Riding Fear Free Help for Fearful Riders and Their Teachers

Rewrite Your Fear Memories

Sometimes you can’t just drop everything and ride your horse, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still rewrite your fear memories at home. You can work your three areas–physical, mental, and emotional–every day even when you can’t get to the barn. 

Rewrite Your Fear Memories with Art

Riding Fear Free
Riding Fear Free

Color. Grab a box of crayons and a horse-themed coloring book from the dollar store. Choose a coloring book geared toward adults or children. It doesn’t matter. Just choose one that sparks joy for you.

The goal is to have fun. You don’t have to multitask and choose an educational coloring book that teaches you about equine musculature or parts of the horse. It’s therapeutic to take a blank paper and draw a stick horse with a brown crayon.

The act of choosing the perfect picture and selecting colors can be calming and can help rekindle your joy in horses. You don’t have to be a professional artist. In fact, sometimes doing a “bad job” can help release emotions. In fact, you can photocopy your chosen picture and then purposely scribble outside the lines. Make it as ugly as you can. Once your emotions are out on the photocopy, go back and color the original with your favorite colors. You will be purging the old, ugly drawing and replacing it with bright beautiful colors that appeal to you. 


Color with Kids. Take the time to color with a little one. They will help you learn to love horses again as you teach them the art of the horse. Watch as they color the horse pink or blue because they like that color the best. Release some of your perfectionism and rediscover the joy of coloring outside the lines or less than perfectly.


Sculpt. Get some play dough, potters clay, or even wax from a small wheel of cheese (My granddaughter gave me that idea!) You can physically work out your stress on the clay. Pound, shape, and soften the material until you can sculpt a work of art…or simply make a blob with four legs, a tail, and a head. If you have kinetic sand, you can sculpt and mold a barn and horses. Plan obstacle courses, go over patterns for trail classes, or practice your dressage routine in the sand. 

Make a Mess. Next time you spill salt, sugar, or flour when you are baking, take a moment to finger paint a stick horse in the powder before cleaning up the spill.

Rewrite Your Fear Memories with Play

Play with Model Horses. When was the last time you took a model horse off its shelf and galloped it around your house and across your counters, your couch cushions, and the arm of the sofa? Even adults can create a great mountain trail ride or cross-country eventing  course with model horses and some furniture. The possibilities are endless with a model horse and your imagination.

Not only will this help you visualize your dreams, but you can practice counting strides, visualizing patterns, navigating difficult terrain, taking all sorts of jumps, crossing water, and taking winding trail rides. Visualize your perfect ride as you move the model up and down, fast and slow.

Ride along with a Movie. Put on your favorite horse movie. Get out your exercise ball or choose a model horse from your collection and ride along with the actor. Why not try it the next time you are feeling less than up to riding your horse?

Riding Fear Free
Riding Fear Free
A person’s subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between visualization and reality, so what is seen in the mind is as valuable as actual, physical experiences.

All these methods rebuild positive memories and experiences. The subconscious mind does not know the difference between real or visualized experiences.

The brain knows what we teach it. It learns what we rehearse, practice, and study. So the next time it’s too cold or wet or if you feel too fearful to ride, rewrite your fear memories and build your muscle memory with play. 

Laura Daley

Laura has a God-given passion for horses and for helping riders in their horsemanship journeys. She grew up on a large-scale Arabian breeding ranch and has spent her entire life learning about horses. Her first horse-training experiences came as a child, but she never stopped learning. As an adult, she became a Brandi Lyons Certified trainer. Laura firmly believes in continued education and shared experiences, and she often attends clinics with highly respected trainers such as Pat Parelli, Richard Shrake, Ken McNabb, Raye Lochert, and John and Josh Lyons. In addition to her horse training experience, she is knowledgeable about natural hoof care, equine massage, and chiropractic care. She believes in and merges conditioned-response training methods with physical therapies to create a balanced, peaceful, and willing equine partner.