Overcoming Shaken Confidence about your riding – 5 Steps
by Dr. Mike Guerini, Ph.D. (www.dunmovinranch.com)
It has happened to each of us at one time in our riding career. Sometimes a well-meaning friend offers advice about our riding and we lose confidence. Sometimes it is an instructor or clinician or horse trainer that says something and we feel all alone and confused and upset about our present skill level. I think back many years ago to the first horsemanship clinic I attended… the clinician told me that I was not a good rider, my horse was not good, and my saddle was awful — and I was banished to a corner of the arena for the rest of the day. Needless to say, I was crushed and messed up in the head as I thought about what he said. I called home and shared the news with my folks and they asked me what my plan was for the following day. I told them — “I came to learn and that is what I will do.”
I am sharing this with you all to let you know that ALL of us have times when our riding confidence has been shaken or absolutely crushed. I look back on that clinic and clinician and I am thankful for the experience…because of what he said, I sought to improve and get better.
Here are the five steps I suggest to help you overcome times when your confidence is shaken.
1) Write down the comments and advice that you received — especially those key points that shook your confidence. Put the list away and then come back and read it a few days later. In the moment we are not always able to look at the criticism or comment and find where it may help us….a few days later we can look it over once again and set up our homework.
2) Go for a ride on your horse. Sometimes the best way to regroup is to get back in the saddle and go for a ride. Do not worry about all the advice, just spend some time reconnecting with your horse and the love you have of riding and learning with your horse.
3) Share the experience and your notes with a trusted friend. Ask them to listen to what you are thinking and feeling. Sometimes just talking things through makes all the difference in you getting past the mental issue that has your confidence at rock bottom.
4) Go for a ride on your horse. This bears repeating. Get back in the saddle and get back to riding.
5) Schedule your next riding lesson or clinic. Continue to learn and seek improvement. The clinician who told me I was not good was right (on most aspects). I needed a better saddle, I needed to ride better, I needed to plan my riding better. The clinician was wrong in one aspect — my horse was good (she still is good) — I just needed to get better.
The big take away message for you is that you are not alone. We all have days when our confidence is shaken or seriously damaged. You have the power to move forward and get your confidence back — I believe in each of YOU.
Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at www.dunmovinranch.com. Dr. Mike is also part of Coach’s Corral (http://www.coachscorral.com/), an online Horsemanship Coaching program that specializes in video coaching and the 5 Ride Program. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (http://www.hydrot.com/).