I got hurt and now I'm filled with anxiety

Hi guys, long time lurker, first time poster so forgive me if I do this wrong.

I had a really traumatic (well traumatic for me) accident at the barn last week. I got kicked incredibly hard by my horse - so hard I was thrown backwards into a cement block wall before crashing to the ground. (It was my fault, I should have never been behind her, I know, but after years together, mistakes happen; please don’t chastise me for it, I feel bad enough as is). Fortunately, I didn’t have any broken bones or internal injuries and a friend was at the barn at the time and was able to get me to the hospital. After I spent a few days laid up in bed, I was finally able to go back out to the barn for the first time today.
It was awful. I was filled with nothing but anxiety and panic. I couldn’t even go into the barn. I was shaking, my heart was racing and I pulled back out of the driveway without leaving my car. (I board at an incredible full care facility and my mare’s still being exercised so fear not, she’s not being neglected). I don’t know what to do. Now I can’t even see a horse on instagram without feeling my heart rate go up and getting tense.
I know I’m not the only rider (or adult ammie) to get hurt. How did you deal with your anxiety, if you had any? The barn used to be my refuge and a place to recharge, suddenly it feels just the opposite of that.


Be kind to yourself. What happened was scary and traumatic. The first time you get really hurt as an adult (at least for me), you feel quite mortal. Sometimes you need to take baby steps to get back to feeling comfortable again and you should take the time you need.

Three years ago my mare slipped and fell and while she didn’t land on me, I broke my left collarbone, my left ankle and my right knee. Four months later, when I was cleared to ride, I still had a lot of anxiety. I started back on a smaller, older horse before getting back on my mare. For a long time I walked. It took weeks before I felt ready to canter again and I worried incessantly that she would fall again. It took me a year to go back to foxhunting and I was unbelievably anxious at the start of the hunt.

Considering all the times you ride and nothing bad happens, it takes forever to get over those bad falls or accidents.

Think about it in steps. Next time, meet a friend at the barn and just get out of the car. If you feel up to it, you can walk down the aisle. If not, don’t beat yourself up. Come back another day and see how you feel. You might also consider talking to a sports psychologist about how to move beyond the fear.


I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through this! The good news is that your brain is working fine. Its job is to keep you alive, and right now it thinks that the way to do that is to remind you about what happened LAST time you were at this place so it doesn’t happen again.

There is a book I found useful for working through some fear issues:

Brain Training for Riders: Unlock Your Riding Potential with StressLess Techniques for Conquering Fear, Improving Performance, and Finding Focused Calm

It’s not all about riding, it explains your “lizard brain” which is what is doing what I described above, and how to decide what fears are reasonable and which ones you can decide are not useful to you.


My worst injury was a dislocated shoulder when my horse stumbled jumping a tiny X & I rolled off his shoulder, landing on mine :persevere:
2 weeks in a sling :sleepy:
I had scheduled a weekend Eventing clinic (with Ralph Hill!) at a B&B that catered to horses.
My 1st thought was “I can’t get hurt again” & so instead of taking my TB (who I’d had for almost 10yrs, showed H/J & schooled to Training) I rode one of their horses.
Somehow I felt safer doing that & had a fun weekend.
My point:
Babysteps, do what feels comfortable around horses, even if that means walking down the aisle with all horses “safely” stalled :wink:
No time limits, no taking advice from railbirds or others meaning well, you do you.


I had a traumatic brain injury from something I don’t remember. Apparently, my horse wiped out too. I count my blessings that I don’t remember what actually happened.

No, it was not your fault. We come to trust our horses. I regularly scratch my horse’s butt while he lowers his hind end for me to scratch and makes all sorts of ecstatic faces. He aims his butt at me and I comply and he’s great about it. This is technically as dangerous as you experienced.

Start with dealing with your horse 100% avoiding any kick zones. Think of keeping yourself safe while out of your horse’s kick zone.

It’s never your fault for being kicked for being behind a horse you are often behind of. Something made your horse kick and I suggest you really thing about this because we don’t know you or your horse here.

