Most riders will have lost their confidence at some point in their journey with horses. Some for longer and more severly than others.
Author H U Owen, who writes under an alias, knows all about the process of losing and regaining confidence in the saddle. In her new book, ‘I hope it rains: the confidence manual for nervous riders’, she explains how she lost her nerve with her first horse, a “very handsome” gelding who was unsuitable for her level of riding at the time:
“My dream ended up being a nightmare in a matter of months,” shw explains in the foreward. “He took me apart, decked me at every opportunity and went out of his way to be naughty.”
“Eventually I got to the point where I was so scared that I asked a local instructor to ride him in the hope he might mend his ways. She was a good rider and said to me very bluntly ‘If you don’t give up he really will hurt you or worse.’ I reluctantly sold him with a very honest advert to a young woman who loved his quirks.”
The author’ s journey has been long and painful, but she finally regained her love for the sport when she loaned a 30-year-old horse intended to be kept as a pet.
“I now see that riding is a journey and not a destination and that however good you are, there is always room for some improvement,” she details.
“As an adult you have learned that you need to avoid getting hurt or being put out of action, not least because you know it’s unpleasant, but on a practical level, the bills must be paid and the daily chores must be done. With age supposedly comes wisdom and as a result, you almost certainly have a different approach from a child learning to ride. Kids, from my experience, watching my nephew and others at Pony Club, seem to just get on with it, gallop about, fall off, then bounce back on. They learn by doing, falling, getting back on and repeating, a lot! Miraculously, they don’t seem to be hurt or phased by these mishaps. Covered in grass stains or sand from the school, off they go again on naughty little ponies determined to unseat their riders at any opportunity. As an adult, this is not usually the case. We have developed much greater levels of responsibility, self-preservation and an awareness of consequences. It’s no wonder we have nerves when we are out of our comfort zone!”
Here’s are some snippets from the book, which can be bought on Amazon…
“There are hundreds of reasons we can find not to ride, but whether it is the rain or the report for Monday morning needs to be written, the kids are playing up or there is house/yard work to be done, the bottom line is this is the way it plays out and I bet you are reading this thinking “oh blimey, that is me”. You may want to laugh about it initially, but underneath the ‘armour’ of humour, understandably, you probably feel really upset and in some way lacking. We love our horses and let’s face it, spend a great deal of our money on them. Then to have the pleasure taken away by fear is awful and must be dealt with, as best we can, in order to strike a realistic balance to finally break the negativity and find once again the joy we have seemingly lost.
Perhaps you chastise yourself inwardly as you feel like a ‘failure’ or ‘useless’ or maybe it has shocked you that you are not alone feeling like this as there is a possibility you haven’t had it spelled out before, let alone admitted it to yourself how you really, honestly feel? Either way, you know the relief a drop of rain or other worthy reason can bring and this is the point of this book. To stop the emotional turmoil and be able to get back on track and enjoy riding, to bring back the fun and make you happy in the saddle so that you want to ride as often as you can without any unfounded worries.”
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“Before we get in to the exercises headlong, let’s look at excuses and reasons. I refer to procrastination, in whatever form it manifests (rain, broken down car, forgetting your riding hat) as a reason for not riding rather than an excuse. Simply, for nervous riders, it is mostly a case of desperately wanting to ride but the anxiety, worry, nerves, call them what you will, stopping them in their tracks. An excuse is, by my reckoning, something we don’t want to do or can’t be bothered to attempt, very different to someone who is crippled with nerves and “what if’s” not being able to ride.”
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