Horse ownership should be enjoyable – especially in the summer, when the long, bright evenings mean lots of extra time to enjoy your horse. However, if your confidence has taken a knock, then it’s easy to find yourself dreading what should be a pleasurable experience. Here at Bridleway we have put together some tips to banish your nerves, and help you feel confident handling and riding your horse.
Horses thrive on clear boundaries, so take the time to decide what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable behaviour, then stick rigorously to these decisions. Be black and white, not grey, in your commands and expectations of your horse, and make sure that you use consistent commands to help your horse understand exactly what you want. It’s important not to let your horse do something one day that you reprimand him for the next, because this is confusing for him. When a horse feels frustrated, he’s more likely to exhibit unwanted behaviour, whereas if you’re clear and fair with him, he’s much more likely to comply with your requests.
If he’s developed unwanted habits, these will take time to correct, but keep persevering and soon your horse will understand what you’re asking and you’ll see your relationship – and confidence – bloom. While you’re developing your handling skills, make sure you’re properly protected – always wear sensible footwear, a hat and gloves when handling your horse. Why not ask an experienced friend to support you by coming to the yard to help you feel more confident in your authority and expectations of your horse? You’ll be surprised the difference it makes to have a supportive voice rather than struggling on alone.
It’s show time
For many of us, summer = shows. While you might be full of enthusiasm as you put your entry in, as the show day approaches, nerves can begin to creep in. From feeling rusty to worrying about riding in front of other people, not to mention whether your horse will find it all over-exciting, it can feel pretty overwhelming. The best way to tackle these worries is to break each task down into small chunks. Write down each of your worries, then list the evidence you have that supports that worry. For example, ‘I’m worried about riding in front of other people’. The evidence might be ‘other competitors will be watching me as I do my personal show’. Now think about what evidence you have to dispute that worry – for example, ‘most people are more concerned about their own performance than picking holes in mine’. You’ll soon see that most worries are irrational and while they might still exist, it will be easier to stop them spoiling your fun.
Change your route to your goal, not your goal itself
Even top riders sometimes have a crisis of confidence. But don’t let it put your off your goals. Just change the route you’re using to get there. Break down tasks into small steps, write them down and tick them off as you achieve them. It can be really helpful to enlist the services of a good instructor who understands your worries and can help support you to in your aims, building your confidence by challenging, but not over-facing you.
Whatever your goals this season, Bridleway has all the kit you need for you and your horse to look the part and enjoy yourselves https://www.bridlewayequestrian.com/shop/