This week I am celebrating an amazing win of one of my clients, Helen. You would know her through a couple of videos I have done, however more recently through this video about reintroducing the canter. It had been years since Helen had cantered, which is what makes her achievement even more wonderful. That I was able to be part of her journey was very humbling.
So how do we reintroduce the canter when confidence is delicate? Firstly, spend some time away from the horse thinking about exactly what your concerns are about cantering. Are you perfectly happy walking and trotting or are you avoiding cantering? Once you have clarified exactly what you are concerned about, take a few steps:
Chose who you ride with: pick someone who is prepared to go at a pace / gait that you are just a little bit uncomfortable with, remembering that just outside our comfort zone is where we learn. They must be prepared to happily come back from a canter if it’s too much for you at that time.
Ensure you have done the work with your horse, or access a quiet trail horse for a few rides.
Carefully chose where you ride for these initial few rides. Chose places with minimal traffic or animals likely to jump out at you (ie: kangaroos). My horses are fine with kangaroos etc, so this isn’t much of an issue. Also chose some quiet places that have some hills.
Try a few rides at walk and trot until you feel comfortable with the horse and the environment.
Attempt a few strides only at canter going up a reasonable hill. The horse is more concerned with getting up the hill and your forward seat is more comfortable while you are getting your confidence back.
Slow to a walk at the top of the hill.
It’s important to understand that you will probably be feeling a little scared during and afterwards. Give yourself time to recover at a plodding walk. If your horse is not completely relaxed DO NOT CANTER. Confidence Building is about gathering evidence of wins, not creating further hurdles. Once your heart has stopped racing – CELEBRATE! You have smashed through a goal! After your ride, record this in your Confidence Building journal (a link is on the articles page).
I’d love to hear how you are going!
Until next week,