Are braver riders automatically better riders?

Everyone knows a rider that seems to know no fear at all. They jump on a horse that just got saddle broken without even hesitating, they jump the highest fence without even doubting, they jump on a new horse in the field without a saddle without even blinking… These ‘brave’ riders are often considered better riders, but is that always the case?

I can honestly say I’m not the bravest rider of the stable. And these brave riders often ‘scare’ me a little. I’m rather ‘nervous’ if I have to jump a higher fence while some of my friends are jumping 1m55 classes without even showing any kinds of stress. Sometimes I wonder where they get the courage to do so. But does this mean they are automatically better riders? Not necessarily.

The American scientist Christopher K. Hsee says it is only normal you get nervous or scared sometimes while riding. After all, you are riding a 600 kg animal, much stronger than you are, that will probably start running when they get scared. If a horse panics, he can really hurt himself, his riders and everyone around. He won’t mean to, but he is capable of doing so. Hsee states that you will get nervous because some situations may be new to you and/or your horse.

If for instance you are riding a new horse, it is perfectly normal that you want to get to know him first before jumping. If you’re not used to jumping high fences, it is normal that you get a little nervous about riding to a 1m45 fence. The more you get used to these new situations, the less scary they will get. If your best friend is used to riding 1m55 classes, it’s perfectly normal that he or she is less nervous when it comes to jumping these heights.

He also states that this doesn’t mean they are better riders. They just have more experience or maybe they just don’t show the fact that they’re nervous Maybe deep inside they get insecure as well without you even knowing it. Hsee also states that it is a common symptom that less confident riders or people in general are ‘overcompensating’ by trying to show they have no fear at all.

The best thing you can do if you are not the most confident rider? Practice, practice, practice. The more different horses you ride, the less scary it will become if you have to ride a new one. The more young horses you ride, the better you will get at it. If you jump higher fences more often, they won’t seem so high anymore. The best thing you can do is realize you’re riding because you like it. You should not compare yourself to other riders because you don’t know which difficulties they may have already overcome. Focus on yourself, your horse, your goals and your riding and don’t let any more confident riders make you doubt about yourself.