Gosh it’s almost a month since I posted Part 1, time has flown recently!
Anyway, better late than never and here is Part 2 which completes the alphabet.
N is for NERVES. Feeling nervous at times is an absolutely normal part of being human. learning to accept and acknowledge the phusical and mental sensations of anxiety and then work with them instead of trying to deny them and force them away will help your confidence enormously. It takes practice but it is so worth it.
O is for OMG! Let’s face it we all have those moments when we ride. Times when you get a fright, fall off or something unexpected happens. What we need is the mental resilience to learn from any mistakes we’ve made, accept whatever has happened and then put the event behind us and move on. This isn’t always easy but it is important to develop the mental skills necessary to be able to learn and move on. If we don’t do this then the effects of an OMG moment can interfere with our enjoyment of riding. Once these skills have been learned then confidence increases and therefore riding confidence soars.
P is for POSITIVITY A huge part of my job is helping riders to understand the importance of focussing on the positives rather than the negatives. learning to change your thinking really does change your life. Identifying what you are saying to yourself, and therefore believing, is the first step towards making these important changes. So why not spend some time noticing your thoughts and the things you are saying to yourself, then challenge them if you need to. At the end of the day a useful exercise is to write down three positives fromyour day so that you can end your day feeling good about your achievements. Try it and let me know how you get on.
Q is for QUESTION if you need help, then ask. If you don’t know how to do something then ask. If something doesn’t make sense to you then ask again. Find people who’s opinions you respect and who have your best interests at heart and ask away. Can you help me? Can you explain how? I don’t understand, please can you explain? Admitting that you need help isn’t a sign of weakness, it is simply an acknowledgement that you are prepared to learn. Asking the question can be the first step to making changes which will help your confidence to grow.
R is for RESILIENCE Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. I can’t promise any rider that they will never fall of or find tehmselves in a tricky situatiion. However, I can help you to develop techniques to learn from these situations, move on and put them in the past where they belong. Developing resilience will help you in all areas of your life and once you discover that you have the capacity to quickly recover then your riding confidence will soar.
S is for SUCCESS Success is the achievement of goals. Be proud of every single success, great and small. Every success is made up of thousands of small ones and is the result of many hours of hard work. So be proud of all of your successes.
T is for TIME It takes time to make changes. Time is precious and we all have many different demands and commitments so sometimes we really need to plan out time effectively in order to make these changes. A bit of time management planning will help any feelings of being overwhelmed and will help us be more efficient in the use of our precious time. When we feel more in control and less overwhelmed then confidence will grow.
U is for UNDERSTANDING Often the first step to making changes is to develop an understanding of what is going on and why. If you need help with this then it is important to consult someone who can understand the issue and has the expertise to help you to work out the necessary strategies to deal with it.
V is for VICTORY Victories may be tiny or they may be enormous, they may be achieving something for the very first time or winning a huge international event, Behind each victory is a huge amount of hard work, detemination and ability to overcome setbacks. So celebrate your victories large and small. What victories have you had recently?
W is for WILLING Are you willing to learn? Are you willing to make changes? Are you willing to work hard? Are you willing to accept help? Making changes can be very challenging and begins with an acceptance that in order to fulfil your riding goals it may be necessary to change the way you are doing things. If you are having difficulty and are willing to learn then please do get in touch.
X is for X-FACTOR We can all come up with our own interpretation of X-Factor but what I mean at this moment is the feeling we get when everything is going well whilst riding a horse. That feeling when the boundary between horse and rider is blurred, giving harmony and total absorption in the moment. Can you think back to a time when this has happened for you? They are moments to treasure. It doesn’t have to be spectacular, perhaps out on a hack, galloping along the beach or achieving a clear round. treasure these moments and remember them when times are more challenging.
Y is for YET Such a small but such a powerful word. Instead of saying “I can’t do something” try adding the word YET onto the end of the sentence. it immediately changes the meaning of what you have said and implies that youare moving towards being able to do it in the future. try it and then see how you feel.
Z is for Zzzzz We’ve come to the end of the alphabet so it’s time for a rest. But this can be a metaphor for riding too, it doesn’t all have to be about goals, progress and making changes. Sometimes it’s good just to simply rest, have a break, spend some time simply watching your horse in the field, have some fun with your friends. Then after your rest you can pick up the reins agiain with renewed vigour.
