FAQ Riding

How do you overcome fear after falling off a horse?

overcome horse riding fear
Written by Horse Rookie

Ask any group of equestrians what they fear most, and the consensus will be “falling off.”

Then again, if you ask the same group of horsey folks how many times they’ve fallen off, they’re probably not going to have a concrete number for you. It’s happened so many times.

Some falls are slow, others are fast, but all are unwanted and unexpected. If you’ve never fallen off before, the fear of the possibility can be equally nerve-racking. 

At some point or another, every rider will fall off. (Even really good riders with lots of experience fall!) If you have fallen recently, though, you may still feel really shaken and anxious about getting back in the saddle.

You may even find out that you’re avoiding riding altogether, a nervous wreck at the barn, and looking for a way to boost your courage back up.

Let’s work on that by examining some “Big Horse Truths.”

Thanks to Emily Harris for our feature photo!

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Everyone falls

Why? Because life is unpredictable (as are horses), stirrups break, horses trip, birds fly up in front of you on a trail… and the list goes on.

There are a million and one reasons you may find yourself dusting dirt off yourself while your horse gallops back to the barn. It’s okay to be nervous after a fall. There’s no shame in it.

Because every rider falls, there are lots of safety equipment to mitigate your chances of injury.

As long as people have been riding horses, they’ve been falling off them, too. The fantastic thing about modern riding, though, is that we can embrace innovation to reduce our chances of getting hurt.

Helmets keep improving, equestrian air vests can be as good as a personal airbag, and even clothes are better these days. Thanks to the best breeches brands’ focus on quality, you can find the stretchy, sticky-seated riding pants to help you stay put.

Don’t be afraid to add a grab strap to your saddle, buy some safety stirrups, or use any other piece of horse riding safety gear that will help you feel confident and stay safe. 

Not sure what your options are? Check out our list of horse riding safety gear that’s worth every penny.

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There’s a lot of help out there

Going back to that “everyone falls” thing: Because it happens so often, there are some great tips out there about restoring your rider mojo

This short video is also a helpful place to start:

Start with some work on feeling calm and collected before your ride, think about adding some warm-ups and equestrian yoga exercises to your routine, use a little sports psychology to get you in the right headspace, and you’ll feel ready to start riding again in no time.

Plus, head over to our Riding Mindset FAQs for more information:

You’re going to keep getting better

Once you’re riding again, build on your progress by taking the time to work on skills that will help you feel more in control of what’s happening in all sorts of riding situations.

We’ve all been there — welcome to the club!

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About the author

Horse Rookie

I began riding horses at age six, and I'm just as infatuated (OK, more!) with the sport decades later. My AQHA gelding exemplifies the versatility of the breed -- reined cow horse, reining, roping, ranch riding, trail, dressage, and jumping. We're also dipping our toes (hooves) into Working Equitation!