I had, my muscles wouldn't work like I knew they used too. The knowledge was still there, but nothing else seemed to want to work.

I tried riding off and on since then. Only in the last 1 year am I really riding.

First I started taking baby steps, maybe 5 to 10 minutes on my horse in the round pen on my brave days. After a few months I moved out to the 2 acrea pasture, now I ride out in the big 10 acre pasture I have. The horses know these pastures, so I feel ok about riding out there. I am slowly improving my nerve, and my mucles. I will never have the natural ability I used to have before the car accident.

But the glorious feeling of being able to even ride on my own Farm is very hard to put into words.

Of course, now I hurt my knee, again, not horse related. I haven't ridden in the last couple of weeks. But I now have a brace on, I will be riding next week.

I am not ready to leave the property yet,, maybe someday.

So in my long winded way, what I am saying is, IT is possible to ride again by finding the right horse, taking baby steps, riding where you feel the most safe, and not letting anyone push you along faster than you want to go.

(riding in a sercure suede seated Aussie, western or edurance saddle)
 

wcr

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I think somewhere after about 35 you start to realize you are breakable and don't bounce that way you used to. I have had a few wreaks and much prefer staying on the horse but I also had a confidence issue after a few cracked ribs and busted head. This year I sold the last of my paint herd except my beloved Whisper who will die with me. The horses were young fillies who were wonderful and have gone on to show homes and are winning everything but I couldn't bring myself to ride young horses anymore. It wasn't so much about losing confidence riding but all the work to train a young horse and the silliness they can do. Always being on guard for the silliness instead of enjoying a really broke, predictable horse.

Whisper is beautiful to look at and a joy to hug and kiss and can stand out in the pasture for 5 years and be right where I left her when I get back on. That kind of horse is beyond priceless.
 

Cronewolf

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Had a real wreck, fell off an almost 17Hh horse on the pavement,landed on my head saw double for a couple of weeks got back on same horse and rode for several years ater that. Stopped riding when I got married and spent 6 years having one miscarriage after another and just lost track of my horsey friends.and never picked it back up.
 

Hosscrazy

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Wow, I'm really not alone on this issue! You guys have some great advice, especially about starting all over from square one, even if it means just sitting on a horse, and walking slowly in circles.

My accident was about 20 years ago - I used to train polo ponies. I was in an arena on a very green horse, and I lost control. I went over the right side at a gallop, and my foot got caught in the stirrup. I was dragged, with my head hitting the ground & the side of a chain linked fence. No helmet. I had a broken leg, broken ribs, skin removed from the right side of my head, right ear was partially detached, and major, major head trauma. I didn't wake up for 3 days...

I tried rehab riding (English) about 5 years ago - all I did was get on the horse, trot around, start shaking really bad and then get off the horse and threw up. I also went back into horrible nightmares, reliving my accident (as much as I remember). So I quit.

I did ride Western a couple year ago - slow trail ride on a wonderful old Mustang. I also took one Western rehab lesson that felt good. You guys are so right - you just never lose that desire to "connect" when riding. There's just nothing like it.

Thanks again for the words of encouragement, and sharing your experiences! I like the idea of being on a lunge line, too, until I feel more confident!

Liz R.
 

DunPainted

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You are a brave soul!

Two years ago, I sustained three concussions within a month's time...the last two were the result of falls from horses. It took about a year to get my brain unscrambled. I've tried numerous times to get up in the saddle again, and sheer panic sets in. Lord knows I'm a brave, nutty person, but a true coward about getting back in the saddle. Don't think a heavy-duty sedative would help.

Sure wished I had your courage, as my heart would be so happy to be comfortably seated in a saddle again. Keep us posted!
 

sedeh

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I've had a few bad spills in my "younger" years mid-twenties. Had a big thorobred that was too much horse for me...broke multiple bones including my pelvis. I still rode him but hated it and was always scared...would get done riding and jump off and think "at least I didn't get hurt again. Finally came to my senses and sold him and bought a dead broke mare to ride but it still took years to get my confidence back. Moved up to Oregon and got into trail riding...loved it. Had a perpetually green 1/2 thorobred that I had raised but always had the stupids...thought I'd get hurt on him oneday but nooooooo.....I had my worst injury coming off a laid back mustang when we got into bees(yellow jackets). Broke my ankle and heel,(oh, and tailbone...just to add insult to injury!). Took 4 surgeries and 2 1/2 years before I was totally off crutches and able to go back to work. My right leg is still 1/2 the size and strength of my left and I have chronic pain. They had to lengthen my achilles tendon twice during the surgeries(non-weight bearing for 3 months after 3 of the surgeries)..so my calf muscle is unable to respond normally and cramps when stressed. Did I get back on a horse?? Actually I have gotten on my old faithful "Joe" a few times a year...just to see what it feels like. He did spook with me once and I almost came off just because my leg is so weak. The longer I'm on the worse I feel, and everytime I see a yellow jacket I go into a panic attack....not a great feeling. So, while I still have my saddle and old Joe, I have decided that riding is not for me! Also the major reason I got into mini's....I'm the one limping around the arena with my horses!
 

