How do I become a braver rider?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 09-10-2014, 05:47 AM Thread Starter
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Question How do I become a braver rider??

Just wanting to know how to become a braver rider. I have had a few falls and lost lots of confidence, and now my mare is being testy with me. Just wondering how to be less worried when I ride. I seem to have a major fear of falling off, and I only used to canter up hills. I have only just started cantering on the flat, but a lot slower and steadier than up the hills. Every time I start to canter, I hold my mare back to just a lope, in fear of her shying or something. I can stick a shy anyway, but I am worried about her cantering fast and then going sideways or something.
So,
How can I go at a faster canter on the flat without the fear of her shying?

How can I stop being scared of falling?

And lastly, how can I stop being so overly sensible (the SLIGHTEST) hill and I slow to a walk, maybe a trot?

I would especially like to hear from showjumpers and XC riders, but ALL ADVICE IS GREATLY APPRECIATED :)

Last edited by Delta Dawn is my girl; 09-10-2014 at 05:48 AM. Reason: incorrect word usage
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post #2 of 16 Old 09-10-2014, 06:03 AM
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Confidence and experience.

And a good trainer.

You don't need a trainer who will suck up to you and give you tummy pats and tell you how good you are... but a good trainer who can pin point your weaknesses and work with your strengths but keep you in a positive frame of mind is invaluable. I have worked with trainers that destroyed my confidence, and then found one who believed in me and my horse. She pushed us, and worked us hard.. but we had the most amazing time!

Have you thought about taking acrobatic lessons? You learn how to move your body, how to land correctly etc on your own. A lot of friends who have this experience injure themselves less.

There is never anything wrong with being too serious, but you need to trust in yourself and your horse. Think about BOTH of your capabilities, and work within them. You can push the boundries once you feel happy you can cope with them.
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post #3 of 16 Old 09-10-2014, 09:15 AM
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Rather than thinking of being brave which often seems to equate to recklessness, I would concentrate of developing confidence. Confidence in riding comes from a feeling of stability.

Stability is related to balance, and balance is related to the center or gravity. Balance in movement is also dependent on flexibility.

When a horse is cantering up hill, it is naturally better balanced with a lower center of gravity. That is why a rider generally feels more stable when cantering up hills.

Your falls and lost confidence have likely caused you become more tense and to cling more to your horse. Such tension in a rider usually creates tension in the horse which is often interpreted as testiness or misbehavior.

A more stable seat helps a rider relax, and relaxing creates a more stable seat. Just as a tense rider can cause tension in the horse, a relaxed rider can help his horse relax. Please understand that I am using the term relaxation as meaning lack of tension, not sloppiness. It is easiest to begin the relaxation process while sitting on the horse at a standstill.

As you sit on the horse, try to become aware of how you are sitting. Is your body balanced over your feet as though you were standing with your feet apart, legs slightly bent, and a horse just happening to be between them? If not, try to find this balance. Are you slouching as you sit? If so, don’t try to rigidly bring your body to an upright position. Instead, simply release any tension in the muscles of your torso. As you do so, these muscles should expand allowing the bones of your spine to stack one above another supporting the weight of your body while forming natural shock absorbing curves. You want your pelvis vertical rather than tilted backward or forward. You should be able to do this with little muscular effort. This should bring you into a position where you feel your weight broadly distributed over your seat bones and throughout your crotch – a very stable position.

Release any tension in the muscles of your crotch and throughout your legs and feet. You should feel your body sink more deeply into the saddle. Your legs should wrap gently around your horse’s body without muscular effort. While the stirrups stop the downward pull of gravity beneath the balls of your feet, your heels should be drawn lower. There is no need to push your heels down. Your inner thighs rather than the backs of your thighs should be against your horse which also helps stabilize your seat without muscular effort.

Once you have obtained this balance seat without tension, slightly squeeze and release your lower legs as you ask your horse to walk. To remain balanced when the horse is moving, the rider’s body must move to follow the horse’s movement. Having released the tension in your muscles, your body is free to follow your horse’s movement. Become aware of this feeling. Your seat bones move independently with your horse’s back flowing down, forward, up, down, forward, up. Your legs swing side to side with your horse’s barrel. Your lower spine moves every which way. Your relaxed upper arms pivot forward and back as your hands follow your horse’s head as it moves slightly to aid in balance.

Sense how stable this way of riding makes you feel. Sense how much more stable your horse feels as it releases tension in its muscles. Experiment to see how any minor changes in your movement can bring about changes in your horse’s movement. Try stopping all movement in your body and see if your horse stops moving. This may not work the first time you try it, but if you are patient and continue trying to relax and follow your horse, it will eventually happen.

