I did a clinic this weekend to help build my horses confidence thinking he was the one who needed a confidence booster. Well, I learned a thing or two about confidence as well…..
Through the smoke, cracking of firework popper things, feed bags, tarp tunnel, couch cushions, mattresses, balls, large barrel contraptions, pool noodles, and bottles. We had horses that were losing their minds. Those were the horses who had unconfident riders. Those that had confident riders did just fine. Chester did beautifully, jumpy yes, but he is horse. But going through that mess I was confident I knew he could handle it.
Chad made everyone get off their horses because some of the horses concerned him and he had us walk next to our horses; most of the horses calmed down because their person gained confidence. After walking around a few times and the horses settled down we all got back on and because the riders gained confidence and the unconfident horses fed off the vibes from confident horses we didn’t have a problem.
At the beginning of the day I was really pretty nervous because I’ve seen how Chester acts and I didn’t feel like eating dirt or running through fences. So we struggled through a lot of the obstacles because I was not taking the leadership role.
After lunch we started about 10 minutes earlier than everyone else and I took some time to do ground work and play with the obstacles while they set things up.
Then I got on. My confidence was boosted and I was relaxed. After spending the morning being thrown around like a rag doll I felt like I could handle anything. So we went to the box, one refusal, two refusals, a rear, he landed with two feet in the box, then three feet, four feet, we were on the other side. Much better than the 20 minutes we spent before lunch only to have him fly over the box.
Then we proceeded to the mattress. One foot, off, then quickly, one, two, three, four, and we were over, once again way better than the 30 minutes we spent trying to get him over it only to have him on one side and land 6′ on the other side.
We went back to the box and walked through it, got him to stand in it without hesitation. Then back to the mattress got him to cross it a few times with minimal hesitation, finally got him to stand with all four feet on the mattress. Success was ours!
After that we moved to the ball, oh the horse eating ball. After feeling on top of the world and desensitizing him to smaller hanging balls at the end of the tunnel, we went for the big balls. I had full confidence that Chester would push the ball. I’ve spent countless hours desensitizing him to the ball for the past few years, what made this time any different? The fact that I was confident, that is what was different. With the help of the photographer we got Chester pushing the ball in a few minutes and at the end of the day he was pushing two balls. I was and still am so very proud of my boy!
At the very end of the day after everyone cleared out of the arena I took him through all twenty some obstacles without hesitation. Through the box that was now filled with plastic bottles, pushing the balls, tunnels, smoke, bridges, pushing the revolving barrels and the barrel mobile, bags, couch cushions, mattress, pool noodles, carried a flag, and more.
All this to say, I learned even with people if I am relaxed and confident I can help keep others calm. It will gain their respect. Granted it puts me in a leadership position but when someone needs a confident relaxed vibe to feed off of, I can help then. That is part of why they teach police officers, fire fighters, and medics to stay calm.
Yes, this is what I learn from working with my wonderful horse!