15 Ways to get your confidence back when riding your horse
If you’ve lost your riding confidence, here are my top tips to help you get back on your horse, and feel more positive and confident.
Start where you are right now
Forget about comparing what you used to be able to do, or what you think you ‘should’ be able to do. Accept that you are not feeling as confident as you would like, and commit to doing something about it.
Decide what you want to do
What is your goal? What do you want to do with your horse? How do you want to feel when you’re riding? If you don’t know where you want to get to, how will you ever get there?
Get some lessons
Find an experienced and qualified equestrian coach to help you improve your riding skills, and communication with your horse, so that you can both enjoy your time together.
It’s your journey
Other people’s opinions are none of your business! Remind yourself that this is your journey, with your horse. Build yourself a team of key people who will support and guide you, for example your family, close friends, professionals such as your Rider Mindset & Confidence Coach, and let go of worrying what anyone else thinks!
Work on your mindset
Riding is 80% mindset, and 20% actual riding skills. If your mind is stuck in a negative thinking loop, then you will struggle to ever really be confident or truly enjoy your riding. Learning about how your mind works and working on creating a positive, growth mindset will allow you to do anything you put your mind to!
Improve your balance & security in the saddle
How can you be confident if you’re not balanced and secure when riding? Work on your own physical fitness, cardiovascular, strength and core, so that you can be more effective in your riding. Develop your riding skills so that you can ride with an ‘independent seat’ where you are not relying on your reins to keep you on board. Learn how to apply the aids correctly so that you can communicate with your horse clearly and proactively. Once you find the ability to positively influence and communicate with your horse, you’ll stop feeling like a passenger.
Ride a schoolmaster
Invest in some riding lessons on an experienced, well schooled horse, so that you can build your technical riding skills and your confidence at the same time.
Celebrate your successes
Recognise, record and reward yourself for your achievements, no matter how small. If you’ve done something you are proud of, then celebrate. Perhaps you did something a little outside of your comfort zone, and it was all fine. Start to focus on what is going well, and you’ll create more positive experiences.
Take your time
There are no rules about what you ‘should’ be able to do at any given point in time. When you’re feeling anxious or scared, time can feel like it has sped up. Take a deep breath, pause and slow down. Rushing will only make you feel tense and stressed. Slow down, take your time and build your riding confidence one step at a time.
Visualise what you want to happen
All too often, our minds visualise the worst case scenario, which makes us ride defensively. Start to visualise exactly what you want to happen, and allow yourself to enjoy the best possible outcome.
Make sure you take whatever practical measures necessary to keep yourself safe. Always wear a correctly fitted and fastened riding hat, appropriate footwear with a smooth sole, and if it makes you feel better wearing a body protector or air jacket, then do so. Perhaps you could ask an experienced friend to be with you in the arena when you ride, or walk with you while you go for a short hack. Whatever it takes, the safety of you and your horse, comes first.
Improve your horse’s way of going
The better your horse’s way of going, the better the communication between you. If your horse is green, inexperienced, or has other ridden challenges, you might find it beneficial to have a more experienced, professional rider to do some work with your horse so that he/she becomes more established. Obviously, please do your due diligence and only send your horse to someone you trust, is suitably experienced and insured, and always get a contract in place which details exactly what will happen.
Stretch your comfort zone
You will only get more confident if you decide to take action. But the key is to make your action steps as small as they possibly can be. Tiny steps forwards each and every day will add up to massive progress. Conversely, if you try and take steps which are too big and too far outside of your comfort zone, you will become overwhelmed and disheartened.
Keep a Journal
One of the simplest things you can do to boost your riding confidence is to keep a journal. Write down at least one thing you have done each day to build your riding confidence. Over time, you’ll look back and see how far you have come on your confidence journey.
Make your mindset and riding confidence a priority
If you’re struggling with a loss of confidence when riding, it won’t get any better if you keep burying your head in the sand! You can become a more confident rider, however this will only happen if you make it a priority. Just like learning to ride, there are a wide variety of tools, techniques and strategies that you need to use to help you become a confident rider, so make your mindset a priority so that you and your horse can reap the benefits.
Want to know more?
Let me know if this is helpful, and if you’d like to find out more about how to build your riding confidence, click here.