At some juncture, in a rider’s Horsemanship journey, nearly everyone will be affected by a stage of low confidence. This feeling could be due to inexperience or an unfortunate equine incident, but regardless, it can negatively impact your equine practice and wreak havoc on your mental state. It can also have a significant impact on your progression and even affect the mood of your horse. Finding the best ways to boost your confidence and actively taking steps to improve your mental state will invariably improve your and your equine partner’s relationship and riding experience.
Some key confidence-boosting areas to focus on are, mastering the basics. Simple things such as proper riding posture, using the appropriate gear, and actively listening to your coach/instructor and horse will help.
Secondly, it is crucial to have a keen focus on what you are doing with your horse at all times. You should not let anything else going on in your life distract you. Remaining focused and positive will help keep you in a better headspace. Another essential step to improving your confidence in making an improvement plan. Creating an achievable plan for yourself can help you develop steps that work to your comfort level and allow you to focus on future goals.
Riding Confidence Books, Courses and Coaches
If you are still unsure of where to start, one option is reading books such as Complete Confidence by Cathy Sirett. This book gives you the concepts, steps and tools to progress to a more confident you. This book helps give you new ways of looking at your fears by helping you see the positives over the negatives. Complete confidence offers professional, experience-gained knowledge and insight that will help you develop mental resilience and give you the guidance you need.
Cathy Sirett also has several other offerings that can excel your confidence-boosting journey, such as the Complete Confidence Club (free), which offers communal support from others where you can share and grow together. There are also online courses that allow you to study and work at your own pace. Cathy also offers workshops, keynote speeches and coaching. You can choose which type of developmental format works best for you and be on your way to increased confidence and more positive experiences with your equine partner.
Several other wonderful coaches can help with your confidence-gaining goals, such as the highly qualified life and performance coach Helen O’Hanlon! She offers various services such as individual or group coaching sessions, coaching and wellness workshops, natural horsemanship lessons, and much more. Helen’s professional services can help improve your confidence, assertiveness, goal achievement, emotional intelligence and personal or professional development and performance. She can also help you with anxiety and stress management and aid the creation of new approaches and strategies.
There are many other tools and resources for those seeking to gain or regain a greater sense of Horsemanship confidence, including a book series (which will be coming soon) by Natasha Fountain, an instructor at Applied Equine Behaviour (AEB). It will be called the ‘A to Z of Confidence’ series, and you will want to keep your eyes peeled for its’ release.
Helen and Natasha are regular writers for Horsemanship Journal, sharing their confidence and mindset expertise with subscribers.
Bonding and Fitness
There are some areas that you can personally work on continuously that will significantly help your confidence, such as taking the time to form a strong bond and connection with your horse. A few ways to do this are through grooming, groundwork, positive reinforcement, just walking with each other, horse-play (such as interacting with different objects or obstacles), agility training and simply ‘chilling’ with your horse. Spending time together in active and inactive ways will help draw you closer together, as well as increase communication and understanding.
Physical fitness is another essential part of riding and taking care of all things equine. Owning and riding a horse is very physically demanding and can involve heavy lifting and the usage of many less-used muscles. You can better your mental state and confidence around horses or when riding by ensuring that you stay in good physical condition., this will come in handy when unusual or startling situations occur. It is important to develop a strong core and work on your balance and increase your stamina through cardio workouts such as cycling, running, or swimming.
Safety and Insurance
Another vital aspect of riding with confidence is ensuring that you use the appropriate gear and wear the proper attire. It is very common for injuries to occur when equipment malfunctions or you are wearing unsuitable items such as unsafe footwear. Safe footwear, mainly riding boots, can help prevent quite a few unnecessary injuries. Helmets when riding are also crucial for reducing the chances of a severe head injury. You can also invest in a crash vest and safety stirrups to help you feel a greater sense of security. If riding on the road, it is also essential to make sure you and your horse are easily seen with hi-vis gear; this will give drivers more time to react appropriately.
Having decent rider and equine insurance in place can also help give you a greater sense of confidence and security by knowing that you and your horse will be protected if the worst should happen. Horse rider insurance can help cover things such as dental treatment, public liability, personal accident cover, saddlery & tack and permanent total disablement. Insurance won’t help stop you from having an accident, but it will help ease your mind if an incident were to occur. Ensuring that your horse is well covered will also create less of a burden on your mind. It can cover death, theft, straying, vet fees, European use, transportation and livery, disposal costs and more.
There are a variety of ways for you to work on your equine confidence building. Whether you are new to the equine world or have experienced an incident that has shaken your confidence, you can start with focusing on perfecting the basics, taking things at your comfort level and developing a step-by-step plan as to what is best for your progression.
Complete single-mindedness when you are with your horse and focusing on the positive aspects of your interactions will also help to shift your mental state. There are also various books, courses, and coaches that can help you on your way down the confidence-boosting journey you need.
Ensuring that you are physically fit and taking the time to bond with your equine partner is also very important. Last but not least, you need to ensure that you and your horse have the safe, appropriate gear, and you should make sure that you are both well covered by insurance, should anything unfortunate happen.
Be sure to consider which confidence-building tools will work best for you and get yourself where, or back to where, you need to be mentally to have that positive, extraordinary and liberating horse-riding experience that first drew you into your riding journey.