Building Confidence in Horse & Rider: Part 1 of 3

Building Confidence in Horse and Rider:  Part 1 of 3

Clinton Anderson wrote an excellent 2-part article on “Cultivating Confidence” for America’s Horse, an AQHA members’ only magazine. The first part dealt with creating confidence in the rider and the second with creating confidence in the horse. I thought this would be a good place for our newsletter to begin.


Clinton Anderson had excellent advice for riders. His first point was key to confident riding. He had spoken to a beginning rider about her fears and explained:  “You don’t really have a confidence problem. You have a lack of control problem. You feel like you don’t have complete control of the horse”.

Anderson approaches lack of confidence by teaching control of the horse. Much of what he suggests comes naturally to an experienced horseman, but it is so important to reinforce these basic practices. It begins with ground work. He believes that even if it takes a month or 2 the rider should first gain control and confidence on the ground.


Whether you are longeing, backing, standing tied, picking up feet or leading it all adds up if the horse handler maintains control. One of my favorite techniques is to face the horse directly and require him to back up. The horse must give ground by backing up while the handler walks forward. Using this same concept, the handler should always go through a gate or opening first, the horse should be taught to wait until asked to advance.

It’s a good idea to keep in mind that the horse instinctively establishes dominance or submission in their natural environment. It was necessary for their survival as a herd animal. The handler needs to be the dominant partner, or their horse will fill that role.

Confidence in Horse & Rider

I’ll cover some suggestions for gaining confidence as a rider in a future post.