That little thing called confidence
8th May, 2009
I was sitting comfortably in my consultation room one morning, reading through some case notes over a cuppa when the phone rang. Holding the earpiece to my ear I heard a desperate little voice saying “Help – I lost my nerve – I felt it just go”. This was not going to be easy as my client, Cherri was phoning from Germany – so it was not that she could jump in the car and hotfoot it over to me.
“Tell me what exactly happened” I asked. Cherri said she was riding a youngster when she felt that horrid feeling that you get on a roller coaster where your stomach feels like it drops through your feet! “I felt it just go and there was nothing I could do about it,” she cried. Poor Cherri was in a desperate state as she had not been riding in this yard long, and was keen to prove herself to the owner of the yard. It was Cherri’s job to bring the youngsters on ready for her boss Christina.
Cherri is a free lance well-established rider who competes at the highest end of competition, who apart from training youngsters for Christina, also shows and rides for other owners, as well as competing 3 horses of her own. How she manages with a family as well is beyond belief, but as many of us know we just do when our horses are concerned. We always seem to be able to manage time for our horses in this very time pressured world that we find ourselves living in don’t we?
From time to time we all feel a little less confident at moments in our lives, be it riding our horse or going on a date for the first time; no matter when it happens we have to learn to overcome it at some point or it will interfere with they way we want to live our lives. The more you tell yourself you have lost your confidence the more you reinforce it in the subconscious part of your brain, it then becomes fixed and a constant fight within… catch 22 as they say.
It is however, very important to know that it is a good thing to be just a little, shall we say, “aware” as this is the body’s natural reflex called the ‘fight and flight response’ that keeps us safe. Without this we would have no fear at all and that could be a very dangerous thing.
So anyway, Cherri is on the phone trying very hard not to cry whilst I give her things to think about and am finding out what has been happening in her life in general in the lead up to the event. As everyone and every situation is different it is very important to get as much information as I can to help. After calming her and getting the desired info from Cherri I asked her to go onto Microsoft messenger so that I could give her written instructions - amazing thing isn’t it messenger? I explained to Cherri that I was going to give her written instructions so that she could go through certain procedures after we had finished on the phone.
Firstly, I asked Cherri to ask herself what she is saying to herself when she is riding (this is one of the most important things to look for as a negative voice in there is very destructive). She reported that it was all positive talk and is always positive about her riding.
Ruling that out I asked her what had happened the last time she rode this horse. He had been good up until the last time when he suddenly started to hunch his back as if he were going to bronk, but didn’t. After establishing that all the horses on the yard could do with their backs being sorted out and also establishing that it was not something Cherri was doing wrong but the poor horse was possibly in pain, we went onto kick-start her confidence.
Luckily this did not take long as she had phoned me as soon as she could after the actual event. Left unchecked feelings can become mountains from molehills - like a pebble being thrown into water, the ripples start small but increase as time goes by.
I have treated many riders who have either lost their confidence like Cherri and many that do not know how or when they lost it – it just seems to disappear. There can be many contributing factors as to why this happens. Thankfully, there are many ways in which confidence can be regained from using tools from my well stocked toolbox.
When things become too much for us stress can set in, effecting things which would normally seem a relatively small issue leading up to a lack of confidence. Many of us have to juggle many balls at once in the air and it can be a difficult job keeping them all going sometimes can’t it?
In the case of Cherri it was basically life style changes that we needed to work on as she had allowed herself to be put under a lot of pressure trying to juggle her family and expectations at work. Although she said she felt her confidence go at a certain point it would have actually been the “breaking point” of a mixture of events leading up to it. As I said earlier, this is not always the case, some riders having had a bad experience, either a fall or something drastic happen to them leading to confidence loss need to work on that experience to over come the event in order to be able to move on.
Once a balance was achieved using NLP coaching techniques showing Cherri how to get the best out of life and explaining that she is not superwoman the waters became calmer again and her mind was again free to concentrate on the job in hand. Her confidence returned after a few calls and she is now back on track as are the horses at the yard. Her boss had the back person out to find that the horses did need and have all had treatment – so a happy ending all around - funny old thing that little thing called confidence – you either got it or you aint!
Many top competition riders, riding & pony club memebers and plain old (and young) happy hackers are finding NLP (Neuro Lingustic Programming) coaching and hypnotherapy to get the best out of their riding - the brain can be re educated to overcome most issues and lead to a much happier confident you!
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