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Tayz 03-01-2009 04:53 AM

How to gain confidence?
 
Ok, the second time I ever rode a horse(the first time was an hour horse trek) the horse kept bolting with me. I was on the second trek for an hour and during that time I braced myself for him to bolt. It wasn't fun, but suprisingly I was able to hold on and not fall off.
Now I have just started riding at a stables near me and I have lost all my confidence. I mean, I can ride an stuff. But I'm always stiff and pulling on the reins to stop the horse. I am always bracing myself for the horse to bolt.
I need some help. My parents & riding instructor keep telling me to relax in the saddle but I get nervous. How can I get my confidence back? It's not fair on the horse, Trigger, that I ride. He is such a good boy though and stops everytime. I also need to be a bit firm with him because he is so lazy and wont start walking unless you be really stern like "Trigger, walk on." or slap him on the ass.
So please help. I'm not nervous with grooming or anything. Just riding.

claireauriga 03-01-2009 05:45 AM

Practice will help. Remember, in your lesson you don't have to do anything you're not comfortable with doing, you don't have to go faster than you want and you can stop any time you like. The more you are in the saddle and finding that the horse listens and obeys, the more comfortable and confident you will feel.

To help yourself physically relax, remember to breathe! When we get tense on a horse, we often hold our breath without realising it. If you take a moment or two (either when walking or standing still) to just concentrate on breathing steadily, with your stomach moving rather than your chest, it will help your whole body relax.

You pointed out that the horse is very willing to stop and you need to be firm with him to get him to actually do anything. I love lesson horses <3 They are perfectly happy to stand still for the whole lesson if that's what you want to do. Your horse has seen it all. It doesn't surprise him when someone raises their voice or the rider does something wrong or a car goes past. He's in his home, with many of his friends nearby. So he's not going to spook or bolt.

And, if he did, you're in an arena. He can't go far and he can't build up loads of speed because it's enclosed and he'd have to turn corners, which slows him down. Add on the fact that the instructor is there, and perhaps some other riders and horses - if he did bolt, he'd maybe canter a few strides then slow right down. He would definitely listen to you telling him what to do because he wouldn't be scared running out in the open with the whole world in front of him. He'd be in a place where riders always tell him what to do, where he's quite safe; he can't get so scared or nervous in the arena because it's all so familiar to him.

It will take some time but you've already made the biggest step in the right direction by getting back on a horse. It's okay to spend some time just doing very simple, basic things, reassuring yourself everything is alright. Explain to your instructor that you're feeling nervous and anticipating a bolt or shy, and ask if you could spend your lesson doing simple things to help your confidence. Walk around the arena focusing on your breathing, do halt transitions (asking him to stop) all around the arena so you can feel how easy he is to stop, ride circles so you can see how much he listens to you. As you walk around and think about your breathing, try and relax each group of muscles so that you can feel how the horse is moving. You'll feel that he's moving along quite slowly and lazily, that he's not tense at all. Believe me, even us beginners can feel when the horse is tense and nervous! Have the instructor walk alongside you if you need to. There's no need to feel silly or embarrassed about having lost some confidence.

Good luck!

Walkamile 03-01-2009 06:34 PM

Tayz, after many year absence from horses and riding, I got back into it as an adult. My gosh it seemed way to high up and I was all nerves. I asked my instructor to please walk next to me, which she was happy to do. I was able to relax, breathe, and after a while, remember the joy of riding! Take it slow and easy, it's always the best way.

Tayz 03-02-2009 02:03 AM

Thanks, You guys have helped so much. Yep, Trigger has seen everything. He is a very old horse who has never bolted in his life(apparently) I'll take up your suggestions... :)

claireauriga 03-02-2009 04:53 AM

I hope your lessons go well :) Trigger sounds like a great horse, just the kind to take care of a beginner.

If you're anything like me, there's so much to learn and do that while you're trying to focus on one thing, you forget to do another! Heels down hands straight toes forward relax your leg loosen your back keep your chin up ... but I find that when my instructor calls out the things I need to do, I am able to remember and make myself do them. Ask her to remind you to breathe every now and again ;) Mine do it for me. And if you consciously think about relaxing each part of your body you can get everything going more smoothly.

Let us know how the next lesson goes :)

Tayz 03-03-2009 01:10 AM

Thanks. I always do those things ^^ especially look down. Trigger is a gentle giant, a great horse for any beginner

bilyeuamber 03-03-2009 02:19 AM

I would do some stretches before riding if you get tense. I kow that sounds silly, ut if you loosen up and get on the horse not being so uptight, the horse will sense it and relax as well. Horses read body language as a means of communication. If you are tense, theyll catch on. (which im sure you already know!) If that doesnt help, I would suggest trotting for a while. When you are trotting, you are most likely posting and you dont have as much of a chance to be so uptight because your mind and body will both be busy. Hope it helps!

Tayz 03-04-2009 01:06 AM

Thanks, We aren't allowed to trot much yet because we are too much of beginners. They are slowly getting us into trotting. They made us lean right back in the saddle and trot around the ring(someone leading the horse) It was very uncomftable and to be honest it is easier if you are sitting up.

claireauriga 03-04-2009 02:03 AM

At first, I couldn't get the hang of rising trot at all. I just couldn't find the rhythm. But gradually it will click and become completely automatic :)

I was often told to lean back as well when riding a gait the first few times. It's because our instinct is to hunch over and lean forwards, which tenses up our legs and makes us bounce more. Leaning back isn't really correct either, because you're 'behind the motion', but it feels a bit more stable than sitting straight up when you're just starting out, and it lets you relax your legs. Also, because you'll instinctively lean forwards, you'll probably end up sitting quite upright!

shmurmer4 03-04-2009 12:57 PM

sit in a sports car with a cougar.


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