Confidence is trusting yourself and your abilities to handle the situation you find yourself in. Right now, we are all finding ourselves in a situation that we have never before found ourselves in. The COVID-19 outbreak has changed the landscape for most equestrians.
Many riders are no longer able to ride. Many riders are having to go it alone. Some for the first time. All of this is leading to a lot of riders experiencing a crisis of confidence.
However, you can do this. With a few simple ‘step by step’ actions, you can come through this, especially if you are lacking confidence in your abilities to navigate this alone.
1. Keep Moving Forward
One of the biggest concerns many riders are experiencing right now is the thought that they might ‘mess things up’ with their horse. “If I’m not doing things perfectly, my horse’s training will deteriorate”. Let’s be honest. This is a possibility. Especially if you have been relying heavily on your trainer for support and your confidence is tied to them being present with you in the arena.
However, keep in mind that horses are resilient. They bounce back. Re-schooling can happen if necessary down the line.
The very fact that you are worried about ‘ruining’ your horse tells me that you probably won’t. Because you are conscientious and responsible. So go and play a little now. Don’t allow these thoughts to prevent you from taking action.
Identify What You Are Afraid of Happening
Most people I know, with the exception of my husband, tend to jump straight to what ‘might’ happen. The might is rarely good. These past few weeks, I have seen so many riders do the same thing. “I might fall off”. “What if I damage my horse’s legs / back / mouth?”. “I just don’t know what to do, and I’m worried I do the wrong thing”.
All valid worries. However, all are more ‘worst-case scenarios’. Yes, these things ‘might’ happen. However, they are all things that you can actively work towards preventing them happening as well.
If you can get clear on the ‘thing’ that is actually holding you back, you can begin identifying ways you can lessen the risk of that thing happening.
3. Now Name the ‘Easy’ for You in the Saddle
Start where you feel confident and happy. For some riders, this might be simply tacking up. It could be working on walk in a small arena. Maybe transitions in and out of the canter.
Remind yourself that you can do things! Then make a point of doing those things.
Allow the areas of your riding that you feel comfortable and happy with to guide you in moving forward. Be intentional about them and use them as a way to begin allowing confidence to be the dominant feeling in every ride.
I then suggest saying there for as long as you need to shift your mindset to one where you ‘can’ do things…
3. Begin Blending the Hard with the Easy
Once you are feeling comfortable and confident, you can begin revisiting ‘hard’ again. But this time you are doing so with intention. The intention is what will make all the difference for you at this point.
Consciously begin trying the ‘hard things’. Make a decision to begin including them in your riding. Sprinkle them throughout your ride.
What is key here is that you are intentional about visiting these areas. Staying for a short period. Noticing the feelings. Then being just as intentional about moving back to where you feel more comfortable.
Over time, your comfort zone will expand to include the things that you feel are ‘hard’ right now.
4. Find What is Truly Fun
The treadmill that you were on regarding your riding has stopped. You need to consciously make the decision to step off of it!
This may have been a lesson program or coaching program. It could have been a competitive schedule or training program. Maybe your current barn or the people you ride with.
Recognizing that you now have time to assess and evaluate what you truly enjoy in your riding is the key to putting a silver lining on the current global pandemic for you and your horse.
Additional Resources to Help You:-
- Horse Riding Through COVID-19
- Gratitude Practice for Equestrians
- Free Weeks Riding Plan
- Free 2020 Equestrian Fitness Challenge
- ALL the Equestrian Fitness Challenges (2016 – 2020)
- Lunging for Riding
- Groundwork for Riding
- Returning to Riding
- The Clarity & Confidence Riding Program
- My free online Facebook Community
- The Daily Strides Podcast