Whether you’ve had a bad fall or you’re just a timid rider, building confidence in the saddle can be very rewarding! It will make you a better horsewoman to ride without fear. Unfortunately, it can be easy to lose faith in yourself when you have a difficult horse or are pushed too hard or fast. Take a moment to slow down with these five tips.
1) Find a quiet horse: Stay away from the unpredictable horses and ride a trustworthy mount for a while. They will teach you tons in the saddle, but more importantly they will allow you a chance to get brave. The more you accomplish on a safe horse, the better you’ll feel riding.
2) Get lessons from an understanding instructor: Explain your situation to your instructor and let them know you’ve either had a bad experience or just need more time in the saddle. They should be understanding to your fears and help you work through them with fun exercises. You should be able to trust your instructor.
3) Ride on the lunge line: Your horse will be more predictable and have less chances of running off with you. You should be able to focus on building a solid seat and developing a relationship with your horse. Learn his movement and how to handle his behavior in a controlled environment.
4) Go back to the basics: Instead of consuming yourself with new exercises, mix it up. Go back to ones you’re comfortable with and add in just a few new concepts. There’s no rush, so go slow and enjoy the process. When you’re having a bad day, try simple exercises that you have mastered with your horse. Never push yourself too hard and don’t feel bad if you have to dismount and practice groundwork instead.
5) Find time to ride more: Riding more frequently and having good experiences while you do will definitely boost your confidence. Change it up and find different ways to have fun. Make friends at the barn to share your experiences with. Your rides don’t have to be long, but the repetition of riding frequently will help you develop a confident attitude.
Be truthful with yourself and know your limits. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It feels good knowing you have friends that are looking out for you!