So that’s the end of this list for the moment. I could start again from A and come up with 26 different words related to riding confidence and I may well do that in the future as this list certainly isn’t definitive.
Thanks for reading and, as always, any comments are very welcome.
I recently completed an Instagram challenge, which I had set myself, which was to come up with an A to Z of Riding Confidence. I enjoyed the challenge and was pleased to get some lovely positive feedback and also that some other people joined in. On finishing I promised to collate the A to Z into a blog so here goes….. I’ll do it in two posts so that hopefully you can enjoy reading each whilst having a coffee or a relax.
A TO Z OF RIDING CONFIDENCE PART 1
A is for ATTITUDE. Your attitude towards something is the way you think and feel about it and it shows externally in your behaviour. So what is your attitude towards riding? Do you ride purely for fun or are you a serious competitor or, infact, somewhere in the middle? Are you prepared to work hard to achieve your goals and do you accept personal responsibility for your progress?
B is for BELIEF. If you believe that you can do something then you are most definitely well on the way to being able to do it. Conversely, if you believe that you can’t do something then you will struggle to achieve. Changing your thinking (belief) will help you to change your behaviour and this is something that you most definitely can do if you set your mind to it and ask for help if you need it.
C is for CALMNESS. A calm mind and a calm body will help you to focus, ride in a confident manner and achieve your riding goals. It will help you to get rid of unnecessary tension which, as we all know, your horse will pick up on. Calmness doesn’t necessarily equate to relaxation it is simply an ability to be comfortable in your body and in your mind without excessive concern or worry.
D is for DETERMINATION. Decide what you want to get from your riding and be determined about working towards getting there. Derterminedly working towards achieving your goals will help to boost your confidence. Determination is the quality you show when you have decided what you want and you won’t let anything stop you.
E is for ENERGY. Spending time worrying will sap your energy, anxiety can be exhausting. So when you are feeling more confident then you will have more energy to put into your riding. When you give more energy to your riding your confidence will increase. WIN WIN!
F is for FUN. Fun is what it’s all about, or at least I hope it is. What do you really enjoy doing with your horse? What makes you smile? What makes you laugh? Can you have a laugh when things go wrong rather than taking it all very seriously? Have a think about the times when you have had most fun with horses and make sure that you do them again. Simply having fun will boost your confidence.
G is for GOALS. Setting SMART goals will help you to move forwards and out of your comfort zone. Ticking off short term goals and then re-setting is such a useful way of pushing yourself and measuring progress. The by-product of goal setting is an increase in CONFIDENCE.
H is for HORSE. Having the right horse for you and for the activities you like to do with your horse is so important. You can feel as though you can conquer the world on one horse and on a different one may feel that a canter is too far out of your comfort zone. If you are worrying about riding your horse then it’s important to ask yourself the difficult question “Is this horse right for me, given my current level of skill and experience?” Being ‘over-horsed’ can be a frightening and potentially dangerous situation. if you are worried then seek advice from someone who’s opinion you respect and who has your bst interests at heart. Then once you are riding a suitable horse your confidence will return and you can continue to make progress towards becoming the rider you wish to be.
I is for INSPIRATION. Who are you inspired by? What is it about them that you admire? is it their horsemanship, their devotion to their craft or to their horses, thier mental strength? Can you apply these ideas to your own riding and identify areas to work on? Recognising your strengths and challenges will boost your confidence.
J is for JOY. A bit like F is for FUN! It’s not all about making progress and setting goals. When did you last do something with your horse and experience pure joy? Whether it’s simply watching him in the field, giving him a cuddle, going for a quiet hack or having a crazy gallop do whatever brings you pure JOY
K is for KINDNESS. I urge you all to show kindness towards those around you. We sadly often hear accounts of unkind behaviour in the horse world and surely this has to be unacceptable. Differences of opinion can be resolved by good communication and compromise. if you see someone struggling with their confidence then why not kindly offer to lieten to them andassist them to find the appropriate help. Kindness makes the world a better place for all of us.
Of course, kindness towards our horses is a must and there is never an excuse for ill treatment of these beautiful animals.
