Before becoming a mindset coach, I used to train horses, after having my second child I really struggled with my nerves. As it was my job, I found ways to overcome them. Coupled with learning about mindset I’ve been able to compile a list of things you can use to help gain control of your nerves and become a confident rider.
1- Positive self-talk – How are you talking to yourself on a day-to-day basis? Are you telling yourself you’re not a confident rider? That you’re not a good rider? That your horse is flighty and is going to throw your off? If these are the things you’re telling yourself, this is what you are going to believe, and if you believe them to be true it will create nerves. This is the way your brain tries to avoid what it thinks to be a dangerous situation. If you want to be a confident rider, tell yourself you are; tell yourself you a competent rider and you can handle whatever your horse throws at you.
2- Think of a positive outcome – My nerves used to kick in when I was about to mount. My mind would run away with me and I would think of every disaster that could possibly happen. When I started to work on my mindset I found that if I gained control of my thoughts and focused on the ride going brilliantly, it would calm my nerves and I was able to mount and go and enjoy the ride.
3- Visualise positive outcomes – Think of a previous time when things went great. For me I like to picture a horse I used to ride as a teenager. I had so much fun riding him and always felt safe and confident. Now if I think of him before I ride, I always feel more confident.
Another way visualisation is brilliant is to picture yourself being the confident rider you want to be, really connect to the feel of how you’d act, what you’d say and do. You mind doesn’t know the difference between reality and what you tell it; so do this often enough and your mind will begin to believe you are confident.
4- Find a mantra – If you find your nerves occur when you’re riding, maybe when you get to a certain place or your horse begins to behave in a certain way, it may help to think of a mantra or saying you can repeat to yourself to calm you down. Repeat it to yourself in a nice, slow calm voice. For example, “I am a capable rider and I am safe and secure in the saddle”.
5- Sing – When I was riding new horses and I could feel them tensing up but I didn’t know how they were likely to behave, I found singing would always help calm us both down. For the rider it takes your mind off the negative thoughts going around your head, in turn your body starts to relax, which helps the horse to relax.
6- Shake the nerves off – Horses react to our body language. If we are nervous and our bodies are tense, the horse will sense this. They look to us to be their leaders, so they automatically think there is a reason to be nervous if we are. They will start to be on the look out and on their toes, which then makes the rider even more nervous. Before you get on your horse if you have any nerves literally shake them off, shake your arms and your legs. Really imagine you’re shaking those nervous away, feel them disappear as you do it.
7- Positive affirmations – When you’re away from your horse you still need to be in control of your thoughts. Whenever negative thoughts about your riding ability or of how things can go wrong come into your mind stop them straight away by replacing them with positive thoughts. Tell yourself throughout the day “I am a great rider” or “I am capable rider”.
Regional Reporter - Mid Wales
I am an equestrian Confidence and Mindset Coach. I help riders and equine business owners to transform their mindset and hit their goals. I’m a certified NLP Practitioner and I love helping people to start believing in themselves and find their true worth. I’m a mum to two little boys we live on a farm in Wales, with our small herd of Shetland Ponies and my welsh Cob Red. We love nothing more than exploring the beautiful welsh countryside with our dogs and visiting the coast in the hope of spotting some dolphins.