I suggest you really come to peace with what has happened. Did you horse get spooked? Associate what you’re doing with bad behavior? Just have some behavior that doesn’t make sense? I suggest getting back into the game as you are comfy with. Pick feet. Problems with picking feet? “I understand but you’re going to do fill in the blank while I pick your feet”. This attitude, while not harsh at all, sets the stage with your communication with your horse. The horse is NOT allowed to strike out with foot behavior. Full on “Hell No”. Make the wrong behavior require work (no punishment) but the right behavior not require work. That’s training.


I had my nose smashed by horse attempting to kick me. For a very long time I was uncomfortable standing near a horse if I was behind the horse’s shoulder unless I was right up beside them and actively doing something with the horse. Be kind to yourself and take the time you need to work through it.

Trying to figure out why your horse kicked, as J-Lu suggested, could help your anxiety as you will be able to watch for the cause and stop it or get yourself clear. I had trouble trusting my younger horse after I got knocked out for four minutes after he bucked me off. I didn’t know why he had bucked. It took months but once I figured out the cause I could see when he was likely to buck and deal with it, which really helped my anxiety.


I got myself kicked in the face last year (and this was my fault I had done about 10 stupid things to cause the situation like duh, don’t walk through the field in the dark carrying several flakes of hay which makes you look like a monster while your horses - especially the big young mare - are already behaving like morons). Fortunately the horse was not wearing hind shoes and was really aiming for the flakes of hay I was carrying so caught me on an angle at my eyebrow resulting in only minor injury. The blow was still enough to knock me right off my feet. I had a hard time the next few days, but felt significantly more confident if I put my helmet on for all horse handling (or walking through the field). I also made an effort to put hay out before the horses were turned out. For me recognizing the several mistakes I had made and making an effort to not make them again allowed me to quickly return to normal. I do still have moments where my brain says “hey, remember when…” but it’s not debilitating and I usually use that as a check in to see if I’m making any bad choices.


Like others have said, be kind to yourself! I have a green import who was a bit squirrelly to mount for awhile. At a show back in May, after he had been quite good for awhile, my trainer and I got a little lax when I was getting on at the ring before schooling. He scooted forward, I ended up behind the saddle, and then came off the back and landed flat on my back. I wasn’t hurt (just a little bruised the next day), but I still have a question mark in my head getting on ANY horse now. In the moment, I don’t think I had any idea how much it was really going to affect me.


Take your time with this. Carefully examine what mistakes you made, where you were, what you did, that opened up the opportunity to get hurt. Pin point the exact poor decision you made, and when you made it. Everything was OK and you were doing fine up until then. Then avoid making that mistake again.

Riders and horse owners who have been well coached and well looked after by professionals often have been able to avoid making mistakes around horses, because many potential accidents can be avoided by someone who is skilled looking after you all the time. But most horsemen eventually start to branch out, and work with their horses without a babysitter ALL the time, and mistakes will be made, and getting hurt is part of that. You have survived your experience, you have learned something, and this is valuable.

When you are ready, and if you are truly a horseman, you will be able to put this behind you and the fear will subside, and you will want to get back to the barn, and to your horse, groom, tack up, and ride again. We all do. It’s OK, you are not the first to feel this way for a while.

Good luck, and be kind to yourself.


Like others have said, the first thing to do is to be kind to yourself. The brain is a crazy thing and it can take a lot longer to get past a mental block then you think it should or you want it to. But you can’t rush yourself.

Can you have a friend you trust meet you at the barn and be your emotional support animal? Someone who knows horses and can be patient with you, but also someone you trust enough to make good judgement calls for you and push you ever so teeny bit more each visit?. Even if all you do is get out of your car and watch your mare in the field from afar the first day. Then get closer to her, maybe watch your friend handle her the next trip out. One little step forward each time until you’re comfortable caring for her as usual.

Also try to visualize yourself going into the barn and doing everything you normally do with your horse, including getting all up in her business. And visualize it going fine, like it did every other time. If your mind slips to picturing yourself getting kicked, rewind and start the mental picture over until you can see it not happening.

