Using Journals as Lesson Plans
by Laura Daley
A journal is an important tool in the journey to riding fear free. The fearful rider’s journal can reveal their fears and provide a clearer picture of what is happening to cause them. The better a rider becomes at expressing his/her emotions on paper, the better they will be able to control emotions that present while in the saddle. Sharing the journal with an instructor will help the process, too. The teacher will better understand the depth of the rider’s fear and be able to tailor lessons to specific needs and challenges.
A journal helps fearful riders and their teachers create step-by-step lesson plans for scary situations. By asking What If questions and answering them, along with practicing the correct responses, riders can learn concrete actions that can be applied in emergency situations. Those “If this happens, do that” scenarios.
Lesson plans can even be taken a step further. Once the rider answers her fear-based question with a concrete action, break it down to make it easier. For instance, don’t start by practicing an emergency dismount at a full gallop. That is too much pressure. Instead, go back into the basics of the exercise until you find the first step the rider can complete without fear. Can they do an emergency dismount from the walk? The halt? From the mounting block? Go back through the basics until you find the step that causes the rider no fear. That is the place where you should start.
Once you can show a fearful rider they can be around their horse without experiencing any fear, you have a foundation to build on. Until you get them in a place of no fear, you cannot help them learn because fear will always be in the way.
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Originally Published October 2014 Issue