Sally Cousins’ Weekly Training Tip: Rider Confidence

We are delighted to host Sally Cousins as our newest guest blogger, as she shares her wealth of knowledge with us in the form of weekly training tips. We hope these nuggets of information can be integrated directly into your program at home and can influence the way you ride and train your horses. Be sure to check out both the Sally Cousins Eventing website and keep up with her on Facebook.

Photo by Kasey Mueller

Photo by Kasey Mueller

At some point in our riding careers, all of us will face a loss of confidence, whether you are an amateur or professional; this happens to everyone at some time and to some degree. It is much easier to try to preserve your confidence than to try to rebuild it. It is important for us to get direction and instruction from someone we trust, because it is a fine line between pushing ourselves past our comfort level so that we can improve and pressing too far too fast, causing us to lose confidence.

One of the things I do to preserve my confidence is to not to look at any pictures or videos of myself or anyone else falling, even if it is a minor fall. If I need feedback about a fall, I try to get an educated person who has seen it live. I don’t want those images in my head. I’m also careful about what I say and think, and I associate with people who have an upbeat and supportive attitude. Positive comments and thoughts are very powerful.

On Eventing Nation, there was a great interview with William Fox-Pitt where he discusses loss of confidence and how hard it is to build it back up. It was refreshing to hear him speak so frankly on this topic. If you have had a loss of confidence due to a fall, you need to give yourself plenty of time and not expect too much too soon. If your fall involved jumping, you need to jump small fences until they seem almost boring to you and then build that up over time.

Throughout this process, you will have to push yourself a bit and expect to feel nervous. I have a huge amount of respect for a rider who has had a bad fall on a horse and comes back to ride the same horse confidently. This process isn’t easy, but with hard work, it is possible.

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