Heidi McLaughlin

"K.I.C.K. Your Fear of Horses"

My name is Heidi McLaughlin and I am just an ordinary middle-aged woman who lives in Fallbrook, California. For eight years I struggled with frustration over the fear of riding! I bought and sold seven different horses looking for the perfect horse that wouldn’t scare me! Once the horse spooked or acted-up, I sent him down the road and the search went on for another “brave” horse!

What I didn’t understand at the time, was that no horse would ever be able to be brave enough for me! Because the horse was not the problem, the real problem was my fear!

We simply can’t expect our horses to be brave for us! We have to learn to be brave for them! Because horses are flight animals and their instinct is to run back to the herd for safety. If horses sense that their rider is scared, not proficient in his or her riding skills or lacking in confidence, their nature is to seek out security, wherever that may be.

fear in the saddle 1
No one understands your fear like I do. I lived it, struggled with it, and cried about it until I finally figured out how to overcome it! Let me help you too!

Even weekly horseback riding lessons didn’t help me. I would watch others progress with their horsemanship skills that were learning the same things that I was learning, but my fear never went away and my riding never improved. People would tell me that I just needed to spend more time in the saddle and that I needed to “trust my skills”. But no matter how much I rode, deep down, I knew that I didn’t have the skills I truly needed because when a fearful situation would come up, my mind would go blank, I would curl into the fetal position and panic!

If this sounds familiar to you, then today is your lucky day!



  1. I figured out the problem and what I had to do to fix this fear.
  2. I developed it into method to help you overcome your fear too!

So, I wrote the book: “K.I.C.K. Your Fear of Horses”

K I C K book cover
No one understands your fear like I do. I lived it, struggled with it, and cried about it until I finally figured out how to overcome it! Let me help you too!

My book is available on my website, on Amazon and on Kindle.

The Meaning of K.I.C.K

Keep at it! Don’t give up!
Invest! Your time! Your money into a well-trained horse and good equipment
Courage! To fight fear and find confidence.
Knowledge! You must become proficient in your horsemanship.

I’m Just an Ordinary Person…

I’m no one special. I just wanted to learn how to be a confident rider!

Once my book came out, I remember thinking, “Who’s going to care?”
Western Horseman KICK Your Fear Of Horses
In March 2013, Western Horseman wrote a favorable review about my book and then people started to find out that there was help out there. It was then that it was revealed that there was a tangible method to overcome fear in the saddle!

And what was different about it, was that the method was developed by a former fearful rider, who experienced the same emotions, just like themselves!

Excerpt from Chapter 5: Lessons From Chris Cox….

“The first couple of days we learned just how important ground work was. This was a concept that I had totally skipped; a huge hole in my efforts to become a better rider. No one had ever even told me, let alone, taught me about ground work. In fact, we didn’t get on the back of a horse until the third day. The one thing that I quickly realized was that I was more comfortable on the back of a horse than I was on the ground next to him. All of this ground work terrified me! We had to learn the importance of disengaging the horse’s hind quarters to learn to control him from his hips. You simply can’t control a 1000 lb. horse by trying to pull on his head. You must learn to control him by moving his hindquarters. We did exercise after exercise to test our understanding of our control over the horse on the ground. One of the exercises required us to direct our horse over a log and have him turn and face us. I remember when it came to my turn, I was frozen with fear. I simply didn’t think I could stand there and ask a horse to jump over a log and have him turn and face me. I tried a couple of times to which the horse simply ran around the log. Frustration and defeat overwhelmed any sense of confidence I had left. Chris did not relent. He expected me to do it and did not move on until I did. My heart was in my throat and my mind whirled with Chris’ incomprehensible voice commands. I was so scared that my mind when blank. The horse ran around the log over and over until Chris’ directions slowly began to sink in. It seemed like an eternity but I finally did it. Chris had me repeat it a few more times successfully to which everyone clapped and we were able to move on to the next person. It was all such a blur but I remember standing there trying to be brave, swallowing over and over, while the tears welled up. I was just so terrified that I could not enjoy the success I just had. It was all just so scary. At that moment I just hated Chris for what he had made me do. My head was spinning. I wanted to run away. But then I didn’t want to be a baby, I didn’t want to cry, I just wanted to learn, but I was petrified!

I don’t think I realized just how deep my fear went until that very moment. That was the first time someone had challenged my fear and didn’t let me back down. Prior to that, when I had expressed fear, my trainers would back off let me off the hook. Chris knew I was afraid but he also knew that in order for me to get over it I had to face it and walk through it.”

The Birth of Fearless Rider!

