A bit of a change in topic for me today! I am stepping away from fashion and style for a moment to focus on confidence and mindset for riding.
For a large majority of the years that I’ve ridden, I have faced the challenge of my own mindset. After some nasty and hair-raising falls in the past, the ghost of these moments has remained hidden in the back of my mind. Re-living those memories and the “what-if” moments my brain was expanding my fear bubble more and more. It would come to a point where I wasn’t enjoying my horse as much as I should. After all, we spend a good amount of our hard earned cash on our horses so the least we can do is enjoy them…. right??!
Sounds easy to enjoy your passion, surely that is something I should have been doing all along? My confidence had taken a knocking, so the fun factor was getting further and further away from me. If you have read my previous posts you will know that nerves is something I battled with for a while.
Lock-down hit us all with limited or no riding at all for a few months. (along with the worry of the crazy pandemic) I chose not to ride during the worst of it. However, I was still fully prepared to keep my now 30 year old mare in work. Exercise for us both was something we needed and still do. I took to long reining my girl round the fields at our yard.
These fields have been a bit of a nemesis for me. Riding in an open space can be a red flag to some horses and two large sides of the fields run alongside a busy country road. My mare has always been wary of traffic and verging on dangerous with larger agricultural vehicles. So with this in my mind I had created scary visions of what could happen.
Long reining was a great exercise for both of us, but more so for me. It showed me that actually my mare was pretty well behaved and didn’t even flinch at the traffic that whizzed past the side of the fields. I realised that every time I was riding her I was feeding her my nerves and making her behave in a way that I was dreading. I was causing half the problem! Now that was a hard pill to swallow. To wake up to the fact that I had been creating the exact situation that I was hoping to avoid??
Watching my mare be so calm and relaxed did fill me with a bit more trust in her. It gave me a chance to reflect on how my actions were really affecting us both. Surely if I had passed down my nerves to her and produced a scary situation then I could learn to do the opposite?
Searching for help
Spending some time with my trainer and listening to many podcasts I have started to learn more about confidence and mindset. Top Olympic athletes will spend time visualising their victory event in their mind before participating in action. They will run through it in detail. Visualising what they see, feel, how they were breathing, even firing up the muscles that would be used. It is a known successful method in getting results.
I may not be anywhere near being a top athlete, but if they can go to those lengths to control their mind and bodies, surely I can learn to control my fear. If they work on their mindset and confidence then why can’t I?!
(Find out more on visualisation for sports here)
The next steps…
I got to work…. on my confidence and mindset! I started to change the story I was playing over and over again. It was a nicer story this time, one that meant I did enjoy my rides. I would spend time visualising the next time I would ride. Viewing in my mind what I would see, feel, smell and think during my rides before they even happen. Each time painting a happier picture than the last, choosing a better outcome than I had previously been expecting.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like flicking a switch and BAAMM I am fully confident again. Work – In – Progress!! Practise makes perfect and that is what I am working on right now. It takes at least 21 days of repeating something over to create a habit. Imagine how long I have been creating the wrong habits……
It’s a case of watch this space but so far I have come back from many rides and enjoyed myself and felt relaxed!!
I would love to hear your stories on mindset and I will keep you all posted on my progress!
For more on rider confidence be sure to check out my next post here.
Thanks for reading!