Self-Doubt?

Valonia 2012 Huntington

When I was in kindergarten, I remember every single day I would dread snack time or lunch time. The thought of eating with all the other boys and girls made me incredibly anxious and terrified. I’m not entirely sure where this fear originated from, but nevertheless I couldn’t bear the thought of breaking bread with another child. Perhaps it was my deep-rooted phobia of human interaction, or perhaps I had social or psychological issues that needed attention. Maybe I was just an extremely timid little girl. Anyways, I have vivid memories of me asking my teacher if I could to the girl’s locker room every day during lunch. I would quietly grab my lunch box and head down the hallway. I pulled the shower curtain open, crawled inside and opened my lunchbox and ate in silence.

From as far back as I can remember, I have dealt with self-doubt, alongside a shaky amount of confidence. I had a wonderful childhood, and my two sisters and my parents were amazing. Perhaps it was impossible for three out of the three girls to be confident and extroverts. Perhaps there had to be one shy one to even out the family dynamics. People have also suggested that the middle child tends to be the thinker, the inquisitive one and the introvert. I don’t know if this theory holds any validity for all middle children or just in my family.

Eventually, I grew up and my utter shyness and my total insecurities transformed into dry sarcasm and a somewhat cynical personality. Wow, I bet I am going to get hundreds of people to “like” me on Facebook after reading this article … NOT! Truth is, no matter how amazing a rider you are, we all have self-doubt from time to time, am I right? It’s impossible for equestrians to not doubt their riding, their training, or their decisions from time to time.

Valonia GMHA 2012

What really got me thinking about these insecurities and these moments of self-doubt is the fact that I am about to have the farm completely to myself. The Emersons are heading south in a couple of days, and Lindle, my dressage trainer extraordinaire, just left for Florida a couple days ago. Part of me enjoys having some down time and less chaos to deal with, and part of me can’t stand it, mostly because I doubt my riding and my abilities. Am I asking my horse to do this correctly? Or, was I right to be more demanding in that moment, or was I too hard on him? Or, what if I am teaching my horse bad habits, or what if I am not pushing myself or my horses hard enough this winter?  Or, what if I can’t see a distance to save my life? WHAT IF, WHAT IF, WHAT IF … ?

At some point, we all need to trust in ourselves and be confident in what we know and what we have learned. If we have questions, there must be others who are willing and are available who might be able to answer those questions. I personally have about four people I can always count on when I am unsure or doubting my riding in these winter months. I find that most riders can relate and are open to discussing or talking through various horse topics. That’s the beauty of horse people; we all go through similar spells in our riding and our training at one point or another.

Self-doubt is an obnoxious state of mind. Questioning our motives, our decisions, and our abilities can be a good thing sometimes, but can also be detrimental. I think it’s important to question our riding and our training frequently so that we can gain more knowledge and depth, but not to the point of diminishing our every move. Yes, I once ate lunch in a girl’s locker room every day because I doubted my ability to make friends. Yes, I have doubted my decisions as a rider and a trainer. Eventually, we have to learn from our insecurities and decide whether or not we want to fall victim to our own minds or not. So, how often do you doubt your abilities as a rider and a trainer?

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