I remember, in the early days with my horse Millie, I honestly believed I would never be able to walk around the outside of an arena on my own without someone in there with me. I was totally reliant on other people all of the time and this held me captive to their availability as well as the weather, the mood I was in, how my horse was feeling etc.
Whilst having someone there for moral support was ok, what were they going to do, catch me if I fell? The disadvantage was I then felt I had to ‘do something’ and felt like a failure when I didn't and would dismount in a crumpled heap of emotion. Sometimes, depending on who it was, I would allow myself to be pressured into doing things I wasn’t ready for and end up feeling worse than I did before.
It became obvious to me that no-one else could ‘give’ me confidence; I had to start taking responsibility for it myself. Once I made this decision it gave me the freedom to choose what I would do and when. Yes, it meant I initially did even less than I was already doing but, as I built up my confidence it was mine, I owned it and I took responsibility for it.
A couple of clients have reminded me of this as their ‘helper’ has moved on to another yard or circumstances have changed and they have felt as though their life raft has floated off into the distance leaving them all at sea. Once I helped them realise that they could start taking responsibility themselves and start with very small steps they were back on track. There is a big difference between having moral support from someone or using them as your ‘confidence crutch’. Confidence comes from within you; if we could get it from someone else wouldn’t we all be rushing out to buy it? Even with people like me we can only show you the way, YOU have to commit to the journey and put the work in to succeed.
My advice to you….take responsibility for your confidence, find it within yourself, it may only be a tiny spark just now but nurture it and it will grow with time. Yes, seek help from an empathetic riding instructor, a confidence expert like me or a friend but don’t rely on them, rely on yourself, you can do it!
To you and your confidence
Caroline Andrews - Horse Rider Confidence Specialist