The Power of the Confidence Ride

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Have you felt bad about your riding lately? Caught yourself thinking, “My horse and I have plateaued, our canter departure stinks, and I’m too old to be in the Olympics one day”?

Don’t fret! What do we do when we have relationship problems? Do we scream about it with our other halves until we’re right? …Okay, yes, occasionally that’s what we do.

Confidence Ride
Exhibit A.

But what else? We talk about it with our friends. They’ll tell us we’re wonderful. They’ll tell us we’re right. And just as importantly, our friends will tell us when we’re stupid and doing it wrong.

Now, your barn buddies are great, but what I recommend is a chat with one of your oldest, sweetest equine pals. Because what you need, my friend, is a confidence ride. Once in a while, it’s fine—nay, necessary—to plan a lesson on an honest, reasonably dependable gentleman of a horse to get your groove back.

Confidence Ride
Never fear—Collin the confidence ride to the rescue.

What will a confidence ride do for you?

1. Your confidence ride will make you feel good about yourself.

Sometimes, even the most sure-seated of us just need to be reminded we don’t suck. We need to feel a horse pick up a canter when asked and remember how an extended trot feels. On your regular mount, there’s always room for improvement. You know all her faults quirks, and it’s hard to let go of what you’re working on. But a good lesson horse? Somehow it’s suddenly fine he just “prefers to poke his nose out a bit.” Then there’s the bonus ego boost of an educated horse. Gosh, that distance was easy when I rode it correctly. Ooh, that was a sexy leg yield, wasn’t it?

You’ll be able to focus on showing off a little technically correct riding instead of nit-picking. And soon, there might as well be a warrant out for your arrest because you’re totally killing it.

But also…

2. Your confidence ride will tell on you if you’re doing something wrong.

Haven’t been getting clean changes? Perhaps it’s because—as your confidence ride just informed you with a tail swish and a kick—you’re trying to throw your horse over with your body weight. Thought you fixed that problem where you sit unevenly and don’t follow the bit with your left hand? This very kind, very crooked gelding says otherwise. The bottom line is: you know that weird, technically incorrect habit you’ve developed out of necessity/for compromise’s sake with your usual mount? Honey badger don’t care. And he’s gonna tell on you.

And finally…

3. Your confidence ride will remind you why you love your horse (or the horse you usually ride).

Yes, of course you’ll be able to bring all your new confidence and knowledge about your goofy leg position back to your usual mount, and you’ll be a wiser rider for it. But even better is that your new smarts and swagger come with a side of warm fuzzies. Because even after the most uplifting of rides, you’re going to go back to the barn and see two dewy Bambi eyes peering out at you from behind your regular steed’s door, asking, “What about me?”

Confidence Ride
“Human. I think you forgot something. Me.”

Alternatively, there may be some violent stall door banging and “YOU ABANDONED ME”-style nickering. Either way, your newly-confident heart will melt. Canter departure or not.

So get out there and mix it up! I won’t tell your horse if you won’t tell mine.


Emily Bogenschutz lives in Texas and is a freelance writer,
recent hunter-turned-jumper, and professional sneaker of saddle pads
into the washing machine. Follow her on Twitter: @EJBog.

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