We all know that our nervousness can interfere with our riding performance. When we become nervous, we might do things that we never would do and most of the time we don't realise we are doing it. We can do things like becoming stiff, gripping the reins, leaning forward and digging our heels into our horse's side. All of this leads to our horse not understanding our commands as clearly as he usually does. This can result in almost fighting with the horse to get through a course of jumps, a dressage test or any other event.
To get over our nervousness, it may take quite a long time but it is something that all good riders should try to learn to do. Essentially, there are three steps to get there; act, believe and become.
To make yourself act the part isn't something that comes easy to many of us, however it's important to learn to do as it helps us learn how to control our nervousness. With practice, try to get yourself to become less stiff in the saddle and to not grip onto your reins so tightly. You want to try to make yourself ride like you normally would when you aren't nervous.
Keep telling yourself that you aren't nervous over and over again not to make yourself more nervous, but almost to try to trick your brain into thinking that you aren't anxious at all.
The goal is that you want to make the others believe that you aren't phased by the task at hand. You don't want your nervousness to overwhelm you. It's okay to be a little anxious as long as it's not all that you are thinking about.
The more you act this way, the more you realise that it works. You slowly start to believe that there isn't really a reason to be feeling the way you used to in certain situations. As you keep pretending that things don't phase you, you'll discover that you have gained more and more confidence in yourself and your horse.
Make it a challenge to yourself to face the things that'll make you nervous to see if you can control it. Some things may take more time than others, but the more you expose yourself to things that make you uneasy the more you'll start to believe that you can overcome them. So whether it's attending more competitions or going on more trail rides, try to expose you and your horse to those things and believe that you will be successful at the end of it.
Eventually, you'll realise that you are not forcing yourself to control whether or not your nervousness overwhelms you and how you ride. It becomes almost like something you don't have to think about any more; like it's second nature.
This is the point where you should look back on how far you've come. Maybe your skills as a rider drastically improved or maybe the bond between you and your horse has grown stronger. Maybe it has even moved into other parts of your life and you've realised how much more confident you have become. Whatever it is, be glad at how far you've progressed and let that encourage you to keep pushing yourself.
Remember that your nervousness may never completely disappear. If it ever does come back though, it'll be easier to deal with because you already know how to handle it.
I want to wish you all the best in overcoming your nervousness while in the saddle. Take little steps in the right direction and you'll soon see that it wasn't such a big deal after all. Thank you for reading Pure Horse Sense and I hope that you will all enjoy your weekend.
Until next time, happy riding!