Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: South Louisiana
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
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!