Overcoming Riding Fear

Winning the battle over paralyzing riding fear.

If you struggle with riding fear, you’re not alone. In these stories I share my battle with facing riding phobia and what has helped me to overcome it.

Depth of stride

Spooky Horse or Nervous Rider?

After a few scary falls in my early twenties, I became gripped with uncontrollable and paralyzing riding fear to the point of hyperventilation. The fear controlled me because I felt out of control whenever my horse did something that MIGHT result in me falling off and getting hurt again. I only felt safe riding in an indoor arena with no distractions on a calm day riding to the left at a walk.

I faced a cross roads: give up riding horses, my passion, or meet this fear head on. Thankfully the latter won out! more»

Riding through Distractions

Riding Through Distractions

It was our first 75-degree Spring day after a long winter. I couldn’t wait to get Makana, my naturally gaited Walking horse mare saddled for an afternoon ride.

I had thought that the gale-force winds would be our greatest riding challenge as I negotiated Makana past the disco tree dancing to and fro at the corner of the arena. I had no idea we’d be riding 100 yards from our new neighbor’s artillery range practice plus a steady flow of overzealous motorcyclists roaring by! more»

A Gift of Freedom

A Gift of Freedom

Galloping through an open field is something that I have always longed to do, yet paralyzing fear had imprisoned me.

My nine-year-old Tennessee walking horse mare was a Valentine’s Day gift from my husband seven years ago. (Well, actually, I pleaded with him for two weeks when he buckled on Valentine’s Day and said, “okay.”) She came with the registered name “Gift of Freedom” which is ironically symbolic. more»

Jennifer Klitzke riding Gift of Freedom, TWH

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

A blue ribbon doesn’t always tell the whole story, but let me tell you, I worked hard for this one. Gift of Freedom (Makana), my seven-year-old Tennessee walking horse and I won the Amateur-Owner-Trainer/Three-Gaited Walking Horse class, and yes, we were the only pair showing in it. After our ride, the judge commented, “That was really brave!” (You’ll understand what she meant in a moment.) more»

Nokota Expo Demonstration

Facing Fear

Whoosh! A drill team of Nokotas ridden by young ladies more than half my age (and weight) explode into the coverall. Staying out of their way would be difficult, so I ask the fearless leader, “Do you mind if I join your drill practice?” Muffled snickers were heard by sight. “Sure,” the leader smiles.

Dressed in my formal English suit, Makana’s white braids swung with ever nod as we tagged along in the drill patterns. Then ladies formed a circle with the horses’ facing in. “Come on, we’re not done yet,” they grinned and motioned for me to join them. more»

Facing Fear, The Sequel

Facing Fear, the Sequel

Friday morning we warmed up relaxed and forward in the practice arena with about 30 other horses in preparation for our first demonstration ride at the 2012 Minnesota Horse Expo. Then our group was called to the Coliseum. As soon as we approached the Coliseum gate, the announcer’s animated voice escalations and expectant crowd clapping panicked Makana. I felt like I was riding on a stiff plank caught by a swirling cyclone. The relaxation, softness and suppleness we had achieved just seconds before entering the Coliseum, quickly vanished. It was all I could do just to stay on. It seemed that nothing had prepared me for “Facing Fear, the Sequel.” more»



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