“I want to ride but I’m too scared! I want to so badly but I can’t. Please can you help?”
“I had an accident three years ago and haven’t ridden since. My friend says I can ride her pony and I want to but I don’t think I can. Is it possible to get your nerve back or should I stop trying?”
Worry not! Being scared to ride isn’t as uncommon as you think! I get loads of emails about it – and they’re not all from horse owners. If you’ve had a bad fall it’s not surprising you’re nervous – it hurts! What you mustn’t do is think you’re being silly because you’re not. You’re actually being really brave because you’re trying to get back in the saddle.
There’s no reason that you can’t get back on track and start to enjoy riding again but don’t be in too much of a hurry. The last thing you need is for something to go wrong. Never push yourself too much because you think you’re being stupid – that’s more common than you may think! Do tht and you’ll end up doing something yuo’re not happy about and that could make things worse. Even if you spent two months in walk it’s an improvement on not riding isn’t it?
Before you ride your friend’s pony I’d suggest you go to a riding school. I know the cost of lessons can be off putting but it will be money well spent. Just a few private lessons on a suitable pony with a teacher who understands your fear will really boost your confidence. Make sure you do have private lessons (half an hour is more than enough) so you don’t feel pressured to keep up with everyone else – and you don’t have to worry about anyone but you!
Why not ask your friend if you can help her with her pony? She might be glad to have someone who wants to do the grooming or mucking out. This would let you spend time around ponies without actually riding them. It’s amazing how that can boost your confidence.
Although you don’t have your own pony you can do alot without one. The top riders do alot of ‘positive thinking’ about riding without sitting on a horse. Try sitting down and imagining yourself riding. Think of how you would do it if things were going really well – imagine all the things you want to be able to do. Then imagine what would happen if something went wrong; imagine yourself as you’d honestly react (probably tensing up, looking down and tipping forward?). Then think of yourself sitting up and breathing, looking up and being a relaxed as you can – your legs pushing down not gripping up. The more you think of these things the easier it will be when you do ride. Trust me it really works! And it’s free! There’s a post on it HERE.
Often the more you understand about riding the easier it is when you’re on board so read as much as you can about the basics so that when you get on you have a few less things to worry about. There are lots of good blogs on my links page so take a look at a few – you’ll see that you’re not the only nervous one too! PONY magazine has a great website that is well worth a look – it has loads of ideas and things you can do on and off ponies.
There are a couple of my SYH booklets too which will help you understand the aids and the school too. http://www.schoolyourhorse.com/shop/syh-books/get-started-1-know-your-school/
There are some blog posts here about nervous riders (some are other questions too!).
Best of luck – and get out there and enjoy yourself!