Sports psychologist Debbie Percy shares her advice for building confidence from on board.
While in halt, breathe in for seven seconds and out for seven seconds, you should do this four or five times. This will help relax you before your ridden session begins and help you to get in tune with your horse’s breathing.
While working in your school or field or wherever you usually work your horse, take a long rein contact and ensure your horse is as relaxed and obedient as possible. Hold your whip lightly in both hands and if you feel confident enough, close your eyes. This will help you to feelthe lightness of the whip in your hands. Try this exercise in walk and allow your horse to walk where he wants in the school (as long as he doesn’t head towards the exit). This exercise will help you to relax your hands and encourage you to have a lighter and more relaxed contact with your horse’s mouth when you go to pick up the reins.
Smiling releases endorphins, so learn to simile when you’re on board. Even if you feel silly, exaggerate your smile and make yourself feel good. If you struggle to force a smile, then use a carrot in your mouth to help you achieve the smile you need.
Try non stirrup work to take yourself out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to ride any faster than walk, simply lose your stirrups and really try to ride with your seat. If you develop a more secure seat, you’ll feel even more confident when you get your stirrups back.
Finally, keep your training fun! Consider investing in a horse pillates ball, most horses love to have a kick around once they’ve got used to the idea. Keep a look out for fun new things to try to keep you and your horse engaged.