❑ Have lessons or attend courses to increase your competence in the saddle and on the ground. This makes it less likely you’ll feel out of control in any given situation.
❑ Ride the right horse for your skill level and avoid any who cross the line from challenging to scary. It’s not just your confidence but that of the horse that’s at stake here.
❑ Don’t be pushed into doing more than you’re comfortable with or riding horses who give you no pleasure. Your confidence depends on you making rational choices about which horses you ride, how and where you ride them, and what you do once you’re on board.
❑ Be correctly dressed and have suitable, well-maintained kit for you and your horse.
❑ Decide on your goals and be specific about what you need to do to achieve them. For example, if jumping scares you and you simply don’t want to do it, then don’t! If, on the other hand, jumping is an unfulfilled dream or an area where you’ve lost confidence, get out there and take lessons on a schoolmaster until you become confident and competent.
❑ Appreciate that other factors in life such as age, fitness and time will change your expectations, and this is quite normal. The older we get, the more we appreciate the risks we’re taking and the more nervous we become. Add a few doubts about physical fitness, equipment or life issues such as having young children, and the stress levels go right up. Be ready to adapt your riding so you stay in comfortable limits.
❑ Remind yourself of the good times. Ask yourself why you ride, be sure of what you honestly want out of it and make sure you’re getting it. If this means changing horse, instructor, discipline or livery yard, then so be it.
❑ Be honest about your limits. It’s within everyone’s scope to discover what they truly are and enjoy riding within them. For a few driven personalities, this may mean Badminton – for the rest, it can be that ride along the beach or jumping for fun with friends. Expand your comfort zone by all means, as long as it’s not at the expense of your confidence.