How to be the worst rider

The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled.  ~Andrew Carnegie

Today may have been the worst ride I've ever had. Worse than the jumping lesson I had when I was 10 and fell off a dozen times. I completely lost faith in myself as a rider today. The barn was pretty busy when I got there at 2pm and there were a bunch of kids getting ready for lessons. I still don't know the barn routine, lesson schedules, etc. and I hoped it wouldn't get too busy until after 3pm. Brought Finn in from the paddock, Jake flipped out that his buddy was leaving. He was much calmer on the cross ties today, not so look-y, and saddled up without a problem. There was only one other woman riding in the indoor and I thought it would be our safest bet to hang out in the indoor for his first ride at the new barn. He was pretty good walk/trot, but very stiff, ignoring my leg, ignoring any sort of contact, spooking and grinding his teeth constantly, and looking out the window at Jake galloping around and calling to him. I got a few decent trots out of him, and it's definitely pretty cool having mirrors in the indoor to see how we look. I was riding on the outside track, as the other woman riding was walking and constantly changing directions-- like didn't even go halfway around the ring before switching directions. I came up behind/alongside her, about 20 feet away, and she told me that I really needed to call out what I was doing. Um, staying on the outside track, trotting, while you walk your horse/change directions on the inside track? I've always been taught that faster gaits have outside track? She kept patting her horse and telling him what a good boy he was, but they were these loud smacking pats, and Finn must have thought this horse was getting beat up, because every time she did her good boy "pat", Finn would tilt his head toward her and spook. Once she left the ring we were alone. Barn owner showed up with her friend who was there to fix indoor sprinklers. We continued to ride as he fiddled around. I came up the long side of the arena, and all of a sudden a BOOM, a shot of water, similar to what a fire hose would do, came sideways at Finn and hit him square in the side. This wasn't just a little spray of water, and I'm not exaggerating when I'm saying it was just like a fire hose.  Finn shot off, rearing and bucking, out of his mind. And so was I. I stayed on. He said "I didn't think that would happen. I'm sorry". I think I was in shock. I said "okay", hopped off, and left the ring with Finn a snorting mess. We walked all around the property and after about 15 minutes went down to the outdoor while a lesson was going on. My husband said I couldn't leave our ride ending with that and told me I better get back on. I knew he was right, but all I wanted to do was leave. Hopped on anyway, with Finn looking and doing baby spooks at everything. I was so nerved up from the sprinkler experience, I knew Finn was picking up on how I was feeling, but I just couldn't control myself, and be what he needed in that moment. I was so mad that our first ever ride at the new barn was going like this. The other trainer was awesome. She was teaching a young girl and reminded her to give my horse lots of room and pass wide. When we picked up the trot, the trainer said he looked great. And he did. I got a couple of really stretchy trots and when he could just settle down and relax he was moving and feeling better than he ever has before. The footing in the arena is better than any we've ever been in and it sure showed in how he carried himself. We didn't even canter today.
        I want to be the strong, confident rider that Finn needs. But, I'm not. And it's always been my biggest fault as a rider. Having Finn makes me question everything about my riding. I am so upset that I couldn't help him through his fears, and ended up probably even more scared than him. He's a great horse, but more often than not, I'm scared of him. Even though he never does anything dangerous.  Today pretty much shattered my confidence. Dreams of eventing are far, far away. I'm so upset.
       Barn owner seems pretty busy with her lesson kids, so I may see if the hunter jumper trainer that was teaching today will give me and Finn a lesson. Her students compete on the A circuit, and she seems pretty hard core-- she was really pushing the little girl (that couldn't have been more than 8) to get the correct strides to a jump. But, I think we need someone who's hardcore.
    I'm also starting to read:

Originally posted by Jen. Hoping it will have some ideas on how to be a more confident rider. If I just had an ounce of confidence, and could get out of my own head, and enjoy my horse, I know we'd have a better time together. Today was not a good time.

Farrier's coming tomorrow. I'll be up at the barn in the AM for a ride, and praying it goes better.


  1. I haven't been lurking your blog for long, so I don't have the context -- but I am sorry you had a bad day! Some rides, you just gotta throw in the trash. I hope your next goes better.

  2. Thanks Hannah! Welcome to my blog. :)

  3. Dude! You stayed on! How on earth could you then be the "worst rider"?! I was riding Archie bareback and he was drinking water. A sprinkler went off in the next pasture, in the normal not-shooting-to-put-out-a-fire way, and he spooked right and I stayed center and slid off his back. (I'm not counting it in my tally of falls.) I think if what had happened to Finn happened to my guy, I would probably not be walking today.

    Losing confidence sucks, but there has to be an initial decision on your end to change yourself. A way to start doing that is by looking at this situation not as a crappy ride, but a time that a series of outside forces affected your ride and you recovered and ended on a good note.

    Oh, and about the crabby lady in the ring? I haven't heard that the faster pace gets the outside line. I've heard left hand to left hand when passing, so that might actually bring the faster person occasionally to the inside.

    Sorry for the novel! :)