Confidence. We all know people that seem to ooze it. The ones who walk on to the yard and ride any horse, anywhere, and in any discipline. The ones who, should they have an accident, seem to spring straight up and are back on the horse like nothing has happened.
We all know at least one rider that fits that category and, if you’re anything like me, you’ve been jealous of them at some point in your equestrian career. A crisis of confidence can be crippling but when things do go right, to paraphrase an unknown equestrian, “horses give us the wings we lack.”
Sometimes a lack of confidence is caused by an accident, fall, injury, or other horse related misdemeanour. For others, like myself, confidence has always been sadly lacking and you’ve been always been a bit too aware of just how powerful, and potentially dangerous, horses are.
I would imagine that the majority of riders have felt a lack of confidence at some point in their time with horses. Whether it’s before a big competition or when riding a new horse for the first time, we’ve all been there. Unfortunately for other riders it becomes a part of their everyday lives with horses and they find themselves having to be talked into going for a hack or even to get on the horse in the first place.
Over the years I have come to see that, just like grief, there are stages to a lack of confidence. Denial, anger, embarrassment, self-loathing, more denial, and hopefully some sense of resolution will all be felt by someone suffering with a confidence crisis.
If I were a psychologist I would understand these stages more fully but I’m not, and although there are a great many ways in which you can try to “cure” yourself of a lack of confidence, I think ultimately the change has to come from within.
When you lack confidence you suddenly begin asking yourself many questions and lots of “what ifs…” appear in your head. “What if he trips and I fall off?” “What if a car doesn’t slow down and hits us?” “What if he bucks me off again?” – These are all questions I have asked myself and I’m sure will be familiar to many other horse riders across the world.
Once you’ve moved on to the stages of anger and self-loathing you’ll begin to ask yourself other questions – “Why can’t I just get on and ride?” “Is my horse being wasted?” “What’s wrong with me?” Another question I found myself asking a lot, as an adult riding ponies, was “Children ride ponies, why can’t I do it?”
Of course, logically you know that none of these questions do you any good and finding the answers won’t make you feel any better, but it doesn’t stop you asking them.
Realistically, the only question that will do you any good to ask is “What can I do to overcome this?”
In the second part of this series I will discuss ways that have helped me overcome the crisis and build my confidence that I hope will help you.
More about Alice-Rose Brown on the page here: Feature Blogger Alice-Rose Brown
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