Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

Last post 04-19-2012 12:51 AM by willstr. 38 replies.
Page 1 of 3 (39 items) 1 2 3 Next >
Sort Posts: Previous Topic Next Topic
  • 07-18-2011 10:36 AM

    Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

    Does riding make you anxious? Is there a confidence issue that keeps you from saddling up as often as you’d like? Do you crave advice that would help put fear and anxiety behind you?

    Horse&Rider covers this subject matter in the Confident Rider department. We’re looking for your real-life questions for our experts to tackle.

    Post your concerns/questions here, and we’ll make sure our experts receive them. You never know, your problem may be the one that helps ALL readers in a future issue!

    --The H&R Editors
  • 07-19-2011 8:27 AM In reply to

    Re: Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

    Riding doesn't make me anxious as much as bring out my inner perfectionist, which is very frusterating!!!! I struggle with feeling like I am always doing something wrong and that it is never good enough. This never keeps me from riding but it does keep me from doing some things and moving up.

    I do get a little anxious at shows because my horse is completely different at home. At shows he tends to buck on the hunter is really annoying!!!! He is so perfect at home and this has been going on for a while and never seems to get better!


  • 07-21-2011 8:33 AM In reply to

    Re: Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

    Good morning!

    Yes, riding makes me anxious...and it's my lack of skills that I have to blame. I'm a grandmother and didn't own my first horse until three years ago.   

    Growing up, going to "riding stables" and riding only wonderfully broke horses led me to believe that all horses were this way and life would be great owning horses and riding peacefully around my little farm would be a dream come true!  HA!  Not so, unfortunately.  I have two great horses, one a 23 yo Haflinger, and a former barrel racer QH, who I would love to be able to ride because he's fast, but gorgeous. 

    I've taken some lessons, but not enough, I guess, to conquer my anxiety of losing control of my QH who KNOWS that I don't know what I'm doing and takes advantage of me.  I panic and jump/fall off everytime he picks up speed or spooks at the same log he's seen everyday for the past two weeks.Hmm I see him (in my mind) as taking off at full speed with me hanging on for dear life and wondering if I'll be able to survive another fall! 

    I've been looking for someone to give me more lessons; I found a great teacher but his hourly rates were too steep for my, I'm still looking for someone to give great lessons at a reasonable rate, so I can learn enough to ride comfortably and safely. 

    Valerie - Greenville SC




  • 07-21-2011 12:34 PM In reply to

    Re: Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

    I deal with this issue everytime we have a scary set-back, like a bad spook or an unexpected fall. It goes back to a horrible accident at the age of 16, when I was thrown and broke my left leg in multiple places hitting a tree. The memory of the pain and fear can feel just as real as it was all those years ago. I really have to push through those emotions to overcome my fears.

    When something happens, I usually go back to basics, spend more time on ground work with my horse to get him really responsive, and then I fight through the butterflies and climb on up to work slowly in the arena, always trying to end on a good note and gradually working back up to faster work or more real estate. It helps to have a horse who understands and knows his job is to take care of me.


  • 07-21-2011 8:53 PM In reply to

    Re: Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

    Hi!  I took riding back up after 25 yrs not riding due to back surgeries. Im in my late 50s now. I started back riding in June 2008 and it has greatly made me a new person mentally & physically.  I took lessons from June, 2008 until July 2009, 3 times a week to refresh myself from riding when I was a teenager. August 2009 I bought my first horse which was completely trained & shown for barrel racing & poles & won alot. She is a paint/arabian. I have been riding her since but I have one problem which I believe is confidence.  I want to trot & canter without holding on to the saddle horn with my right hand.  I have read & researched everything but I dont know how to break myself of this.  (I have a barrel racing saddle) One thing I should note is that my legs aren't very strong but knees have pretty good strength.  Can someone please help me or guide me to working on trying not to hold on?  That is the only thing that frustrates me alot.  Could it be my balance isn't real good.  Never did much training in balancing in saddle without holding on. I do use both reins to control my horse. Thats how she was trained. My horse reads me better than myself I think. Would appreciate some help.  Thanks.  Brand new to forum.

