Progress Horse Confidence The Timid Rider
Confessions of a Timid Rider

Progress and Then…

Confession: Lately I feel I’ve been making such strides in my confidence under saddle. Then, suddenly, I’m not.

I was incredibly excited to get back in the saddle and begin working with Ferrous again. For months I could think of nothing else. I had a master rehabilitation plan, which I’ve started documenting here on the blog.

My fitness was lacking as was Ferrous’s. When I began riding him I felt confident in my slow and steady approach. While sometimes I balked at the idea of walking only for a few weeks, I felt a bit lazy watching others riding their horses in the same position as my own. I kept telling myself that I had a plan and I was sticking to it.

Rare photograph of me in the saddle!

Now two months in and we are both starting to felt great. Ferrous has gained muscle in all the right places and although we have a ways to go yet, I have no doubt that my approach was the right one for us.

This toppling is starting to look damn sexy! Slow but steady is proving very effective.

His new feed has made a big impact on his top line as well. The only side effect? He is definitely a little more spooky than usual.

Whether it’s actually the nutrition I do not know, but it could also be that we haven’t been doing as much desensitizing as we usually do at our new barn.

Always ride with a helmet. I was lazy and regret it.

The other day my friends came to visit and I quickly jumped on for a little walk around the arena, neglecting my helmet- something I NEVER do. I am a huge proponent for helmets and safety, I don’t know what I was thinking. When my friends arrived, I left the arena through the side paddock, which we had never used before. Immediately, he perked up and started looking around for a problem. He found one, with a car backing out of the driveway and gave a tiny start.

His spooks are generally small but again, with no helmet, I was unwilling to push him to be more confident and risk getting hurt. When he calmed down and the car left, we turned around to return to the arena.

I chalked it up to my lack of safety gear.

But then today something else, small happened. After our truly wonderful ride, I walked Ferrous out of the arena through the main gate and up the driveway. He was slow and look-y, almost hesitant. The bugs were pretty aggressive so instead of walking in the woods we chose to loop back around past the paddocks.

Wow. Ferrous was more spooky than I’d ever seen him. Startling at open gates, looking for horses to come charging over, ducking at wind in the trees. I mean, to me it was a lot because he is never so reactive. To most people, they would ignore it and keep riding as if nothing were to happen.

For those of you who question what a timid rider is, well, this is my example. I rode him all over the arena and really pushed him. We took a new route to cool down. And yet, when he started to act out of the norm I took the safe route and dismounted to walk him back rather than ride it out and risk potentially being thrown.

I’m sure I would have been fine and nothing would have come of it. Yet the “what if” scenario caused me such anxiety that I aborted my plan.

In truth I’ve been feeling less like a timid rider lately and more bold, like my tagline suggest. I’d thought I’d been making such improvements. Yet, it’s moments like these that reveal I will always take the safe route. I’ll push my horse just enough, but no further and risk something bad happening.

I’ve been invited to a local hunter pace, something I’ve always been curious about but never felt confident enough to join. Ferrous would love it. That’s the problem. For me, it’s an unknown. I don’t know the trails, how he would trailer, whether he would be forward and competitive with the other horses. So I take the safe route and choose not to go at all. Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out but I will take on a challenge when I’m ready. I still like taking baby steps even if sometimes it feels like I’m moving backward.

But you know what, I’m okay with being a timid rider. I don’t feel like I need to prove anything to anyone. I am happy, my pony is happy, and that is enough for me.

Thank you for reading and letting me vent to you. It’s not easy to share these things and I appreciate you!

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  • Liz Goldsmith

    Going to a Hunter Pace is a very good (and realistic) goal. Most have multiple divisions, including “leisure”, so you can take your time and go at your own pace. To get ready for one, find someone with a good Steady Eddie type of horse and enlist their help. If you are riding with another person, who’s horse stays calm, it can really help. My only other suggestion is to go toward the end of the ride. That way you won’t have other teams passing you. Most people are polite and will ask you if you mind, then let move off the trail, but that’s really the only thing that could cause your horse to get concerned.

    I had a bad accident a few years ago when my mare fell and I broke both legs and my collarbone. I gave myself managable goals — starting with a simple walk on the trails with a friend, and worked up to a pace event with someone I knew wanted to take it easy. Lots of timid moments along that path, but taking my time and keep safe helped build my confidence back up.

    • Heather Wallace

      Oh wow, I’m so sorry you were hurt but I think you give great advice. I met a group of women who have quiet horses and offered to hideout with me on the trails at my pace (which also happens to be their favorite paces) and enjoy a good hack.They were calling themselves “Over the Hilltoppers” and I love it. Now, to put on my big girl pants and get out there. I hope Ferrous is doing well enough on the trailer soon and Delight is under saddle more to take my own horses. If not, I will borrow a mount.

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