Things may go smoothly during your early riding instruction. You’re thrilled at what fun it is to learn horseback riding and can’t wait until your next lesson.
Then you move onto a new movement and – for some inexplicable reason – you can’t master it and frustration sets in.
Get in the Right Mind Set
Think like professional riders when they hit a problem: be confident that this is a temporary setback.
Learning riding is a long-term, gradual process for everyone. Don’t expect progress during every single lesson: a lot of saddle-time is consolidating what you already know and making it part of your muscle memory.
When your body automatically does the right things, you’re ready to move onto another phase. This doesn’t mean you’ll immediately be good at it. You may even find that some things you did correctly you now do worse.
Ride a Different Horse
Take some riding instruction on an easier horse, if you can. He’ll give back your confidence as a rider when you manage to perform your ‘problem’ movement on him, making you more relaxed and ready to return to your original horse.
Put Another Rider on Your Horse
If this isn’t practical, get an experienced rider to sit on your horse. Often another rider – who doesn’t have a ‘beef’ with this mount – can calmly assess what the issues are. Is the horse being uncooperative, or should the rider do something differently?
We often get into a riding rut without realizing it, and our horses become very good at ‘pressing our buttons’ the same way children do. A fresh rider can quickly correct this, because he or she is not used to the horse.
Remember: It’s Supposed to be Fun!
Spend some ‘down’ time with your horse and re-establish good relations. This will make you want to work harder and advance with your riding.
Take your horse on trail rides, preferably with an experienced riding friend. Go on quiet jaunts and talk about anything other than riding. You and your horse will have a rest from infuriating each other and bring the fun back.
Talk to other riders – the confident ones will admit to having had problem phases and be happy to help you through your bad patch. (Ignore anyone who tries to make you feel bad – they’re the ones with the problem, not you.)
Once you get through this tough phase, you’ll be in a much stronger position to deal with future issues and put them where they belong – behind you.