Are you afraid to canter?

Are you struggling with your canter?

Have you ever wondered if your fear is holding you back?

I know I have, and I know that it’s true.

For a long time, I doubted that I would ever canter. It took a long time, a lot of courage, and some stern self talking to actually start working on the canter under Katie’s instruction.

I’m going to break down some of my fears, and what we did to overcome them:

I wouldn’t be able to balance into the movement

The concern that I wouldn’t be able to ride the canter itself was a combination of a lack of confidence in my own riding abilities and a need to refocus on my core strength. This took a bit of preparation, including:

  • Practicing sit-trot

  • Improving my core strength in the saddle with exercise (yes, I actually worked out to prepare to canter)

  • A bit of self love and self reflection, to remind myself I have the tools needed to achieve my goal

  • Selected a horse that was balanced in canter already

I wouldn’t have brakes

Ahh, the fear of not stopping. I also classify it as a lack of control. The fear that the horse won’t stop cantering when you ask leads into other fears, primarily falling off. Unfortunately, this fear also means that every time I would prepare to canter, I started to pull back on the reigns – and  confuse the shit out of the horse!

To overcome this, I:

Relinquished control of the reigns by having Katie put my horse on the lunge

Relinquished control of the paces by letting Katie manage the horse

It may sound counter-intuitive, but once I could trust that the horse would stop on Katie’s command, I knew that if I lost control once I was no longer on the lunge, the horse would listen to Katie’s call. It also helped to have a horse that had more Wow than Go!

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I would be going too fast

In reality, this was a silly excuse that was a result of allowing the fear to grow larger in my imagination than the ‘threat’ it posed. In reality, this fear didn’t go away until I was actually trying to get into a canter, and would you believe it if I said I now want to go faster?

I would fall off and get seriously hurt

I would fall off because I couldn’t sit in the saddle and couldn’t stop the horse, and because the horse would be going too fast, I would end up seriously hurt.

Oh my, how this fear of riding a canter really escalated!

Self reflection was key. I had to remind myself that I could fall off at any pace (and in fact had done so recently at the trot, and survived!), and really think about what I wanted from riding.

Would I be happy if I could never ride beyond a trot or walk? What would my life be like if I never achieved my dream to canter? How important to me was it that I achieve this? Was my desire to canter stronger than my fear of getting hurt? Was I actually ready to canter physically?

I would fail when I really want to succeed

Fear of failure is a little pet hate of mine. I hate disappointing myself and I hate disappointing others. The reality is, however, that if I never tried, I would never succeed and I would be more disappointed. I simply moved the goal post – first it was try to canter, next will be sit the canter, next will be to canter without the lunge lead. By breaking down these steps, I can put a success tick next to each as I graduate and reward myself for the success.

What are you struggling with? Comment below!

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