- Have a PLAN/GOAL to work to, whether it’s walking out, hacking out, agility, competing or starting a young horse.
- Make sure you break down your plan into small, bitesized, do-able pieces. Do each piece in order, making sure each piece is made into a relaxed, happy habit before doing more (1-7 times).
- Progress slowly but positively, don’t over stretch you or your horse, keep things DO-ABLE.
- If your goal is to ride in new places walk in-hand first, build on this until you can ride a bit of it, then more and more. Walking in-hand first helps confidence of the place, your own emotions, your horses issues/thresholds and knowing that it’s safe to ride.
- Make sure you know where you comfort zone is ‘now’. To stretch your CZ you need to come out of it and get into the Learning Zone, but return often to your CZ to help keep confidence. Don’t go out of the ‘LZ’ or you’ll end up in the Wildnerness Zone where can get lost or so worried it’s hard to find your way back to your CZ!
- Breathe or Sing (to make sure you don’t hold your breathe and cause a brace in your own body).
- Visualisation (think through where you are going, see yourself doing your goal).
- Walk the route you are wanting to go by yourself first…make sure you know all the steps so that you feel confident before going there with your horse.
- Approach/Retreat patterns to use for confidence are circling and figure 8’s and transitions (go towards your goal/back off/repeat until it all feels better to be able to approach/retreat further)
- Be very consistent with your plan of action.
- If you are riding and think you need to get off then GET OFF….breathe, get confident again and continue. You can always get on again later OR just have a nice walk together and commit to your connection in-hand.
- Make sure you can connect and move all 4 feet in all 4 directions (back/forward/left/right).
- Find X (the place where you have a comfortable stop/halt). Take this X mentally with you wherever you go and make sure you use it to allow you and your horse time to breathe, relax and stay connected. It can be a gate, mounting block, cone or anywhere you go when you can take X with you once you start knowing you can hold that feeling of safety inside.
- Continue stretching your CZ and keep giving yourself goals,
- Be happy where you are now and take the pressure off yourself…..just enjoy your horse no matter what you do, each day is a super goal in itself 😉
- Shelley – HorseSavvy