Mark from Horseconscious (great website!) has picked up these excellent tips for more confidence in your riding from one of my seminars for his readers. So I thought I would take this opportunity to share these simple steps for more confidence again… 🙂
Nerves = Sensitivity = A really good rider
Sensitivity for your horse is the foundation of being a really good rider and sensitivity comes from understanding how to use your nerves to help YOUR HORSE to feel safe. When you help your horse to feel safe in each individual instance, then your own nerves will disappear too. This is where you get to use your sensitivity as the gift that it really is.
Listen to your fear
When you listen to your fear and use it to make yourself safe – ESPECIALLY when you use it as the gentle early warning signal that something is Not Quite Right – then fear and excitement separate again and you can have the confidence that comes from being able to tell the difference between the two.
Fix your fright imprints
If you fall or have an accident where there was a fright involved, it results in a residual tension that I call a “fright imprint”. Have too many of those falls and your bravery bucket is emptied. You can release this tension and create a more positive reaction to riding by understanding what happened in the accident and how you can make yourself safe next time.
Help yourself by helping your horse
If your horse is not calm and confident, then your own safety is challenged and you are right to have nerves. Congratulations on having them – they are your survival mechanism. Horses are often nervous because of the way they were trained. One way of helping your horse is to break into gentle baby steps everything that they are afraid or anxious about. Slowing down and helping your horse to become the calm and confident partner you are looking for will increase your confidence too.
The best place to get rid of riding tension
Most people carry unnecessary nerves from the bouncing around they were taught when they first learnt to ride. That habit has resulted in unwanted tension and small instabilities in your riding seat today. Even if you are an advanced rider, you can increase your confidence by getting rid of this tension OFF the horse, where you can really focus on yourself and getting that lovely pelvic and spinal alignment.
Things outside of horses can affect your riding confidence
Fear is cumulative, each old buried fear and anxiety adding to the next one. Because of this, old buried fears and traumas that have nothing to do with horses can intensify a current fear with your horse making it seem overwhelming. Increase your confidence by simply paying attention to the small signals of fear or anxiety you experience in your everyday life as well and consciously taking whatever action you need to, to make yourself feel safe.
Allow your horse to help you too
Horses are filled with a deliberate, thinking wisdom that can help you – but only when they are not afraid. Allow both of you the miracle of spending sweet quiet time together, doing nothing special at all, and notice how it helps unwind your mental, emotional and physical tension. Pay special attention to it. Notice how your breathing slows down, notice how you relax and notice how all of that increases both you and your horse’s confidence.