I think the most important thing is to take your time. Brush him out, do a little lunging get a feel on him before you get on. I don't know about you but for me when I'm stressing about something I get out what I call the extreme grooming kit, I will stand and nearly brush all the hair off of my horses, I find it to be most relaxing. I hate getting on strange horses but I if I take my time and spend some time getting to know them before I ride, I find that I am much more relaxed.
I think having a glass of wine or a beer is also good way to relax. Funny story. Magic and I were in a parade a few years back. So we get there I look around everyone with the exception of me, my 8 year old niece and a teenager is drinking. I get offered a drink about 6 times and I keep shaking my head and saying oh no I'm good. So everyone is rather jolly when we get up to go riding.
In front of us are the John Deer tractors and just guess what is behind a Giant Japanese Dragon 12 people long literally chasing the horses. I am looking around the streets are so crowded people are actually standing in the road, and there is no where to go that is not going to hurt someone if your horse takes off. Horses eyes are rolling it's dead of winter below zero and half the horses are dripping in sweat, rigid as they can get and everyone is smiling like this is no big deal. I kept telling myself and Magic we were going to be fine just fine and we were until a tractor in front of us backfired, and then 30 seconds later backfired again. Horses prancing sideways, rearing, the horse pulling the carriage takes off almost went right into the crowd. I was convinced someone was going to die. There was nothing but stark terror in my eyes and a smile so plastered on that my teeth started to freeze to my lips. Magic got a look at the dragon behind us and started doing this rearing/cantering walk for the rest of the parade, the whole crowd thought it was rather pretty and that this was part of the show so when we went by the cheering would get really loud, which of course only encouraged Magic to get bigger in her rearing/canter/walk her 'lipizzan imitation.'
So we finally get back, all alive thank God and I don't even stop at go, my horse's tack is off she is loaded in the trailer and I'm grabbing the horses that came with us and loading them up. I finish look around and everyone is laughing about how much fun that was and what costumes they are going to wear next time. I am just shaking my head. I didn't stop shaking for about 6 hours afterwards. I still believe that it was the most terrifying experience of my life. But I am also in the firm camp that a couple of glasses of wine would have been nothing but a benefit to both my nerves and my horse it might have even made me laugh at the whole affair.
FYI: No one was drunk going into the parade they just new better then I that having a drink would just help shake the jitters.
Last edited by lives2hope; 07-19-2012 at 07:53 AM.