  • 07-25-2011 10:22 PM In reply to

    Re: Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

    Sounds like me. I took lessons from this wonderful trainer and I held on to the horn for a long time. She didn't nag at me because she knew I was anxious and scared. After a few months, I started to let go and soon I was riding with two hands and not holding on with my hand or my legs. You should try riding at a walk using both hands with your feet out of the stirrups-that way you will see that you probably aren't very well balanced. There are many books, videos, etc that show you how to develop balance so that you don't have to hold on and aren't pulling on your horse's face.  Your confidence will soar once you see some progress and instead of your horse reading you, you will be running the show. Good luck! Riding at our age is an amazing feeling, I wish I had time to ride more often. 
  • 08-09-2011 4:59 AM In reply to

    Re: Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

    Ok, I'm resurrecting one of the riding confidence threads to vent a little. I have become sooo nervous and stressed about jumping. There is absolutely no reason for this, my horse is great. I've never had him refuse a fence, or duck out, or rush and get out of control. Its gotten to where I will put off riding if I am planning to jump. I spent a week fiddling with jumps and building a course and somehow I would just never get to tacking up. Yesterday I finally made myself do it, and I only jumped less than a third of the jumps I'd built, and just went over a couple cross rails and one log I am confident over. This is totally irrational. I started shaking before I even got on and was nervous even hours after I got off.  I really want to be able to do some low jumping at shows, and event at some point (beginner novice) and my horse loves to jump, I could see him perk up the moment I threw the jumping saddle on. I don't even know what I am so afraid of. Any advice?!
  • 08-09-2011 12:45 PM In reply to

    jumping confidence!

    I'd say keep doing what you're doing!  Build your confidence on the jumps you feel good about!  Work your way up if you want, but don't pressure yourself.  You'll get it!  Big Smile

  • 09-19-2011 4:20 PM In reply to

    Re: Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

     I can relate to the perfectionism complex when riding, and the nagging obsession of what is going wrong over what is going right.  However, lately it has been mainly external sources that have killed my riding confidence.  I am at a barn where people always talk about what others are doing wrong with their horses, and there always seems to be some sort of drama going on in one form or another.  Everytime I go to do groundwork with my horse (which they don't "believe in") or just ride around the arena, I know rediculous critiques and assumptions are being made about me and my horse.  I know that people are entitled to their own opinions, but it has gotten to the point where I get so anxious about possibly "proving someone right" and being judged, that is has actually affected my skills on the ground and in the saddle!  I have been doing this for years, and even spent some time in the show ring, yet somehow I have been reduced to an incompetent beginner.  Now every time I get in the saddle I doubt my abilities completely, and my horse seems to pick up on this lack of confidence. Moving to another barn isn't an option right now (limited boarding stables with drastic price differences), but I haven't figured out how to ignore the atmosphere and regain confidence.

  • 09-19-2011 7:34 PM In reply to

    Re: Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

     I was doing great, been riding 10+ years, have had this horse for 6, and had taken the time/lesson to build my skills and confidence, my horse's too...until a couple weeks ago, I rode in a lesson a few hours after the "earthquake" in this area - it was a real one, I never felt it and didn't think about it. Well, he was fussy and up (he can be energetic). I felt the energy building, I did lots of walking and halting and we trotted ok when asked. When we started cantering, he got the wrong lead, then fixed it himself then burst into a gallop and around we went. And around and around a very large ring about 8 times. I finally got him going in a circle and then could sit up and get a halt, after about 6 times around in a circle. Yes, it was partly me clutching on with my legs and I got him to slow down a couple times but then he would take off at a dead run. Well, it shook me up pretty badly, altho everyone said wow you rode that and didn't fall off.

     So I've been going slowly, just walking at first then trotting. Did a little cantering and it was fine. But always in the back of my mind is the 'what if he takes off" plus I've been frustrated with mounting costs of horse ownership and my confidence has been shaken. It took a long, long time to build to the point where I would canter a small fence. So it is very, very disappointing. And a friend who rides him is merrily taking him out on walks around the farm and I'm nervous about going out of the ring.

