Updated: Sep 4
"I recently received this inspiring email from a lady that motivated me to write about the challenges of returning to riding after a long break. As someone who has personal experienced this myself, I know first hand how difficult it can be to get back into riding once your family no longer relies on you. My break was for over 20 years during which time, I brought up our 2 boys (who have never had an interest in horses) as well as starting my new career as a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist, and I didn't find it easy
"I can't thank Sharon Shinwell enough for producing the Confident Rider series of Self-Hypnosis recordings. As a passionate horse rider, I had to take a long break after starting my family because I knew my family couldn't do without me if I were to have an accident while riding.
But thanks to the Confident Rider series, I was able to regain my nerves and get back into riding again. I got Hacking with Confidence and I found the session so calming and reassuring, and it really helped me to focus and feel more in control while I was on the horse.
I would highly recommend the Confident Rider Series to any nervous rider looking to boost their confidence and enjoy riding again. Thank you, Sharon, for creating such a helpful and valuable resource!"
Getting Back to Riding again.
As a horse rider, there's nothing quite like the feeling of being back in the saddle and feeling that deep connection with your horse. However, sometimes life gets in the way and we have to take a break from riding for one reason or another. For many riders, coming back to riding after a long break can be a scary and challenging time.
Fear of Injury.
A major obstacle riders face when riding again after an extended break is the fear of potential falls or injuries. This anxiety can intensify, especially for those who've undergone upsetting incidents in the past. Overcoming this anxiety requires a measured approach, refraining from doing too much too soon. Starting with short rides and progressively increasing both and self-assurance is key to addressing this concern.
Loss of muscle strength and coordination.
An additional obstacle for riders resuming their riding activities again is the potential decline in muscle strength and coordination. Riding requires a substantial amount of core stability, balance, and synchronization – skills that can easily wane during prolonged breaks from the saddle.
To recapture these skills, it's vital to engage in exercises specifically tailored to boost balance and coordination. Activities like Pilates, yoga, and others spotlighting core strength and balance can be exceptionally advantageous.
Perseverance and commitment.
On the whole, the process of returning to riding following a substantial break can prove to be demanding. Nevertheless, with perseverance and unwavering commitment, it is indeed feasible to restore self-assurance and mount up once again.
Adopting a gradual approach, with emphasis on revitalizing strength and coordination, paves the way to rediscovering the pleasures of horse riding. So remain steadfast and maintain forward momentum; you'll soon be back in the saddle.
Numerous factors can prompt individuals to take extended breaks from horse riding. Some prevalent factors are:
Injury: An injury, whether sustained while riding or in other activities, may necessitate a pause from equestrian pursuits. This could range from minor sprains to more severe injuries requiring surgery or an extended convalescence.
Time Constraints: Given that horse riding demands a considerable time commitment, riders often pause their involvement when other obligations become too much.
Financial Restraints: Equestrianism is not cheap. Financial limitations might lead riders to suspend their participation if riding lessons or horse ownership becomes unaffordable.
Relocation: A relocation to an area without accessible riding facilities or horses could mean a temporary break from riding.
Personal or Family Matters: Personal or familial circumstances might demand a rider's attention, leading to a break from riding – for instance, tending to a young family.
Waning Enthusiasm or Exhaustion: Some riders might experience diminished interest or exhaustion from the rigors of training and competing. A break can provide the opportunity to reassess priorities and determine the future of their riding involvement.
Take some refresher lessons.
Refreshing Your Riding Skills: Opting for refresher horse riding lessons following a substantial break can serve as an effective strategy to reintegrate into the equestrian world and restore your self-assurance. Here are several discreet tips to optimize your refresher lessons:
Foundational Start: If there has been a gap in your riding endeavors, commencing with a basic-level lesson is advisable. This step aids in reacquiring your balance, coordination, and establishing a strong basis for more intricate riding techniques.
Selecting an Accomplished, Patient Instructor: During your search for an instructor, prioritize one who demonstrates experience and patience when working with riders returning after a prolonged interval. Their support and encouragement can be pivotal in building your confidence.
Gradual Progression: It's important not to be too hasty. Rather, adopt a measured pace and avoid pushing yourself excessively. Attune yourself to your body's cues and incorporate intervals for rest when required.
Outside of lessons: If you have the privilege of owning your own horse or having access to one, maximizing the advantages of your refresher lessons involves practicing outside of the lessons. This might entail practicing basic exercises at home or going on leisurely rides on your own.
Social Connection: Consider joining a local riding group or club to make connections with fellow riders who can extend their support and inspiration. This friendship can instill a sense of belonging within the riding community and fuel your motivation to enhance your skills.
Contemplating Equine Possibilities: Perhaps, considering ownership or a loan arrangement for a horse again could be considered.
Exploring Older Horse Loan: While you are regaining confidence after a break, exploring the possibility of borrowing a trustworthy, seasoned horse could prove beneficial. Here are subtle steps to consider:
Local Equine Establishments: Inquire within local riding stables or equestrian centers as they often have horses available for loan or lease. It's plausible to find an older horse well-suited to your needs.
Online Classifieds: Platforms like Facebook Marketplace often feature horse listings available for loan or lease. By reaching out to the proprietors, you can inquire about their suitability.
Approach Riding Schools: Connecting with riding schools might give you access to well-trained, reliable older horses. Negotiating a temporary loan agreement may be feasible.
Exercising Careful Consideration: Reflecting on our own experiences over four decades ago, attempting to keep a loan horse in a makeshift stable within an urban setting was fraught with unforeseen challenges. When pondering horse borrowing, meticulous planning is vital.
Collaborating with Equine Rescues: Reach out to local equine rescue organizations, which occasionally offer older horses for adoption or loan. While they might not be suitable for competition, they can contribute to restoring your confidence.
Community Connection: Leverage your network by engaging fellow riders. It's plausible that a fellow equestrian might have an older horse available for a temporary loan, given the shared passion for the sport.
These tactics should aid in your journey to regain your equestrian skills and confidence following a break, fostering a seamless return to the realm of horse riding.
The Confident Rider website was created to help nervous horse riders overcome their anxiety and fear through the use of Self-Hypnosis.
In addition to our downloadable Self-Hypnosis audio sessions, we also try to offer advice and resources about all aspects of owning or riding horses and ponies through our Blog. We welcome suggestions for topics that you would like us to cover.
I am a co-author of the popular book "Ride With Confidence," which was forwarded by Kelly Marks, the well-known Horse Whisperer.
Just click the link HERE to go to the main site.
You may also wish to share your experiences with over 3000 members of our Facebook Group Support for Nervous Horse and Pony Riders
"This article represents the personal views and opinions of the author and should not be taken as representative of the official policy or position of any organization, professional, expert, or individual.