Riding Confidence

What’s it all about?

Why is it so easy to lose your confidence?

How do you get it back? Or is it just too late? Are you simply too scared/weak/female/old?

And the questions go on and on. We have all asked them from time to time and it doesn’t necessarily take a nasty accident to knock your confidence. It may simply be the passage of time or a horse you rode that just didn’t ‘feel’ right.

For me, CONFIDENCE is about knowing what will happen next. We can never be 100% sure about anything but we need to be clear about what the possibilities are.

CONFIDENCE is about knowledge – knowing how to teach the horse useful and safe behaviours and understanding how the horse learns.

CONFIDENCE is about skill – being able to apply the knowledge to make a change in the horse.


If I can work the horse on the ground and in-hand with the horse soft in the bridle, in-frame and paying attention then I can teach it all the necessary things to get my confidence to ride. While safely on the ground I can teach the horse to walk, trot and canter in-frame, light in the bridle and in self-carriage. I can also teach the horse to stop, turn and back up from the safety of the ground.

I don’t not get bucked off because I ride well (I couldn’t ride a buck if you paid me) I don’t get bucked off because I don’t ride horses that I am not confident about, i.e. horses that don’t know how to walk, trot and canter in-frame, soft in the bridle and maintain self-carriage.

Be careful of ‘tricks’. Tricks, like teaching your horse to move his hips to the mounting block for mounting (even if it also means he will stand still for a time there), will NOT make your horse safe to ride. My legs are SO short that I teach all horses this simple lesson (3 – 8 mins on average) so that I can mount from the fence or mounting block. I do like the fact that it also teaches them to stand still but the important things happen when we involve movement!

For the same reason, when I start a horse under saddle, I don’t ever get on bareback. Some horses only require one repetition to learn new things and I KNOW that if he steps sideways too quickly or pigroots (there’s a good Australian word = humps/bucks) the first thing I am going to do is grip with my legs and in all likelihood the next thing is land on the ground – scaring myself and my horse.

Next time I will look at the Foundation Lessons your horse needs that will make YOU a CONFIDENT RIDER!



  • Shavonda

    January 28, 2015

    I might be old school’ but full bridles are traditional. That being said I think the horse should wear what it goes best in. End of story.

    • kate@kandooequine.com.au

      January 28, 2015

      Hi Shavonda,
      I am not sure which bridle you are talking about but I imagine it is my ‘work’ bridle that has no noseband (or brow band or throat lash). You are right, full bridles are traditional, that is not ‘old school’ that is fact. What would be old school would be to say that all horses should wear full bridles because they always have done so.
      We are fortunate to live in an age where science can help us find out what is best for the horse and we no longer have to rely on ‘the way it has always been done’.
      Like you, I think horses should wear what they go best in and I have found ‘the less the better’.