So I have frequently spoken about my nerves when horse riding on this blog and I thought it might be worth exploring what I consider a nervous rider to be. I think I might have always had this mix of desperately wanting to ride horses as a child and also being a little worried once up there. My vivid memory of riding when I was wee (reckon around six or seven) was when the saddle slipped on the Shetland pony I was on and we took off around the school with my saddle at an incredibly jaunty angle 🙂 Apparently I was happy to go back the next week, I think my dad who got to watch that episode wasn’t as keen! I stopped riding there after a while and it wasn’t until I was eleven that I rode again, at a different stables. I learnt to do a bit of canter work and was happy pottering around – I remember my favourite ponies being called Merlin and Aztec. The stables were a 3 mile bike ride from our horse, which seemed ages away when wee but still I enjoyed it. We stopped riding there after an unfortunate incident when leading horses to a field and that actually ended my interest in riding for around twelve years, I only came back to it in my mid-twenties when a friend suggested giving it a go again and I have loved it ever since. From the slightly nerve-wrecking first stables we went to, to the regular stables we were at for a couple of years to my most recent riding stables – all of them have taught me different things and have been interspersed with a riding holiday in Ireland, riding in various parts of the UK and riding through the desert in Egypt. Yup I well I truly caught the bug.
So where does all that leave me now? Why do I still have nerves if I had done all these things? Well I think my nerves stem from a lack of confidence in my ability. I never quite feel that I am very good or even competent at riding, which is a little daft when I think about what I have done. Mr Inelegant Horse Rider asked if it was related to the idea I might fall off and that I would just have to accept that I might fall if I wanted to continue to ride. But as I explained to him I don’t think this is the case. Firstly, I have fallen off a few times and while not remotely enjoyable it is a useful learning experience then secondly, if I thought like that there would be no point in doing something like horse riding – you will fall off, the law of averages tells you so 🙂
I tend to get lost in my nerves when they come on, I tense up and start to forget everything I know. I also hold my breath and hunch forward, all of which do not make me a balanced rider at the very point I need my balance. I get frustrated and then play the various lessons and hacks where something has gone wrong over and over again to think what I could do differently, while that is useful in one way it doesn’t particularly help me as I don’t ride everyday and a horse has a mind of its own. Meaning that rather than being able to session a particularly gruelling hill running or cycling to test out my new method of coping the horse may be in a totally different mood (or in my case a totally different horse) which means I can’t simply expect the same events.
So what can I do about it all? Well to begin with I really need to do my breathing exercises again then….well to be frank who knows. I plan on having a lesson today and a hack on Saturday – I will try not to be too hard on myself and instead just keep focusing on the fun aspects and the learning, I hope to take some pictures on the hack this week. If I find the perfect cure for my nerves I will let you know, actually I would be shouting it from the rooftops, but I know that is unlikely instead I think it will just take some hard work on my part to stop my brain reverting to nerves and tension when I think something is going wrong. In the meantime I will continue to be a nervous rider who pushes herself while all the time being pretty inelegant 🙂