L is for LIFE. How do you fit riding into your life? Or is it how do you fit life into your riding?! Do you plan your riding time into your other commitments or do you feel as though you are constantly chasing your tail and are never able to focus on one thing at a time because you have so many demands? If life is chaotic then why not make some time to do a bit of planning? mark off those times to ride and then get on and ride at those times without distraction. Time management will help you to focus on what is really important to you, help you to be more mindful and ultimately help your confidence. Give it a go!
M is for (riding in the) MOMENT. Being mindful and rising in the moment is enormously helpful for confident riding. Avoiding trying to anticipate what could happen in the future and making sure that you aren’t unnecessarily holding on to past events is so important. If your horse is moving in the direction of your choice at the pace of your choice at any moment in time then everything is OK.
it takes time and practice to fel comfortable riding in the moment but it really is worth the effort.
So there we have A to M and I will finish the alphabet in my next blog post.
Thanks for reading this and please do get in touch if I can help in any way or feel free to comment.
My name is Audrey McGregor Williams and this is my beautiful five year old traditional cob Springtime Breche.
I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to buy Breche when she was a three years old, through riding her mum, so I already knew that she was the type of horse for me and that her temperament was the same as her mother’s, but as an older rider and first time horse owner with limited riding experience, I was already apprehensive and wanted to ensure that she had the best possible start regarding her education, so I brought her to be backed and schooled properly by Karen with the help of Abbie Pearson here at KA equestrian.
This was a very positive experience for both Breche and myself, as I felt confident and assured that the process had been carried out in a professional and sympathetic manner with lots of opportunity to pop along and visit throughout her four weeks at Karen’s.On returning to the livery yard we were at, I then started to have a couple of lessons a week on her from a lovely lady who had experience with youngsters. I also had a very competent young rider schooling her once a week and all was going well. We returned to Karen’s the year later to have a lesson and run through a wee dressage test. I was feeling really pleased with our progress.
Things started to change and Breche developed a resistance to even approach the mounting block never mind standing at it. This led to me falling off at the block and fracturing my coccyx which followed on to a huge anxiety issue for us both.
On investigating further and taking more advice as to why Breche was resisting at just getting the saddle on now and didn’t want to be ridden became apparent, she had a sore back. We then followed on with what seemed like a very long process of saddle fittings and lunging.
It was at this point a livery place became available at KA Equestrian and although we were very happy where we were, it seemed too good a chance to miss out on and I contacted Karen and we moved within a couple of weeks.
Since coming to Karen’s we have had the lovely equine osteopath Emily Cuthill to look at her. Emily then advised that we should only lunge Breche for 6 weeks to build up her back muscle which we did. We then had another dentist visit along with another saddle and bit fitting.
After the process of elimination was complete Breche was still unhappy at the mounting block and had now associated it with pain. At this stage my confidence was at it’s lowers ever and I radiated fear and worry which didn’t help the situation. I knew that I had to have help with this and it was now about me and my actions to overcome my thoughts.
Team KA is a group of young riders based at KA equestrian and is generously sponsored by the lovely Jane Brindley from “Horse Riding With Confidence” and although I am no longer young lol …. I was encouraged by the work that Jane did with the group and wanted to be included, so after attending my first session with Jane, Karen and the rest of the fab young riders I found inspiration in the fact that we all had different goals and challenges of equal importance, where we needed to also look at our achievements and what we needed to work on. Feeling part of this has given me new focus and determination.
I realised that what Jane was saying was exactly what I needed to do. I needed to look at exactly what my anxiety was about and where I wanted to be next year. Identifying my goals and talking about them openly with others really made a difference, and putting a time on this too, which I think has been the most helpful way of thinking for me.
As a direct result of my session, I felt I was more aware of what my anxiety was around and challenged this at the mounting block with some invaluable initial support from Abbie, I have now managed to get on my beautiful pony without any issues. In only one month I have taken Breche to our first showing clinic and taking part in the riding sessions with Team KA.We have definitely made huge progress in only a few weeks with a decreased level of anxiety which had allowed me to now concentrate on improving my riding and enjoying my relationship with Breche.
I will continue to meet with Team KA once a month and benefit from the team spirit and inspiration that comes with it. I also plan to have a weekly lesson with Karen when possible as this is also encouraging and motivating. We have another showing clinic booked with Brian Williams an Hilltops Equestrian at the end of March….I never expected to be moving on so quickly and I feel amazing!