I had a really fluke fall years ago when my lease mare, who I trust with my life and never does anything wrong on the flat ever ever ever, tripped and fell. I went from being on top of the world with her to being scared to tears to do more than walk. I knew mentally for myself to get over this I needed a ground person I trusted but also who would push me just a little bit. That person for me was my trainer. Every day she’d make me do a little more - trot one more lap, canter two more strides, etc - and because I trusted I was able to gradually get myself over my fears. Do I still randomly have fears of her tripping and falling with me? Yup…and it’s been years. But I try to remember the millions of other canter strides we’ve taken and remained upright.

It’ll take time. Fear doesn’t go away overnight. You’ll get there.


With this level of anxiety, I think you could benefit from some counseling to help you work through it. Ideally you could find someone who understands horses, or at least an injury-related anxiety. Just being reassured that this is an understandable reaction, that there is a path through it, and that someone can guide and cheer you on can really help.


You are not alone.
So you don’t to feel bad for feeling as you do. You don’t have to be ashamed.

Thank your lizard brain for trying to keep you safe . Lizard brain just wants to be sure that you are paying attention. So instead of pretending or ignoring lizard brain, thank lizard brain instead.

I could be wrong about this, but I think part of your anxiety stems from some underlying anger toward your horse.

If you are mad at her, don’t feel bad. She hurt you and scared you.

I’m also wondering if you’ve had some trust issues with her before this.

If I am off base I apologize. From your post I got the impression that you don’t even want to see her. That isn’t wrong by the way. Your fears are your fears.

Just unusual , I find. Most people want to see their horse, even if they are afraid to ride .

You’ve gotten some excellent suggestions
from other posters. Take someone with you, if you need to.

You could also find some resources on calming techniques.

It will get better with time.

Hope this helps.


I think this is a really good technique. After some anxiety due to a fall a few years ago, I found the book “Riding Fear Free” helpful and they suggested a similar approach.

From that book, “ Visualizing negative experiences or reliving accidents or traumas can actually change the way your brain works if you deliberately choose to create a positive ending, avert the disaster, and take appropriate action. During memory reconsolidation, when you are actively recalling the fearful moment, you can choose whether to reinforce the negative memory or change it by creating a positive outcome, even if that’s not literally what happened. The brain does not differentiate between actual experiences and the memories of it, so you are literally changing the chemical processes in the brain by creating a new ending in your mind.”


To keep the train rolling, you are not alone, and your brain is trying to keep you alive. Don’t be hard on yourself and take the time you need at the pace you can manage.

A fellow boarder had a BAD accident when I was a teen and the first step in her getting back in the barn was just having lunch with Trainer, and even that induced a panic attack. Slow slow slow steps are fine.

I had a bad accident with my horse a few years ago and we made it out more OK than we had any right to be for how badly I set up the situation. I still get nervous on trail rides and have to take it really slowly and gradually and ask the people riding with me to be patient.

Therapy or counselling is a good idea. Positive visualizations are a good idea.


I am so appreciative of all the kind words and insightful comments each of you have taken the time to make. I’m definitely going to check out the recommended books, and meet with a therapist. I feel like those are all useful tools in general, riding as an adult, because as y’all have pointed out, with age comes the realization of our mortality (plus we just don’t physically bounce back as fast as we used to!).
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what caused the kick because it really was so out of character for her. She’s an older mare (late-20s) and my absolute ride or die. I trust her implicitly. The incident happened when I walked up behind her as she was grazing near an outbuilding (I was letting her dry off in the sun before putting her back in her stall). The memory is fuzzy, but I’m guessing I didn’t make enough noise (I don’t recall saying her name or say anything out loud) so she didn’t realize it was me coming up behind her - like I said, idiot move on my part. I honestly don’t know what was going through my head when I made the decision to not give her space and meet her by her shoulder. I guess when she heard footsteps behind her, it spooked her, which caused her to buck and strike me with both back feet. What’s so out of character, is that she never bucks. Like, never once in the years I’ve ridden her, maybe once in a blue moon when she gets turned out in a field. Normally, in the handful of times she’s ever spooked over the last 5 years, she’ll just jump to the side (typically onto my poor unsuspecting foot) so I think it just wasn’t even a reaction I could comprehend happening. It’s definitely not the way I would have approached any other horse, she’s just my Steady Eddy and I let myself get careless.
Thank you all again for being such a supportive community. Just talking about it here has brought a level of relief, and I look forward to putting this all behind me, while being more cautious going forward.


