In partnership with Petplan Equine

To feel confident in the saddle, it’s important to have a good sense of self-belief. After all, if you don’t trust yourself, how can you expect your horse to? But it can be difficult to banish self-doubt and think positively, especially if you’ve had negative experiences, like a fall or bad results at a competition. If you’re looking to compete in the future, or even just enjoy riding at home, you need to feel confident in the saddle and in yourself.

At one point or another, many riders will have asked themselves the question: am I good enough? It can feel isolating thinking this way, but it’s important to know you’re not alone.

“I cannot tell you how common it it to hear this belief or this fear amongst riders,” assures Annika McGivern, an equestrian mental performance coach. “I hear it over and over again, across the hundreds and hundreds of riders that I’ve worked with. It’s an experience and belief I’m familiar with myself; it’s something that certainly haunted me in my early years as a rider.”

What is ‘good enough’?

Many of us fall into the trap of defining what ‘good enough’ means by associating it with outcomes or results, such as finishing in a certain place at a competition, scoring a certain mark for our dressage test or jumping a clear round. But this often means that our standard of ‘good enough’ is constantly changing, and we never quite achieve it.

“If you have a core belief that you’re not good enough, then why would you trust in your capacity to make good decisions?” asks Annika. “These core beliefs really shape our reality and the problem here is the core belief around not being ‘good enough’ and needing to hit certain objectives or targets or get certain results in order to feel good enough.”

In the following video, Annika, who works in partnership with Petplan Equine, explains how you can conquer self-doubt and feel good enough as a rider, no matter what you want to do with your horse.

Re-defining ‘good enough’

“The solution to the problem is that we have to re-define what ‘good enough’ means,” says Annika. “It has to be re-defined in terms of things that we have 100% control over.” So what do we have control over? Annika recommends these three things:

  1. How much effort you put in
    “This means being present, managing your mind, managing yourself, so that you can be fully there,” says Annika.
  2. How you manage your mistakes
    “It’s not about not making mistakes, it’s about how we react and respond to the mistakes when they happen to ensure that we’re learning from them,” explains Annika.
  3. How much fun and enjoyment you’re experiencing
    “Are you looking for the joy that exists in all the beautiful little moments when you’re riding and things come together?” asks Annika.

Applying this to everyday life

So how can you start to apply this to everyday life?

“The first step is to really commit to this new definition of what ‘good enough’ means,” says Annika. “It’s important to note that it may not feel true right away, but it’s important that we start the process of mentally committing to this new idea of what good enough means, or what it means to be good enough, and eventually the feeling will catch up to that and start to feel true.”

Find out more about Annika and Petplan Equine Area Festivals

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