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How do I get my confidence back?

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  • #21
    OP, I thought of you today as I trotted my TB around on a 22 degree windy morning. There are some animals nearby that he believes are demon spawn, so I always have trouble getting him past one section of the ring even if it's a perfectly warm day and he's in his best state of mind. Today he was more like a fire breathing dragon. The first time past, I almost got whiplash as he jumped sideways to quickly. The second time past, he knew I was waiting for it, and answered by spooking again. I then resorted to what I told you. As I went around the far side, I opened my shoulders, stretched tall, and turned my palms to the sky. I told myself we are both brave, and he trotted calmly past the demon spawn. This posture stuff really does have an affect on both your brain and your horse too.
    "Do what you can't do"


    • #22
      I suppose I'm lucky. I've never been a fearful rider, but I've been around a lot of new riders and re-riders that have.
      I couldn't quite tell what you're afraid of, but I would recommend going back to where you're comfortable and when you're ready to try trotting or cantering, have a trainer and/or someone you trust have you ride on the lunge line.

      Riding in full tack on the lunge line will help with fear of the horse bolting/bucking/rearing/getting out of your control because someone else is ultimately in charge (use a chain over the nose if you're that worried). You don't have to be as afraid of falling off because of balance issues, since someone else is steering and controlling the pace of your horse, you can focus on you. I think you'd enjoy it. I enjoy doing it bareback just to work on balance.

      Also, you might look on the web at Dr. David Illig's self hypnosis & subliminal learning recordings. I've used his peak sports performance and relaxation for years and swear by them. I'm sure he has something that would be a good fit for your situation. Plus, it's easy and it can't hurt to try.

      Best of luck to you. You'll do great!


      • #23
        Let me second the idea of being fit(ter). I am 64 and started using elliptical at gym to get in shape. I found that doing it without holding on to anything REALLY strengthens your stabilizer muscles. It feel like riding a unicycle. Over the course of two months, I have worked up from holding on for 30 min, to being hands-free for 5 min at a time, hands on for 1 min, and repeat for 30 min.

        And.... it really makes a difference in my riding. Who knew such a small amount of time could have this effect? I suspect it keeps my posture more upright.

        The second thing I would suggest is to have someone video you. Someone did a video of me when my horse was acting up, going in reverse, lifting a little in front. Riding it felt serious, on the video it was silly - you could see how my horse was just resisting a little and only needed me to be insistent -- which later in video did happen. But it reset my mind as to how that disobedience might turn out, it isn't threatening at all now. And strangely, it seemed to have stopped, too.
        Last edited by BlueDrifter; Feb. 18, 2020, 09:40 PM.


        • #24
          i'm just now 'coming back'. I have 10 equines and i'm starting on walking my sturdy, short reasonable gelding. All we do is walk. But through challenging situations....across the cattle pasture, out to check on the rams (who will come running at us through the woods up to the fenceline) ...and into pastures and woods where he has not been before. I talk to him a LOT...mostly because it kinda helps me too. And since this good little dude has been bringing me home safe each and every time, i've gained confidence to a) ride my little ponymule around the farm b) ride my foxtrotter around the barn and through the yards and c) restart a young mare in the barn. Though we are doing babysteps...groundwork and practicing mounting and dismounting from everything. I am slowly gaining confidence with each tiny success. I'm going very slowly for myself. And i am proud of me.
          Consistency, Insistency, Persistency


          • #25
            I’ve always struggled with my confidence when riding. I do Eventing and after I had a rough couple of events, I hit rock bottom and thought it was the end. It got bad enough that I felt I felt hopeless and helpless to the point where I only did flatwork. Every time I saw a jump, I would get super upset. With the help of a fantastic coach, who I came upon at a clinic, changed my whole mindset around and it has really helped me. I think the first step is understanding yourself, knowing what is the problem, what you are comfortable with and what your goals are. I reward myself on little things like a good schooling session over smaller jumps. I think the biggest thing is to not compare yourself to others in situations like this because if you do, you upset yourself even more. To work my way back up to where my confidence was, I take lots of baby steps. Focus on relaxation, if you aren’t breathing, the horse isn’t. Reward yourself for small steps. A good and understanding trainer is also super helpful. When I can’t grasp a concept, being lunged helps. What I try to do for every ride is have a goal in mind that you want to accomplish, but don’t have expectations. If I expect things to always be good and they are mediocre, it puts a big toll on me mentally making me think I can’t do it.


            • #26
              Given what you said and you OP, you've gotten great advice here.

              My BOs got tossed on the trail last year and one was hurt. She has fear riding her opinionated horse. One thing I could do for her was simply encourage her to ride with me in the arena. We mostly ignored each other, but she knew I'd be there in case her worse thoughts came true. Can you simply school in the same ring with another rider you know will handle ANY situation that MIGHT come up? Or at least call 911? Just knowing that someone is looking out for you in real time while you ride goes a long way. Also, when I'm barnsitting, I text another boarder who lives a couple of doors down (sometimes the trainer) when I'm getting on and when I get off. I know that if I don't text back, and they don't receive it or answer my phone calls, they'll swing by to make sure I'm OK. Just that knowledge makes me feel safe.

              I'm anal about this because 2.5 years ago, I sustained a TBI when my horse fell with me and spent 12 hours overnight in the arena until I was found. I don't remember anything, which is likely why riding again after 3 weeks in the hospital and time off wasn't scary. But my horse peeps were great. Please reach out to your horse friends to either ride with you or read a book while you ride so you can regain your confidence. Also, I know money is tight, but consider riding with a trainer or having a trainer ride your horse so you can SEE that your horse is OK to walk, trot, and canter without fuss. Seeing this can go a long way in building your confidence that chances are your horse is fine with you, too. This can really ease your mind.

              While you haven't been injured, the fear and/or insecurity seems to be the same.

              I wish you the best of luck, and so many of us have been in shades of your situation!
              Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


              • #27
                As you have said that you have ridden piaffe and tempis then I presume you know how to properly lunge a horse in side reins.

                If you do not, now is the time to learn and yes you must be taught - it is not side reins that kill and maim horses, it is incorrectly used side reins that kill and maim horses.

                Lunging him means that he will be worked and become a solid citizen. You don't lunge for long
                10 minutes equals 1 hour of riding.

                Seeing your horse become quiet on the lunge will help you immensely.

                Hop on and walk. Long and low. Collect up. 3 looped serpentine, 4 looped serpentine, halt transitions, turn on the forehand, leg yield, shoulder-in, half pass, pirouette, spiral in and spiral out. 20 m circles on the 4 tangents of a 20m circle. Transitions within the pace

                You keep up doing that until you are bored and want to trot. You can repeat most of that in trot. You can add in halt trot and trot halt. You can start asking for half steps.

                You stay in walk and trot until you want to canter.

                The correct work on the lunge will work the correct muscles. Staying in walk and trot will improve the canter even while not cantering.

                Rinse and repeat daily if possible. It doesn't matter if it takes 7 minutes, 7 days, 7 weeks or 7 years.

                He will still get cantered on the lunge. If you want you can be lunged on him. You can canter with the lunger asking for the canter. Him in loose side reins. Your reins attached to the lunging cavesson, not the bit.

                You can have lunge lessons without stirrups or reins.
                It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.