Getting Back To It

Tag: Confident riding

Have you had a break from riding and are re-starting or looking to re-start soon?

There may be many reasons for your break. Perhaps you’ve recently had a baby or maybe you used to ride a lot in the past and life then took you down a different path for some time but now you have the urge to ride again. Perhaps you’ve had a break because you had no horse to ride for a while and there were no other opportunities available for you.

Whatever your reason I hope that you feel excited about re-starting this wonderful sport and are looking forwards to having many new experiences on horseback.

There will, undoubtedly, be some riders who simply get back on and ride away without giving it a second thought but, I suspect, there are many more who experience some feelings of anxiety and self doubt at this stage of their riding life and this is perfectly natural. So if that’s what you’re experiencing then you’re most definitely not alone.

There are two main things that I would like to focus on in this article. Firstly your past experience and secondly looking at where you are right now as you begin riding again.

When you’re thinking of riding again it’s common to think and feel that you’ve lost your previous skills both mental skills and technical riding skills. However, this really isn’t the case. All of your past riding experience is still there, much of what you do will be almost instinctive due to muscle memory and having developed an unconscious ability to know what to do on and with a horse. Of course you may feel pretty rusty and have lost some physical strength and balance but that will return pretty quickly once you get going. Do give yourself credit for all that you have done in the past, it may be a bit hidden at the moment but when you scratch the surface you’ll find that it’s still there.

One of the most useful things to do at this stage is to work out where you are now i.e. today or the day that you get back on a horse. Looking at your strengths and challenges is a useful exercise and I suggest that you write these down as this will help you to clarify where you are now and what you need to work on.

For example your strengths might be the you have many years of experience, a nice horse and a supportive family. Your challenges may be limited free time and a lack of physical fitness. So you can see what will help you and what you need to work on in the short to medium term.

Giving yourself credit for all of your previous riding and deciding where you are right now will help you to avoid the feeling of “I can’t do it any more” or “But I used to be able to do it”.

Our lives are dynamic and constantly changing and that is part of the fun of life. With a bit of hard work I’m sure that you’ll be enjoying your riding again very soon.




Tag: Confident riding

I’m publishing this post on 1st September 2021 and it’s an absolutely beautiful day here at Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland HQ.

I am wondering how those of you reading this regard the changing seasons and the beginnings of a new month? I know how I think and feel about the new season but I’ve been working with people for a long time so I also know that not all of you will think or feel the same way that I do.

An important lesson learned early in the career of any professional who works with people, particularly in any kind of therapeutic role, is to never assume that you know what somebody else is thinking and how they are feeling.

One of the many things I love about my job is the detective work of discovering how a client thinks and feels about their riding and their life and how these thoughts and feelings then affect their behaviour and their enjoyment of all of the things which they choose to do in life.

I wonder how YOU think and feel about the transition from Summer to Autumn?

Personally speaking, I have always felt a huge sense of excitement at the beginning of September and this goes back to school days and the start of a new academic year. I see September as more of an important beginning than January in many ways, with its sense of anticipation for meeting new people and learning new things. How about YOU?

The change of a season can be a useful time to evaluate your progress in working towards your goals. How has your Summer been? Which aspects of your riding have gone well and what are you proud of? Perhaps things have exceeded your hopes and expectations and perhaps they haven’t.

Has the mental side of your riding experience matched the technical riding experience? Most riders are very much a “work in progress” regarding their mindset and mental resilience and perhaps this is something which you can plan to work on over the coming months?

No doubt there will have been many learning opportunities from everything you have experienced over the Summer months, some mistakes will have been made and how are you going to learn from those?

How are you going to put those learnings into practice gong forwards so that goals already achieved aren’t seen as an end point but rather as a stepping stone along your riding journey. EFFECTIVE goal setting is always a motivating exercise rather than the opposite.

So as we approach the Autumn season I wonder how YOU are feeling and what your plans are. I would love to hear from you and am here to help you with confidence and performance mindset so that you can make the most of the opportunities which come your way.

The first hints of Autumn on a beautiful day



Tag: Confident riding

We all go through life accumulating experiences, memories and beliefs.

