by Laura Daley
When first working to overcome fear it is very important that you do not work with or ride a horse that triggers your worst fears. It is critical that the horse you are working with does not do things to harm you or itself. This includes bucking, biting, bolting, rearing or general disobedience. A well trained, obedient horse is vital to overcoming fear and building confidence.
One of the best ways to ensure that your horse will be a reliable mount is to work with a well trained senior horse. This horse will have thousands of hours under saddle—those necessary “wet blankets—and years of experience. They are used to navigating the kinds of situations a fearful rider needs to practice in the journey to overcoming fear. A senior horse has the patience to stand around for hundreds of up/downs or hours of walking a few steps only to get off and start again. A senior horse can also handle inconsistent riding days and time off without losing its training or willingness to work with a timid handler. This horse can also be calm and supportive when a rider is having a difficult moment working through their own fears. They have less energy and steadier nerves than a young horse with the same training and experience.
A well trained older horse has learned to ignore negative or fearful emotions coming from its rider/handler; they are generally more laid back and patient and less likely to feel the need to take a leadership position in the partnership. Even on its most energetic and emotional days, you can quickly and easily remind the aged horse of its training. This horse has more willingness to settle down and get to work helping a fearful rider work on their emotions and needs. With a less experienced mount, the focus must be on working the horse. If you struggle with fear, it is worthwhile to consider a senior horse to purchase or lease. With a bit of extra care and feed, a senior horse can be just the thing to start you on the journey to riding fear free.