Horse Riding – increasing confidence and success
For horse riders at all levels and abilities, I offer highly effective hypnotherapy that complements the work of horse riding instructors and the day in day out work that you do to improve your riding. I work on the important mental and emotional aspects of riding to improve confidence and performance, and enable each rider to get more from their experience on horseback.
Perhaps you are someone who knows you can ride much better, but somehow it does not come off, and you are left frustrated and disappointed as a result….or maybe you are someone who has never truly been confident on horseback, someone who perhaps has used a strong love of horses and riding to keep going in the hope that things will change over time, but confidence remains low…..or maybe you are someone who recognises the need to change riding habits and style but is just finding it difficult to make the changes in practice.
Whatever your issue, I am here to help. So whether you are a recreational or professional rider, in whatever discipline, hypnotherapy with me can improve your confidence and help discover success comes more easily, more effortlessly than you imagine..My hypnotherapy is tailored to meet each person’s needs and situation. I can can help riders:
- Be confident, calm and in control when riding or handling horses in general
- Overcome fears caused by falls or other bad experiences
- Improve results when competing
- Accelerate their ability to learn
- Discover how much more they are capable of.
- Get more enjoyment and satisfaction from their time on horseback.
Here is a typical response from riders I have helped…..
“I KEPT MY COOL something I never do! As a result we did it several times as part of the grid and couple of times as a stand alone (position is not the best I know), but I never jump this high at home only in lessons with my instructor who coaxes me gently without me realising! So today I feel great and cannot wait for my next hypnotherapy session. I can honestly really see and now start to feel the difference not only in my jumping but my flat work. This week I have been more focused, calmer and if things have gone wrong we have learnt from them not got frustrated. I feel like this week we have taken on the challenge and that mare has tried and given me 1000% it’s been the best riding week we have had!I honestly can not recommend Gerry enough” – Karen Allott, May 2018
Loss Of Confidence Is A Very Common Problem
One of the most common issues faced by equestrians is a loss of confidence. Sometimes this applies to one aspect of their riding, for example canter transitions or jumping, sometimes to all of their riding, sometimes to everything they do with their horse whether riding or dealing with the horse from the ground.
The Problem Is Not Always Related To A Specific Event
The loss of confidence may be related to a specific event such as a fall but often the rider does not know why their confidence has gone, all that they are aware of is a feeling of anxiety — or even sheer panic — when they think about riding.
For Some, Their Problems Are Context Related
Some riders lack confidence in a specific context such as out hacking, riding in an arena or at a competition. For others it may be related to a specific activity or problem such as fear of jumping, cantering, spooking, bolting, or rearing.. Again, these fears may be related to traumatic events in the past or the rider may have developed anxiety about what ‘might’ happen without any obvious reason.
The Balance Of Competence And Confidence
Of course, riding is a risk sport and there is always a balance between competence and confidence. If a lack of confidence is related to an insufficient level of competence then the solution will not be found only by changing thought patterns and emotional responses but by finding good professional equestrian support.
Two different areas affect your confidence with horses and riding. One is technical skill and the other is mindset. Have you ever seen a less technically skilled rider do better than a more skilled rider in a competition, in riding lessons or even while pleasure riding? Have you known a very skilled rider who is afraid of riding outside of the arena or a rider who does well when riding at home but falls apart when showing?
What makes the big difference in how confident you feel is your mind set. A positive mind set pushes you forward while a negative one holds you back and sabotages you.
If you want to build your confidence, the place to start is by recognizing these barriers that affect your mindset and what to do to get past them.
Barrier #1 – Focusing on what might go wrong. When your mind is running in circles about all the bad things that could happen, it’s impossible for you to focus on what is actually happening in the present moment. We become what we think about and self-fulfilling prophecies can occur.
What to do instead – Be here now. Stay present and in the moment by being aware of the environment, your horse and yourself. Is your horse really concerned about the wind blowing or is s/he tense because you are tense? When you pay attention to what is really happening now in this moment, you cannot be worrying about what might happen in the future. You can prevent things from falling apart – even if it’s only falling apart in your mind.
Barrier #2 – Worrying about the outcome. When your focus is on the end result, you miss out on the journey. You miss important steps that are needed in the process of getting there.
What to do instead – Focus on each step of the process. Stay present in the moment and avoid thinking too far ahead to the end result. You build a solid foundation by identifying and then taking each step that you and your horse need to take together to achieve your desired outcome.
Barrier #3 – Feeling judged by others. Performance anxiety can happen anywhere other people will see you riding. It could be in a riding lesson, at a horsemanship clinic or in a competition. When you worry about what other people are thinking, you get in your own way.
Let go of what others might think about your performance. Stop trying to read other peoples’ minds. Anyone with a negative opinion will quickly forget about you and move on to another target. People who care about you will support you. The opinion of anyone who doesn’t care about and support you does not matter. What other people think of you is none of your business! Just let it go.
Barrier #4 – Taking stresses and distractions from other areas of your life into the arena. You had a bad day at work. You had a disagreement with your kids or your partner. You got delayed by bad traffic, met poor drivers and now you’re late for your lesson. Day to day stresses cause physical and mental tension that continues to affect you long after the actual event occurred. And that tension and stress negatively affects your horse, your patience and your ability to learn.
What to do instead – Leave distractions and stresses from your life at the entrance to the stable. You really don’t want to take them along for the ride. If you really want to, you can pick them up on your way out of the door. Or you can also just decide to leave them there permanently. Slow down. Take a few deep, calm breaths. Stretch out your body. Clear your mind. If you can’t leave it behind, do yourself and your horse a favour. Give her/him a scratch and then walk away.
Barrier #5 – Being a perfectionist. It is unreasonable to look for perfection in yourself, your horse or your riding. It’s really is a journey. You will have good days and bad days. So will your horse.
What to do instead – Stop striving for perfection. In riding (as in life) there is always room for improvement. Recognize where improvement is needed without beating up yourself (or your horse). Re-read #2.
Barrier #6 – Over thinking or over analyzing. Riding well requires being able to feel your horse. It requires awareness for your own body as well as your horse’s body. When you over think, the left, analytical side of your brain takes control and limits your ability to sense and feel your horse (or your own body, for that matter) and to be aware of what is happening in the moment. Being too much in your head takes you out of your body.
What to do instead – think less, engage more. Engage the right, feeling side of your brain by tuning in to the rhythm and movement of your horse’s body, creating an image of how you want to feel (i.e. soft and light like a feather), or humming a tune that calms or inspires you.
Barrier #7 – Taking things too seriously. When you take things too seriously or only focus on results, riding stops being fun – for you and your horse. You aren’t having fun if you are constantly judging how well you performed or focusing on what ‘went wrong’ in every ride.
Have fun and enjoy your journey. You came to horses to have fun and because riding brought you a sense of joy, adventure and fulfillment. Just like us, horses are social creatures that thrive on interaction and play. Some rides need to be about training, but every ride needs to incorporate fun and light hearted interaction to avoid making your horse (and you) sour and resentful.
The bottom line – Being a confident rider requires both technical skills and the right mindset. Focusing on enjoying the time you spend with your horse (the journey) helps to build a better partnership and keeps your passion alive. When you are both relaxed, calm and enjoying your experiences together, you are open to learning and growth and performing to your best ability.