It seems so obvious, to aim to be successful, yet it is amazing how often we make things as difficult as possible for ourselves! When you are building your confidence with anything it is important to always set yourself up so you stand the greatest chance of success.
What does this mean? Well, let’s assume you are someone who is nervous hacking out (trail riding) on your horse. It would be good to choose a quiet, steady companion (both horse and rider), a quiet time of day when you have plenty of time and a day when the weather is favourable! These are just a few of the considerations; there are many ways to set yourself up for success, have a think about it.
Most of the time we expect far too much from ourselves and sometimes our horse. Back to the hacking scenario, rather than take yourself out for the first time for a whole hour including walk, trot and canter, how about aiming for a walk of 5 minutes? You can stop, breathe deeply or sing, wait until you feel relaxed and then you have a choice, you either get off and walk back, turn around and ride back (provided your horse isn’t likely to get excitable or become ‘nappy’) or go on a bit further. You choose what is best to do next. This way you will be happy and feel successful if you achieve your small goal rather than a failure for not achieving a much bigger goal.
Put your ego and pride to one side and do what you need to for your confidence to grow. Have a companion on foot, be on a leadrope (I have done that one myself in the past), ask for the help you need. If you are unable to find that help get creative on how you can progress without or maybe there are some options on finding help you haven’t explored yet.
Remember if people aren’t keen to help you it’s not personal, I repeat, it’s not personal. We all have our own stuff going on and it takes time to help others as well as potentially adding a degree of stress to their riding. Some people just want to get to their horse, enjoy their time and leave again as it’s their escape and it’s important to respect that. Get clear on the help you want, the type of person and/or their horse and put that intention out to the Universe, you just never know…
The key point here is always asking yourself ‘how can I make this as easy as possible for myself and my horse?’ If your horse is new to you or you are both new to a yard then you will need time, avoid expecting too much of your horse, he or she will need to build confidence too. A horse can take 6 to 12 months to settle and sometimes doesn’t really settle at all, never underestimate the impact of the environment on a horse’s behaviour.
From this point forward think about how you can help yourself (and your horse), always set yourself up for success.