Coach's corner: 6 tips for riding confidence

Meet our newest blogger, Annelise from A* Equestrian. In her 'Coaches Corner' blog, she'll be chatting technical tips and how to think yourself positive in the saddle. 

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I've been wondering what to write about for my first ever blog for Your Horse. 

I wanted to make sure it was something that applied to most people, and after a bit of thought, I figured confidence would be the perfect theme to kick off Coaches Corner with!

Do any of these situations remind you of anyone (including yourself)?

  • That dress lurking at the back of your wardrobe. You know it fits because you've tried it on umpteen times in your bedroom and you're desperate to wear it out and feel fabulous but... NOT. JUST. YET.
     
  • You have an exam fast approaching. The night before D-day, you lay in bed tossing and turning, knowing full well that you've done all of the revision you need and have worked incredibly hard to prepare, but…
     
  • You know you can ride the test at home, but as soon as you get into the dressage arena it all crumbles, and your horse won’t even move off your leg anymore.

Confidence - we all have it, we all want to keep it, and at some point we've all lost it!

Here are my favourite confidence-creating habits that you can use with horses (as well as when you're away from them). 

1. Fake it 'til you make it!

Now, obviously, nothing can replace hard work and knowledge. I mean, knowledge is power right? I’m not saying fake it to other people and pretend to be something you're not, BUT what I am saying is fake it to yourself.

Yup, you heard that right. Fake it to yourself! 

Negativity breeds negativity. It’s a human trait to follow suit and find the bad in a situation.

If you keep doing what you've always done, then you'll keep getting what you've always got. 

So, try something different. Spin it around, tell yourself you've got this, get sassy and be that person you want to be!

2. Know your zone 

We all like to be in our comfort zone. Just beyond that is our stretch zone, and then into our danger zone. 

We don’t want to go near the danger zone (for obvious reasons!) but we do want to dip into the stretch zone.

Try doing something that makes you feel slightly out of your comfort zone (i.e. in your stretch zone) at least once a session when riding your horse. 

A regular ‘dip’ into the stretch zone will mean that, in time, our comfort zone becomes bigger and bigger, and in turn, our danger zone becomes smaller. 

3. Goal setting 

When you're working within the zones, create some goals. This might be something as simple as remembering to look ahead or sit up straight. 

Write the goals down and put them somewhere that you'll see them. This could be a post-it on your dashboard or a note on your fridge. Just to serve as a nice little reminder for when you need a boost.

4. Dress to impress 

Important meeting, first date, dressage test, lesson? Make sure you feel amazing. Take some extra time out to look good, get the red lipstick out or whatever it is that makes you feel extra special.

If this is something that you think will help you, then make sure you and your horse are clean and tidy, wear gloves, and make sure your tack is in a reasonable state.

It'll make you feel much better, and therefore much more confident. Don’t knock it, just give it a go, a little extra effort can make a huge difference.

5. Make yourself a mantra 

A mantra is a few words that you say to yourself to make you motivated. Decide yourself what this could be, whether it’s an order in which you get ready, or some time you spend with your horse while tacking him up.

Whatever it is, mark this as special time before riding. Have a few words that you say to yourself (not necessarily out loud). Practice this so it becomes second nature, just creating time to get in that mind frame will help tremendously.

6. Have a pre-riding playlist 

No matter what genre you prefer, there are bound to be some tunes that get you in the zone. Take some time out to make some playlists for individual occasions. You'll be surprised how much of an impact this has.

The most important thing is to be kind to yourself. This is your journey, and you'll make it there in your own time. Celebrate the achievements, no matter how small, and enjoy every step.

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