Managing Anxiety for Horse Riding

As compassionate horse owners and riders, we are aware of the impact of any anxiety on our horse. We are often told to ensure we are in the most relaxed state before we climb on the mounting block. Whilst this is easy to say, it is much harder to do! So where does our anxiety come from and what can we do to ensure our horse doesn’t feel the impact of our stressful day?

A good friend once said, ‘in life there are radiators and drains’. She wasn’t talking about plumbing of course, but about people – life’s empaths and life’s ‘energy vampires’ as my ITC colleague Ali Hollands calls them.

So, if we are one of life’s radiators or empaths, how do we remain our caring self but with boundaries in place to avoid becoming the emotional dumping ground for the energy vampires out there? Often, the answer is that we don’t and as a result our general levels of anxiety rise. Not only does our mind have to ‘process’ our own emotional experiences but we have become burdened with other people’s too.

As a solution-focused hypnotherapist, many of the clients I see in Devon are ‘radiators’ that have become emotionally overloaded. In explaining how the brain works, I illustrate this negativity or anxiety (whether self-generated or by others) as being stored in our ‘stress bucket’. Over time our bucket fills up and if we don’t empty it out, it begins to overflow. This is often the point at which clients have come to see me – where they are suffering panic attacks, migraines or hiding themselves away from others, not wanting to interact any more.

And, just as it is unfair for life’s drains to empty their stress into our buckets, so it is not right for us to empty them onto our horses! Without meaning to, many of us are using our horses as our emotional dustbin. Just being with our horses can calm us down and get us back to being ourselves, but if we carry any stress onto their backs, our horses are having to process our stress and anxiety too. The resultant riding experience is unlikely to be a particularly positive one for horse or rider.

One of the steps to reduce the stress in our stress buckets is to do positive activities that make us happy e.g. riding or being with our horses, but if our anxiety levels are too high, our system is already on red alert and we are busy producing stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which block the production of feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine and instead keep our body in a constant state of fight/flight. As a result, our horse is wondering what on earth is wrong. Is there a monster behind the hedge over there, because my rider is suggesting something is scary!

Our responsibility to ourselves and our horses is to keep our stress bucket maintained. When life throws us challenges we want enough space in our bucket that we can cope. We want to get on our horses when our buckets are emptied out, in turn this will make our ride more pleasurable and confidence-boosting for horse and rider.

Here in Devon, at Inspired to Change, we can harness the value of hypnosis to ensure you are maintaining your stress bucket, so you and your horse can get the very best from your partnership. So, if you are inspired to make that change, please contact Emma to book your free Initial Consultation at her Winkleigh or Exeter clinics.

Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are based across the UK in Cambridgeshire, Devon and Kent, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Peterborough. If you would like to find out more about how hypnotherapy can help you click here to find your nearest therapist and book your free initial consultation.