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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Christensen

Confidence: It's not always easy

Confidence is an ongoing challenge for a lot of riders. Sometimes a fall or fear of falling causes anxiety. Sometimes a lack of confidence can be less fear-based and more just a general lack of self-confidence. I see that a lot in my teaching. A student will be perfectly capable but doubt themselves so much every step of the way that their aids and reinforcements become unclear and confusing for their horse.

Kathryn and her mare, Resolute

I think sometimes people feel like trainers don't have issues with confidence, but the truth is that we do too! My journey with my mare has been in interesting one. For some reason I was drawn to her 5 years ago, even though she was a hyper-sensitive ball of anxiety, and I've never considered myself to be a brave rider. Nonetheless, I couldn't get her out of my mind, and I couldn't say no. We made it about six months before I came off of her when she panicked and had a full on bronco-style meltdown, and I got thrown into a fence. (She would like me to point out that her reaction was perfectly reasonable. Three horses and riders were walking towards us where we were standing out in the yard, all at the same time. They were all coming towards us AT THE SAME TIME. THREE of them. That's a lot. It was like the cavalry was charging at us. Any horse with any sense in its brain would know to GET OUT OF THERE if they saw three horses walking towards them all at once. I mean, come on, right??? Totally reasonable). Anyway, she went full meltdown, leap up into the air bucking bronco mode. I sat it for a minute and then got thrown into a fence, and she went galloping away out the driveway, away from the terrifying group of friends we were going to go on a hack with. I wound up stuck in bed for two weeks with a back injury, and yes, I'll admit, I was scared to get on her again!

Fortunately, my mom's amazing Hypno-Ride recording helped me overcome my anxiety about riding her and make sure that I could get myself into the mind and body state of relaxation and confidence that Resolute needed me to be in. We even went on to compete together! We've had more than our fair share of complications and struggles since then, but more on those another day!


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