Overcoming confidence issues in your riding

Riding is always a challenge but (mostly) very rewarding. However, when you struggling with confidence it can be a little be overwhelming. Jemma Whitlam, UKCC level 3 showjumping coach, breaks down how you can get back to your best.

As a coach I have helped many people overcome all sorts of confidence issues in their riding, as well as obviously having to deal with my own as a rider. Sometimes it’s the confidence to just get on their horse, other times it’s been to leave the floor, jump a certain type of fence or it could be confidence at competitions. Hopefully some of the following tips will help you out if you are suffering from any sort of problems with your confidence.

1.Take the pressure off yourself.

Take things slowly, one step at a time. Don’t worry about what other people think. Most people are too busy thinking about themselves to worry about what you’re doing. Give yourself time to overcome your issues so you can work through things productively. This may mean giving yourself small, attainable goals that help you on your way.

2.Do what you feel comfortable with/practice what you’re good at.

By staying in your comfort zone to start with and doing the things you are good at you train yourself to enjoy riding/being around horses again which will make it easier to battle your demons when they arise.

3.Find people you trust to help you through it.

This could be a coach, a friend or a family member depending what it is you’re having issues with. Having someone on the floor when you are riding that you trust not to put you into a situation you’re not comfortable with can help you to overcome your fears. The trust is important as when they do start to nudge you out of your comfort zone you feel they can be in control of the situation and not ask you to do anything you or your horse aren’t capable of. Also having a good support network of non judgemental people to talk things through with is very useful.

4. If possible pinpoint the reason you are not feeling confident.

This could be because of some sort of an accident, a horse who has misbehaved and put you off or maybe even just because you’ve had some time out from riding. If you know where your lack of confidence stems from it will make it easier to get the help you need to get back on track

5.Be careful where you ask for advice.

While social media and forums can have their uses please be careful about taking advice from them. You don’t know the credentials of the people offering the advice and without knowing the specifics of you and your horse in detail the relevance of their advice could vary. Also, no matter how much these platforms try to be supportive and non judgemental you could easily end up feeling judged and having your confidence knocked even more. Finding yourself a coach who understands you and your horse would be much more beneficial as well as getting other professionals such as sports psychologists involved if necessary.

6. Don’t be afraid to try!

It’s generally the things we don’t do that cause us our biggest regrets. Bravery is not about feeling no fear, it’s about being scared of something and doing it anyway. Reward yourself for every tiny step you take no matter how insignificant you think it might seem to other people.

Good luck everyone! It can be tough when you’ve lost confidence but stick with it and when you make it out the other side it will all seem worth it. Remember the whole idea of riding and being around horses is to enjoy it whether you’re a professional rider, an amateur who enjoys hacking out or anything in between.

Got any questions around the above? Or after some further advice on helping with your riding confidence? Drop it in the comments below or get involved over on our Facebook.

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