An owner’s guide to beating stress

  • Research shows that any change, whether of a voluntary nature or enforced, leads to increased stress. Accepting that change is inherently stressful can be the key to managing it effectively.

    A new horse

    Why do we get ourselves into such a turmoil when buying a horse?

    The easy answer is that we put the pressure on, subjecting our carefully chosen companion to our ambitions, our abilities and our previous riding history.

    Take time to learn about your new horse, his capabilities and his character. If you’ve found that ‘trustworthy all-rounder’ you were looking for, don’t just assume you’ll be able to turn him into a Wembley champion – capitalise on his strengths and help him with his weaknesses.

    Another thing to remember is if things don’t work out you can change your mind – two months or even two years later.

    A new instructor

    Learning to work with a new instructor is difficult. To establish a successful partnership we have to confess our ambitions, reveal our riding imperfections, and learn a new language of communication – one person’s ‘legs on’ can be another’s ‘don’t work so hard’.

    It may help if you remember these points:

  • You’re having lessons to improve your riding. You’re not meant to be the expert and at least you’re trying to get better.
  • Your new instructor is probably equally nervous about working with you.
  • If you don’t understand what’s being asked of you, stop and ask. It’s part of your instructor’s job to explain things clearly.

    A new yard

    When you change yards, smooth the transition with a bit of forward thinking. Misunderstandings can result from a lack of communication – with the yard manager or with the other liveries. So, before you move, it would be useful to clarify your expectations.

  • Find out how the yard usually works – for example, what happens if you can’t get down to ride one day?
  • If you do want to complain about something, or have a question, is there a particular person you should liaise with?

    And if you do have to complain, make it a positive comment with the possibility for a mutual solution.

  • Build a relationship with the other horseowners – remember other people will feel shy too.

    If you really don’t like the yard, leave – you’ll be unhappy and unpopular and the way you feel will affect your horse.

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