Rider Confidence: How to Believe in Yourself

Confidence is key for any horse rider.

It dictates how you approach your riding, how you interact with your horse, and how well you perform. A lack of confidence can lead to tension in the saddle and a reluctance to try new things. This can be detrimental to both the horse and the rider. Conversely, a confident rider is relaxed and open to new experiences. They are more likely to be able to communicate effectively with their horse, resulting in a better performance overall.

Confidence is key when it comes to horse riding. Whether you are just starting out or have been riding for years, having confidence in yourself and your abilities is so important.

Here are a few ways to boost your confidence and ride your horse like a pro:

1. Practice, practice, practice. The more you ride, the better you will become. Make a point to practice regularly, whether it is at home in the yard or at the stables. Do this in bite-size chunks to start with, small steps forward are better than no steps!

2. Get comfortable with your horse. Build a strong relationship with your horse by spending time grooming and talking to them. This will help you feel more comfortable around each other and will help your horse riding confidence.

3. Be patient and take your time; there is no rush! Don’t compare your journey to anyone else.

4. Book a lesson from a qualified instructor or a confidence coach. A good trainer can teach you the basics and really help make you a more confident rider. (See our previous post on having the right team for you)

5. Stay positive! Make a note of at least 3 positives from your ride. Focus on those and avoid dwelling on the negative points. The brain is a muscle and it will need the training to look for the positives.

6 Track your progress. You will be amazed how far you come along and that will help relieve your anxiety. It is a great thing to work on mindset and it really does improve your rider confidence.

Improve your Self-Belief with your horse riding

There is no doubt that horse riding takes confidence. It can be a scary experience, galloping along with an animal that is several times your size. However, the most successful riders are often those who can overcome any self-doubt and remain confident in their abilities.

Question is, how do you build up this confidence? Firstly, it is important to have a positive attitude and believe in yourself. – YOU CAN AND YOU PROBABLY ALREADY HAVE!!

Fear has a way of wiping out self-belief, but you can get it back and it doesn’t have to be a struggle.

Secondly, practice makes perfect! (see above… and believe me, it does work.) That’s right, even the top riders have room for improvement, even with their confidence.

An instructor once said to me, that miles on the clock help improve your rider confidence, and I do think that is true. So get riding your horse, don’t put it off!

Riding regularly will help you to improve your skills and build confidence in the saddle.

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from others. Fellow horse owners and trainers will be more than happy to help you out and give you some tips on how to improve your riding. Lessons will help improve your horse riding, which will enable you to feel braver and get your horse riding confidence back!

With a bit of hard work and dedication, it will pay off!

Remember, focus on what you can control. Don’t worry and dwell on the ‘what ifs’. Instead, take a breath and remind yourself of the riding skills you have developed already. Be mindful of the situations that raise your anxiety, and make a slow process on building up to being fully in that situation when you are truly ready.

Riding your horse is meant to be fun. You want to enjoy your riding and not spend the whole time worrying, it isn’t a good spiral to fall down!

Develop a Strategy for Building rider confidence.

One way to build riding confidence is to set realistic goals. Trying to accomplish too much at once can often lead to frustration and thus a lack of confidence. When riders break down their goals into smaller, more manageable tasks, they are able to see progress and this builds their confidence step by step. What a good way of reaching a sense of achievement with mini-goals!

It is ok to remind yourself that we all have good days and bad days, but focusing on your mini goals will keep your mindset on track and it will feel more achievable despite the odd bad day!

Your horse may not have good days all the time too, and that is ok. Set yourself a plan for each ride, and aim for positive experiences, even if you have to lower your expectations for that one day, breathe, reset and try again the next day!

Tips for planning your ride:

  • Start off in walk, focus positively on how your horse’s walk feels, and what exercise you can ride in a walk such as circles, serpentines, and shallow loops.
  • Keep it slow and steady, and enjoy being back in the saddle. Stay present, notice how your hands hold the reins, where is the tension in your body? Is your body moving to your horse’s stride? How is your balance? Tune into your body and it will help you feel a little more in control of your nerves.
  • Once you’re ready, move into the trot. Carry out the same exercises that you did in the walk, give yourself something to focus on whilst in the trot.
  • Move up to some poles on the ground and enjoy gradually building up on each movement.
  • Give yourself an aim each time you ride, I promise it will help you build up the positive tank and reduce those nerves!
  • Journal about your ride……reflection is a great tool!

Becoming a confident horse rider will take time but the effort you put in will be so worth it! Every ride is a step in the right direction, you’ll learn so much about yourself and your horse in the process!

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