Naturally Bad? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 05-24-2019, 07:25 PM Thread Starter
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Naturally Bad?

So I've been riding on and off my whole life, and have been seriously back at it for a year now, but I just feel like I'm hopeless at riding.

I can walk and trot, and I used to be able to manage cantering before a bolt and fall in February, which also killed the only thing I had going for me; my confidence.

Now I'm doing arena lessons every week (we used to do our lessons on treks) and I feel like I'm not making any progress, and I'm just staying in the same place. I feel like other people are just giving up on me too in having any future working with horses. I'm hoping that it's just the lesson horses, they're not used to working in an arena, but even then I feel like the only person who can't handle them. My instructor told me that I'm too soft with the horses.

I'm starting two lessons a week for the summer, and I'll be going to a camp for a week in August to help me. Is there any hope for me, or am I just naturally bad at horse riding?
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post #2 of 9 Old 05-24-2019, 07:33 PM
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I am sure you have plenty of room for improvement - I'm in the same boat, my fear is holding me back. (Had a nasty accident and been spooky ever since.)

Practice, practice, practice! Don't get discouraged. <3
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post #3 of 9 Old 05-24-2019, 07:47 PM
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IDK, I don't think there's really anything wrong with staying in the same place, if that is going to help you in the long run. If all you are comfortable doing right now is walking and trotting, then just walk and trot. Your confidence will come back in time.
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post #4 of 9 Old 05-24-2019, 07:57 PM
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I think getting to ride more is probably gonna help you a lot. Both with your skills as a rider but also your confidence. Don't worry about not cantering. It'll come when you're ready for it.

If you're not working on anything specific atm with your riding maybe you can ask your instructor for new challenges. Just smaller ones. Having something to focus on and experience that specific thing/exercise getting better, can help a lot with your confidence in riding. Even if it's not super difficult.
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post #5 of 9 Old 05-24-2019, 07:58 PM
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Well, every rider you watch and consider "confident" has had at least one fall, I bet. How you deal with the awareness of that risk will determine how much progress you will make, because making progress in horseback riding comes with increased risk because the speed will go up and/or the horses will have more "personality". I didn't come off in a bolt, but I did come off during a gallop (on an OTTB). The next two weeks I went on a tamer horse (because "concussion"), and after three weeks I was back on that mare doing shenanigans.

To this day, I have butterflies every time I get ready for a ride; twice that when I get ready for a ride on a horse I haven't ridden before. Part of my confidence comes from riding pretty regularly for almost 4 years now, another part from riding a variety of horses of ever increasing level of challenge. Another part of my confidence comes from the fact that I moved up gradually so as to not over-extend myself, but that I did make that next step when I was ready. Yes, it's "exciting" to take a saddle-broke Arabian mare for her third trail ride, but what you gain when you hop off after the ride and give her a smooch for being a good girl overall is Confidence: another skill set on the books, another series of challenges handled with more or less grace.
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post #6 of 9 Old 05-25-2019, 01:24 AM
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we are not all equal. Some people will go through the same number of spooks and falls, and continue on with nothing more than 'butterflies'. Others will be totally paralzyed with fear, and then most of need some recovery time.


For a while, your instructor needs to be telling you everything that you are doing that's good, or right. There's a lot , I bet, that you CAN do just fine.


These hard times will pass. I guarantee it. The best thing you can do to help yourself is to keep repeating that. "This , too, shall pass". and it will. please do NOT allow your negative voice to pass judgement, over and over again. If you catch it, smack it one! mentally, and say, 'down!" "quit! Now!" If you can be strong with your own internal voice, that is trying to sabotage you, you can be firm with a hrose that is being obstreperous.
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post #7 of 9 Old 05-25-2019, 07:03 AM
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Don't compare yourself with others. It is a constant temptation but it is absolutely counterproductive, when it comes to riding horses. Just do not do that. Riding 'off and on' rarely gives anyone a real education, especially if you never had your own horse. So don't kick yourself for not being farther along. It is hours and miles in the saddle that counts.

Some people are natural athletes, and those people may look a lot better than you in the saddle, but it isn't athleticism that makes a horsewoman.

You can't be "too soft" with horses in the sense of being too subtle and gentle, but you can be weak, fearful, and ineffective. Getting harsher won't improve your riding. Confidence and experience will. You may want to look for an instructor who does well with people who have fear issues. Not sure your current one does.
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post #8 of 9 Old 05-25-2019, 09:39 AM
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Riding is REALLY tricky. There's an enormous amount to get right before you can even really begin to learn how to be effective in the saddle. Some people have more natural balance than others, especially if they do other sports (surfing and gymnastics in particular focus hugely on balance, flexibility and core strength - three things that riders need!). This does not mean you can't learn to ride well. It just means that people who surf or do gymnastics will find it easier.

You can help yourself with yoga and pilates between rides, if you so desire. A bit of running also helps a lot.

But just focus on yourself and your own riding journey.
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post #9 of 9 Old 05-26-2019, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone!!
I'm hoping the extra lesson every week is going to help me, and I want to pick up pilates again to improve more.
I had a much better lesson yesterday, on a better "arena horse". My instructor is very good at helping fearful riders, especially since she specializes in therapeutic lessons. I think she meant I need to be more assertive with horses, which I should have clarified earlier. (I feel bad asking them to do things).
Hopefully things will get better!
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