When I worked with horses many years ago, it was not uncommon to be shouted at during lessons! I reacted to this by tensing up and was unable to think straight. So whilst I wasn’t a nervous rider, I was certainly fearful of my instructors and getting things wrong. Clearly this is not the best state to be in when you want to harmoniously connect with your horse! In a way I might just as well have been an unconfident rider as my reaction would have been the same. Being stiff and tense certainly meant I never rode as well as I might.
Years later I met a trainer whose work I really admired. However, he did tend to raise his voice and get quite animated in a way I knew would press a lot of buttons for me. So for many years I avoided him and learnt from one of his best students. On re reading one of his books, i just knew that come what may I really wanted to ride under his watchful eye. I knew my biggest challenge would be to not strain by tightening up physically or mentally. For me this would have been impossible without having learnt the skills of the Alexander Technique.
My lessons were challenging but went well, and when the trainer did yell at me I was able to label it as passion and not feel I was being ‘told off’ by him. In fact raising his voice even helped to give greater clarity to what he was saying. I was able to keep a clear head and this allowed me to hear and take on board all that he said. It was wonderful to know that I could think and act differently in the face of of what I would once have perceived as a stressful situation.
As a teacher of Alexander discoveries, I thoroughly enjoy teaching riders of all abilities how to have more choice around how they respond physically and mentally in all situations. This could be riding in front of a clinic audience, or at a competition, or generally a feeling of being a nervous rider. If you have dreams and aspirations in your riding, but fear is holding you back, I invite you to come and learn how the principles of the Alexander Technique can help you change deeply ingrained patterns of behaviour. This can help you face your fears with new tools and improve your riding.