Fake it till you make it

After Vallu had his week of very very light work to give his legs a bit of an easier time, he's now lost the balance between a normal, well behaved, forward going horse and a crazy fire breathing dragon that I have worked so hard to achieve over the last couple of weeks beforehand. The last two rides with him have been him trying to trot like Valegro followed by an explosion of energy and it's made me realise how far I really have come with him in the last 5 years. Instead of being petrified of his spooks, they now mostly either make me laugh or then I ignore them and kick on!

I wouldn't say I'm an uber brave rider, but with horses - really any horse you ride - you have to be confident for them #fakeittillyoumakeit 💪🏻 Vallu is one of those overly sensitive horses who will know if I'm feeling tense or nervous the second my butt hits the saddle, so whilst I'm walking him around the arena I have to mentally prep myself to be outwardly confident so that he doesn't start to get any ideas. Basse is much more forgiving if you are feeling nervous because that's just his personality, so I tend to have the mantra of "pretend he is Basse" on repeat when I'm tense and have to ride Vallu. It also works well to help me chill out because if I'm saying it out loud, I'm also breathing, which means I don't tense up as much and Vallu doesn't have a reason to worry! And this develops into a positive cycle 🔁
If you ride around like a piece of wet lettuce then the horse will take no direction from you 😶 This has happened to SO MANY times with Vallu since I started riding him, especially that first winter when I had him. If the horse doesn't feel like you are confident and able to keep them 'safe', that's when they lose confidence in you. And that's also when they start messing around. My advice? Shorten your reins, ride forwards and keep them busy. Thrown one exercise after another at them to keep their brains focused on you and not the invisible monster hiding in the corner or behind the door! My favourite exercise for 'spooky days' is to ride trot-walk-halt-trot-halt and repeat. Not only does it  require the horse to concentrate on you, it requires the rider to concentrate on what to ask for next. And if that becomes too boring I then carry on with the transitions but ride a big figure of 8.
And this is what I'm going to be doing today! The weather is horrendous, he's been having an easier time lately and he is full of energy so I need to say relaxed and make sure that works with me, rather than trying to find reasons to spook 🐴

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