Whether you're a beginner learning how to ride, or you have been riding for many years but have had a fall recently, gaining confidence can be really hard. Last year I had a massive knock to my confidence over nothing dramatic and finding it again took some time. Eventually with a lot of hard work and encouragement I grew in confidence and learned so much about me and Annie along the way. Now I'm here to help you find your confidence!
What do you fear?
The number one thing to understand is what you fear the most or caused your confidence knock. Until you know this it is difficult to find what you need to concentrate on.
For me, Annie started to refuse jumps a lot more than she ever had, which resulted in me falling off many times. Although I was never hurt badly, the fear began to grow each time we jumped. I lost a lot of trust in her. My fear was that I was get the wrong stride which would mean Annie would have more opportunity to refuse and that meant I was more likely to fall off.
How to move forward
Once you've determined the cause of your fear it's time to make a plan on how to resolve it. Before blaming the horse for being naughty please remember to check your horses health including the following:
And any other problems which may cause such an issue.
Everyone will have different issues but here's how I dealt with mine.
I tried keeping the jumps at a comfortable height to start and working them back up slowly. I hired a jumping instructor for a few lessons then I took on the advice and worked at my own pace. I understood why Annie was refusing and took that on board. Since wrong strides were what I feared most I set up ground poles which ensured I had the right strides. I also set up grids so I could increase the height of the jumps at the end without fixating on them like I would if they were a single fence.
Finding what works best for you
While many people may rush to assist you with their opinion, everyone deals with problems differently, so make sure you make a plan for yourself! You may need someone to push you and tell you how to jump bigger or you may just need to take things at your own pace. Either is fine! If you're not ready to be pushed then don't do it or it will most likely end in your knocking any confidence you have further.
Even the smallest improvement is something to celebrate and can go such a long way. If you're having lessons or if you have someone helping you, try to make sure it's always the same person so they can tell your what you've improved on. If you don't always have someone around film yourself, set your phone up on the fence on record and then watch yourself back. That's what I do!
Great news, progress has been made! Now what? Set yourself new goals. Maybe to jump higher or even just to be able to see strides clearer. Keep them small and achievable, you don't what to be back at square one!
Back on course
Hopefully you've grown in confidence now and learnt a lot along the way. Those videos you took of yourself and watched back or those tips your instructor gave you stay in your head. You will always have something new to work on, but accepting that is what makes you a good rider. You're still going to make mistakes and have set backs, but that's okay, you are now stronger than ever and know how to bounce right back.
Me? Well I'm back on course with Annie. We're flying over 1m20 again and plan on doing 80-1m courses this year. I now trust Annie again. I've left behind some bad riding habits and changed a lot about how we do things. We couldn't be better. I really hope that many others can grow and learn as much as I have this last year!
Just a few tips to help:
- Take criticism constructively
- Keep things fun
- Don’t be afraid to call it a day
- Always finish a ride on a good note
- If you need help, don't be afraid to ask for it
And if you ever have any questions, don't be afraid to message me!