It’s ‘Mindset March’ here at In Due Horse and to kick start a month dedicated to rider mindset and confidence I am delighted to share this guest blog by Jane Brindley from Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland.
We hear so much these days about rider confidence, or the lack of it, as if it is something
which you either have or you don’t…and if you don’t have it then how on earth can you
enjoy yourself as a rider or hope to fulfil any goals?
There are many different definitions of confidence but I like to define it as having a belief that one has the skills and experience to handle a given situation which leads to a feeling of strength and comfort. Confidence enables a belief that one will cope with the vast majority of unexpected occurrences and leads to an ability to tackle new situations willingly and without overwhelming self doubt.
Confidence isn’t a static thing throughout life, both riding and general life, in contrast it can vary greatly at different stages of life and when riding different horses or tackling different horse activities. Many riders are super confident as teenagers and then struggle once the responsibilities of adulthood kick in. Other riders may be totally comfortable when riding one horse but full of doubt when they get a new one. Some people are confident in their work life but find riding, which is supposed to be “me time”, a real challenge. Then, of course, we probably have all come across those lucky riders for whom confidence never seems to be an issue at all. Some riders keep their feelings very much to themselves and may cover up very strong emotions, either because they feel they are the only one who is finding things difficult or perhaps they have a sense of shame about how they are feeling about riding.
It’s hard to make assumptions but in general a confident rider will have most of the following characteristics:
They will ride willingly and often.
They will be prepared to push themselves out of their comfort zone.
They will tend to say “yes” to new suggestions.
They will ride in all sorts of different situations.
They will ride alone and in company.
They will enjoy riding at whatever level and in whatever discipline they have chosen.
They will accept challenges and be prepared to work hard to achieve their goals.
They will generally use positive language to describe themselves and their riding.
They will find positives and opportunities for learning when they have a bad day.
They will accept praise with grace and without need for excessive reassurance.
They avoid unhelpful comparisons with others.
They will usually look physically comfortable, even if they are an inexperienced or novice rider.
If they don’t want to do something then they will say “no” for a genuine reason.
They will be aware of danger and avoid putting themselves, others or their horse in a
situation for which they are unprepared.
A rider who is lacking in confidence will exhibit the opposite of most of the above.
So, looking at the list of attributes of a confident rider it is easy to see how they will enjoy
themselves more, will make more rapid progress in learning new skills and generally have more fun and, if they choose to compete, more success.
If you are reading this and feeling that you are lacking in confidence then please do be
assured that it is absolutely possible to learn lots of techniques which will help you to feel more comfortable. Find someone to help you who is experienced in working with anxiety and who has skills and knowledge they can share with you allowing you to develop the tools which you can apply in different riding situations. By learning to challenge thinking processes, you will change how you feel and therefore change how you act. Ultimately this can change your life. Learning positive visualisation and the use of breathing and relaxation will help considerably. There are many useful techniques to help recover from traumatic incidents and accident which, when used correctly, will enable you to leave that trauma in the past where it belongs. A loss of confidence can happen to any rider, I know I have certainly has many periods of self doubt over the years but now, putting into practice all the things which I teach my clients, I find that anxiety no longer escalates to a level where it spoils any enjoyment. I know that there are always going to be times when I experience anxiety and that it is simply part of the human condition but I no longer “fear the fear”.
If you would like to know more then please feel free to contact me via