Make sure your brakes work

Your Horse (UK) - - Better Riding -

There’s lit­tle that can spook a rider more than the thought of not be­ing able to stop their horse. Linked to a fear of open spa­ces, wor­ry­ing that your horse might run off will likely make you tense. Your horse can pick up on your fear, so tackle it head on. “Your horse doesn’t think about the fu­ture, he just re­acts to the now,” says He­len. “If you’re wor­ry­ing that he might bolt and get­ting anx­ious about it, he’ll sense there’s some­thing for him to be ner­vous about.”

How to pre­pare at home

One sim­ple way to help over­come a fear of your horse bolt­ing is to use an empty field to school in — seek­ing per­mis­sion first, of course — each time you’re out hack­ing. “You might not think about it, but open spa­ces are all around you when hack­ing,” says He­len. “Use them to prac­tise your school­ing move­ments, for ex­am­ple rid­ing ser­pen­tines and fig­ures of eight. It’ll boost your con­fi­dence.”

What to do on the day

In­stead of wor­ry­ing about what your horse might do on the day, set your­self men­tal bound­aries — es­pe­cially if you’re rid­ing in an open space. “Pic­ture an arena in your mind and stay within that space,” ex­plains He­len. “Imag­ine A at one end and C at the other, and ride within the lim­its you’ve set in your mind.” Hav­ing a set warm-up rou­tine that you can ride is an­other good way to give your brain some­thing else to think about.

Stay­ing calm and be­ing used to rid­ing in open spa­ces be­fore you com­pete are the mak­ings of an en­joy­able day

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