Meeting a new horse is similar to meeting a new person for the first time. You might not know anything about them but they might end of a close friend in a quick amount of time. It is understandable to be a little confused and apprehensive by all there is to learn. Buying a new horse requires deep examination, time, and smart tactics. Staying calm, well-mannered, organized and not overly-aggressive is a general rule of thumb to keep in mind while riding and evaluating a new horse. Otherwise, any twinge of doubt can cause you to overlook your perfect match. As a result, you may end up buying the wrong horse, which can ruin your fun.
Here are a few tips that can help you reduce stress and relax in the saddle.
1. Communicate Ahead of Time
Riding a sales horse can intimidate the first-time rider. Feelings of fear and apprehension occur when you lack confidence. In such a case, gather as much information about the horse before riding it. This information will give you a good idea of how the horse could behave. Preplanning and clear conversation with your trainer can also lessen your worries and can make your riding process stress-free. Make a checklist of things you want to assess and things you want to do when you are on the horse.
You can evaluate the horse's temperament, conformation, personality, ground manners, gaits and movement. If their personality and temperament appeal to you, then ride the horse. Firstly, ride the horse in the arena, and if you like him, then take him on a trail. While riding, check his gaits, balance, responsiveness, flexibility, and under-saddle manners. Note everything that you liked or disliked about the horse. Such a process will keep you calm and help you figure out whether the horse is a perfect match for you or not. If you are unable to perform the listed tasks with the new horse, then you can simply move on.
2. Channel Your Energy
Riding a sales horse can cause a novice rider to overthink the process of evaluating a horse. As a result, you can get lost in racing thoughts and lose physical connection with the horse. This can be tremendously stress-inducing for novice riders who may develop self-doubt and lose confidence. Remember, tension invites tension. The way you sit on the horse affects his balance, alignment, and level of relaxation. If you are off balance, crooked, out of alignment in any way, or tense, your horse finds it difficult to remain relaxed and becomes reactive to the environment.
Get out of your head and focus on your body. Give yourself small goals when you get on a horse. Hold yourself up, keep your heel anchored, don’t slouch, lengthen your leg, harmonize, and avoid falling into every imbalance are some goals to keep in mind that will make you feel proactive and effective. The physical positions of keeping your eyes up or chin up send signals to your brain that you are in control, which boosts your self-confidence. Moreover, these small goals will let you direct your energy towards your partnership with your horse.
3. Be Yourself
Many times a sales horse can have a fantastic reputation and show record. There is even a possibility that a renowned trainer may show you the horse. As a result, you may experience performance anxiety that makes you analyze or over-think of what you are doing. Thus, it’s time to wake up and strengthen your internal coach and turn off negative self-talk. Remind yourself that it is not a job or audition that you have to strive for perfection. It’s just a selection process where you are trying to pick a horse that suits your needs. Be realistic, appear confident and stop worrying about what others may think of your performance. The best thing to do is to be yourself and believe in your skills and abilities.
4. Keep Breathing
Most of experienced riders perform breathing exercise when they are learning something new. However, novice riders often hold their breath, especially when they are anxious or are focusing on one aspect of riding. This can create tension and interrupt your goals. Therefore, you need to have a strategy that will teach your body how to breathe while you ride.
Practice breathing in rhythm with horse’s strides. Take a deep breath through your nose, hold it a couple of minutes and exhale it out through your mouth. Make sure you are inhaling and exhaling your breath in rhythm with your horse’s movement. Repeat it several times, especially if you are tense. This breathing exercise will regulate energy into the body and enhance the harmony between horse and rider.
5. Take Breaks
Taking small breaks during your ride can be the best way to organize and assemble your thoughts. For instance, after riding the horse in the arena, you can take a mini-break, evaluate the situation, breathe, and feel the horse all at the same time. You can also have a small chat with your trainer and together can list out a set of tasks to perform with the horse in the next situation. Instead of loading yourself with tons of information, you can simply relax, breathe, feel, and refresh your cognitive processes during the breaks. Once you are relaxed, you will focus on the present moment and concentrate on what you need to do.
Videos can be another best way to evaluate a horse. A novice rider can feel exhausted when he has to remember and focus on countless moments and occurrences while riding a horse. However, videoing your rides will lighten your burden as you don’t have to retain everything and simply focus on your goals. As a result, you can stay in the present moment, be more connected with the horse, and enjoy your horse. Later, you can watch the video and examine the horse to gain added perspective.
Above all, remember to enjoy the search! Your suitable mount is out there waiting for you!
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