Mostly the effects of everything we have done and everything we have experienced are pretty much unconscious. We act in certain ways because that’s the way we’ve “always” acted. We believe certain things “just because we do” without giving it any, or much, thought.

On a more conscious level, we tell ourselves stories about the things we have done and the things which have happened to us and it is these stories which can have a profound effect on how we think, feel and behave in the present.

The stories we tell ourselves become our beliefs about who we are and what we are capable of achieving.

These stories can begin with seemingly minor comments from a teacher or another adult which we heard as a child, perhaps a comment from a friend, or just somebody we encountered, about our body/ability/appearance. We often take these onboard and they can unconsciously become our beliefs about ourselves.

Of course, some of these beliefs might be ones which help us and give us the confidence to achieve our goals and that is good. However, others can become what is know as “self-limiting beliefs” which aren’t nearly so helpful – in fact, they can be quite the opposite!

Some examples of self limiting beliefs might be:

  • I have to be perfect all the time
  • I’ll never be able to achieve my goals
  • I can’t do “X/Y or Z” because I’m not good enough
  • If I don’t control “everything” then something bad will happen
  • I’m “unlucky”
  • Everyone else is “better” than me
  • And many many more……

The trick is to become aware of the stories we tell ourselves and note the behaviours associated with them.

Where did these beliefs come from? You may or may not have an actual memory of this but you might well have an idea or feeling about it.

Have a think about times when these beliefs have actually been shown to be incorrect or false.

Spend some time challenging the beliefs and working out an alternative.

Practice and reinforce alternative, more helpful, behaviours. The more often you do this the more likely you are to succeed in changing your beliefs.

Remember that this process isn’t always easy and seek out some support if you need help along the way. My training in TimeLine Therapy ™ is a great way to help you to get rid of your self limiting beliefs. Just give me a shout if you’d like some help with this.

Make sure that your beliefs about yourself are ones which help you to fulfil your goals.


Tag: Confident riding

Developing the resilience to handle challenges, overcome disappointments and learn from both good and bad experiences will help all riders fulfil their goals and generally enjoy their riding more. Being resilient gives us the strength needed to be able to move forwards and not be defined by any setbacks. Resilience is empowering and helps us to grown in self belief.

Working on the seven “C’s” of resilience will help you to strengthen what you already have and what you have already learned from all the experiences which have brought to this point in your life.

COMPETENCE
The belief that you can and will handle a situation effectively. That you have the skills and experience necessary to do what you are asking yourself to do. Of course skills can always be improved and refined and this is why most riders who wish to progress in the sport continue to have coaching. Competence can also apply to mindset skills.

CONFIDENCE
Having confidence comes from that deep belief in your own abilities and is closely aligned with competence. Confidence isn’t a fixed attribute and there will be times when it’s stronger than others but developing an overall belief in yourself will help you to grow in confidence and to enjoy yourself more.

CONNECTION
Developing close ties with family, friends, coaches, equestrian professionals and “your team” will help you to develop a real sense of community and support. Surrounding yourself with people who care about you and have your best interests at heart helps you to have that support system in place which is so important for resilience.

CHARACTER
We are all different and learning to accept that is part of maturing as a person. Being true to your own values and set of moral principles is important for all of us, as is demonstrating a caring attitude towards others. I believe that we all have a responsibility to show kindness and care towards others and that this helps us to feel better about ourselves which, of course, is part of being resilient.

CONTRIBUTION
We all have a contribution to make in life, great or small. We are all important and have a role to play in whatever form that takes.

COPING
Learning to cope effectively with stress helps you to become better able to cope with life’s challenges. Learning to be able to tolerate the temporary discomfort of stressful situations will help us all to perform at our best, whatever “performance” means to each of us.

CONTROL
Realising that we have control over our decisions and taking full responsibility for them helps us to grow and develop as riders and as human beings. We can control what we learn from experiences and take the responsibility to apply that learning in the future. This builds and strengthens resilience.

WHICH “C” IS YOUR STRONGEST AND WHICH NEEDS SOME ATTENTION?

