I wanted to share a great experience I had yesterday. First off I’ve got confidence issues with my riding ability – old ghosts in the closet from bad choices and being over-horsed. I recently bought a new horse – a sweet older quarter horse mare that the moment I met her I knew she was the right horse for me at this time in my life and riding ability. So far she hasn’t proven me wrong. I board at a small private stable and the owner is the epitome of the western horsewoman. She is an accomplished horse breeder and trainer who is hard on the outside but a softie inside who cares very much about her animals and the horses she boards. She is an older woman that runs a stable, raises cows and keeps her place in top shape all by herself. She knows about my confidence issues and has helped by giving me advice. Yesterday I went to the stable to ride. It was a beautiful fall day and I would have really liked going on a nice long trial ride but I was the only one at the stable and didn’t feel confident going out on my own. But the owner is home and she is working on repairing fence. We talked for a few minutes and she suggested that I ride in the arena today to work on my confidence especially at the canter – my biggest fear. I could feel my heart rate go up at the word “canter”. She suggested that I do some long trotting and then work up to a canter. Sounded easy enough so I would give it a try. She said she would be close by just in case I needed some help. So with that goal in mind I tacked up my horse and went to the arena. We warmed up and then started some long trotting and up the hill where she is working I hear her yell – CANTER, CANTER. Her voice came as a surprise so before thinking I urged my horse into a canter. For anyone with confidence issues I’m sure you know how taking that next step into something faster was difficult, especially for me. But my mare easily broke into a nice rocking chair canter. I can hear her yell GOOD JOB KEEP GOING, KEEP GOING. I had a smile on my face and it felt great. We ended up cantering 3 or 4 times around the arena. We changed directions and repeated. I ended up cantering more than trotting. I have to say I loved cantering it was so much fun. But if it wasn’t for her I would never have pushed myself to try cantering. In my heart I knew she was watching me the whole time while looking busy repairing fence. For that I owe her so much gratitude! It was a huge step for me and my confidence grew immensely. I can’t wait to canter again!
I agree with SmartAlex! You are one lucky woman! BO's like yours are few and far between! Kuddos to you and your mare! And as for confidence issues, I feel your pain. Keep up the good work and I envy you.
Sounds like a wonderful teacher. She knew you were ready and just needed that boost of confidence.
I believe that when it comes to confidence issues a good teacher can make all the difference in the world. I know that has happened to me in the past. I have more confidence with a good teacher present than I do riding alone. I cannot figure why that is so.
But great going and continued cantering sucess.
I completely know where you are coming from with your fear of cantering. Not long ago, I had the same issue. I would literally have a full-blown anxiety attack if the word "canter" was uttered while I was riding. I rode with a clinician from Sweden (whom I have know since I was a teenager) and he asked me to canter (not really knowing about my fear) and I had a panic attack in the middle of the arena (was not able to breath, hyperventilating, shaking, etc). It was embarrassing to say the least due to the spectators, but he simply stopped the lesson and had a talk with me at the far end of the arena (out of earshot of everyone watching). He told me to get mad at myself for allowing the fear to grip me the way it did and to simply "not allow it." It sounds harsh, but it really was what I needed. He did not push me to canter that day, he just said one day I would decide for myself that my fear of cantering was crippling me and I would get mad enough to "just do it." He said I was better than that and I needed to have faith in my abilities. My homework was to set the bar higher for myself and to just picture myself riding the canter until one day I felt comfortable enough to simply ask my horse to pick it up. I now canter and enjoy it (it really is my favorite gait to ride). I still remember the day I decided to take over my fear and my riding, and it still brings a smile to my face.
And you know what else? Several rides came up to me when my ride with the clinician ended and told me they really felt for me. They shared with me their stories of fear (some had the same fear of cantering as mine, some just had a fear of riding in a new place, etc). I for a long time felt very alone in my fear and after that day, I realized a lot more of us have "issues" than I ever imagined (some of us are just better at putting on a "brave face").
Good job and many wishes for more wonderful rides filled with lots of cantering!!!! YEAH!!!!
Her voice came as a surprise so before thinking I urged my horse into a canter.
Congratulations on cantering!!!
The bolded item is the key that reduced my fears! I would process map the entire "how to cue the canter" and it would always end up as a extremely fast trot into a fast canter making me tense and squeeze to hang on then he would fling his head up which made me panic more. Also thinking that it would happen like that made me not want to do it. The less I thought about how to get him to canter the smoother the transition went.
Thanks for this post. This will be me soon - I know it! I have a crippling fear of riding. I've ridden in the past, ridden well and at high levels. Some dumb moves on my part, bone breaking injuries and dishonest horses and owners caused me to take a long break from riding. I'm working up through w/t again, but find myself stiffening and bracing in fear to canter or jump again. You are not the only nervous nelly out there, but we're all going to get the best of our anxiety!
Doesn't if feel great to face down a fear? Kudos to you and your BO.
I'm in the somewhat same boat as you. I did W/T on my new horse for over a year before feeling ready to canter again. I actually posted here last week about my fear of cantering to the right, my less-balanced side. Because I was getting into a habit of only going left, my mind got screwy just *thinking* about tracking right.
Fortunately, I got some great advice right on this board, and the other day I did a few strides to the right and did not, in fact, die!
Congratulations!! That is real nice. I used to be comfortable at all gaits on horses before I had a bad tumble at the canter and bruised my ribs and was out for a while and it took me along time to get over the canter-very long time. Trot I was ok-but canter and I would just freezing up and with an ex track Arab mare whose favorite gait is canter and/or gallop-not a great move. But I remmeber my first canter after the fall on her that I voluntarily asked and got-it was beautiful. Congratulations-nice horse and nice barn owner and have fun -I love to canter now
Sometimes I get scared of jumping or riding a new horse and I feel like i'm the only one who is ever scared and its nice to hear that I'm not the only one. It's especially tough when the 10 year olds around me are jumping bigger jumps and doing harder stuff than me.
Congrats!!!! Sometimes all it takes is another person having the confidence for you...
Yay for you!
I share the "fear" as well. What really helped me was someone holding a lunge line in the ring for my first cantering sessions with new greenie. It was like having training wheels, a real confidence boost for both myself & unbalanced horse. After just one session like this I was ready to try it on my own without the line.