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.
So, CONFIDENCE = KNOWLEDGE + SKILL
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!