I am honoured to work with the members of Team KA helping them to develop a positive mindset, to make the most of their riding opportunities and to be focused as they set out on their competitive journeys. Each team member has their own strengths and challenges and some will be contributing blog posts throughout 2018. Here is a lovely post from Bethany and I am enormously grateful to her for her kind words about the work we do together.
My name is Bethany, I’m a 14 year old equestrian who met Jane through Team KA, a team of young riders based at KA Equestrian of whom Jane is a sponsor.
Jane has very kindly invited me to write a blog for her about my experiences with confidence and how her sports psychology sessions have benefitted my riding mindset.
I’ve had my fair share of confidence knocks over the 7 years that I’ve been riding. My horse Tia was only 4 when we bought her, and as the owner of a young horse I’ve definitely learned a lot about ‘bouncing back’ from bad experiences.
A good example of this is a fall I had not long before Christmas last year, in which Tia was spooked by horses in the field and bucked me off. This accident landed me in hospital for a day, which was a fairly scary experience.
Finding the courage and confidence to get back on after a bad fall is never an easy thing to do. As humans, our natural instinct is to avoid danger, and when put in a situation we know to be potentially dangerous, we tend to try our best to avoid it.
“Getting back on the horse” is a term used quite often in reference to other challenges in our society, but us equestrians take it literally.
When faced with riding Tia again, I was admittedly pretty terrified. I kept replaying the fall in my head over and over until my memory of it morphed into something worse than what actually happened. Something that Jane talks about often is dramatising a bad experience. This can be through retelling the event, or even simply replaying it in our heads, as I did, and all of this can make the experience appear to us far worse than what it was in reality.
However I found the best way to overcome these fears and doubts was, to put it simply, to get on with it. I found that the longer I waited to get back on board, the worse my mindset became. The first ride back will always be the most nerve-wracking, but once it’s over, the feeling is so elating.
When I was younger, I was never a particularly confident or ‘gung-ho’ rider. Whilst all the other kids were keen to jump and gallop about, I was much more reserved with my riding. My first two ponies were both not quite right for me at the time, so by the time my third pony came along I had little confidence left.
My third pony Andre was what is known in the equestrian world as a ‘confidence giver’. He was a been-there-done-that kind of pony, which was exactly what I needed. In the space of 2 and a half years, he took me from a nervous, tense rider to flying round cross country, jumping a metre and galloping through fields.
I think that in some cases people can be ‘over-horsed’, and this was definitely the case for my first two ponies. It can take a few gos to find the perfect pony or horse to suit you, and you won’t gel or bond with every single horse you meet/ride.
But that makes finding your dream horse that much more amazing!
I hope that you all enjoyed this little blog I put together, if you enjoyed me in general and would like to see more of me and my journey with Tia then you can follow my Instagram, @brp.equestrian!
Another huge thanks to Jane for letting me write this blog post for her! Her sessions have been incredibly beneficial to me and I hope to continue to have the privilege of her services throughout 2018.
Yesterday evening I was recording a short video piece with a friend which gives a couple of tips for Winter motivation so I thought I would write about this subject today in a little bit more detail.
In my opinion we have a choice about how we view the season of Winter. We can either spend the next few months moaning about it being too dark, too cold, too wet, too muddy or we can embrace this time of year and think of it as an opportunity. So here are my tips for some Winter Motivation.
1. Accept that we live in Scotland (or elsewhere in the UK/Europe/Northern hemisphere) where the Winter days are short and, let’s face it, it rains a lot! There is nothing we can do to change that. So, as always have a think about what you are saying to yourself eg ‘This is awful’, ‘The weather is ****’!
If you’re constantly telling yourself that something is awful then that is what you believe.
So, change it round into seeing it as an opportunity eg ‘At least there are no flies!’
2. Have a look at your goals. How did you get on during the Summer months? Is there anything that you need to work on? Once again, look at it as an OPPORTUNITY.
3. Are there any situations which you are avoiding eg riding on windy days or avoiding those shadowy corners in the arena?
Yet another OPPORTUNITY to do some de-sensitisation work.
