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help me overide my lack of confidence in the saddle
another confidence thread..... So I have been working for a local instructor who is fantastic, she takes horses in for breaking and rehab and i'm there at every available moment soaking it up like a sponge. I have progressed from being really nervous around the untouched youngsters to being able to go and halter up and lead in from the field get ready and tacked up by myself. I have always had a struggle being at the back end of a horse and kind of just got the job done and got outta there kind of thing but now i can confidently rest a back leg on my knee while i'm picking out feet. All of which i'm incredibly proud of but when it comes to riding i just can't shake this feeling of fear and nervousness. I really really want to ride and it to be fun again and my instructor is very understanding. It's almost like this feeling takes over and my brain can't think what to do. I am a returner rider and have never felt like this before. I take the attitude of just get on with it and don't listen to what your body is telling you and feel what your horse is telling you. The horse i ride is fantastic and just really takes care of me and never puts a foot wrong but i still have this voice all the way through the ride saying i want to get off! i do physically relax but i don't mentally relax and i don't know how to push through the feeling that forces me to get off. This is really getting me down now as it's stopping me from progressing. When i go to get on i think right going to be a great ride might have a little trot then when i get on it's like a totally different person screaming your scared get off NOW! Please help i'm so frustrated with myself:twisted:
It's wonderful you have an understanding instructor. That's one of the biggest helps.
Maybe ride at first on a longe line. I'd start on a Western saddle, at least, I can balance better in a western saddle than English position. Also, don't feel bad about hanging onto the horn (assuming it's western saddle) to keep your balance. Also, it sounds like your horse is pretty good, but make sure you are comfortable and know how to stop your horse. That makes a world a difference to know that you can stop. I like the one-rein stop. It helped me tremendously when I had my mare that could get uncontrollable.
Turn loose of the horn and get your mind on your form and how the horse is responding to it. Let the nerves be. If you get nervous, don't fight them; it will only make you more nervous. Accept the nerves. Turn loose of the horn and focus on your riding form. Eventually (maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but eventually), you will conquer it. You can not master this as long as you are gripping the horn, because your body is telling your nervous mind, "yes I am nervous too." Get your body in proper form, and your mind will follow with time. Be persistent in this. Every time you accomplish a ride without gripping the horn and you just concentrate on your form, praise yourself. "I did it!" Then go longer next time.
I think of that little voice (the bad one) as the Monkey Brain. It's some totally ancient ghost out of the woodpile that shrieks "OH MY GOD, WE ARE 50 FEET OFF THE GROUND AND GOING THE SPEED OF LIGHT" even as the Thinking Brain is saying "This is a nice pace for a trot!"
I find that breathing helps a lot when that nasty stuff starts kicking up. Deep breathing, regular breathing, counting the breaths 1-2-3-4-5-6 in. 6-5-4-3-2-1 out. That kind of thing. Or yoga breathing, like envisioning your breath coming in and pouring down your body into your feet, sort of thing.
The other thing I find works well against that internal monologue is to focus on something small. Focus on your posting, perhaps. Or ask yourself how quiet you can keep your hands. Or (best, possibly) ask yourself how well you can let your weight relax into your feet. It gives your brain something to focus on other than the Freak Out. AND this approach has the Happy Consequence of improving your riding skills, which makes the ride itself more fun...AND you are racking up time in the saddle, which helps all by itself (but I don't think that time spent in the saddle being anxious about being in the saddle is going to be very helpful).
Best of luck, and I sympathize!
Dont' deny fear.
Ask yourself , "What is the worst thing I think may happen?"
Then ask yourself, "What will probably really happen?" you will see a huge gap between the two.
AND , know this: Even if you fall off, it is so totally not the end of the world. You just get up and go on. It's that simple. Really.
Lastly, just to confess, when I ride, and Ive been riding for 11 years, I am always a little bit scared EVERY TIME I GO OUT! I kid you not. When I get off at the end of the ride, there's a little part of me that heaves a big sigth of relief that the worry is over and I get kind of thrilled because ,
well, it's like Elle in "Legally Blonde" when she throws her mortar board cap into the air at Harvard's graduation: "I did it!!!!"
Yes, tinylily. I think a lot of us would confess that. Let's face it. Riding is unpredictable, and anyone that doesn't feel a little uneasy at times is crazy. Last year, I had a terrible accident in which I broke some ribs and punctured a lung. But I got back on the day I got out of the hospital, broken ribs and thorocostomy tube still hanging out of my chest.
Funny though, the first time Sassy and I hit the trails again, I felt the old confidence return. As easy as it sounds, the only way to overcome the fear is to face it, this time, the next time, and the time after that.
I remember that thread. I appreciated your motive for getting on as soon as possible, but as the daughter of a doctor, I thought you were out of your gourd! Anyhoo, it worked out for you and that you have your groove back is kool.
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