When it comes to hacking, feeling confident is vital if you’re going to enjoy your rides out and relish every sight and sound. Of course, feeling confident isn’t an emotion you can just switch on but, with the right approach, it’s something we can all aspire to and achieve.
You need a positive mindset, the ability to be effective in the saddle and communicate well with our horse, and a well-trained, well-mannered horse who’s prepared to listen.If, like the vast majority of us, you’re plagued by ‘what if’ thoughts before a ride, try a simple visualisation exercise to rehearse what you want to happen. Ask any top rider how they prepare mentally for a competition and they’ll tell you they use imagery to ‘see’ themselves riding each movement in a test or approach to a jump. Hacking is no different.
The next time you feel yourself getting anxious and tense before a ride, take a deep breath, close your eyes and imagine riding your planned route. Imagine how your horse is moving, how you are thinking and feeling – and imagine things happening just as you would like them to in real life.
Do this enough times and your mind will start to focus on the positive, rather than dwelling on the negative. Most importantly, remember that even the most positive thinkers have negative thoughts now and again and we all suffer the odd pang of nerves. But if your worries are starting to take hold and damage your enjoyment of hacking, there’s help out there. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (or NLP) and other psychology methods can be hugely effective. The mind is a powerful tool and it can either help or hinder your riding.