So, the last time I wrote, (see my last post) it was on a subject that I personally have battled with. It appears from the feedback that sadly many of us suffer from rider nerves. I thought I would continue with this theme in the hope that by sharing my experiences I may make other nervous riders feel less alone.
Baby Steps….. break those rider nerves down…
My key point today is that however hard at times my battle with my nerves is, I keep going. I persevere with it and make small baby steps. Things are always easier when you break it
We can all make a zillion excuses to avoid the scarier situations, but we have to aim to push past that and build on our confidence.
Excuses aside, some days I have just gone for it! I have tacked up with no one around and went for it. It may have only been a small achievement, hacking around one field at a time. But, I did it. I really do think it is worth celebrating the small wins too!
Each time I have taken that small step with my horse riding, it has paid off. I have been able to slowly push past my comfort zone and chip away at my fear. Sometimes it seems like I will always be in the nervous nellies gang, but other times I feel like I am gaining back my control.
Knowing that other horse riders face a similar feeling to me at times, helps me push forward and want to help others too.
I always feel more confident when in the arena, so I know that hacking is the area I need to improve on. I want to feel braver and enjoy the hacking more, so that is where I will focus my attention on improving!
Having the right conversations…
I look back at a lot of my riding experiences (the scary ones) and it comes down to the conversation between me and my horse. When the conversation wasn’t flowing it was usually because I felt at risk that a dangerous event may occur that could hurt either me or my horse. The fear of the event shut off any communication between me and my horse. The conversation can be a subtle experience – some people aren’t even aware of the fact that the horse they ride lacks the ability or confidence to speak to them! I certainly didn’t realize how much my own horse relies on me to give her confidence and positive conversations. I’ve had it the wrong way around for so long. I have always looked to the horse to give me confidence.
Being Present and Listening….
We as riders listen to our horses through multiple cues – their posture, their movement, and the ‘feel’ they give us. Horses listen to us as riders via our own posture, our tone of voice, body language, and our aids. For me, my horse feels my emotions too, which means feeling my fear.
I know the minute my nerves kick in my body language changes. When the horse spooks, I turn tense in the saddle like my body has frozen and I want to curl into the fetal position! I know I can’t just switch off the nerves like a button but each time I ride, I try to breathe more and become more in tune with what my body is doing. I’m learning to recognise what signal I’m sending to my horse, whether it is good or bad, it gives me a chance to change it.
There are a lot of things to think of to make positive changes that will aid in improving confidence and in turn the conversation with your horse. Breaking it down into small bite-size chunks is making me personally feel it could be achievable!
Sadly, no huge achievements to report as of yet we are still working on it. I have been able to hack around a few of the fields at the farm without wanting to jump off and lead my horse back home!
I will keep you all updated on my progress and would love to hear about yours.
Thanks for reading