Five easy ways to get your confidence back when riding your horse
Long periods of highs and tremendous lows are just another part of the responsibility of owning and riding horses, especially when it comes to performing. I know from experience that it can knock your confidence for a few hours, or even days, after a bad training session, show or injury. But you’re not alone.
Even highly-skilled professionals can be impacted by these events and — even though it would be lovely — an easy fix is not always possible. It takes hard work, dedication and a whole lot of patience to ‘get back on the horse’. So here are my tried and true ways of building confidence back up after a bad day at the stables, horse show and more.
Remember your progress. Had an amazing past week and now can’t seem to get it right? It’s time for a reset, trust me. Not all of our sessions or shows are going to be perfect or a steady progressive journey and getting frustrated with yourself can do more harm than good. Be kind to yourself & your horse - remember why you love the sport!
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, speaking to your trainer or getting some professional advice (I speak more on this in tip 3) can do wonders for your self esteem. Booking an extra session in can even help your horse’s confidence too! Asking for help is a strength.
Speak to a sports psychologist. I know not everyone has the budget for this, but if you can afford a couple of sessions throughout the year, it is well worth it. The psychologist will not only talk to you in one to one sessions but they will also give you work to do outside of them. The sessions require patience, open-mindedness and time but, with the guidance of an expert, you’ll manage it and the positive effects can ripple through your personal and social life.
Understand that learning is a process. We’ve all had days when what you’ve been learning just doesn’t stay put; there are also days when you seem to ace every test thrown at you. It’s no secret that learning something new can be a challenge for people of all ages. To help, I’ve broken our learning journey down into four stages below so you can refocus on what really matters and discover how to move forward.
Unconscious Incompetence: ‘you don't know that you don't know’. This is known as the stage of blissful ignorance. It’s when we have little experience or skill and are unaware of the journey ahead of us. Often, our confidence exceeds our ability.
Conscious Incompetence: ‘you know that you don't know’. As our learning experience progresses, we begin to realise just how little we know. Feelings of uncomfortableness and drops in confidence are normal at this stage. Our ability is limited and practising the skill takes up all of our concentration and can be intensely frustrating.
Conscious Competence: ‘you know about it, but have to think about it’. We can perform the skill but it takes a lot of concentration and attention to do so. During this time, our confidence increases and we realise how much we have learnt.
Unconscious Competence: ‘you know it so well that you don't have to think about it’. This is otherwise known as the success stage. The skill, which we’ve been practising for a while now, has now entered the subconscious parts of the brain and it is second nature. We can perform it easily and our confidence is at its highest. The sky’s the limit!
What we’ve learnt from the above process is that learning is a journey from bottom to top. To be good at anything requires grit, determination and a lot of practice.
Look good, feel good psychology
Most of us are aware of the connection between looking good and feeling good. The truth is, you feel better if you're confident about your overall appearance. When you wear what looks good, feels good and is a comfortable fit around your body, you can practically feel the positive energy all day and your natural beauty radiating. This ying-yang formula works both ways.
P.s Don't give up!
This is my most important tip. Find ways to get back into a good headspace: take time to give yourself headspace from training; stop rushing around and trying to know everything straight away; listen to your favourite songs or meditate. By discovering what works, you are giving yourself and your horse the best chance at high confidence.
Remember: Confidence is a super power. Once you start to believe in yourself, magic starts happening