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When you’re afraid, your breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and you might even find that you hold your breath. You can be sure that if you do this, you’ll transfer your tension to your horse. Deep breathing is one of the best and simplest ways to overcome rider fear.
Practice deep breathing by doing the following: As you inhale through your nose, feel like you’re breathing way down into your stomach. As you inhale, put your hand on your stomach, and feel it expand. You should feel like your tummy is getting “fat” because you’re lowering your diaphragm. Be sure to keep your shoulders down as you inhale. Otherwise, you’re actually just breathing shallowly in your upper chest. Inhale for a slow count of five.
As you exhale through your mouth, feel your seat lowering into the saddle so that you sink down into your horse’s body. As you exhale, feel like you’re sewing your rib cage together or like you’re pulling your navel into your spine. Exhale for a slow count of five also.
To overcome rider fear, consciously breathe like this when you first get on and during every break. Make it one of your goals to take a deep breath in every single corner.
Here are some fun images you can use to make deep breathing even more effective. As you inhale, imagine breathing in positive thoughts and images. As you exhale, expel all the fear from your mind and body. Here are some examples to get you started:
Inhale gratitude. Exhale worry.
Inhale joy. Exhale anxiety.
Inhale peace. Exhale terror.
Inhale relaxation. Exhale tension.
Inhale confidence. Exhale fear.