Some Thoughts on Risk Taking

Some Thoughts on Risk Taking

I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts the other day and it covered a lot about risk taking so I was prompted to put some of my own thoughts together.

The podcast was a conversation between broadcaster Simon Mundie and Jimmy Chin who is an amazing film maker, photographer and mountain sports athlete.

Jimmy believes that “There are two great risks in life, risking too much and risking too little”. I would love to know your thoughts on that idea…..

We all know that there are risks associated with the sport of horse riding and no doubt everyone reading this will have either had some kind of riding related injury or will know someone who has been injured. The purpose of this post isn’t to educate you about injuries or about preventing injury, instead it’s to help you to feel comfortable with the risks that you choose to take. I can’t promise any rider, who comes to me, for confidence and mindset support, that they will never fall off but I CAN help riders to become more comfortable with a level of risk which is acceptable to them as an individual.

For some riders the level of risk they are comfortable with is to ride a familiar horse quietly in an arena, for others it is to gallop cross country over solid fences. There is no right or wrong here, just an individual choice.

Personally speaking I would regard myself as not being a great risk taker in a physical sense or a riding sense. But I am not totally risk averse, for example I was prepared to put myself way out of my comfort zone (in fact a bit too far at times!) on a riding adventure in India and I was prepared to breed my own pony and start her ridden career myself with very little day-day support. Using a skiing analogy – I would be the skier who, when friends suggested trying the black run, would say that I would prefer to stick with the red run. But when other friends suggested a blue run I would prefer to give the red run a go!

On the other hand I am more prepared to take risks in a personal sense such as giving up a professional career, setting up my own business and putting myself out there publicly in order to share what I have learned to help horse riders. These are all risks that I have taken and, whilst they have been scary at times, they have been the rights risks for me to take.

How do you decide what level of risk you are prepared to take and then feel comfortable with your decision?

You will be aware of your personal riding skill and experience and of the nature of the horses you choose to ride, or at least I hope that you have those basic awarenesses! Skills and experience aren’t static though and these are things that, as riders, we can build on so that we can enjoy the sport and make the most of the opportunities which either come our way, or we create for ourselves.

Once you decide on what you choose to do, within equestrian sport, it is important that you learn to focus on all the things which are within your control rather than on trying to prevent those things over which you have virtually no control. We call this “Riding within your bubble” – a concept which I learned from my training as an Advanced coach in Applied Psychology for Equestrian Sport with Centre 10. Everything within your bubble is the things that you can strengthen, develop, become more skilled at. The nature of a bubble, of course, is that it can burst……we work on strengthening your bubble so that it remains strong and resilient.

Things within your bubble might include:

  • Personal fitness
  • Safety equipment, up to date/standard and appropriate for the riding activities you choose to do
  • Where you choose to ride
  • Schooling of your horse/riding a horse suited to your needs
  • Preparation
  • Working on mental fitness
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Developing spatial awareness
  • Seeking help and support where you need it
  • Plus many more aspects of riding

By focussing on the things which you can work on improving and strengthening you will become more comfortable with the level of risk which is right for YOU.

It’s important to note that if you are stuck within a comfort zone of minimal risk taking then you have to accept that not much will change or challenge you. If that’s OK for you then stick with it but if part of you is wishing that you could escape the comfort zone and enjoy the challenge of something new then that is the time to seek the support which will help you to take those risks and to become more comfortable with the excitement.

Yes, there ARE risks associated with equestrian sport but let’s remember the words of Jimmy Chin “There are two great risks in life, risking too much and risking too little” and be motivated by these words so that we can fully embrace the fun and the opportunities which we can have with horses.

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