What this episode is all about & how it can help you:-
- It is your journey – so it can be what you want it to be
- Find your confidence ‘reset point’ and stick to it for a while
- Becoming confident in being a little uncomfortable
- Consistency, Support and Stories…
Does the thought of getting into the saddle fill you with a sense of anxiety and dread? Yet you really want to be able to ride your horse in a way that gives you a sense of enjoyment?
This is the ‘catch 22’ faced by a lot of riders. The trouble is, even though there are so many riders feeling this way, it is a very lonely place to be on your riding journey. This episode of the Daily Strides Podcast is the episode for you. My hope is that, after listening, you will feel more confident about thinking about the journey back into the saddle and anxiety free riding.
Why This is an Important Topic
I regularly get emails from riders, all over the world, asking me what they can do to get back into the saddle. This in part comes from the fact that I created the 30 Day Rider Fitness Challenge. A lot of riders take the challenge because they hope that by feeling fitter, it will actually grow their confidence. I do believe that while fitness is definitely part of building confidence, it is not the full story.
It is important that you understand as a rider, that you can never really control the horse. You can influence the horse. The only thing you can truly learn to control is yourself.
If you can learn to have more control over yourself, you can learn to have better influence over your horse.
Today I want to start from the ground, and work up from there. This is where I suggest that any rider who is in this particular situation should start.
This is Your Journey
Make it exactly what you want it to be. Not what other people want you to make it. Very often when a rider is feeling anxiety, or pressure, some of it is coming from outside forces. Simple questions like; “But you have a horse, why don’t you ride?” or “But you used to do all of this, why aren’t you doing it anymore?” or “It’s simple, it’s easy, just do it, get over yourself!”
Those questions are probably coming from a good place. They might be coming to you with the greatest of intentions. But they are not helping you. At all.
The first part of building confidence is realising that your journey with horses is just that – YOUR journey.
The reason you want to include horses in your life is because it probably makes you feel good. However, if you are feeling anxiety, stress and all of these negative feelings, well, they are the exact opposite of good.
Stop. Hit the re-set button. Choose what you want. And feel good about it because, again, it is your journey and you can make it whatever you want it to be.
Finding Your Confidence Re-Set Point
Find the place where there is no anxiety, and stick there for a while. I know that is not always the fun or exciting thing to do. In fact, it is probably not what you want to hear at all… However, I really believe that this is the only long-term way of actually getting yourself to a place where you can enjoy horses again.
Your ‘place’ could, for example, be just talking to your horse over the paddock fence. It could be talking to your horse in the stable. It could be taking your horse with a head collar and lead rope for a walk. It could be having someone lead you on your horse.
It doesn’t matter what or where it is. Remember, this is your journey. I want you to find the place where you don’t have anxiety, and I want you to settle in there and get used to it. Every time you see a horse, or see something on Facebook about horses, or you are looking at pictures of horses – I want you to think about this place with no anxiety.
It is going to take time, and it is going to take commitment on your part, because you are consciously going to have to find ways that are going to make you think about that ‘happy place’ with your horse. However, it is well worth the ‘mental conditioning’!
Becoming Confident in Feeling a Little Uncomfortable
Once you are there, and only when you are there in your place where you don’t feel the anxiety anymore, you can think about growing. Start to become a little more confident by becoming a little bit more uncomfortable.
Uncomfortable for you might be having somebody lead you on your horse. It might be going for a 5 minute ride in walk, in a lunge ring. It could be getting into a 20 x 40 meter fenced arena and going for a trot. It doesn’t matter what it is – it’s about what it is to you.
What is important is that at any point, you know that you can go back to the ‘comfort zone’, but you are going to challenge yourself.
Because you know how comfortable the ‘comfort zone’ is, and because you feel so safe and secure there, you can then stretch things a little, and push yourself into the uncomfortable part.
You will start noticing how the uncomfortable part begins to feel comfortable. And that is it – slow and steady. You don’t move out of that uncomfortable zone, until that uncomfortable zone begins to feel comfortable. In this way, your ‘comfort zone’ is expanded and bit by bit, you can move forward.
Confidence, Consistency and Stories…
In the beginning, this takes time. But you will find that once you start to get the little ‘win’, and then the next little ‘win’, things will start to gain momentum. The discomfort dissipates quicker and quicker each time.
As you start to feel more confident about your own abilities, you see that perhaps the story you were telling yourself, wasn’t the truth. And even if that story was the truth at that time, it is not the truth anymore because you have changed as a person.
You have changed on the inside, and you have re-set what was making you feel anxious and tense. Simply put, because you have changed, you have to now change your story to match this new you.
You must change what you are telling yourself, what you are telling people and, importantly, what you are allowing people to tell you.
Finding the Right Support
All of this takes time. Which is the frustrating part for many riders. You can speed the process up however, if you find the right support. Support in the form of a knowledgeable person whom you trust. Somebody who will stay with you and allow you this time. Not the person who says one thing and then without warning, proceeds to unhook you and leave you high and dry!
A trustworthy, sympathetic and compassionate person who is also going to ground you back into reality. A person who, when your story is a little ‘muddled’, you can rather listen to theirs for that moment. Just until you feel relaxed again.
I wish you all the best with this. Know that it can be done! All it takes is that you get clear on what you want – not what people want for you. Then start today to take those small steps towards confident riding again. You can do this!!
Links mentioned in the episode:-