Sit Back: Find Your Confidence Button!

How to stay relaxed in the saddle!

We all have some fear when we are riding as horses are big and powerful animals and none of us want to get hurt. Fear is an instinct that we have to keep us safe and out of trouble. It’s extremely important when we ride to recognize when we have this fear and channel it into productive energy. Whenever you are riding, you are the leader and it’s extremely important that you are giving your horse confidence!

Here are some tips to help you when you get tense or nervous in the saddle:

  • Find your confidence button! Our instinct causes us to tip forward when we get tense. The psoas muscle, which connects your spine to your femur, automatically contracts when you get afraid and this causes you to tip forward. This is the worst thing you can do! When you feel your “fear muscle” start to contract, think about engaging your “confidence button.” Tuck your tailbone, rotate your pelvis under, engage your low abs, and lower your center of gravity. This will help you lower your center of gravity and stay with your horse! (Concept adapted from Rudy Horsemanship)
  • Sing a song- this helps you remember to breathe! We all hold our breath when we get nervous. Horses are extremely sensitive and they will notice you holding your breath and this will cause the horse to get even more tense and nervous! Instead, pick a song and start singing it! My husband does this all the time when he’s on a tricky young horse. He will start singing (quite loudly) “round the mountain, run boys run, devil’s in the house of the rising sun!” It gives him confidence and takes his mind off of the bad things that could happen.
  • Give your horse a job to do! Don’t just creep around!! When you are in the saddle, YOU ARE THE LEADER! If you are not giving your horse a job to do, they will come up with their own agenda, and usually that does not end up well for the rider. Whenever I feel my horse start to get distracted, I recommend lots of turns and bending lines – this helps to get the horse focusing on the inside of the arena and gets you directing the horses’ energy.
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