Equine confidence coach Helen Rennie shares her advice for rebuilding your confidence after suffering an injury after a bad fall.
It’s common to lose confidence after a fall.
As humans, we're born with an innate fear of falling, so dropping from your horse can trigger a fear response and make you reluctant to get back in the saddle.
This is especially likely if you’ve sustained an injury.
It’s important to think of your recovery in four steps.
Step 1: Make sure you feel physically strong enough to ride
Any doubt about physical fitness will impact your confidence, so you should treat your riding as a rehabilitation programme.
Take small steps and work within your own physical capability. Progress doesn’t need to be fast, it should be steady.
Take everything at your own pace rather than rushing.
Step 2: Focus on your mental recovery
Be kind to yourself and take small steps. To begin with, only do types of riding that you’re comfortable with and at a level that's right for you.
This means working within your comfort zone rather than trying to challenge yourself too soon.
If your fall happened when jumping, you may find you feel comfortable working on the flat, but shaken when a fence is put up.
In this instance, reintroduce yourself to jumping using poles on the ground and gradually build up to jumping again.
Step 3: Acknowledge and defeat anxiety
As you return to riding, the memory of your fall may worry you. You may be afraid of getting injured again or feel concerned about what your horse will do.
Returning to the same place or situation you were in just before your fall may trigger anxiety.
The most effective way to address this is to work with a psychology coach or a master NLP practitioner.
Step 4: Use confidence-building strategies
It could be as simple as writing a plan for getting back to the activities you did before, or creating two or three short-term goals to help you focus positively when you ride.
- What success would look like for you in the next month
- What you’ll be doing with your horse
- What would be the best thing about achieving that
Measuring your progress is important because it'll give you a sense of achievement. Only set goals that are realistic and achievable. Having a positive mental attitude is crucial to regaining your confidence. Good luck!
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