Tag Archives: Confidence

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 🙂 

Dr Inga Wolframm: “When Things Go Wrong…”

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Off for a XC schooling…

It doesn’t matter what it is: an important show, a training session with the world’s greatest trainer, a once-in-a-blue-moon trip to the beach with your mates. You’re really looking forward to it. You’ve trained your socks off for it. You’ve planned the whole thing to within an inch of its life. You’ve worked so hard on your mental and physical fitness that you’re considering changing your middle name to “Nijna”.

And then, on the big day, it all goes TERRIBLY wrong.

The weather, the judges, the organisers, the traffic, the quite simply enormous waves – everyone and everything seem to be conspiring against you. To add insult to injury, as you pull your horse of the trailer, you discover that he’s undergone a personality transplant without your prior knowledge. The polite, well-behaved equine gentleman (or woman) you’ve known for years has morphed into a fire-breathing dragon and you forgot to bring the fire extinguisher. Or your superman reincarnation on four legs suddenly appears no bigger, nor fiercer, than the average field mouse. No coaxing, pleading or bribing can persuade him to go near his own shadow let alone any other horses…

It’s enough to drive anyone crazy. It’s enough to question your preparation, your planning, your training. Enough to doubt anything you’ve ever done with your horse.

You know what? That’s both normal and understandable. If faced with circumstances we’ve never had to deal with before, even the most confident among us might get a case of wobbly knees for a a second or two and worry what we should do.* But it’s what you do next is that counts.

And for many riders, the thing to do next is… errr…panic!

All at once, they stop doing what they’ve always done. The routine they’ve built up over the years and their horse has got used to vanishes in the blink of an eye. No more tacking up in a specific order (for example), no more walking for 10 minutes to warm-up (for example). No more 15 minutes of easy loosening up, before horse and rider start to work in earnest (for example).

Oh no! Circumstances change, and the temptation to adopt a state of emergency is simply too great. Tack is thrown on, riders jump on board. Reins are tightened and the horse is told to “behave” in no uncertain terms.

And the horse? He quite literally has no idea what’s going on. He simply reacts to a situation that has now gone from a little scary to absolutely terrifying. And we all know what that means … The rider, already in a state of heightened arousal (to put it mildly), more often than not interprets such behaviour as yet another reason to take drastic measures. A vicious circle of behaviour ensues that is tricky to break. I think we can all agree that it’s much, much better to not get sucked into it in the first place!

annetraining
“[…] So especially in situations that are different to “normal”, you should try and stick to your tried-and-tested routines as much as possible. That way, there’ll at least be some things your horse is familiar with and derive feelings of security from. […]
How? 

Horses thrive on routine, especially in times of stress or uncertainty. Doing the same thing, following the same order of events, applying the same aids, using the same cues and rewards will help a horse settle much more quickly than any abrupt changes of proceedings ever could.

So especially in situations that are different to “normal”, you should try and stick to your tried-and-tested routines as much as possible. That way, there’ll at least be some things your horse is familiar with and derive feelings of security from.

By the way, there’s an added bonus too: reminding yourself of how you always do things in times of crisis, will also help you feel more secure and keep that feeling of rising panic at bay. Really, it’s just another behavioural circle, only it’s not vicious: a calm(er) you resulting in a calm(er) horse; a calm(er) horse resulting in a calm(er) you.

And even though things might still not go quite the way you might have hoped, they’ll at least not turn into a complete disaster!

*Please note: A little bit of self-doubt once in a while can be a good thing (but only when you’re not smack-bang in the middle of a stressful situation). It makes you reevaluate the status quo, question where you’re currently at and where you want to be. It might even make you think outside the box and allows you to come up with innovative solutions (this, incidentally, is why I’ve argued in one of my previous blogs that a bit of trauma can be good for you – it teaches you how to cope).

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More about Dr Inga Wolframm: HERE

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]. 🙂

Candace: Reflecting on partnership. The Importance of Foundations, Confidence and Trust

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Candace and Flirt

Dear All,

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
– Mark Twain

I hope you’ll indulge me today as I spend some time reflecting on partnership. It’s something that has been on my mind a lot this summer and I think now is the perfect time to write about it as Aspire is launching the “My New Horse” program. Yes, I know I’ve owned Flirt for about 3 and a half years and she’s not exactly “new.” But with everything that has happened in the last year, we did have the opportunity for a new beginning. Now I find myself continually staring at her and taking so much pride in how healthy, fit, and simply happy she is – such a change from even one year ago!

In many ways, Flirt and I are very fortunate – a lot of partnerships that encounter as much trouble as we had do not end so well. I often see other riders who fix problems by selling one horse and buying another. But does that teach you or simply put off the issues to a later date? I tend to believe the latter and have gained such a sense of accomplishment from working through the steps and ultimately finding ways to improve. Prior to my accident last summer I was on the toughest plateau of my life. And while I can’t recommend a major trauma incident to anyone, in a way it was just what I needed to move forward. The second time around, Flirt and I built on a stronger foundation and we finally have a partnership that we can be proud of and confident in.

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Candace and Flirt

Speaking of accidents, it’s important to note that first and foremost – health is key. If you or your horse is not healthy and pain-free, you’re in trouble. Flirt was injured last summer and managed to hide it too well… we had so much trouble and were so angry at each other… and I feel so guilty that I thought she was being bad, that I didn’t see it sooner, but she only ever felt stiff and then trotted sound. However, I can certainly promise that I will not suppress the instincts that told me something was wrong again! On the bright side, Flirt’s rehab from the injury triggered bi-monthly visits from the chiropractor and monthly visits from the body worker. And now, one year later, wow does my horse feel good. So out of the bad came exactly what Flirt needed to feel her best.

Then came my own accident.

Continue reading Candace: Reflecting on partnership. The Importance of Foundations, Confidence and Trust