Telling your storiesfrom the stables to the fields

12 February,2018

Eight easy ways to go from ‘I can’t’ to ‘sure I can’

How would you like to be even more confident in your riding? How quickly would you like to use the skills that help top sports people to get to the top of their game?  Are you ready to turn your ‘no’ into ‘yes’?  

  • If your answer is yes, then, using the eight easy tips here will help you turn those nervous butterflies in your tummy into ones that will help you fly.
  • First things first; what’s your goal?  If you don’t know what you want, how will you know when you’ve got there?  Define your goal as if you’ve already achieved it, for example, I am focused and calm when I ride into the ring.
  • See yourself completing your goal. What will it feel like when you successfully complete that dressage test? Who will be there when you’re enjoying cantering through the woods?  Maybe you can clearly hear things too as you focus on your clear cross-country round? Repeat this 3D visualisation specifically and regularly; the more you practice, the more naturally it will come.
  • Act as if.  Notice the body language of someone you think of as a confident rider; how do they do it?  How are they sitting?  Are they smiling? What else tells you they’re confident.  It’s possible that when you start mirroring this behaviour, your body will believe that this is how you feel too, and you’ll feel a lot better.   
  • Mind your language.  Notice how often you say things like ‘I can’t ride well’, ‘this never goes to plan’, ‘I never get a clear round here’ etc.  Maybe you can change it to ‘last time this didn’t go to plan, but this time it will be better’. It’s amazing how your body can respond to instructions, so you might as well make them positive!!
  • Find a moment to focus and chill.  Being able to consciously relax is a great tool to use.  Simply tensing different parts of your body and then releasing them can lower the body chemicals that we interpret as anxious.  
  • If you were an animal, what advice would you give yourself? How would your inner lion make sense of the situation by being brave?  Where would a dog sniff out the solution? Perhaps a cat would find the purrfect way to move forward?
  • See the gifts.  When things don’t go so well, it can seem like a body blow.  Let the dust settle, and find the gifts that the feedback (not failure) can give you.  Finding ways in which you can learn from your experience can be invaluable to your future performance.
  • A magic circle can help too.  Imagine the last time you had a great time when with your horse.  As in number 2, picture that time very clearly, using all of your senses.  Imagine you have a magic circle in front of you – maybe it’s your favourite colour, or it seems another way.  Put all of those amazing feelings from the picture in your mind’s eye in the circle and repeat this process a few times until your circle is full of all those great times.  Then, simply step into your circle – what do you notice?  Imagine how great it is to be able to take this magic circle with you wherever you go?

So, now you have your new skills and strategies, bet you can’t wait to get back out there doing what you love with your horse!  Have fun!

by Tracey Hutchinson of



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