1. True or false: If you truly love your horse, you won’t feel afraid of riding him.
T / F
2. Your first step in dealing with fearfulness in the saddle is to…
A) stop thinking about it.
B) laugh at it.
C) reframe it.
3. One of the reasons groundwork is so useful in overcoming riding fear is that it…
A) enhances your human-horse communication skills.
B) gives you a setting where you naturally feel safer.
C) gives you something rock solid to fall back on.
D) all of the above.
4. True or false: You can overcome your riding fears by working with your horse at least once a week.
T / F
HOW’D YOU DO? (Answers below.)
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1. F is correct. It’s feelings of trust—NOT love—that help drive feelings of fear out of your brain. The more trusting you feel of your horse, the less likely you are to feel afraid of him. Trust doesn’t “just happen,” though, the way love might. You can love your horse to pieces but still be afraid to ride him.
2. C is correct. Experts will tell you to reframe your fear. Rather than thinking of it as something that’s holding you back and embarrassing you, regard it as a tool to identify the limits of your comfort zone plus help you stay safe as you work to expand that zone over time.
3. D is correct. All of these reasons make groundwork especially useful for overcoming riding fears. Groundwork enables you learn or strengthen all the essentials (communicating effectively, commanding respect, predicting your horse’s responses, dealing with those responses) in a setting where you naturally feel safer.
4. F is correct. Once a week is not enough. The best training program in the world won’t work unless you devote enough regular time to it. You needn’t ride every single day, but to overcome your fear you should try to do something with your horse—groundwork exercises, in-hand manners training, a super-brief riding session—at least four or five times a week, ideally on consecutive days. On the days you can’t ride, working your horse from the ground keeps the training going and helps him stay mentally tuned for when you do ride.
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