Hello there! I am going to share my story of achieving a life-long dream of getting in the saddle and training to become a qualified horse back rider. This is a bit step and I'm still very much in the infancy of my journey, so I am making lots of mistakes!
A little bit about me. I started riding when I was 9years old and whilst loving it and being told I had a certain aptitude for it, it was mostly for fun and as my parents couldn't afford to pay for the lessons, let alone a pony and his paraphernalia, this became the reserve of summer holidays, courtesy of my granddad. But in summer camp, games are played and long hacks are had and so I made little progress. At 16, I gave up all together as school studies became more important. Then I went to the big city for university, where most people didn't even know what equestrian meant! After graduation I found myself wanting to rediscover my passion for horses and riding as well as getting some fresh air.
There I was, unfit, a bit too fat from the unhealthy "college lifestyle" in a new town and absolutely terrified. I had fallen of as kid, rolled over and just got on with it, but as an adult everything seemed so much more scary. How much would I remember? How much had I forgotten? Would people laugh me out of the stable? Would I have to learn with little kids again? had the horse world entirely changed in my absence???
So, In particular I would like to look at how psychology and confidence affects us and ultimately our ponies when we ride. How many times has your horse lost his footing, taken off on the wrong leg or refused a jump, but inside you were secretly glad as you, the rider had been dreading doing that move? Ponies are so in tune and know us better than we know ourselves!
Something I am learning is it is arrogant of me, with a childhood of pony games and holiday hacks and only 4 months back in the saddle seriously, to think I know more about riding than a 20year old pony still going strong, despite having a different person on his back each week! They know what we are going to do before we do. They know our weaknesses better than we can see or feel.
So my first point to getting confident if starting out as an adult or coming back to a childhood passion like me, is trust your pony! Unless you are borrowing a friends horse, you will never be given anything too fresh for you and the horse will look after you.
Listen to him and try and become a partnership. Responding to his requests and needs but within the confines of what you are trying to achieve will achieve more than trying really hard to push on the leg, use your whip then when you get nervous gripping hard, pulling back and effectively, screaming at him, "stop! I'm not happy about this!" instead relax and say, "I trust you".
If you believe the pony can do it (and he can), then you will start to believe you can do it and suddenly life becomes easier.
I hope you found this interesting and useful. More to follow soon, hopefully! : )