What to Look for In an Instructor
By Laura Daley
You’ve realized you need help with your fear—who should you ask? Seek advice and instruction from someone who is calm, relaxed and in control of their horse and themselves, especially during challenges and emergencies. Watch how they ride or handle their horse. Would you feel comfortable owning and/or handling that horse yourself? Does their attitude project confidence? Do they offer encouragement easily? Look for someone who is in control of their environment and who does things correctly and safely. If they have no regard for their personal safety, they will likely be reckless and haphazard with yours, too. Choose someone who will remain calm if you become fearful, who does not mind repeating themselves and who has a positive outlook on life. Choose someone who understands your needs as a fearful rider and who respects the difficult journey you are taking. Above all, make sure you feel comfortable enough with your helper that you can open up and express your real emotions as you learn to control them.
As you learn to ride fear free, it is best to follow detailed lesson plans, preferably with multiple steps and easily attainable goals. If your instructor advises you to begin with the goal that is the wrong place to start. Remember, you must always begin where you feel no fear, and you should never be pushed or chided into doing something too far out of your comfort zone. Avoid seeking help from a spouse, sibling, or relative. Be aware that sometimes the most well-meaning friends can be the worst helpers of all. Because friends and relatives care so much and want to see you succeed, it is easy for them to become too emotionally invested. This can result in too much pressure on the fearful person. It is difficult for anyone to step outside the familial relationship or friendship enough to assess fear issues and to truly help you in the process. It is often better to select a neutral third party instructor that has no emotional involvement and, therefore, no personal issues to get in the way of overcoming fear.
Published May 2014 Issue