Sometimes when we ride, there’re certain places that we’re afraid of, maybe going by a particular house when we’re out for a hack, or maybe going to the bottom of the arena, where your horse always spooks.
Or maybe when you’re competing, you know you always get nervous when you hear your name being called to go into the ring, or when you’re called up for dressage or cross country.
If you know certain things are going to frighten you, you need to prepare yourself well in advance, so that you can face your fear and manage it, so that you can do the best you can for yourself and your horse.
Before you even approach what you think is going to make you afraid, you need to stay very aware, so that your fear doesn’t come sooner than you think and take you by surprise.
The best way of staying aware is to count your breath and to keep your body relaxed by practicing the following exercise.
- Begin to count your breaths, a breath is a complete inhale and a complete exhale.
- Put the principles of the Wu Ji Position in place.
- Put the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, just above where your gums join your teeth and relax the root of your tongue (this helps your whole body to relax).
- Sink you awareness into your Tantien.
- Concentrate on breathing to and from your Tantien, as you count your breaths and keep your awareness there.
- Keep your shoulders down and keep your armpits open. Don’t hold your hands too close together.
- Keep counting your breaths and begin to relax your body by breathing to it as you’ve learned.
- Relax your hands by breathing to the centre of your palms.
- When you hands are relaxed, relax your hips by breathing to them.
- Now breathe to your hands and hips together, as you continue to breathe to your Tantien and count your breaths.
- Now begin to breathe to your feet as well.
- You’re now breathing to your hands and hips and feet, as you continue to breathe to your Tantien and to count your breath.
By focusing on relaxing your body like this, the physical symptoms of fear are prevented from manifesting. Your complete concentration on your body helps you to keep your awareness there and prevents you from having negative thoughts that could frighten you.
If negative thoughts do come in, always replace them with positive thoughts.
Focus on performing this exercise very well, you need to almost attack it, a haphazard attempt at this won’t do.
Then either go by what ever it is that was worrying you, or do whatever it is that you want to do.
As you’re practicing this breathing exercise and keeping your alignments, make whatever it is that was going to frighten you, almost part of the background noise, while making sure that you keep enough attention in case you have to overcome any hurdles.
The more often you practice this, the more confident you’ll become!