Common Equestrian Anxiety Dreams, Interpreted

Biz Stamm deconstructs some recurring anxiety dream themes she has encountered — and maybe you have, too!


Flickr/Alyssa L. Miller/CC

You know when someone is like, “OMG.  I had the weirdest dream last night!” And you’re like “OMG. No one cares!” Well, I’m about to be that narcissistic jacka$$ with the audacity to believe that the ongoings of my slumbering brain is a topic you all want to hear about.

I’ve been having anxiety dreams lately. Horse-related anxiety dreams. This is more than likely because show season is here (at least for those of us not living in the arctic tundra) and as fun as shows are, we type-A DQs will ALWAYS sweat the small stuff.

Non-equestrians have several common anxiety dreams including: driving a car in which the breaks don’t work, being naked in front of a large crowd, forgetting to go to class for an extended period of time and then showing up to an exam, etc. Assuming that there are also common, horse-related anxiety dreams that run amok in the equestrian community, I’m going to share mine and take a stab at interpreting them in order help those of you experiencing the same crazy, nocturnal musings.

The “I Don’t Know My Test!” Dream

My most common horse-related anxiety dream by far is the “I don’t know my test!” dream.


Morgane Schmidt/The Idea of Order

Variations on the theme include “I don’t know my course/reining pattern/equitation pattern!” In one version of this dream, I not only don’t know my test, but when I look at the test book the pattern is far more complicated than I could have ever imagined.

Interpretation: You are feeling underprepared for some upcoming event. Notice I said “feeling.” While you may, in reality, be unprepared for a challenge in your near future, it is equally likely that you are just lacking in confidence and doubting your own abilities. Regardless of the root of this anxiety, the only way to ease it is to prepare, prepare and prepare some more.

The “Horse in the Crossties” Dream

Every so often, I’ll wake up in a cold sweat thinking that I’ve left a horse standing in crossties overnight. This is something I have never actually done, but I’d put money on the fact that if I did ever leave my horse in the crossties overnight, there would be no barn left in the morning.


“If I have to stand here much longer I will tear this barn down to the ground.”

Interpretation: You are clearly forgetting or ignoring something — something that if not dealt with now will cause you even bigger problems down the road. Are you bottling up your feelings regarding barn drama, or attempting to work on collection without establishing rhythm and relaxation first? These are just a couple examples of things that can lead to the “horse in the crossties” dream. Deal with issues as they arise and save yourself some trouble in the future.


The “Ride Time in Five Minutes!” Dream

You arrive at the show only to hear over the loudspeaker that you’re on-deck. You’re hoping that you can get your horse unloaded and tacked up in time. You can forget about your warmup.


Interpretation: You are feeling overwhelmed. It may be time to look into some new time management strategies, or assess whether you might be taking on too many responsibilities. Just remember, it’s better to do fewer things really well than more things poorly.

I hope this helps and I’d be curious to hear about other horse-related anxiety dreams out there. Until next time go, riding!


Read more of Biz’s musings at!

Biz Stamm is the 31 year old trainer and instructor of Stamm Sport Horse, LLC, specializing in pure dressage, as well applied dressage for riders involved in other disciplines. Originally haling from Hudson, New Hampshire, she is now living in Corvallis, Oregon. Biz started riding lessons at the age of 6 when the doctor suggested that it may help with her bad balance and lack of coordination. While she is fairly coordinated and balanced on a horse these days, she is still somewhat of a mess on her own two feet.

Biz currently owns two horses: her lesson horse, The Kalvin Cycle (Kalvin), a 9-year-old half-Arabian gelding…

… and her personal horse, Alpha Helix, a 4-year-old Kiger mustang gelding. Biz has had Helix since the day he was weaned and considers him her “heart” horse.

Biz is also the proud owner (more like ownee!) of a 7-year-old standard rex bunny named Pi Rex Rufuse (Get it!? Pi r-squared!!!). Biz has always wanted to have some sort of mini horse to live in the house, and since the current landlords won’s allow any kind of equine on the property, Biz opted for a rabbit, which evolutionarily speaking, is very closely related to the horse.


After getting a Masters degree in Plant Pathology and pursuing a career in the scientific world, it became clear to her that she was only truly happy when she was interacting with or talking about horses (and sometimes rabbits). Now that she is riding full time, Biz still keeps her scientific training close at hand, focusing on correct biomechanics and physics involved in riding. 

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