So now that my book was launched, so was my website:


I began to get phone calls asking me to come to various horse expos around the country and lecture to folks about how I overcame my own fear and how I could help them too. I never thought of myself as a speaker before, in fact the thought terrified me, but I found that since I was so passionate about the subject the words, the information and the confidence just flowed out of me.

Wow! Having confidence in front of an audience turned out to be a residual benefit of finding confidence in the saddle! Who knew?

KICK Heidi McLaughlin
Lecturing to a room full of people at the Hoosier Horse Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana – 2013
Becoming confident in the saddle helped me become confident in LIFE!

It never occurred to me that I could become a clinician and lead several fearful riders and their horses through a 3-day process to learn my method. But one day, I got a call from a lady who had read my book and wanted to know if I would come to her barn and personally teach her and a few of her friends how to overcome their fear in the saddle? So, I thought, “Why not?”

It turned out to be a great weekend and the birth of my hands-on clinics! I was thrilled to discover that the participants truly responded to my method and went on to become more confident riders!

fear in the saddle 2
I teach people how to break down their fear by first teaching the psychology of fear and the power it can have over our brains. Then we learn how to break the habit of going to fear when something comes up that scares us and replace it with a tangible skill.

fear in the saddle 3
Demonstrating my method in front of a live audience at the Iowa Horse Fair in 2016.

If I could do it, so can you!

It’s not hard, it just takes courage and practice!

I am so passionate about what I am doing because I know how you feel, how frustrated and embarrassed you are! I know how badly you want to overcome your fear and find confidence in the saddle because remember, I was you once!

The amazing thing about how all of this developed is that I am nobody special. I haven’t done anything great! I haven’t won any ribbons, buckles or accolades for anything with regards to horses. And, I am not a horse trainer and I don’t give horseback riding lessons, I am just a middle-aged woman who loves horses and wanted so badly to become a good and confident rider!

As you already know, you can’t wish your fear away, you can’t pray it away and you can’t ride it away. What it takes is a tangible program with a whole lot of practice and your willingness to choose courage! “Choose Courage!” Because staying stuck in fear is a choice! And putting limits on your ability is a choice! But I am asking you to choose to be courageous and join me in on your journey to learn to become a Fearless Rider! Because if I could do it, so can you!

fear in the saddle 4
Demonstrating my method in front of a live audience at the Iowa Horse Fair in 2016.

I conduct 2-day clinics all over the country. If you don’t see a scheduled location near you, consider hosting a clinic in your area and I’ll come to you!

Now, Let’s Get Started!

  1. First, I recommend reading my book, KICK Your Fear of Horses.

    It is a comforting story describing the depth of my fear and the development of my eventual method from fear into confidence. It will help you feel like you are understood and are not the Lone Ranger. It helps to know that you are not the only one who experiences fear and that there is now a way to overcome it!
  1. Next watch and study my DVD called, “12 Steps to Fearless Riding.”

    In this DVD I explain, demonstrate my method as well as help two other fearful riders.

    12 steps

    This DVD was filmed and produced to help you understand my method and realize that, while it is not hard, it takes lots of practice. Because if you are going to be “good” or proficient at anything, it takes training, a coach or teacher and lots of practice!

    This DVD is available only on my website: www.FearlessRider.com
  1. Invest in a one of my 3-Day “KICK Your Fear” Clinics!

    It costs $495.00 (prices subject to change) to participate with your horse in my exclusive 3-Day clinic or you can pay $150.00 to observe without your horse. I limit the number of riders to around 10. Then I take you through a unique 3-Day “process”.

    Now I have had a few people complain that this clinic sounds like a lot of money. I must agree. I am not a rich person either so I take your money, your trust, and your safety very seriously.

But let me ask you a couple of questions:

  • How much is your life worth?
  • How important is not getting hurt to you?
  • Who is counting on you NOT to get hurt because they depend on you?
  • Do you have health insurance? If so, what is your deductible?

Can you really afford to continue to take chances?

Because the more you keep ignoring the problem, the bigger it gets!

fear in the saddle 5
Every day that you keep putting off dealing with your fear, you are gambling

“Fear begins where knowledge ends!”

It is time to take your fear seriously, because if you are afraid, there is something missing in your training. When fear comes up, it is your brain telling you that you are not prepared for the situation that you are in.

Why aren’t horseback lessons enough for you to feel confident?

Before you can become proficient with your horsemanship, you must learn how to break the habit of going to fear so that when a situation arises where you need to be assertive with your horse and take charge, you can both stay safe.