4. No where safe to ride? Guess what? Another OPPORTUNITY!
Group together with some friends and hire an indoor arena. Make plans to ride out with other people. (You’re much more likely to do it if it’s in the diary).
5. Be nice to yourself.
Use plenty of moisturiser and lip balm.
Wear bright colours.
Drink hot chocolate.
Go for a sauna.
Think warming thoughts.
6. Missing the shows and events?
You’ve got it! Another OPPORTUNITY!
Investigate Winter leagues and arena events. Sign up and make a commitment.
Check back on your goals and measure your progress.
7. Work on your fitness.
Use the OPPORTUNITY to sign up for a pilates class.
Go for brisk walks with the dog.
Do some strength training.
Set yourself up for the Spring.
8. Pamper your horse.
If the weather is too bad to ride spend time with your horse instead.
Give him a good groom and thorough check over.
Adjust his feeding as necessary.
Give your tack a deep clean.
9. And if you really can’t ride…..
Don’t feel guilty, your horse won’t mind having time off.
Enjoy the extra time with family or non-horsey friends.
Read a book by the fire.
Make plans and set goals for 2018
So, I hope you enjoy the Winter Season and do let me know how you intend to make the most of the opportunities which come your way.
This week I feel as though a lot of hard work has come to fruition and I feel like celebrating that fact.
I’ve posted on Facebook about the things I’ve been doing with Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland this week but I think they are worth repeating for two reasons. Firstly, to remind all of you who read this that hard work does have benefits and secondly, to remind myself that I can be proud of the good work I have done.
There have been the usual 1:1 clients, I can’t talk about them specifically due to the importance of confidentiality but those people I am seeing at the moment are making good progress and I am happy about that.
Something new for me this week was presenting a talk to the new intake of Equine Studies students at Oatridge, Scotland’s premier Rural College. This was a challenge as I normally talk to small groups in a fairly relaxed and casual setting whereas in the college the group was about 70 students and therefore, by necessity, a bit more formal. However, I felt that it went well and I certainly enjoyed the afternoon. As I write this I’m waiting to hear the feedback but those who spoke to me at the end of the talk were positive and I am happy with that. The talk came about because one of the lecturers on the equine studies course attended a talk I’d given earlier in the year as a fund raiser for an old friend who was doing the Wobbleberry Challenge, she liked what she heard and felt that the students could benefit from the ideas I had spoken about.
Later on Wednesday I headed over to Lindores to talk to the riders attending the Equiteam Confidence Camp. I am a regular contributor at these camps and love going there and joining the riders for an evening. This time there were quite a few familiar faces and I was really delighted when some of them said things which showed me that they had remembered, and found useful, things which I had said at previous camps. This time we had a bit of fun and did some role playing. Everyone joined in, and as well as riding skills the campers showed great potential in the acting profession!
The following evening I returned to camp to join them for a demo by Catriona Goulding animal Physiotherapist. We painted three very patient horses to show the skeleton and major muscle groups and then listened to Catriona talking about how different ways of going and different types of riders affect the horse physically – fascinating stuff. It was fun being at camp in ‘off-duty’ mode and having the opportunity to chat with everyone again.
Tomorow I am attending the KA Equestrian open day to give a presentation on the use of visualisation as a tool to help riders to achieve their goals. I work regularly with KA Equestrian doing a monthly blog for them and sponsoring the Team KA by giving them coaching on the mental preparation for competing.
So, where was the hard work you might ask? It all sounds like a lot of fun when I read back through what I have written!
The hard work has come through many years of training and experience working with horse riders who for many reasons struggle with confidence issues. This has involved continued study and professional development which have allowed me to research and develop the information I share with clients either on a 1:1 basis or at a talk or workshop. The hard work has also involved pushing myself out of the comfort zone of working 1:1 and moving into a far more public arena of standing up infront of groups of people and hopefully educating them in how they can overcome the anxiety or fears which hold them back from achieving their riding goals.
If you have read this then I do hope that it may remind you that hard work really does pay off and I would love to hear from you about your own experiences which also prove this.
So, for me it has been a very good week and, what is even better, there are a lot more good things in the diary for the Autumn months.
How has your week been?
Well, here we are at the end of August, there is definitely an Autumnal feel in the air, leaves are beginning to turn colour and berries are ripening.
