I don't know about you, but I think winter riding can feel a little nerve-wracking at times. The weather is cold (I hate the cold!), the wind is whipping, and your normally lovely, saint of a horse is feeling fresh and now resembles more of a fire-breathing dragon than your trusty steed. It can make one a little hesitant to put their foot in the stirrup and swing their leg over!
Riding in less than perfect weather on a fresh horse isn't the only situation that can make a rider nervous. Going down centerline at a new, higher level or on a new horse, riding for a big clinician, and even taking a new or young horse out on the trail for the first time are all situations which have made me nervous before.
And while I'm the first to admit I still feel nerves sometimes, those nerves don't bother me or unsettle me like they used to. Why? I have confidence in my abilities. I have faith and trust in my skill sets I've learned from past experiences. I know that no matter what happens, I'll be able to figure it out.
I know what you're thinking... "That's great but what about those of us that don't have confidence like that?" Let me tell you a secret - you can have that that confidence. You really can. The first step to having a confident mindset is learning that confidence isn't something you get.
Confidence is something you create.
Yes, you create confidence. No one can give it to you. Not your horse, not your trainer, not your friends, not your family, no one. Confidence comes from developing trust in yourself. Confidence is trusting that you will be able to handle whatever life throws your way. You may not be perfect, but you'll have the skill set to figure the situation out and be ok in the end.
How do you create confidence?
Do things that make you feel uncomfortable. These don't have to be big, monumental things. You don't need to go out and enter the Grand Prix or volunteer to back an unbroke mustang. Do small things. Are you nervous riding your horse outside of the arena on the trail? Make a date with a friend and her calm horse to just walk around the property together. Once that feels easy, then venture out on the trail together. Give yourself little challenges and set yourself up for success.
Surround yourself with an amazing support team. Share your goals with each other and hold each other accountable. Your support team can't create confidence for you but every challenge can feel more doable with a strategic group of cheer leaders behind you!
Celebrate every success. And I mean every. single. little. thing. No matter how big or small your victory, you need to celebrate - especially the little victories. Get excited about your progress. Be proud of yourself. You deserve it!
As you build on your little victories, you will begin to trust yourself. You'll begin to develop a bit more of a "been there, done that" mindset. A mindset that will allow you to have faith in yourself and your abilities to handle a sticky situation the next time you find yourself in one.
And every time you navigate a new situation, even if you're not perfect (news flash - no one is), you'll have that experience under your belt. You'll have yet another reason to be confident in yourself.
It's your journey - no one else's. Celebrate the journey. Be proud of yourself and your experiences. That's how you create confidence!