Fear can be very present in equestrian’s lives, leaving you wondering how some riders are never fazed. In this post, I’ll be talking about how to become a confident equestrian!
I hesitated to slide my foot into the stirrup, hands trembling as I pulled myself into the saddle. It was the spring of 2020 and I was going to canter my horse for the first time since the accident. Getting thrown off and then having your leg crushed by a thousand-pound animal is nothing to scoff at after all.
It wasn’t that I believed I couldn’t do it; rather, that my thoughts were drowning in “what ifs” and “should haves”.
We trotted around for a little while. Had spook here and there as it was a windy day, nothing out of the ordinary… UNTIL my trainer asked me to pick up the canter – and you better believe I was praying my heart out to the Lord.
We went around again and again until I asked my trainer if we could start in a corner. Fortunately, he [my trainer] was very understanding and agreed to my request. Alas, the time came: I slid my leg back a hair and asked for the canter. Still pouring my entire soul into prayer, Theo jumped right into it and it was a fantastic transition.
Let me tell ya: 99% of my fear and anxiety have never come true. Those scenarios that I muster up in my thoughts that “Surely this will be the day I die”? I’m still here. And I always feel silly shedding tears when nothing ever comes out of it.
Though I don’t get nearly enough saddle time, I’ve become a braver and stronger rider since… and you can too! Here’s how to become a confident equestrian!
Want to become a confident equestrian? Stop watching fail videos
I personally used to watch riding fails all the time, but I never realized how much it was negatively affecting my confidence. Every time I would go out to ride: was my horse going to bolt while I was mounting? Was he going to rear and fall backward onto me?
You watch these videos without even realizing that you’ll incorporate each and every fall into your mental routine. You could have the sanest, bomb-proof horse around, but your confidence can take a beating if you watch too many fails.
Discard the negative thinking
As I stated before, sometimes you’ll believe that you can; however, “what if’s” will overrun your mind.
Instead of thinking, “I can’t canter” try: “I’m going to canter 2 strides today and then I can be done.” This will challenge you without arousing too much fear at one time.
I think we tend to underestimate how powerful our minds really are.
It’s so easy to get into a repetitive thought pattern that will slowly decrease your confidence or prevent it from rising. If you can catch those negative thoughts before they become consistent and like second nature, I’m sure you’ll be able to gain confidence in no time.
Become a confident equestrian by being confident!
I can hear it now: “Wait- what??” But have you (I’m sure you have) heard the saying, “Fake it ’til you make it”? Well, it goes for confidence as well.
Look: you’re constantly walking out to the pasture, slumped over, looking at your feet, and doing a complete 180 if a horse even thinks about walking over to you… how do you think that’s affecting your confidence? Instead of letting you and your horse know that you can bravely approach the everyday activities of simply catching a horse, it’s the complete opposite, really.
You have to start treating the simple tasks with assertiveness and self-reliance. Otherwise, how can you expect to be brave through the hardships and mishaps?
At the end of the day, confidence is a choice – probably tough words to hear for many – but you’ll never truly be confident if you don’t give yourself the slack to do so.
You’ll get there!
If you always strive to have a stronger mindset, you will get there one day. But remember that ultimately it’s courage, not confidence, that will get you the furthest. After all, you can fake confidence, but you need the courage to achieve it.
And there you have it, folks: how to become a confident equestrian! By giving negative thinking the boot and faking it ’til ya make it… you’ll become the confident equestrian that young riders look up to in no time!
All the best,
New here? Get to know me!
Want more? Follow me on Instagram!