Notice that I used the word “when” not “if”. To ride horses, you have to assume that something can and will go wrong which will require you to keep a cool level-head and have enough skill to assure a safe and favorable outcome.

But when you are stuck in fear, your brain is in “self-preservation mode”. This means that when anything comes up that scares you or makes you feel vulnerable, all logic goes away, your survival instincts kick-in and anything you might have learned is forgotten in the moment of panic. It means that your brain becomes blocked with fear and all you can think about is getting off the horse and finding safety. But 98% of horse accidents are rider error and NOT the horses fault. And most of the time, the mistake of jumping off of the horse causes the worst and most serious accidents. Learning to stay in the saddle and how to handle the horse is the safest choice.

So you must break the cycle of fear! And it’s not enough just to watch your teacher (trainer) and then think you know how to be a proactive rider. Now, you must become proficient at it. You must practice these practical skills over and over until they become second nature, muscle memory or rote in your brain and instinctual within your body.

save your fear
One step, one skill and one day at a time!

When you watch professional riders handle their horses when they “act up”, and they successfully get control over the horse, what do they have that you don’t?

SKILL! That’s right! Skill.

How did they get like that? You know, “skillful”?

They had a good teacher and they have worked hard at it!


If you want to become good at anything whether it’s a sport, an art or an instrument you must have a good coach, teacher, trainer or mentor. Someone that knows a lot more than you do. Just as important to becoming “good” is a lot of practice. But we don’t practice our horsemanship for two reasons:

  1. We are afraid to practice without our trainer present.
  2. We don’t know what to practice.

My program breaks it down one step, one skill, and one day at a time!

It is not hard, but it takes courage, time and commitment to be successful.

You cannot improve your horsemanship by picking it up and putting it down like it’s a craft project. “I’ll get back to it and work on it when I have time.”

That is called procrastination and avoidance and you will never be able to overcome your fear unless you are actively working on it.

So let’s drop the excuses, choose courage, and get to work!
One day at a time!
fear in the saddle 6One step, one skill and one day at a time!

You will become more than a confident rider, you will become a confident person too!

Join me along with others to become a FEARLESS RIDER!

“I just wanted to drop you a note. I met you at the Midwest Horse fair in Madison, Wisconsin. I enjoyed your lectures and read your book as soon as I got home. Obviously, I have fear issues with my horse which is why I came to hear you…. I'm getting so much better but I’m sure I will have fearful moments and some days that will be better than others, but most of my fear and terror are gone. Thank you for your insight and sharing your story. It means so much to know you are not alone.”
~Vickie Rufer, newly fearless rider

“I took Heidi's "KICK Your Fear" Clinic last year in Iowa. I had been through a few severe horse accidents and rode a few horses that were not good matches, further shaking my confidence. I was to the point that anything faster than a steady walk was terrifying and I was always on edge preparing for the worst which made riding something scary instead of enjoyable. I would always make excuses why I shouldn't ride. I was even so scared to attend the Heidi’s clinic that I made myself physically sick! While I was not entirely cured of my fear after two days, Heidi gave me the tools and a plan to help me get back in the saddle and ride. In a year’s time, I have acquired a well-trained and safer horse, gone on several trail rides all over the US, went camping with my own horse, cantered down trails and even competed in a show! Every week I do more with “Pearl” and every week we get better as a pair. I love riding again and I'm finding peace in my connection with Pearl instead of fear!”

~Tessa Bunn, New Canton, Illinois

“Today was a huge day for me. I've been doing a lot of ground work, and did so today. Then I climbed on. We just did walk and trot transitions, yields and such but it felt so good!! When we were done and “Lady” had made a perfect halt, I burst into tears. I was so HAPPY! Tomorrow we will do a little more for a little longer. I'll be back on those trails in no time! Oh, and while I was cautious, I wasn't truly afraid even once. Thank you, Heidi!”

~Jeannie Marshall, Escondido, California

“Today was a huge day for me. When I pictured in my mind what I wanted to do with my horse, I wanted to be able to take her for a ride in the canal areas around my house. Today I finally took her out. She was great but I did start to feel myself get a little worked up when she started to nicker for her friends back at the barn. All I could hear in my head wasHeidi McLaughlinsaying "that's normal horse behavior, just ignore it." I dug down in my bag of Heidi's helpful hints, as I like to call them,and had her do some circles around a few bushes to remind myself that I was still in control. This has been a long process but it is sure paying off. I can't believe how far I come since the clinic just a few months ago. I now love riding my horse and can't wait to learn and push myself to do even better.”

~Tori Reid, Oregon

Let Heidi McLaughlin help you begin today. Go to: www.FearlessRider.com (760)723-25374