(see below to figure out why in the heck we need a little Copperhead Road in this post!)
"I'm stuck at step 3. Can't seem to move forward from there. But, I think I'm my own worst enemy. I'm fine on the ground, not so fine on a horse's back. Do you mind addressing that a bit more, please?"
I will sure try!
I think that what you might need to focus on a little bit of Step 3- Define your fear and a little bit of Step 6- Set yourself up for success!
I suggest that because if you understand where you fear lies you can try to find a solution or a tool to help you face it. What specifically are you scared of? Are you scared that your horse is going to buck? rear? bolt? Are you scared that you are going to fall off? Break down your fear and understand specifically what it is you think is going to go wrong and then try to find a tool that can help you face it with greater confidence.
Tools don't always have to be straight forward like carrots sticks or a specific clinician's method....
Think outside the box!
If I were say...scared of getting bucked off, I'd ask myself, "How can I arm myself to deal with that possibility?"
I could go to a martial arts class and take tumbling lessons or take a few lessons with a vaulting club and practise falling off a dummy horse on to safety pads. People fall off of horses all the time without getting hurt! You can actually learn to do it really well! Knowing how to fall, tuck, roll and relax while falling will give you more confidence in the saddle because you will be prepared for the worst case scenario!
Maybe you could check out and see if there are any mechanical bulls in your area or set up a rope dummy practice bull and have someone help you with that. Learn how to ride out a buck. Make or buy a balance tool and practice with it for a half hour while watching TV.
The point is to set yourself up for success! Think outside the box and think of step 8- Time is on your side! Some of these ideas might seem like a stretch but why not take the initiative, get out there and arm yourself with as much ammunition as you can!
Riding horses requires balance, coordination, core strength, and overall physical strength as well. Working on the muscles and balance you need to ride, on the ground before you get in the saddle, will most certainly improve your confidence under saddle because it will make you feel strong!
I actually started doing Yoga (at home DVD) after I started riding again and found it made a big difference in how strong and balanced I felt under saddle.
Nothing will eliminate that fear but you can collect tools to help you feel that you can handle whatever comes your way.
You might also want to haul your butt back to Step 2- (I will not handle insane horses) and only ride horses that don't have a tendency to buck for a while.
When I started the transition from only working on the ground to riding I found that my confidence in the saddle had deteriorated partially from my fears of getting hurt and partially because I had been out of the saddle for so long that I didnt feel like I was going to be able to stay coordinated enough to ride effectively.
All too often we avoid doing what we are scared of for as long as possible and so when we finally face our fears we are ill equipped to deal with them. For me this meant I needed to go out and take lessons on a Steady Eddie schooling horse to regain my strength, coordination, balance, rhythm, feel, hands, set, legs, etc. etc. etc.!!!! I had lost it all! But I found them again on a big slow sorrel quarter horse gelding named Slyder. It took a lot of time on his back, a lot of frustrated tears and sore asses to get back to the point where I felt any confidence it all under saddle. I needed a horse like Slyder because I needed to focus on myself and what I was doing without the distraction of my horses problems. Once I was solid again, I could ride Shaunti and give him my full attention, knowing that my legs, hands and seat would take care of themselves.
I hope that gave you a few ideas. I think a lot of us get hung up on our own expectations of what we should be doing rather than just admitting our own limitations and working through the baby steps. I wanted to be able to just get on Shaunti and lope off and it really, deeply and profoundly bothered me that I didn't have the confidence to do that. I beat myself up for it many times. But I had to deal with what is (was). So I forced myself to set small goals, like just getting on and then getting off as many times as I needed until I felt comfortable with that. The funny thing is that most of the time, if I set my goal low, it didn't take me nearly as long to get through it than if I set big ones.... Like when I first started I'd get really nervous about the idea of getting on...so rather than force myself to get on and ride, I set my sights low and just mounting and dismount in the same motion... it was so simple I get off and think, "Wow, that was easy!" And so the next time I was able to hop on, sit there for a few minutes and get off and think, "Wow, that was easy!" ....but when I would set out to ride with some grandiose plan of how I was going to leave the arena for the first time and ride around the neighborhood, I'd get to the end of the driveway and think, "Holy crap! Holy Crap! I'm going to die! and I'd abandon ship and feel defeated rather than empowered!
That is not to say that you dont have to push! But give yourself a break, for goodness sake! Its just riding! It's suppose to be fun! No one is going to come out and beat you with a stick if you dont lope your horse or ride the neighborhood! Whenever I get stressed about all the things that I think I should be doing...I say to myself a very naughty and very vulgar expression that sets everything back into perspective.
F' the F'ing F'ers! F'it!
Sorry, Mom.....really....sorry.... but it's true! And it helps. I am a lady... most of the time.
Don't you think that we take ourselves just a wee bit to seriously sometimes!? Have fun and do what makes you happy! The rest will come in time.
(Little Goodbyes Shedaisy)
Oh...one more thing! Another trick I had that really, really helped me get in the right head set before stepping foot in the barn..... music! Find a CD that makes you feel really jacked up and ballsy! Something with an edge! Pushing through your fears is not place for Sarah McClochlan people! I nearly wore out my Steve Earl Copperhead Road CD for all the times I played it while sitting in my truck outside the barn. Kanye's "Gold Digger" too!