Become a Bolder Rider With This Secret Weapon

Learn the secret weapon to becoming a bolder, more confident rider—by developing trust in your horse and in your own horsemanship skills.

A gutsy rider can handle just about anything on horseback. Learn how to become a bolder, more confident rider…even if mounted shooting isn’t your goal. Jennifer Paulson

If you’re like most riders, fear sometimes keeps you from enjoying your horse as much as you’d like. And, let’s be honest…fear is not at all uncommon for riders of all ages, and especially among middle-aged women. Left unaddressed, fear can become chronic and even disabling.

What causes it? Many factors. Riding mishaps (our own or others’) can definitely do it. So can age-related changes in our physical adeptness—and ability to bounce back from injury. These days, too, all of us have a heightened awareness of the inherent risks of riding—in fact, there’s almost too much information on that front!

So how do we deal with fear and become bolder riders? By deploying…

A secret weapon! Science tells us that feelings of trust help drive feelings of fear out of our brains. The more trusting you feel of your horse, the less likely you are to feel afraid riding him.

But trust doesn’t just happen, the way love does. You can love your horse to pieces but still be afraid to ride him. Trust comes from being able to predict how he’ll respond in any given situation. And that requires a lot of structured time together working on exercises that instill respectfulness in him, better human-equine communication skills in you, plus teach you to how to deal with his most likely behavior.

It’s a formula. Think of it like this:

Systematic training + enough time invested = trust.

Want to solve your fear issues for good? Take a moment to learn from Larry Beutler, PhD—a psychologist who’s also a horseman—about how to use groundwork and riding time to develop trust and reduce fear.

Then check out the links below for additional help and encouragement.

Because there’s simply no reason to let fear hold you back!


Lope departs are common fear point; these how-to tips will boost your confidence.

• Ever feel bullied by a horse? How to stay calm and in control.

• Do you know the cool trick of talking yourself calm in the saddle?

• Amberley Snyder on adjusting your perspective to overcome fear.

• Julie Goodnight on keeping your nerve when your trail horse balks.

• How one longtime rider finally (finally!) got a handle on fear.

• How riding fitness builds riding confidence.

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