Every equestrian understands how dangerous and complicated horseback riding can be. No matter the discipline you choose, there are risks we take every time we swing a leg over a horse. Knowing the danger can lead to nerves and a lack of confidence in the saddle.
Whether your nerves arise from riding green horses, preparing for shows, or recovering from a fall, it is important to regain the confidence to improve your riding. Here are our top 7 tips to regain confidence in horseback riding.
Tips to regain confidence in horseback riding
Wearing a helmet
I know many barns enforce a helmet rule while riding, however, I also know barns who do not. A helmet is a necessary part of my riding routine as it keeps my head protected and keeps my confidence intact. If you do not already wear a helmet, I would strongly suggest introducing one to your routine. If falls make you nervous, a helmet will add the protection your head needs!
talking to your trainer
If you find yourself questioning your riding ability often, I recommend talking to a trainer about your concerns. If you are worried about your equitation, ask your trainer to talk you through a lesson or record a video of you riding. Go over your riding together and find highlights of your riding and where to improve. Communicating with a professional will help!
ride a babysitter horse
If a large part of your concerns while riding revolve around the horse you ride, it might be a good idea to ride a made horse for a while. Riding green horses can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Talk to your trainer about riding one of the lesson horses for a week or two. Switching your young, green horse for a made lesson horse will bring your confidence back to where it needs to be!
This may seem strange, but this is my go-to tip for calming my nerves when riding. When practicing a test or working through a course, I say what I am doing out loud to myself and my horse. Not only does it remind me what I need to do, my horse also focuses on my voice and less on the random things he could potentially spook at. Just remember not to scream out your dressage test during a show! That will probably end with some strange looks on the judges faces!
spending quality time with your horse
All equestrians understand how important teamwork is with your horse. Understanding each other is the key to success within this sport. If you are losing confidence due to a few complications while riding you should try spending some quality time with your horse. Hang out in their stall, go for a walk around the property, give them a good bath, or something other than riding where you and your horse can bond. Groundwork is great for improving the relationship between you and your horse!
go back to the basics
If you find yourself getting nervous attempting new things when riding such as jumping higher, going faster, or anything you are not used to, try going back to the basics. Work on flatwork a ton! Make sure you are 100% confident in each gait when flatting your horse. If you aren’t perfectly confident while trotting your horse, you should not attempt to canter. An accident will hinder your confidence even more!
read “brain training for riders” by andrea monsarrat waldo
Though I have spent the majority of my equestrian life being the confident rider, I have had my moments of nervousness and outright fear to get on certain horses. Brain Training For Riders explains the psychology behind your brain when riding and how to overcome your nerves. If you are having any confidence issues when showing, riding green horses, or improving your own riding, I would check this book out now! It has changed my mindset for the better!
Ride with confidence
Fear is natural, especially when you are on top of a 1200 pound animal with a mind of its own. Do not let nerves or fear hinder the love and passion you have for horseback riding. If you are experiencing confidence issues while riding, follow these tips, and watch your confidence improve in the saddle!