About six months ago I was riding a thoroughbred gelding who was relatively new to the lesson program at my barn. It was the first time that I had ridden him, but some of the trainers around the barn had ridden him and not had any problems. Before he was moved to my barn he had been jumping 4 feet but I took him over some very small jumps (18 inches - 2 feet) and he did very well. So after we did plenty of flat work and that jumping, my instructor set up a small trot in canter out sort of grid. Nothing fancy, just two small crossrails with a 2ft jump at the end and the first few times we did it he was great! However, about the fourth time we did it, a cat knocked over a piece of sheet metal somewhere and spooked him pretty bad... Instead of a trot in canter out, it was a trot in gallop go crazy out.
I've been riding since I was 3 years old, so this wasn't the first time a horse has done something like this to me. I tried turning his head, putting him in a circle, everything. Nothing worked. We galloped around the arena for a good 25 minutes but he just would not tire out or calm down. Eventually he lost his footing and stumbled a little which threw me off balance. I lost a stirrup and as I was trying to get it back he took a sharp turn and slammed me into the wall. But thanks to the "safety stirrups" that were on the saddle, my other foot was caught in the stirrup, preventing me from bailing completely off of him as a last ditch sort of thing. So at this point I was half hanging off of him trying to scramble back up onto his back, but he slammed me into the wall again and I lost my other stirrup, hitting the ground flat on my back. He is about 18 hands and I'm 5ft tall so it was a pretty significant fall for me. I couldn't feel my legs for a couple minutes once I hit the ground and after going to the emergency room I was found to have completely shattered a vertebrae, had a concussion, fractured elbow from hitting the wall, and many cuts and bruises. I was hospitalized for a while and had to lay flat in the bed because I had a 90% chance of becoming paralyzed from the waist down if I were to sit up or walk around.
As you can imagine, this was a pretty horrifying experience for me. I'm only 17. But my love for horses has drawn me back to the barn and I've had 2 lessons back so far, but I've found that I'm horrified to canter now, even though I'm on a bombproof horse. When I think about cantering it doesn't scare me at all, but before I ask for the canter I freeze up and I get really nervous and I just can't do it. I know I only have 2 lessons under my belt after a 6 month break from that bad experience, but I just feel like I've lost all of my confidence. :( Any advice?