We asked Your Horse readers what weird and wonderful things they do to help overcome nerves when riding or handling their horses. This is what they said:
Highlander says: I always carry a mini plastic kitty – no idea why but I’ve had it a long time. I stand around before a ride and just watch for a few minutes. It calms my mind to the work ahead – it gives me confidence.
Kirstyndshaky says: I sing (very badly!) while I hack to stop the nerves, but I fit the lyrics to suit my horse Shaky (eg, Shaky Jakey, so good for me, Shaky Jakey you were dafter than I thought you could be). The farm hands all laugh at me but Shaky loves it! I have to leave the yard by a certain path, I have to brush his mane before anything else, I must use my dressage saddle to hack in, not my jumping saddle…
Smithy14 says: I haven’t got a clue why but wearing gloves while riding gives me confidence. Also singing and talking is good as it reminds you to breathe and also distracts your horse if there’s something for him to spook at.
Natalie.123 says: I always get very hot and stop breathing just before I’m ready to get on. I make myself take deep breaths and try to relax, which is easier said than done sometimes. I focus on the last really positive good thing I achieved with my horse. As stupid as it sounds, I took my horse down the driveway at the yard on my own recently for the first time, not even all the way to the end, but it felt such a big thing that I couldn’t wait to do it again.
Viki1 says: Taking deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth – it’s an old technique but does work. Forget to breathe and your body will automatically stiffen and the horse senses it. I also say repeatedly ‘I can do this’ inside my head or sometimes out loud.
Horseface888 says: I find singing really helpful. When I broke my horse in, that was the only way we could get away from the yard without the company of other horses. Now, whenever I feel her getting tense or nervous, I start to sing.
Kitty 111 says: I love XC but always get really nervous at one-day events so I have to have my lucky whip. It’s black but has a really pretty, sparkly, glittery handle! Also I never do more than three practice jumps before I go in to the arena for show jumping. I always do exactly three practices about one minute before I go in.
Meandthehorses says: I’ve no idea why but if I don’t get on from the ground when I ride I get all hot and flustered. I’m lucky Dolly is bombproof because I have to turn round and slide off her bum otherwise I don’t feel right.