Confidence

I still remember the first time I rode a pony.  I was eighteen years old!  Her name was Taylor, and she was famous for a trot so comfortable, anyone could sit it.

Taylor
But what struck me most about the experience wasn't her trot - it was the immediate confidence boost I got just by being on a smaller equine.  I had always been a nervous rider, and I thought it was just the way I was and would always be.  But on Taylor and then Venice, I was a new woman, gleefully laughing when my horse bucked instead of curling into the fetal position, bravely riding when it was windy outside, and happily doing anything asked of me in class.  I felt invincible.

This article from Denny Emerson sums that all up for me.  Find your "steady Eddie," find your pony, and watch your whole riding life change.  From the article:

Standing in a starting gate, or unleashing an attacking “crotch rocket” when the starter says “GO”, takes confidence, and Jack Le Goff used to say that “confidence comes from success.”
And riders gather success (or failure) over time, and that success or failure will be largely dependent upon whether the rider had the right horse for the job, and whether the job itself was something within the bounds of what the pair could handle.
Too tough a horse, or too tough a challenge, in the learning stages, and confidence can crumple. Once confidence is lost, it`s harder to regain than not losing it in the first place.
So, be smart—-about the horse you ride, and the challenges you tackle.
Build UP, don`t tear DOWN.
I'm not saying I couldn't ride a full-sized horse back then, or even now, but ponies, and Connor in particular, give me a level of confidence that makes the craziest things seem less scary, and it's made such a big difference.


20 comments:

  1. I feel the same way about ponies! They are just the best.

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  2. So cute! I've ridden a pony once before (probably the most insane thing I've ever done, but that's another story), and would love to try it again! I currently have the biggest horse (15.3 hands) in probably 15 miles!

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  3. I know exactly what you mean. Being on a pony makes everything seem possible. It's funny because when I see ponies jumping, I think to myself "now that doesn't seem scary!" even though horses are jumping the same jumps and more easily.

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  4. I saw that too and think it's very true!

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  5. I can relate! I prefer my 16.2hh horse to the 18hh ones :-D

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  6. YES! I know exactly what you mean! This is the argument for Sport Ponies and Arabians! =D

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  7. I've never thought about it that way, but that makes total sense. I also find pony theatrics hysterical while if a larger horse performed the same moves my confidence wavers.

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  8. Well said, makes sense :)

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  9. The bigger the better! I actually feel less secure on a pony - I almost feel unbalanced in some way :(

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  10. I love Denny. I don't love pony brain, but I completely agree that we have to find where we're comfortable and ride that.

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  11. I admire you for feeling confident on ponies. Whenever I'm walking a xcountry course, I'm always grateful to be on a big horse who makes the jumps look small from his back, and not on a pony who I'd imagine makes the jumps look much bigger!

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  12. I totally get it! I'm so glad I had so many years on my Arab. At 14.2+ he was just the right size. It has taken me a while to get used to riding my big guy now and I don't know if I'd have been able to do it without the years of riding on something smaller.

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  13. I used to enjoy large horses, but have found that a small horse (15 hands) suits me just fine.

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  14. I feel a little the same about drafts (as does my husband). Yes they are big, but they're like a couch with legs and it takes a lot of effort to move that mass so even if they do spook or spin or buck it is a rather smooth, pleasant motion rather than bone-jarring whiplash. Plus wider horse=wider base of support. I love my Arab boy, but anything much narrower than him and I feel like I am going to tip over!

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  15. I feel SO much better on the smaller horses! Not sure if it's partly because I am built for them with stubby little legs or more a mental thing!

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  16. A good point!
    I struggle riding ponies, I feel like there's nothing underneath me!
    I started as an 8y/o on a 15.3hh gelding so that could have something to do with it!

    If my horse bucks, there's more to hold onto lol!!

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  17. You and I are cut from the same cloth:)

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  18. Totally hear you on this. I like ‘em a little bigger than you do and I’ve ridden the occasional big horse that feels comfortable to me – a barnmate has a wonderful 17-hander who is very much the gives-confidence sort (but he is short-backed for his height and I suspect that’s part of it, although a smaller part than his fantastic, fantastic brain) – but in general I am much more “at home” and confident on even the spiciest mid-size critters (I like the 15-15.3 hand range) than on 16.2+.

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