Sanny

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Growing up with horses I had more than my share of spills and accidents, none serious enough to make me give up riding. 13 years ago I was riding my arab in a hunter under saddle class I think and during the hand gallop a woman on the rail decided to flip open the shade on her childs stroller right when we were passing her, my horse shied, I went forward on to his neck and scared him and he bucked (at a gallop) I flew over his head....and get this......of all things.....I was the current Mrs. Minnesota at the time and leaving for the Mrs. America Pageant in a few weeks and as I was flying through the air the thought that came to me, was I am going to land face first and my face will be all messed up for the pageant. In the air I sort of tucked my head down (to save my face) and rolled into a ball, leading toward the ground with my left shoulder. The shoulder took the impact (and dislocated) and I rolled along in front of the horse who was still at a gallop and jumping from side to side trying to avoid stepping on me. He did kick my helmet off my head but didn't step on me or do any serious damage. It was caught on video by someone and looks like a horrible horrible spill, but other than lots of bumps and bruises and the dislocated shoulder and torn rotator cuff I was OK. I did go into sort of shock and my horse had stopped and I was trying to get back on him to "finish the class" (with my shoulder out of the socket and dangling at my side?) I was younger at the time (25 or 26) and as soon as I was healed enough I started riding again, but stayed in the ring and took lots of lessons and it took a while to build up my confidence again.

I had a non-horse related accident a couple of years ago that resulted in a broken neck fixed by a two level fusion, donor bone and titanium hardware to hold it all together. It was in some ways a blessing in disguise because until then I was working full-time (the injury was on a business trip) and I was traveling a lot. Now I am home full-time with my family and also THAT accident led me to miniature horses because my surgeon told me I couldn't / shouldn't ride anymore, and I couldn't bear the thought of giving up horses. Adding to the neck and back problems I have really bad knees from cheerleading and dance and have had surgery twice on them and my knees hurt really. really bad when I ride. I get off the horse and can barely walk for a while.

Against medical advice I've done a little bit of trail riding, but really my two former show horses are pretty much retired though I am thinking of getting them driving, I was pretty comfortable on the trail with them though because I've had both for nearly 15 years and they are settled and calm and in their mid-twenties and nothing much fazes them anymore.

I say "go for it" you will love being back in the saddle again and just take it easy and find a really good lesson or school horse to ride under an instructors supervision and just start back with refresher courses in the basics. I'd have no interest in riding a hot young horse that takes a lot of work and energy, but a nice settled calm horse is a joy to ride.
 

CZP1

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I had an accident in 91' riding a greeny morgan and he just went "nuts" at a walk in an indoor arena, he had his front feet planted on the ground threw his back end up and boom! off I went into a wall. I broke my L1 vertebra, bruised hip, sprained hand, thankfully I was wearing a helmet (always do when riding) turns out the horse had thrown two other people (hand broken, leg too)when the lady who owned him somehow "forgot" to mention that to me. I say I was "overmounted". This was an experienced horse instructor, needless to say, I stopped riding there and we moved on.

I was back riding six months later with a great instructor who took it slow and as time went on I was back riding but took it VERY slow, I also broke my tailbone about 7-8 yrs. ago and the doc said not to ride anymore, I sold my appy, and got into miniatures. Well now the big horse bug has bit again and I have been taking riding lesson again. We ride a real quiet TB and are looking now for a horse for me and my son to ride. Very beginner but I just want to trailride, nothing fancy!

It may be scary at first but hopefully your experience will be very fulfilling!

Good Luck!!
 

CyndiM

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I got bucked off by my 16HH Appy mare on thanksgiving Day about 12 years ago and my hubby worried about me being on her every day after that. I STILL don't know what happend because I got right back on and went for a trail ride and she was fine, a perfect lady
. Then I took her to be bred along with another mare and when I went to pick them up the stallion didn't want me to take "his girls" and ran me over. I had a concusion a few bruses and a very upset daughter not to mention the hubby. The mare became a pasture ornament. Four years ago I bought an AppyxArab mare at the local auction, she is just a dream to ride. We do parades and I trail ride with my daughter and granddaughter as often as I can. I love to ride and hope to be able to for many more years.
 

Gizzmoe

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Well I have been in a couple of accidents myself that were pretty bad. Back in June of 98' I Was picked up by a horses head and landed face down on concrete. I ended up being in the hospital for a week, had a broken nose and the bone above my right eye was fractured and I had to get a fiberglass plate in it to help it heal.

The second accident I was in, I was riding my horse and he pulled his head back to get a horsefly off his nose as I went foward to pet his neck as a reward for a good gallop. I ended up with the bone below my right eye being fractured. By the time they discovered the fracture they had to rebreak the bone and put a fiberglass plate on the inside between the muscle so that it would heal w/out trapping the muscle again.

My third accident was when the horse I was riding spooked at something and ran, he hit asphalt and ended up falling on my left side. I had a bad concussion, wounds on my left knee, hip and shoulder. Thankfully nothing was broken then. One thing I cant figure out is how they got me out of the stirrup it was bent nearly in half from the impact. I dont remember the accident much but do remember the horse trying to fall without landing on me too much. He ended up w/ a big gash in his shoulder for that feat and I thanked him a lot after that.

Anyways enough of my rambling. I ended up getting back on because I told myself that I loved riding and horses. If I let the fear take control of me then I would never do what I loved to do again. After each accident I had parents that did not want me to ride but let me ride because of them knowing how much it meant to me. I remember being scared of the idea of riding but everytime I got into an accident one of the first things out of my mouth is when can I ride again. I wish you the best of luck in overcoming your fears.
 
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