So, what does all this have to do with cantering fast? As you learn to relax and follow your horse at the walk, your body learns to become more in tune with your horse’s body. This harmonious movement of the two bodies becomes natural. When you begin to trot and canter, you should find yourself better able to relax, balance, and move with your horse. Your horse should be more relaxed. Her movements should feel softer, smoother, and more flowing. You should both feel more stable with a lower center of gravity.

Training riders and horses to work in harmony.
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post #4 of 16 Old 09-10-2014, 09:28 AM
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It's just like anything else in life the more you do it the moe confidence you'll have. This is how I look at training horses and backing one for the first time all he can do is buck me off, I know that's a shallow way of looking at it but it helped me when I was a young boy. My advice is get your seat correct and balance and the rest will come with time as the old saying goes practice makes perfect. As for your question I'm not really sure about labels I just look at each person different if you can sit a spook or mediocre buck and good at each gait I believe your more than a beginner just my opinion
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post #5 of 16 Old 09-10-2014, 10:00 AM
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Great post TXhorseman, not much I can add to that!!!!

Ride, Ride, Ride. You and your horse will gain confidence with hours and miles together.

Stick to areas on your rides that dont' make you nervous for now, and gain your confidence and your horses confidence in you in those areas, before you venture out to more scary areas that might make your horse shy or veer off.
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post #6 of 16 Old 09-10-2014, 02:06 PM
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I have the exact same issue, but it's improving. I would say the answer is:

1) Ride more often
2) Ride different horses if you can! They all feel different and teach you something different. Ride horses that love to run if you can, but that you still trust.
3) Work on your core strength. (Ride without stirrups, two point, do ab exercises at home).
4) Take your horse out in a big field and canter straight. It's easier to hold your balance on the straight.
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post #7 of 16 Old 09-10-2014, 02:15 PM
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I have always been a fairly timid rider. When I started taking lessons at 7 or 8, it was nearly a whole year before I could canter, and another few months before i could do it off the longe line. I slowly gained confidence and was a bit braver, but still very very cautious.
For me, true confidence came when I started meditation at 11 or 12. I know it sounds hokey, but if you can center yourself and feel confident and full in your own space, it transfers to every part of your life, including horse back riding. I still struggle with anxiety (and likely will for my whole life) and when i am anxious I am not a confident rider and the horses know that. Keeping on top of my own mental state has enabled me to be a braver rider (I like the term confidence better).
When I did eventing and showjumping and then again when I played polo, I would do breathing exercises as I warmed the horse and myself up. Mornings at shows were always devoted to meditation and centering.
Best of luck gaining your confidence.
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post #8 of 16 Old 09-10-2014, 03:07 PM
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Delta,

I don't think your fears are all that unrealistic. I think they are born of common sense, which you might have a healthy dose of . I tend to be cautious about cantering on the flat, and an all out gallop on the flat worries me for fear of things leaping out of the bushes at us. why? 'cause it has happened. So, don't think it strange that yo uhave such fears. they aren't without grounds for existence.
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post #9 of 16 Old 09-10-2014, 03:34 PM
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I've always been a timid, anxious rider myself, which has only been increased as I've also had a few incidents that helped dent what confidence I had. I also hate feeling out of control, so naturally none of this really lends itself well to riding.

For me, what has helped the most is developing a more stable seat, and knowledge. This comes from various avenues: riding different horses, reading up on behavioral issues and how to deal with them, etc. The more tools you have in your toolbox to help you deal with a problem, the better prepared you'll feel to handle them when they occur. And, naturally, it's a lot easier to deal with these problems when you feel secure on the horse and don't have to worry about staying on when they misbehave.

After that, the biggest thing is just to get in more riding miles. Ride whenever you get the chance. This will help with your seat, and also just allowing you to relax more with the horse.

Also, remember to breathe. I try to make it a point every so often during my rides to check my breathing and make sure I'm not overly tense anywhere.

And you know what? It's all helping.

Riding: The art of keeping a horse between you and the ground.
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post #10 of 16 Old 09-10-2014, 03:39 PM
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Have a purpose on where you are going. I just did a cross country obstacle course and I didn't look at the obstacles I concentrated on remembering where the next one was. I went through blowing flags, tombstones, wooden bridge, water, etc and I didn't look at any obstacle nor did my horse. Look ahead and have a goal.
They tend to look where you are looking. If you are looking for something that may scare it they will look at that also.

So much of it is mental and you have to picture your self not shying and picture yourself riding a wonderful controlled gallop.
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