Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Don't Hang Up Your Spurs!

Photo: www.theguardian.com

It's rare for us to go a week without talking to a customer who is recovering from a horse related injury. If you're in the same boat, you're not alone. Regardless of your riding acumen or your knowledge of horses, a day may come when you are involved in a horse-related accident. Hopefully, any injury sustained will be minor, leaving psyche unblemished and confidence unscathed.

But what can be done when your confidence has been totally shaken, leaving you anxious, or even fearful, of interacting with your horse? Experiencing fear and anxiety after an accident is understandable. Rebuilding your confidence is possible, so don’t hang up those spurs just yet!

The key is to go slowly and take your time; the journey of rebuilding your confidence begins by going back to basics. Grooming provides the most intimate one-on-one time you can spend with your horse. Your horse will enjoy the pampering and his relaxed state will also flow into you and begin to winnow away at your anxieties and fear. Daily sessions are best, as you will be touching your horse every day. Talk to him while you are grooming. Share with him what you are feeling. He won’t understand the words, but he will understand the language of your touch. You will see improvement with each passing day.

After you have become confident in your daily contact with your horse through your grooming sessions, another element can be added to regain further confidence. Begin working through basic groundwork steps. Re-visiting these steps reasserts your leadership ability with your horse and will do a world of wonder for your confidence. Leading, stopping, backing up, head lowering, bending, and stepping under are the basic groundwork steps to work on. As your horse responds, you will discover you are ready to try riding once again.

Choose a day you would like to once again mount your horse, and continue your basic groundwork sessions, but do so with your horse fully tacked. The site and sound of your horse in full riding regalia will allow you time to get comfortable with the upcoming date. Once that day arrives and after you have gone through the basics yet again, end the session by simply mounting and sitting on your horse for a few minutes. If you would be more comfortable, have someone assist you by holding your horse. If you are ready to ask your horse to move forward, ask him to walk. Once you are comfortable with the walk, you can ask for the trot and canter, but only take these steps as you are ready for them. There is nothing wrong with remaining at a walk until you know you are ready to pick up the pace.

After your riding session has been completed, unsaddle your horse and end the day with a relaxing and healing grooming session.

It takes time to regain your confidence after an accident, and time is something we all have. What is most important is that you salvage the relationship you have with your horse, as it is the power of this special relationship that heals you!

What are your tips for getting back in the saddle? Leave them in the comments and we might use them on our Facebook page.

By: Darlene M. Cox