Helping Riders with Anxiety - The Horse Forum
  • 12 Post By DanielDauphin
  • 2 Post By my2geldings
  • 3 Post By Dustbunny
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post #1 of 3 Old 07-09-2018, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: South Louisiana
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Helping Riders with Anxiety

This article was written by me and published in both Horse and Rider Magazine and Performance Horse Digest.

H & R Confident Rider Article

“Oh my gosh
Oh m’gosh
OHMPFFFT!!!!! Tell my children/spouse/parents/cats that I love them”
For many of us, our internal conversation as we canter or even prepare to canter is very similar. Physiologically, all sphincters, pupils and pores contract as we become tense and hold our breath. All of this is happening as you are trying to control a saddled trampoline building speed like Willy Wonka’s boat in that psychedelic tunnel… Let’s change that conversation, shall we?
Having worked with many customers with anxiety over the years, I have for you one easy step that really will help to facilitate two important changes within you. You’ll be able to relax and let go of that anxiety. That simple step is reciting, loudly, from memory.
The first thing that this simple exercise addresses is that internal conversation. Reciting from memory takes concentration and gets you out of your own head. Instead of indulging in mild panic, your mind will be working to remember the words to your favorite Bible verse, Kipling, Frost, or William Blake poem, or, my favorites, The Pledge of Allegiance and Dr Seuss. You can even sing your favorite song. All that matters is that you are saying it OUT LOUD. Now, when I say out loud, I mean like you are addressing a group of 500 people without a microphone. If you aren’t getting weird looks from unwitting spectators, you’re doing it wrong. You will find that you can’t concentrate on 17th century French Poetry, your newfound embarrassment, and panic simultaneously.
The second effect of reciting out loud is that you must breathe. You might be shocked at the number of people who hold their breath while they do scary things like canter, put the halter on, or ride as a passenger while their wife drives... This is, of course, subconscious. The cure is to breathe again, and you can’t belt out an opera without breathing. It really is that simple. Just recite, ride, and relax. As simple and silly as this may all sound, I routinely see a significant difference in people’s posture, relaxation, and expression after just a few circles. Order today and we’ll throw in an independent seat and awareness of the reins without having to join a cult!
Feel the tension melt away and gain the confidence to tell Black Beauty that he no longer has any power over you. It will probably be a good idea to start each cantering session like this for a while. Once you’ve done this a number of times, a new emotional pattern of comfort and confidence will have replaced the old pattern of anxiety. If the anxiety comes back, use the tool again. Be Loud! Breathe! Have Fun!
DanielDauphin is offline  
post #2 of 3 Old 08-20-2018, 04:41 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 13,258
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Super cute article. I forwarded it it to a friend who has some anxiety issues with cantering. She is getting back into horses and is a little rusty. Thanks for the share.
my2geldings is offline  
post #3 of 3 Old 11-07-2018, 07:37 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NW Oregon
Posts: 3,250
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Good article!
I ride alone. I'll have to give this a go in the spring when I hit the trails behind our home. Not only will it help me breath but the singing will clear out the bears and cougars. When my husband was still riding he sang to his horse. He said the horse liked it. Who knew he was doing something beneficial!
I do talk to my horse when I ride but now I have the winter to brush up on old show tunes.

If you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it's because your tactics suck. ~ Marine 1SGT J. Reifinger
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