Fighting a Losing Battle?
When things go wrong what do you do? The chances are you decide you need to battle on, get your act together or try harder but sometimes it’s far more helpful not to.
If, like many other riders, you’re equipped with an inner nagging voice that makes you question every aid you give when things go wrong all that voice does is convince you it was right all along! OK, sometimes you are but you’re not useless! Sometimes it’s just a bad day and whatever you do isn’t going to help.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a determined character or a nervous one – deep inside you’ll have a voice telling you to get on with it or keep trying – but the more you try the more uptight you’re likely to get. Sometimes it pays to stop what you’re doing and do something completely different. There’s no shame in it and your horse will probably thank you for it! Come back to it another day and you often find there is no problem.
Nobody learns anything if they’re tense and you and your horse are no exception. When things go wrong the first thing that happens is your body tightens up. The minute you do that your horse does the same. No matter how many times you ‘come round again’ your body will get tighter and tighter and that never helps.
Have you ever noticed how when someone tells you to relax your body instantly tightens up? The same happens when you tell yourself the same thing. You can’t make yourself relax you have to BE relaxed! The only way to do that is to stop nagging at yourself or putting yourself down. Concentrate on what you can do for a few sessions and build up your confidence again.
Lessons are a great way to build up your self confidence but just because you’re paying it doesn’t mean they have to be difficult. It can be hard from an instructor’s point of view too – often they feel under pressure to improve a horse and rider – that’s why they’re there after all – but don’t be afraid to ask if you can have a lighter lesson. It’s your lesson, your time and your money. (And they’ll probably be as relieved as your horse!)
Confidence doesn’t have to mean nerve. It doesn’t mean you’re terrified it just means you doubt your own opinion. Go back to doing something you and your horse find easy – it doesn’t matter if that’s half pass or halt just do it! He’ll love the fact you’re asking him to do something he enjoys and you’ll both start to unwind.
Most people use the phrase “Practise makes perfect” but next time you ride remember the one that goes “Practise what you preach”. You spend your life working on ways to make your horse relax – right? Hold that thought …
Good luck and make sure you enjoy your schooling!
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