Stand tall and proud and you will bloom


Tag: Confident riding

Yesterday I took part in my first room chat on the Clubhouse Social Media platform, which I have just discovered and joined and which looks promising as a source of sharing, supporting and learning for the equestrian world. Have you seen it yet? I believe at the moment it’s only available on i-phone but you can find out more here .

As conversations generally do, the chat moved from topic to topic and some interesting questions were asked and answered by various different equestrian experts.

At this stage I was just listening and wondering how this new app worked and wondering how best to get involved.

The conversation quickly turned to having fun with horses, playing games with them and a few associated equine behaviour issues which were all very interesting.

Up to this point I had thought to add something to the previous topic which was more mindset related but there were quite a few people who wished to speak so by the time I was invited to add to the conversation we had moved on to having fun with horses.

So I rapidly re-thought about what I could add at this stage and simply changed my input to applauding these equestrians who wanted to play with horses to stimulate them and strengthen their bonds.

I was also reminded, and reminded the participants, just how important it is that we all do remember to have fun. As a mindset and confidence coach it’s easy to stay on the lines of goal setting, gaining focus, developing resilience, staying calm under pressure, managing success and challenges and many other topics BUT it’s really important as a confidence and mindset coach that I remind the people I work with about simply having fun on and around horses.

What are the fun things which you enjoy doing? They’ll be different for each of you but remember to do plenty of the fun stuff, whatever it is. There’s a time and a place for strengthening your mindset but always remember to KEEP THE FUN FLAG FLYING.

This was such a fun day and my friend and I were definitely flying the fun flag !

Tag: Confident riding

Last time I wrote about general communication and how we can all try to be more open to improving our communication skills. This time I thought I’d delve a bit deeper into Effective Listening, which is quite probably the most important aspect of good communication.

The Art of Effective Listening

Why Listen?

We listen to obtain information, to understand, to enjoy and to learn.

Good listening skills require a high level of self-awareness.  It is important to practice ‘active listening’ i.e. to make a conscious effort to both hear the words being said and to understand the total message.  It is also very important to let the other person know that you are listening; otherwise, it can feel like talking to a brick wall.

There are five key elements to active listening:

Horses are great listeners (and they keep your secrets!). (Image: Sophie Callahan)
  1. Pay attention.  
  • Give the speaker your undivided attention
  • Look directly at the speaker
  • Put aside distracting thoughts
  • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors
  • ‘Listen’ to the speaker’s body language
  • Refrain from side conversations if you are in a group setting.
  1. Show that you are listening.
  • Nod occasionally (NB this does not necessarily imply agreement)
  • Smile and use other facial expressions
  • Note your posture and show it to be open and inviting
  • Encourage the speaker with small verbal comments e.g. ‘yes’ and ‘uh huh’.
  1. Provide feedback
  • Our personal filters, assumptions, judgements and beliefs effect what we hear.  As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said.
  • Reflect and ask questions
  • Paraphrase e.g. ‘What I’m hearing is…….’, ‘Sounds like you’re saying…..’
  • Ask questions to clarify e.g. ‘ When you say……what do you mean?’
  • Periodically summarize the speaker’s points.
  1. Defer Judgement
  • Interrupting wastes time and frustrates the speaker
  • Allow the speaker to finish
  • Don’t interrupt with counter – arguments.
  1. Respond Appropriately
  • Active listening is a model for respect and understanding
  • You are gaining information and perspective
  • You add nothing by attacking the speaker or putting them down
  • Be candid, open and honest in your response
  • Assert your opinions respectfully
  • Treat the other person as he/she would want to be treated.
  • If it is especially important to remember what has been said to you or if you are being given precise instructions then take notes

KEY POINTS

  • It takes practice and determination to be an active listener
  • Be deliberate and remember that your goal is to truly hear what is being said
  • Set aside all else while you listen
  • Ask questions/reflect/paraphrase
  • If you do not do these things then what the speaker says and what you hear can be very different.
  • Take notes if necessary.
When did you last feel that someone truly listened to you?