Be kind to yourself. There is no blame on the horse in that situation. She startled at what she did not know was you. She was not trying to kick you but whatever predator was behind her.

Don’t care what other people think. Talk to your horse. I do. I simply say Hi Stars I am walking up behind you.


Yes the takeaway message is that every horse can bite, buck, bolt or kick at some point. They do all these things with each other without causing any damage. They may have no intention of hurting you but we are smaller than horses.

Figure out what you did wrong and implement a bunch of safety protocol.

Let’s say you snuck up behind someone at work and tapped them on the shoulder and they leaped up and screamed and knocked you over.


I agree with others who suggested to think about the situation and what may have caused your horse to react that way.
I personally know that my anxiety can get really high when the injury/near injury happened with no real reason…versus me being careless or having external stimuli that might have caused the horse to react.

For example, one time the barn help was leading a young mare to the turnout and I saw her blanket leg strap was loose. I told them to hold up…I thought I had alerted the mare I was coming up behind well enough (clearly I did not!)…I reached down to grab the strap and she sent me flying. I did not have anxiety dealing with her after that, because I know I was being careless and she was reacting in a way that was perfectly normal for a startled horse. I had a chipped tooth, cracked rib and concussion.

Years later I was loading that mare’s daughter on a trailer (being sold) and someone put a hand on her rump and she panicked and went through me and we both came out the escape door in a heap together - her on top on me (that one resulted in an ambulance ride and night in a trauma hospital). In all fairness it wasn’t her fault…but she also did not have to have the massive panic reaction she did. I still have moments of anxiety when loading youngsters on a trailer and someone is closing up the back doors…I much prefer side loading or slant loading now, where I control the entire situation.

Try baby steps and just go out to the barn with some carrots to say hi…don’t even go in the stall or handle her…then see how you feel as you give yourself some time!

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If she had thumbs, she may be posting her own post on a horse BB “My person just snuck up on me and I was feeling energetic and could kick out…what do I do now?”

I have a trainer working out of the barn, even though in a different discipline. When I had my TBI, I worked my horse on the ground (longing) for a month or two. He volunteered to ride my horse and then he volunteered to give me a lesson on my first ride after he rode the horse first (cramming his super long legs with knees going over the blocks into my dressage saddle). Last spring, my horse did a fast spook at something he’s dealt with for 7 years and accidentally stepped on my back. Same trainer did the first ride at/over the same obstacle for me.

Just watching him ride my horse/deal with my horse in a similar situation did wonders for my brain. Maybe you can get a trainer or trusted friend to work with this horse’s feet so you can SEE that all is OK? Maybe have them be there when you work with this horse’s feet for security on your part? It’s all a mental game. It is easy to type that it was all your fault but quite different when you are out there with your horse. FOR ME, seeing someone do something on my horse when he’s problematic (and he can be for sure) helps me understand that the task actually can be done.

BTW, the trainer, the BOs, and others all say my horse really changed after the accident that led to by TBI. He wiped out fully on his side. I think they know when something goes completely South in their universe.


i’m inside, in bed icing my elbow that a stupid big lug of a quarter horse(ish) inflicted. I was in a small open stall, two of my geldings followed me in, and i was like (oh, they’re fine) and was too preoccupied with my little pet fledgling rooster and didnt’ see the lug. Something spooked him, he spun and knocked me into the wall with his big fat butt. Now …i’m not as into shooting him as i was an hour ago, but i do want to give the sucker away. My coach has asked to buy him a couple of times, i might just let her.

He was brought up from foalhood by a really dumb woman, who allowed him to disrespect her space. I have Never had any horse who discounts my positioning. Not one. This horse has knocked into me about four or five times. It is as-if i am irrelevant, a gnat. He is five.

I think maybe it would make a difference if he were pressed into work. He would learn respect for an insignificant human if worked. He’s the one i thought i’d do western dressage with (buckskin with quarterhorse look to him).

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