Coping with Nerves – By Bella Harvey
Coping with Nerves - By Bella Harvey
Coping with Nerves
By Bella Harvey
I think we can all agree that having confidence and trust in our equine partners is a vital part of being an equestrian. So what happens when we are lacking in these areas, and how do we help ourselves overcome them?
When I was younger, I gave up riding for three years because I couldn’t ride a horse without panicking, and it was very heavily affecting how my horse was going. When I started up riding again, I couldn’t stop thinking of what could potentially go wrong. Even today, four years on, I still have moments where my confidence grows weak. In this article I will share with you how I overcame my anxiety and how I cope with it when it strikes.
My Turning Point
I am very lucky to have Fred, as he was not only the perfect horse when I needed him, he has also grown and developed in skill with me as I have. I think the part that Fred played in my riding journey was a crucial part of helping me overcome my confidence issues. I remember the pivotal moment for me: I asked myself, why do you focus on what could go wrong, instead of what could go right? This moment was the beginning of a huge mindset change for me. Every time I felt nervous I found I was focusing on what could go wrong; that bag could spook him, I could fall off at that jump. So, I made a conscious effort to think instead of what could go right. This got me not only motivated, but excited to get in the ring and ride my horse!
Risk versus Reward
I think a very important part of having confidence is understanding the risks, but also the rewards. It’s finding the balance between the two that is the trick. Being conscious of the risks of our sport, which of course there are many, can add a sense of awareness. This can make us careful about how we go about our sport and prevent us from seriously injuring ourselves. Being conscious of the rewards is what motivates us, and if the rewards, enjoyment and progress is important enough to us it can balance out the risks, allowing us to enjoy spending time with our equine friends.
The Effect it has on our Horses
Confidence in ourselves will reflect in our horses. If the rider is nervous, tense or unfocused the horse will be too. This makes having confidence even more important, as horses often draw their bravery from the rider. If the rider is lacking in confidence, the horse can be unsettled, which makes the rider even more nervous, and the vicious cycle continues. This makes having confidence in ourselves more than just our problem; it is our responsibility to our horses to provide leadership and inspire bravery within them. However, I know how hard building confidence can be.
Everything we want to do is within reach, we just need to apply ourselves to achieve it.