    And that's where I'm at. If it doesn't rain tomorrow night I'll take a riding lesson and see how that goes.

  • 09-19-2011 9:45 PM In reply to

    Re: Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

    Wow, I can relate to that. There are so many "experts" at the barn who are quick to criticize and judge. Some horse people unfortunately have the attitude that everyone is in competition instead of being supportive and helpful in a real way.  I have been fortunate to have a very supportive instructor and the people at the barn are very nice too. I would say if you can't change barns then try and go at a time when the majority of the "experts" are not there and just focus on you and your horse.  You pay your money and you have a right to be there just like anybody else and remind yourself that when you get anxious because of them, you are giving them power over you. Regardless of their beliefs or whatever drama is going on, you have skills and abilities that you are preventing yourself from using.  You can't focus on what you are trying to do if you are worried about some busybodies who don't mean anything to you, your riding or your life. You can do this!!
  • 09-22-2011 9:31 PM In reply to

    Re: Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

    wow, i can relate to the stressful boarding stable.  i have my own property, but, no facilities, so, i take my horse up the street to the boarding stable and i am very conscious of anyone watching--and it sucks, cuz, it makes my horse aware of anyone watching, so i am screwing him up and myself.....

     weird how we get these bad habits that affect our confidence.

    i have way too many myself.

    Gailforce -- Another old lady rediscovering her inner cowgirl.
  • 09-23-2011 8:06 AM In reply to

    Re: Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

     Eleanor Roosevelt once said,

    "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." That is so true. Find your inner "expert" - believe in yourself and shut off the nagging voices rather than believe them. 

     I've been reading Jane Savoie's It's Not Just About the Ribbons - a whole book on gaining confidence and confronting those inner voices that are negative and can ruin your life. There are ways to overcome this. 

  • 10-13-2011 3:35 PM In reply to

    Re: Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

     FCP - I second the Jane Savoie recommendation. That book or That Winning Feeling. Both are amazing sports psychology books.

    At my old barn, there was a horse that ran away w/ me when another horse spooked. Just to the end of the arena, but it really scared me. I asked not to ride him again (there were plenty of other school horses), and I didn't for several months. Then my instructor decided (and I had pretty much gotten myself there anyway) that it was time for me to ride him again. We had a great lesson, so much so that she was surprised. She asked what I did to get that great ride. I told her I had just reread Jane Savoie, and was riding "as if" that particular horse didn't bother me.

     Also, your goals should be much smaller. Set up those x-rails and just go over them a few times. If you are still calm, change the second to a low vertical (18" or 2'). For a while just work on gymnastics between 2 jumps. Or put one a a diagonal or in a spot where you can turn in either direction after the jump. If you have a XC course, just pick one jump and do it in both directions a few times. Work on other things that are important between the jumps - approach, rhythm, even strides.

  • 10-18-2011 6:09 PM In reply to

    Re: Help With Your Riding Confidence: What Are Your Issues?

    I get nervous because I know that my body isn't as physically as capable as it used to be!  I am in the process of making that change but it takes a lot longer than one wants!  I also get nervous because I really want to do well.  I am afraid I am going to do something wrong or give wrong directions.  Working with friends of mine and a trainer has helped me a lot to relax and just have fun!

Page 1 of 3 (39 items) 1 2 3 Next >
Featured Offers
  • Save 10% on the Best Selection of Books and DVDs Online at
  • Receive $5 off your next purchase of Safe-Guard Power-Dose
  • 100% All Natural Wunder Hoof is a Quick, Easy and Affordable way to a Strong Healthy Hoof; Build Thicker Walls & Improve Hoof Condition.
  • Keeping your horse's hindgut healthy can be a challenge, learn about Proviable-EQ a new product from the Makers of Cosequin.
  • Steadfast Equine - a uniquely different joint supplement. Visit to see the benefits of a more complete joint health supplement plan.