Tag Archives: confidence issues

Alice-Rose Brown’s Confidence story series Part 3

I should have said at the beginning of this series that I’m not a top rider, not a sports psychologist, and not a riding instructor, but I am a nervous rider. What I hope I have conveyed to you in this series, from one nervous rider to another, is that your confidence issues don’t have to rule your equestrian life – you can beat them. After writing last week’s article I felt that there were a few more tips I could give you to help you boost your confidence. So here they are:

Tnfshow1ake things at your own pace

Taking things steady is probably one of the biggest tips I can give to anyone struggling with their confidence. We all like to think that once we’re back in the saddle everything will be fine, but it doesn’t always happen that way.

Even if your dream is to ride around Badminton it doesn’t matter how many steps it takes you to get there. Sometimes just spending 10 minutes in the saddle walking around the arena is enough to give you that initial confidence boost.

Personally, my dream is to qualify for the BSPS Ridden Mountain and Moorland Championships at Olympia, but having had my confidence knocked by my young pony last year quite frankly I’ll be pleased if we can manage a sedate walk around the field by the end of the year!

Ignore, ignore, ignore

The other top piece of advice I would add to the tips given in my previous article is to ignore what people say. Livery yards are known for their gossip, it seems to be part and parcel of owning a horse, and we’ve all been the subject of the occasional rumour.

Just do what makes you happy and work at your own pace. You’ll be the one having the last laugh when your confidence returns and you’re out there achieving your dreams.

Breath!

My final piece of advice, and something we could all do with remembering, is breath!

When you feel yourself getting nervous just take a few deep breaths, relax your shoulders, and smile. If you’re concentrating on your breathing and you’ve got a beaming smile on your face you’ll find it hard to be nervous.

“Fake it ‘til you make it” wasn’t a phrase originally associated with horse sports but sometimes faking confidence will help you get on with the task in hand until you feel truly confident in the saddle.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and that it has helped you even in a small way to start tackling your confidence issues. I’ve been there, I’ve gotten the t-shirt, and I know how hard it can be. Equally, I also know how great it feels when you push your lack of confidence aside and really enjoy being with your horse!

Feature Blogger Alice-Rose Brown continues her Confidence Series – Part 2: “What can I do to overcome this?”

In the first part of this short series on confidence we looked briefly at the emotional stages of lack of confidence and how it can affect us. A crisis of confidence can come at any time during your career with horses.

CONFIDENCE BLOG POST

Some riders report feeling unsafe around horses after having children or taking a long break away from the equestrian world. Others have an accident or injury that understandably makes them nervous once they’ve recovered from any physical wounds. And some riders, like myself, have always been nervous and often ask themselves why they put themselves through the experience in the first place.

The answer to that is simple – people are drawn to horses for the sheer love of it – and once horses are “in your blood” there’s no going back.

As I’ve said before, the only useful question you can ask yourself when you’re suffering with nerves is “What can I do to overcome this?” and here is what worked for me.

Take a step back

Stepping back and giving yourself a break can be tough, especially if you’re still largely in denial about your crisis of confidence. It can also be hard if you’ve given yourself a deadline to be back in the saddle. Whether this deadline is real, such as a big competition coming up, or imaginary it doesn’t matter – it all adds to the pressure.

If you’re concerned about your horse becoming unfit or bored during your break from the saddle then find someone else who can ride him for you. Sometimes just seeing your horse behave for someone else can give you enough confidence to put your foot in the stirrup and get back on.

Be open and honest

As well as being open and honest with yourself it’s important to be open and honest with those around you about how you feel. Every rider has felt nervous at some point and you’ll find it easier to face your fears with the support of your fellow horsey friends.

For example, if the thought of going for a fast hack fills you with dread tell the person you’re riding with you’d rather stick to a steadier speed. After a few steady hacks you might surprise yourself by wanting to take it up a pace.

Caitlin on Star BLOG POSTHave some lessons

When you’re having a lesson you’re forced to concentrate on what your instructor or trainer is telling you rather than what the horse may or may not be doing. Take it from me; it’s difficult to worry about the horse spooking if you’re concentrating on your outside leg not flapping about like a flower in the breeze!

If money is tight you don’t even have to use an instructor. For me, having my Mother on the ground reminding me of some of the basic principles of riding was enough to make me forget about my nerves. A trusted friend or family member could do the same thing for you.

Keep it simple

As I said above, I wasn’t doing anything complicated in my “lessons”, I was just running through the basics to keep my mind off my nerves. Even top riders need to remind themselves of the simple things and we could all do with brushing up on our rein changes or square halts from time to time!

Don’t worry about your horse being wasted

We all like to think of our horses as superstars, personally I hope my pony will turn out to be a miniature version of Valegro, but so far it’s looking unlikely!

The problem with thinking like this is that you then tell yourself your horse will be wasted with you if your nerves mean you’d rather stick to short hacks instead of competitions.

Realistically, your equine partner isn’t going to care what he does as long as he’s fed, watered, and kept in the manner to which he has become accustomed. If your nerves mean you need time away from riding then roughing your horse off and giving him a break might be the best thing for both of you.

In the next, and final part, of this series on tackling confidence issues I’ll be looking at a few more ways of keeping your nerves at bay and discussing what happens once you’ve conquered your fears.

Best wishes,

Alice

More about the author here: Alice-Rose Brown


This is a feature blog post series. If you are a up and coming writer, journalist, a blogger with a story to share and would like to write a post, a series or few for Aspire blog to reach grassroots focused audience, please email Wiola at aspire@outlook.com. If your values match Aspire Equestrian’s values of thorough rider education, wellness focused horse training and dream brave-work hard philosophy don’t hesitate to get in touch 🙂 

Feature Blogger: Alice-Rose Brown about tackling confidence issues. Part 1: What Helped Me

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.

_MG_4368We 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


 

This is a feature blog post series. If you are a up and coming writer, journalist, a blogger with a story to share and would like to write a post, a series or few for Aspire blog to reach grassroots focused audience, please email Wiola at aspire@outlook.com. If your values match Aspire Equestrian’s values of thorough rider education, wellness focused horse training and dream brave-work hard philosophy don’t hesitate to get in touch 🙂 

Video Day Wednesday: Christmas Countdown Day 6 – Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are…

I chose today’s video thinking about all the riders I have taught who suffered from various confidence crisis or are simply lacking in self-confidence with certain tasks or movements be it jumping higher, cantering bigger, letting the horse have its head…

I also thought about many trainee riding instructors I have worked with over the years who struggled with voice projection, believing in what they need to teach, believing in exercises they prepared or their feeling at ease in a big open space of an arena filled with riders to be responsible for.

I chose today’s video thinking of many riders who say “my horse doesn’t respect me”, “my horse never listens to me”, “my horse walks all over me”, “I can’t do this with my horse”…

We often seek equestrian specific advice on many horse related subjects but I think it’s important to sit down for a moment and honestly revise our own body language, how it affects us and then what message do we pass on to our horses, the animals highly tuned in to every single movement, weight distribution, muscle twitch.

It’s not about dominance or overpowering but being in control of own emotions, giving the horse confidence through own self-belief. What I liked about the below talk is the mention of cortisol levels…In my opinion that’s the key when dealing with many horses…Do let me know your thoughts if you watch the video.

If you watch  until the end I really recommend doing the little exercise Amy Cuddy proposes before you go out and work with your horse or have a jumping lesson or go for a hack or do groundwork with your horse or go out to teach or…[insert your own little challenge here]. 🙂