Here are 10 steps written by Bec Lording to enable you to start getting your confidence back, whether it be in the saddle or on the ground.
1. Recognise why you have lost confidence or require confidence.
Was it from a fall/injury
Over facing oneself
A long period of time between riding
Going to the next level with your riding
Not having a suitable mount
Lacking correct guidance and support
2. CHOOSE confidence
Once we recognise that we have a confidence issue, we then need to choose to become more confident. Choice is a powerful thing. Once we recognise what is holding our confidence back, we then need to choose and implement the strategies below.
3. Set a goal
Set a big picture goal and a short-term goal. Eg. big picture might be to compete in your first showjumping competition and the short term might be to participate in poles and grids clinics and lessons. Make sure your goals are SMART.
S – specific (or significant)
M- measurable (or meaningful)
A-attainable (or action oriented)
R-relevant (or rewarding)
T-time bound (or trackable)
We need to set a goal in relation to gaining more confidence. Here is a great template and outline of how to start setting SMART goals today.
Write your confidence goal down and visualise this each day.
Make a point of daydreaming about your confidence growing, see it blooming in your mind. Rehearse in your mind the activities you will do with your horse when you achieve the confidence boost. Positive mind rehearsals. Watch DVDs and people of higher levels, take notice of your role models.
5. NLP - Neuro-Linguistic Programming
By using positive language and eradicating negative words from our vocabulary will help retrain our patterns of thought. Instead of saying “I can't do that … “, we could instead say “That is challenging, however, it is possible…“ By using positive words we change our feelings about particular things. Our words have a huge impact on our mindset and those around us.
6. Surround yourself with positive people who support us.
A supportive and understanding friend, partner or coach is an enormous help when regaining confidence
7. Acknowledge anxiety is normal and learn strategies to manage this.
The fear of the unknown can be limiting, especially if we have already had a bad experience (had a fright or an injury).
Identify worrying thoughts
Sometimes a professional may be required eg doctor (medication) or psychologist
Regulate your anxiety before and during your horse activities. Keep visualising and talking positively.
8. Ensure your lifestyle is consistent with achieving your confidence goals.
Stay fit and healthy, regular exercise, eat well and get sufficient sleep. Ensure your body and mind, as well as your horse, is in good working order. Build your plan of action.
9. Regularly reflect on your accomplishments
It is easy to forget how far we have come when we are focused on our long-term goal. Give yourself a pat on the back every now and then.
10. The most important point to remember...
Ensure you have a good training schedule with realistic goals and a SAFE horse.
If you are on an unsafe or unsuitable horse in relation to your abilities and training you will set your confidence back further. Seek professional guidance from your coach and possibly a sports psychologist who specialises in equestrian activities.
Take steps every day to achieve your confidence goal.