1. Get yourself in shape
Is there a part of you that worries about what may go wrong when you’re on horseback because you think your body is too frail to ride?
Some things are beyond our control, such as past injuries or asymmetries in our bodies that might create issues. However, when we are in good form, we can compensate for a lot of our flaws.
As a result, try increasing your strength, endurance, and other types of exercise. Work on your reflexes and balance. Every area of your fitness that you can enhance will help you gain confidence when riding in order for overcoming horse riding anxiety.
2. Increase your riding time, not decrease it
If you’ve been nervous about cycling, you’ve probably been skipping more and more rides than you had scheduled. If that’s the case, you’re avoiding dealing with your anxiety, but it still exists.
Worse, it is dictating your behavior and stopping you from doing something you enjoy. Getting back in the saddle is going to be unpleasant for a time. It helps to realize, though, that feeling uneasy now and again isn’t always a negative thing.
The truth is that the longer you ignore riding, the more difficult it will be to get back into it. You’ll think of it as unreachable, and you’ll have fewer pleasant encounters to help you alter your opinion. However, if you ride often, you will have the opportunity to show yourself that you are a skilled and safe rider.
It will take some time, but your body and mind will ultimately catch the message, and you will feel calmer before and throughout your rides.
3. When you’re not in the saddle, spend more time with your horse
How much time do you spend with your horse while you’re not riding? Do you simply do the bare minimum when it comes to feeding, bathing, and grooming your horse, or do you spend social time with it to acclimate it to your presence?
It’s best if you spend as much time as possible with your horse. However, if you only spend time with your horse when you ride or work with him, he may come to associate you with low-grade worry, tension, and stress. As a result, you may have a feedback cycle that makes both of you more apprehensive.
What are your options for dealing with this issue? The perfect approach is to see if there are any regular tasks that you perform in a relaxed frame of mind that you can accomplish while riding your horse.
If you read the newspaper every day, for example, instead of reading it at your kitchen table or in your recliner, consider taking it to the barn and reading it while sitting next to your horse. Both you and your horse should grow to feel more relaxed around each other as you engage in these peaceful activities with him.
4. Setting reasonable goals for yourself
While it’s OK to maintain your current level of performance, you’ll want to push yourself to become more advanced. But here’s the thing: if you establish objectives that are unrealistic for your current skill level, you’re only setting yourself up for failure.
Some of us do it on a regular basis. In some situations, it might simply be that we have a tendency to dream large. In other situations, we may be sabotaging ourselves because we were taught as children that we are failures, and thinking that is less frightening than altering our perspective on ourselves.
However, the more ridiculous objectives you set, the more evidence you’ll gather that “proves” you’re a bad rider. With time, you will get increasingly worried as a result of this. The key is to think carefully about the objectives you’ve set for yourself. They should be simply one or two levels beyond your present skill level, not several.
If you’re having trouble doing this, you could find it helpful to ask a trainer or another rider who knows you well and is familiar with your ability level for input on your potential objectives. Even if development is slow, at least you’ll be making progress and gaining confidence along the way.
You will “prove” to yourself that you can accomplish it rather than “proving” that you can’t do that you can be overcoming horse riding anxiety.
5. Replace any worn or outdated tack you’re using
Are you still using obsolete equipment? Are you wearing clothing that does not give adequate protection when riding? Are you in need of some safety gear? All of these are reasonable grounds for riding anxiety.
Riding in worn-out gear is dangerous. So, in this situation, ignoring your worry is the last thing you want to do. Instead, go out and get the right equipment and make sure all of your tacks are in good working order.
You should feel less nervous when riding at this stage, and you will be safer. Check out these symptoms that your tack isn’t functioning if you’re not sure whether it’s yours.
6. Relax to help your horse relax
Do you fear riding in part because your horse appears to be frightened as well? It’s possible that the horse’s body language is the cause of your anxieties, but it’s also possible that it’s the other way around.
Horses have the ability to sense our emotions. As a result, when we are worried, they may begin to reflect our worry. It’s possible that you’re the one who’s making your horse frightened, and if you can calm yourself down, your horse will follow suit.
Of course, you may still have difficulty doing so. But knowing that we can influence our horses’ behavior by regulating our own emotions might sometimes be enough to motivate us to take action. To help you get started, we’ve included some helpful hints for soothing an anxious horse.
7. Use positive self-talk instead of negative self-talk
This is something I’ll never understand! Why did I believe I was capable of accomplishing this?
Do you often tell yourself stuff like this? If you do, you’re intentionally convincing yourself that you’re not capable. And if you think that, how could riding on a horse not make you nervous?
Be on the lookout for this kind of self-talk. We are often unaware that we are doing it. When you notice yourself doing it, replace it with positive self-talk.
As an example,
I know I can do it just as well as any other rider; it will just take some time and practice for overcoming horse riding anxiety.
8. Make a list of the things that terrify you and refer to them from time to time
Writing down what you’re scared of is a good way to deal with a wide range of worries. This can be beneficial in a number of ways. To begin with, when we externalize our ideas, we are telling our brains, “It’s acceptable to stop going back to this.” We’ve put our ideas down on paper.”
Second, we may review our lists later to see what transpired with the items that worried us. Often, we will find that we did not have those experiences or that we were able to handle them better than we anticipated.
Try keeping a list like this for a few months, writing down anything you’re afraid of happening while you’re riding. Then take another look at it. It might be encouraging to realize how few of the things you were afraid about really happened (perhaps none).
You could even discover that horse therapy is a wonderful way to help you overcome certain anxieties in a safe environment with more expert assistance.
9. Practice deep breathing exercises
Breathing exercises, when done correctly, can assist to relax your nervous system, which might be beneficial if you’re suffering a panic attack. There are a variety of breathing exercises that you may attempt. Some people are more adept at some forms of breathing than others.
In any case, here are some broad suggestions:
- Breathe via your diaphragm rather than your chest. The secret to taking deeper breaths with less effort is to do so this way.
- If you breathe excessively quickly, you may have hyperventilation.
- Spend less time inhaling and/or holding your breath than you spend exhaling (with lungs full or empty).
Some people like to meditate on their breath, while others prefer to perform an activity without really focusing on it. Whatever works for you is what you should do.
10. If you need to, slow down
Dealing with anxiety may often be as simple as charging ahead and confronting it straight on, doing something that terrifies you. However, this isn’t always the greatest option. It’s quite OK to take the other way if you feel it is beneficial.
Consider taking it easy. Stop putting pressure on yourself to take on the next task, no matter how frightening it may be. Rather, get acclimated to riding at your present skill level.
As you continue to ride successfully, you should gain more confidence in your skills. Eventually, you may find that progressing to more advanced riding seems less intimidating.
If people are pressuring you to ride at a higher level right away, remember that it is you who is getting into the saddle each day. And you’re doing great without exerting too much effort. The only person to whom you must answer is yourself for overcoming horse riding anxiety.
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