If your horse can be fresh or spooky it can be a real knock to your confidence when he starts misbehaving before you’ve even got in the saddle.
BHS level four coach Stef Eardley explores ways to bring your horse back under control and regain your confidence.
It’s not uncommon for a rider to get nervous when they’re forced to ride a naughty horse, so eliminate the risks as much as possible by lungeing a fresh horse before getting on, or making sure he’s been turned out before you ride. Don’t over-do the lungeing – the last thing you want is to make your horse even fitter. A quick five-minute spin on the lunge to let him work off any tension should do it.
When you’re riding a fresh horse and feeling nervous, remember to breathe. Breathing deep and slow can help you calm down. Try singing while you ride to help you relax too.
Ride with others who can offer moral support and advice if things start going haywire. You’ll instantly feel more confident and many horses relax in company.
Ride and lead if the opportunity arises and you are properly equipped and competent enough to do so. You could ride the more sensible horse first and then swap over half way onto the more excitable horse. This will give the latter a chance to chill out before you climb on board.
Have regular lessons with an instructor you trust. It’s not a bad idea to let your instructor have a sit on your horse every now and then to get an experienced viewpoint on why your horse may be misbehaving, and what can be done to fix it.
Stress in your horse can manifest itself in many different ways, some of which are perceived as undesirable behaviour – such as being fresh or sharp to ride. Knowing your horse and being able to identify what upsets and stresses him out is a key hurdle to overcome.
For more advice on rider confidence, read the full article in issue 448. Back copies available here.
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