Fear is a common problem for riders. It may be fear of failure, physical injury, judgment or a host of other things. It is very easy for riders to get stuck in their fears and therefore unable to make positive gains in their riding. In fact sometimes a rider’s fear will actually move them back in their progress. This can be very frustrating and become a vicious cycle. So how do you stop this?
One thing is to create a shift in perspective from focusing on self and the fear connected to the self, to the horse and its way of going and progress. I have found that when a rider refocuses their attention to how their?horse is going as far balance, rhythm and straightness that fear seems to dissipate. I ask riders what is going on with the horse and how they can make changes to improve the ride. As they do so, they open themselves up to feeling what is happening with the horse and learning from the horse and from the changes they make instead of expecting me to tell them what to do. They really get immersed in the process of analysis of the ride and the horse. That shift in focus allows them to shift their awareness away?from their fears as they are engrossed in understanding what is happening with the horse. It is amazing the positive changes that can occur.
It is important for trainers to not always hand the solutions to riders. It is better to help them keep their minds open to discovery about the horse and what is happening in themselves. A trainer who asks open ended questions to put the onus on riders, such as: “Can you tell me how your horse is tracking and what you can do to improve the ride? The riders will then begin to think for themselves. Once they have the basic skills they will see much more progress if they have to think for themselves. Then their riding will improve even when there is no trainer watching. The benefit from this approach to training will not only help riders get past their fears, it will also make them stronger and more independent. ?Remember that whatever you?focus on grows. So focus on connecting with the horse, understanding what is happening and developing feel. Grow your strengths instead of your fear.