Yesterday I took a friend out on a hack with her ex racer, who she hadn’t hacked out for a long time due to him being ill and she was very nervous of what he might do. She took some persuasion to go, but he needed to be worked in straight lines and for short periods, so a hack was certainly good for his recovery. Plus the sun was shining, we both had a busy day and unwinding with our horses was a perfect tonic! I too didn’t used to be a big fan of hacking out because of the unknown...
One of the things that training to be a coach, going through a total change of career and working with horse riders’ confidence has taught me, is that we never know what the future holds. We can guess but that’s all it is, a guess. My mind-set that yesterday was to say that we will take each step at a time, keep breathing and in the present moment and not allow our mind to create a story for us, just be in the now and enjoy the hack. Needless to say her horse was perfectly behaved (as was mine of course!) and we both had a beautiful hack on a sunny evening together.
Fear is in the future. Our minds are really very good at thinking of something that we find scary and creating all sorts of fantastic stories of what could happen, based on our previous experience, what we’ve been told, or simply what we believe.The key is to be aware that at that moment, it really is all in your mind. It’s not actually happening. You’re just creating a story. It’s up to you if that story will come true or not! If you want to do something but you find it too scary to attempt it then this will help…
When you think of something you find scary, have you noticed that you normally come up with 100s of bad things that could happen? Do you come up with good things? Probably not. Because your mind is trying to protect you from experiencing the scary thing and so it convinces you that you don’t want to try it.When you think of something exciting or happy I bet you think of loads of good reasons to do it? So let’s use that strategy for scary things too.
1 – Think of the scary thing and make a note of all the things your mind comes up with as reasons why you shouldn’t do it, or what terrible things might happen.
2 – Now do the following – think of the worst possible thing that might happen – actually think beyond your initial scary situation, beyond the fall or injury or pain. Our mind doesn’t normally like to do this. It likes to stop at the point before the outcome of the fear. You think about falling off and that’s where it stops. If it happens, is it really that bad? Do you have any moments when you realise what you are actually fearing? Helplessness, anger, people who told you so, embarrassment etc.
3- Now spend some time thinking of why you do actually do want to do it. What are all of the positives?
4 – This time re run any negative thoughts and replace them with a positive outcome. Instead of falling off you stay on… then what?
5 – Tell yourself that you don’t know what will happen, good or bad, so you can imagine the good and what you focus on will grow. You can also imagine exactly how you want it to happen and practice this in your mind. Then when you come to do it, you know exactly what you will create in reality!
Soon you will begin to realise that the mind becomes very good at imagining good or bad and you can train it to do either. Allow the mind to be creative, but be in control of it and play with positives too. Create a mind-set that you are capable of dealing with whatever life brings. It all happens for a reason and everything is a lesson.
This is just one of many tools you can learn to use if you come and work with The Heart of Confidence. We’ve got 100s of them up our sleeves and can quickly work out exactly which one will work for you!!
I have a great instructor although I’m still fearful or nervous of X– what difference would a confidence coach make?
This is a question I often answer and it’s a great one too! Most horse riders have some form of instructor, trainer, coach, knowledgeable friend who teaches, or whatever you want to call them. That’s fantastic! They can teach you the mechanics of riding and are normally very good at improving your skills and sometimes therefore your confidence. Some instructors are even good at understanding the mind and how it affects your horse, but do they know how to help you change your thinking for good?
Confidence is about far more than just skills. So many people say “I used to jump 1.20m” or “I never thought anything about just going hacking out” but (insert horror story) happened and now I can’t even think about it. Or “each time I have a lesson I have to go back to square one and work back up to where I last left off, so I don’t feel I am really progressing”. Sometimes actually nothing has happened they just feel they are slowly losing the positivity they once had, “I can get really great dressage moves at home but put me in a warm up and all I see is how much better the other riders are”. Clearly these riders have the skills, so what is stopping them?? That’s where a Confidence Coach comes in…
As a certified NLP Practitioner and Equine Assisted Coach I have a whole toolbox full of techniques that we use to help you to essentially rewire your brain and translate your positive thinking to your horse. This allows you to think the way you want to about the things you want to do and to give the past experiences far less power over your actions (or lack of). Once your brain is behaving, so can your body and then you get the results with your horse (and your instructor will love your new way of thinking too)!
What is NLP??
It stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming. Sounds scary?! Its definitely not, in fact it’s quite the opposite. It can quite literally be described as the study of success.
Neuro refers to how the mind and body interact
Linguistic refers to the insights into a person’s thinking that can be obtained by careful attention to their use of language
Programming refers, not to the activity of programming, but to the study of the thinking and behavioural patterns or ‘programmes’ which people use in their daily lives.
Using these successful techniques we literally change your thinking so that past negative experiences don’t come straight to mind when you think of what you want to do. We also create new ways of positive thinking that slowly but surely teach the brain to behave differently and get your where you want to be.
The Pathway to Success
I talk about it as a pathway to a front door. The front door is the thing you want to achieve. The brick pathway is the positive way of getting there (and the way your instructor wants you to use). However the shortcut that your brain has started to make cuts across the front lawn to the door and has created a muddy path that you don’t want. But it’s so well worn and quick to use that it’s hard to get it to use the lovely brick pathway that you do want. When you can understand how to use the brick pathway and use the muddy one less often, you find that the grass starts to grow and the muddy pathway eventually disappears. This is NLP and the pathways are your neurons in the brain. Humans can create them very easily and are doing all the time at an unconscious level! Amazingly, just making our pathways conscious changes the way we think and means we achieve the results we really want.
So an instructor may be getting you to physically do the task, but unless you address the muddy pathway they will find it very hard to get you over that blocker and use the brick pathway, which they know how to use, to get the result you want.
Equine Assisted Coaching adds another layer that makes the recipe all come together into a beautiful cake of achieving your goals, filled with the jam of confidence…
Equine Assisted Coaching works with your mind and explores just how much it does affect your horse. I combine NLP and horse work in hand and see what your horse has to say about your thinking. This is when we often get the most profound results! Your horse is always reading your mind even if you are trying to disguise it. They can see straight through the act. So we get to the heart of the matter and ensure you are being truthful with your horse. Then we find out if there are any more things we need to work on or if what we have done so far is accepted by your horse. Once you change your thinking you will really see how your horse reacts in a far more positive way. This work not only helps your confidence but your horses’ too and it can really depend your relationship, which is a massive bonus for your both!
Once you then move onto the ridden work you really feel the difference that your thinking makes to your body and what your horse is picking up on. Once you catch that moment of uncertainty that makes your horse back off the jump you can catch it and ask you horse to keep going. Or understand that thinking about all of the possible horrible outcomes of going past the plastic bag out hacking is translating to your horse and you can support them. Maybe you now get why looking at all the other competitors in the warm up and deciding they are better is actually not helping your riding and supporting horse to perform at their best too.
So my Confidence Coaching goes beyond the physical skills and into the deeper realms of your mind and body connection, with your horse too. Just think about all the things you could achieve if you changed your way of thinking about them and how much your instructor will appreciate that lovely brick pathway they can use to get to your front door quickly and without getting muddy!!