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Confidence Boosters For Your Riding
 By Winniefield Park   •   30th Apr 2016   •   1,062 views   •   0 comments
Confidence Boosters For Your Riding

Every rider, no matter what their skill level gets a bout of the jitters now and then when they ride. For some people, itís just performance anxiety and I say Ďjustí full knowing that show nerves can range from feeling mildly excited to being downright debilitating. Sometimes it's butterflies in your stomach that start flying in formation once you get into the saddle. Or, you may get more rattled. You might be one of those people who toss their breakfast if you could get any down in the first place, or strategically park your trailers close to the outhouse so you donít have to sprint too far if your digestive system goes into panic mode.

For some, riding or just being near a horse at all can bring on a bad case of nerves to the point they dread each encounter, even though they are compelled by whatever force riders are driven by. Now some level of caution is advisable when you ride and handle your horse. You have to know your horse and your own skills and limitations. Sometimes being scared keeps you off of a dangerous horse or out of a hazardous situation, and that is good. Staying uninjured and alive is good. But, if nerves are ruining your fun or performance, itís time to do something about them. Here are a few things you can do to boost your confidence, and some you donít even need to be in the saddle to try.

Experience
This is probably so obvious is doesnít warrant mentioning but I will anyway. The more you do anything, the more competent you become. Riding different horses than your own, in different styles than you normally would and in different situations adds to the tools you use to cope and feel confident.

Coaching
A good coach is a helpful ally in overcoming lack of confidence. Iíve heard some pretty cringe worthy coaching, with riders berated and criticized. A nervous or timid rider will probably only feel bullied and their nervousness increased by this type of coach. You donít want a hand patting, sympathetic coach either though. A good coach will encourage and challenge you, gently pushing you ever further out of your comfort zone.

Mind Work
Thereís a whole raft of mental exercises you can do to help control nerves in any situation. Visualization is one used by many athletes. Most of us visualize without realizing, but the visualization we play out in our heads may make us more nervous. Instead, we need to take control of that visualization and picture ourselves being positive and successful - rather like playing Ďfake it until you make ití in your imagination.

Neuro Linguistic Programming is a way to learn how your brain works and using that knowledge to control your thoughts. Some people claim to have conquered a fear or reframe a situation so they could cope better in one NLP session.

Emotional Freedom Technique is an easy to learn method of addressing all sorts of fears and worries. I learned about EFT from an event rider of the breakfast tossing ilk. By learning a set pattern of tapping on acupressure points, you may be able to calm your mind and quiet your fears. You can learn to do this via YouTube videos, but it is helpful to work with someone who can help you untangle the mental knots youíve tied yourself in. There are people who claim NLP and EFT are bunk. But, they arenít harmful, even if they donít work for you. EFT Tapping may seem silly, but itís distracting and sometimes doing anything can feel better than doing nothing.

Hypnosis is another way you can help your mind smooth out the nervous bumps. You can work with a hypnotherapist, or you can download audio files. Some, like Sharon Shinwellís Riding with Confidence series are aimed specifically at riders. Hypnosis, whether with a therapist or audio recording, takes some time to work, so results arenít instant. The recordings are great overall stress relievers too.

Take a look at your skills, the people you can rely on for support and consider trying visualization and other ways to control your thoughts. Often, when faced with any problem that shakes your confidence, just having a plan in place makes you feel better.
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