Ride with Confidence and Conviction
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Ride with Confidence and Conviction

Published by: Lisa Wright (4)
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The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that successful
riding is more to do with mental agility and attitude than the knowledge of and
ability to execute certain aids.  Of
course the correct aids convey to the horse what you want them to do, but a
rider’s attitude, conviction and focus is what sets them apart.  We’ve all known plenty of riders who don’t
look too pretty on a horse but nevertheless are effective and possess an
incredible amount of self belief.  There
are others who technically ride well and have a good “feel” for connecting with
a horse but are limited because of their own self doubt.  Dealing with the fear or anxiety gremlins is
perfectly normal when riding.  I used to
envy the “gung ho” rider who never seemed phased by anything.  Now I appreciate that that the majority of
highly capable riders are constantly dealing with varying levels of anxiety and
it’s how we deal with that anxiety that sets us apart.  
Experienced riders or anyone who has ridden for any length of time
will be completely dishonest if they say they have never felt a degree of fear
or anxiety when riding (even the bolder “gung ho” rider).  Ridinq
is a high risk sport and it makes common sense that anyone who engages in this pastime
should be mindful of the fact that the animal they are sitting on is faster,
stronger and more powerful than they are. 
And whilst you need to respect this fact, you certainly do not want to
be a quivering wreck on a horse – if a horse is frightened the last thing they
need is a frightened person on their back! 
Nothing makes for a more disastrous and potentially dangerous
combination!
Even the most placid horse is unpredictable at times and so requires
us to have our brain turned on and attention focussed at all times.  Being mentally engaged and fully aware of
what is going on when you are riding is essential.  If I recall the few times I have hit the
ground, it was when I had “zoned out”, was caught off guard or not paying
attention. 
I have had my share of bad experiences when riding so I am only
too well aware of how being “mindful” can turn into “utter fear”.  Whilst I know that “I just need to get on
with it”, it can take a while to rebuild confidence and riding whilst your
stomach is in knots isn’t fun.
The key to facing the fear is to acknowledge it, go back a few
steps and create a plan.  It doesn’t
matter if the next time you hack out all you do is walk – as long as the walk
is relaxed, purposeful and you are
in control. 
Ability to deal with fear is intrinsically linked to our belief
about our own abilities.  If you fear
that your horse may spook and spin when out on a hack, then firstly having that
vision in your mind will increase the chances of that actually happening and secondly
knowing and believing that you can handle the situation should that incident
occur immediately puts you in a stronger position.  If you know how to handle the situation, what
is there is there to be afraid of? We feel fear when we’re overwhelmed and
don’t believe we have the tools to deal with certain situations.
There will almost always be situations we know we cannot handle....yet.  For example, a couple of years ago any horse
that bucked would have had me on the ground. 
Knowing that I have to work on and improve my seat has meant that I am
better able to stay secure on a horse that decides to throw its self around a
bit.  If you feel insecure in the saddle,
go back to basics.  Have some lessons (as
I did) on the lunge.  It can make all the
difference.  If you know that you have a
good seat, you will feel more confident that you can handle just about anything
your horse can throw at you.........literally!
Do not under estimate the power of your mind.   Top riders use a variety of techniques to
keep their mind and attitude in tip top condition.  They train very hard and their mental
training is equally as important as their flat work and jumping. You might
think that a 4 Star Event rider is brave but interestingly they don’t see
themselves as brave - just well prepared for the event.  They are incredibly focused on the task in
hand and if they had any doubt about their, or their horse’s ability to get
round the course, they wouldn’t do!  It’s
about preparation, endless training and knowing that you are well prepared to
handle and deal with the challenge.  
Again I also acknowledge that once in the down-ward
spiral of losing confidence it’s hard to break free.  Therefore, it’s good to surround yourselves
with positive people who can help.  If
your trainer isn’t sympathetic and comes from the Calvary school of “just get
on with it” then find a new trainer!  You
will find that most trainers are sympathetic to loss of confidence as most
riders will have experienced it at some time or other.  Someone who understands, not belittles your
confidence crisis can help you get back on the road to more secure and positive
riding.  Set yourself small achievable
goals.  When I lost my confidence I made
it my goal to simply have fun riding – to ride with a smile on my face!  It’s amazing what smiling did for my
confidence.  I started to act like I was
having fun and before I knew it, I was!  
Not all people can ride
all horses.  A coach once said to me that another thing
top riders are good at is “they know what horses suit them and the horses they
can get the best out of”.   Knowing
whether you have the right horse for you is important.  If the horse you have is “too much horse” or
you simply do not get on then it might be time to move him on to someone
else.  If the challenge you have is well
within your ability and you have the resources to deal with it, then stick with
it.  Persistence pays dividends and you
will have a stronger bond when you have accomplished your goal in spite of your
challenges.  However if your horse
consistently undermines your confidence, opt for some lessons on a tried and
tested schoolmaster.
It’s not only when riding that your confidence can take a
battering.  Quite a few years ago, I
purchased a horse that quite simply “fell apart” mentally.  I suspect he was on tranquilisers when I
viewed him because he certainly wasn’t the horse I thought I’d bought.  His behaviour was so feral; he was terrified
half the time and would lash out.  He
would have been a challenge to the most accomplished horseman and I simply
didn’t have the tools and skills to know where to start with him.  Lack of knowledge and lack of tools put me in
a vulnerable position and my confidence around him was compromised.  The last thing this terrified horse needed
was a terrified owner!  It took some time
after that to feel comfortable on the ground around even the sanest of horses.  It’s easy to feel intimidated by these
powerful animals if they barge, rear and are generally unruly.  Again having the tools and means to train a
horse through this is paramount.  I dealt
with my fears by enrolling on a number of courses whereby I would get to work
with accomplished horseman in handling and working with horses on the ground
and in the saddle.  There are courses and
organisations out there that can help. 
For more information visit hoofon.
Understanding horse psychology and body language are key
components to working with horses on the ground and under saddle.  Remaining calm, relaxed, focused are all
essential elements to handling and riding horses. With focus comes intent –
being assertive whilst remaining calm.
Being afraid is nothing to be ashamed of.  Acknowledge the fear and work with your
trainer to overcome the fear and address any lack of confidence.  There are lots of tools and techniques out
there and plenty of organisations and people who are willing to help.
“Bravery isn’t the
absence of fear but rather the judgement that something else is more important
than the fear”. 
“Courage doesn’t always
roar.  Sometimes courage is the little
voice at the end of the day that says, I’ll try again tomorrow!”
Happy Positive Riding.
Lisa Wright - About the Author:
 
Lisa Wright is
one of the founders of hoofon.co.uk. hoofon.co.uk is the Uk's 1st Equestrian
search engine that brings together horse advertisements from the main UK
publications into one convenient place. Currently hoofon.co.uk has over 15,000
horses for sale. Registering with hoofon.co.uk will allow you to save your
searches and your favourite horses so that you can re-visit at a later date if
required.
Lisa Wright has over twenty years experience of working with horses. She
currently owns a couple of horses and regularly completes at local and county
shows
Source: https://www.articleswrap.com/article/ride-with-confidence-and-conviction.html
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