Many riders have fears around horses. These fears can be rooted in anything from a nasty fall to witnessing someone else get hurt. Whatever the root of the fear, it can keep a rider from enjoying horseback riding to its fullest. Rather than pushing the fear away or trying to ignore it, a rider should take the time to understand what it is that scares them and come up with a strategy to overcome those fears. This article will offer some tips on overcoming riding challenges by breaking down the process into manageable steps. First, it is important to recognize that fear is a natural reaction that is designed to protect us from the things we worry about.
It is a good idea to look at what causes your anxiety and try to figure out if there is a physical reason why you are afraid, such as an injury or an illness. In most cases, though, the root of the fear is mental, and it is a response to the idea that something could go wrong. This is a perfectly natural response for our ancestors who lived in a world of “eat or be eaten.” It is not uncommon for a novice rider to develop a sense of fear around horses, especially as they progress in their lessons and begin competing. The challenge for the rider is to learn how to control this irrational fear. Almost all fears can be broken down into a series of manageable bites. The goal is to start small and build up to the point where you are riding your steadfast pony without any major concerns.
It is helpful to find a coach who can help you break down the challenge into smaller chunks and provide some structure for your progress. Once you have a plan in place, it is important to follow through with the small steps. A common strategy is to have a friend or coach hold the lead rope while you are riding so that they can control the horse from the ground. This allows you to relax and regain confidence in the saddle without feeling overwhelmed by the possibility that you may fall off or be injured. Another way to conquer fear is to ride in front of people, such as friends and family members. It is a great way to regain confidence and prove to yourself that you are not the clumsy novice you may have been thinking you were.
If the fear becomes overwhelming, the rider can dismount and walk off of the horse, giving themselves some breathing room and allowing their brains to calm down. Almost any challenging situation can be broken down into smaller, “chewable bites.” The key is to be patient with yourself and allow your body to recover from the ride. It is also important to remember that the thoughts and body language of the rider have a direct impact on the horse. Keeping the rider relaxed will make the horse more at ease as well.