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Top 10 Horse Riding Tips Series: How To Restore Equestrian Confidence By Keeping Fit

Feb 28, 2008
When you have had a bad fall, it can take a long time before you feel confident enough to get back on a horse. And so it should be, caution is the body's way of protecting itself. But what do you do if you love horse and you love horse riding and you are yearning to get back in the saddle but your riding confidence is a rock-bottom low?

1. Maintain physical fitness, strength and suppleness
Start with what you have. Get fit. Lose any surplus weight that may have accumulated while you were laid up. Slowly build up your strength again and gradually regain your suppleness with stretches and yoga. If it was a severe injury, work with a professional, like a physiotherapist. You will automatically feel more confident when you are strong and fit

2. Eat a healthy diet. After an injury, you need to rebuild your physical strength. Eat enough, but not too much. Make sure you ingest all the vitamins you body needs while it is under all this physical and mental stress.

3. Limit alcohol, avoid drugs. Most horse riders know to avoid alcohol (and drugs, for the same reasons) if they plan to go anywhere near their horses. Be careful not to self-medicate with alcohol while you are feeling low and bored, it will not make you feel happier or better. You are only delaying the healing process; a very unwise approach indeed

4. Get enough sleep. When you sleep, your body takes time out to heal itself, physically and mentally. At no other time does your body need to recharge its batteries as desperately as after an injury. Invest in eight hours of deep, rejuvenating sleep a night, until you are fully restored.

5. Increase your body awareness. If you were injured physically, you probably have no difficulty paying attention to your body's messages - especially the parts that were injured. Even if you did not sustain a serious injury, pay attention to what is going on inside you and in the immediate area around you. Rediscover your sense of touch and physical orientation. Body awareness is an essential attribute of all good riders.

6. Review your commitment to observe standard safety procedures. Always wear appropriate riding apparel, always check your equipment, always wear a helmet

7. Learn how to fall. Martial arts students spend a lot of time learning how to fall without injuring themselves. If you haven't mastered this useful art yet, take some time to do so now. You will be investing in your future.

8. Get your timing right. Next time you ride, take all the variables into account. Don't go riding if you are rushed, or feel under the weather, or have too many other things on your mind. Give your horse not only your time, but also your full attention.

9. Take the environment into account (as well as your horse's reaction to the environment). Do not put either yourself or your horse at risk because you are desperate to go riding. Life's too short.

10. Buy insurance, personal, horse and third party.
Make sure you are fully insured, and so is your horse. Last thing you need when you are recuperating from the physical and mental effects of a horse riding injury is to worry about doctor's and/or vet's bills.

So you see, there is a lot you can do to restore your confidence long before you gat back into the saddle. And doing something physical is good for your body and your mind. Once you are strong enough to start exercising again, remember exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, the body's natural analgesic. So get out there and start mucking out those stables. It will cheer you up no end and in no time. (Just joking!)
About the Author
Dr Margarethe de Clermont is the author of the e-books "Ride with Supreme Self-Confidence", "Letters to Lady Belle, my Friesian Mare", "Tame Your Fear" and edits the I want a Horse Equestrian Magazine about earning a second income on the web. Did you find these tips useful? Find out more about Ride with Supreme Self-Confidence here and sbscribe to FREE e-courses and e-zine.
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