I am wondering how your Summer has been? What have you done wth your horses? Have you been out and about competing or have you been making the most of the light evenings and enjoying hacking out?
I have been thinking (again) about how we can all learn from any mistakes we make and how we can use these as a learning opportunity. We will all make mistakes and it is so important not to beat ourselves up over these but rather to use them as an opportunity to do things differently next time. After all, if we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again then we aren’t learning and therefore we shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t make progress towards achieving our goals.
My Summer, here at Horse Riding with Scotland, has been busy and productive. I have been making the most of networking opportunities and looking into different ways of marketing my business so that I can reach more riders with the messages I have about how to ride more confidently and therefore to enjoy riding more. In the past I frequently had a lull in the Summer months but that hasn’t happened this year. Instead, I’ve had some talks to do and ongoing 1:1 clients to see and there are some exciting prospects ahead for the Autums months.
One of the most exciting things coming up is that I have been asked to speak to the new intake of students on the equine studies courses at Oatridge College. Something new for me, in that, my talks are generally pretty informal but this one will involve a group of about 90 students in the college setting so I am looking forward to the challenge.
One of the fun things which I did over the summer was to have a photo competition to win a 1:1 session. The prize went to the photo which best represented ‘Confident Riding’. a few of the pictures were taken through the horse’s ears and I will use these as blog photos for this and future blog posts. Today’s pic is Chloe riding Jack on their first solo hack after losing her confidence – very well done to Chloe.
I am up an hour earlier than normal today because the dog wanted out. Normally he can sleep for a good twelve hours but today he was asking to go out before 6am! As it is a beautiful morning I decided to just stay up and have an early start to the day and this means that I have time to write a blog post!
I’ve been thinking about giving and receiving praise recently so decided to write about this subject.
In today’s internet society everything is constantly rated and reviewed and there are many rating sites we can look at before making a holiday choice or picking a restaurant, for example. The same goes for choosing a service or when we are looking for somebody to help us with an aspect of our lives where we naturally tend to choose the one who has received most praise.
Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland is in the slightly tricky situation of not publishing client testimonials due to the importance of client confidentiality, an unnamed testimonial saying ‘Show Jumper from Scotland says Jane is wonderful’ is unverifiable and meaningless. However, on a recent facebook post some riders were kind enough to make some very positive comments about how I had been able to help them and by choosing to say this publicly they were obviously happy to say that they had used my services. Other riders prefer to keep quiet about needing help with confidence issues and choose not to share this.
I, like most people, love to receive praise and get a great boost when somebody gives me positive feedback. I also enjoy giving praise to others for example, I like to praise my clients for the hard work and committment they show towards overcoming the nervousness which interferes with their enjoyment of riding.
Whilst enjoying receiving and giving praise what really gives me the most satisfaction is when I can praise myself. When I can feel inside that I have done a good job. When I can tell, by their body language, that audience members at a talk are listening and understanding what I say. When the look on a client’s face changes from one of tension and worry to a big and genuine smile. When I can look at my animals and know that I have done a good job with them and given them a good life. When I can go to bed at night feeling that I have acheived something worthwhile during the day.
All these feelings come from within and I believe that is where our enjoyment of life truly comes from. We should be wary of needing others to constantly praise us and work towards true self acceptance.
As always, thanks for reading this and any comments are very welcome.
Just a quick post this morning to tell you about a purchase I have just made – a nice new notebook for jotting down my thoughts and goals!
Not very exiting? Well, if you are anything like me then you love to have a nice notebook and find a blank page to be a great motivation! From school days I have always loved jotters and notebooks, and all stationery really and I haven’t yet moved over to making notes of any significance on my phone or laptop.
I have a lot of plans and goals for summer 2017 both personally and for Horse riding with Confidence Scotland and my new notebook will help me to keep a track of them and to make sure that I follow them through and track my progress.
As I said there is lots happening with a talk at the Wobbleberry Camp at Lindores next week, a full diary of clients to see 1:1, ongoing work with Team KA and an exciting trip to Peebles to talk to Peebles and Tweeddale PC camp in early July so I need to make sure that i keep a track of everything and if you keep an eye on the Facebook page then you will see how things are going.
What are you planning over the next couple of months? I’d love to hear about your goals and achievements.