Horse Riding Confidence Tips
Do you struggle with confidence in the saddle? Many equestrians will have confidence issues at some point in their horse riding journey. There are several reasons why you may lack confidence when riding, but there are things you can do to build your confidence. This blog article outlines a few horse riding confidence tips that you may find helpful.
Why Do Equestrians Sometimes Lack Confidence?
Speaking from experience, a lack of confidence when horse riding can stem from several reasons. These may include:
- An accident or injury - it is not uncommon for horse riders to lose confidence after having an accident
- Bullying or toxic environments / people - bullying and toxic behaviour can seriously undermine a person’s self-esteem. They may not fear injury, for example, but they may fear negative comments or behaviour from others.
- Other negative experiences - negative experiences (even those that do not result in accidents) can damage a horse rider’s confidence. Things that you might include in this are horses bolting / spooking, riding a horse that is too sharp, strong or unsuitable for you, or feeling that you are being asked / pressured into doing activities that you do not feel safe doing (e.g. jumping).
However, plenty of people can feel that they lack confidence for no apparent reason.
Horse Riding Confidence Tips
There are things that you can do to improve your confidence in the saddle. These tips are based on personal experience and do not constitute professional help or advice:
- Go back a step - It may help you to go back a few steps. If you lack confidence when jumping, go back to practicing your jumping position on the flat, lower the jumps or place the poles on the ground. Spending time with horses on the ground may also help some riders who are lacking confidence.
- Talk to your instructor - If you feel you are being pushed into doing too much, too soon, speak to your instructor. Ask to go take your lessons down a notch and maybe switch to private lessons if you usually ride in a group.
- Consider your horse riding goals - Do you really want / need to jump that high? If you’re not enjoying riding - or a specific element such as jumping, galloping or cross country - then consider whether it’s really that important to you. I used to love jumping and I really wanted to try eventing until a few years ago, when I just stopped enjoying it. After some soul-searching, I came to the conclusion that if I wasn’t enjoying jumping, then I didn’t have to jump. It doesn’t mean I’ll never jump again; I’m just choosing to focus on dressage for the foreseeable future. Most of us ride for enjoyment, so this is always worth remembering.
- Speak to a professional - There are a number of online resources as well as professionals who you can speak to if you want to grow your confidence. These professionals range from therapists to sports psychologists to specialists in equestrian sport psychology. If you’re struggling, it’s worth speaking to a professional or your GP.
- Journaling - There are a number of equestrian journals out there designed to help horse riders document their equestrian journey. The simple act of writing things down can help you to feel more in control and see how much progress you have made.
- Prioritise practical health and safety - Always wear a correctly fitting riding hat, and be sure to replace it every 3-5 years or if you drop it or fall off. You may also want to wear a body protector and / or air vest as well as gloves. Having proper safety equipment can help us to feel better protected from injury when riding. Riding in a safe environment and ensuring your horse is happy, comfortable and healthy can also improve your own safety. If your confidence issues stem from your horse’s behaviour (e.g. bucking, bolting, etc) then it is wise to have your horse and his or her tack checked by a professional.
Journaling For Horse Riders | No Horse? No Problem? Lesson Journal
How you choose to deal with issues surrounding confidence in the saddle will depend on your individual circumstances. For some equestrians, journaling can help to build confidence. The No Horse? No Problem! Lesson Journal by Purple Horse Planners allows riding school clients to set goals, document progress and track their horse riding journey. With space for 30 riding lessons, hacks or stable management sessions, our riding lesson journal is super versatile. We also have a range of equestrian themed notebooks for anyone who prefers the flexibility of a blank notebook.