Author: Sharon Shinwell
Have you lost confidence riding or handling your horse or pony?
Did you have an accident sometime in the past and now you are nervous about something similar happening again on perhaps even a different horse?
Have you started riding late in life, and the amount you need to know feels daunting?
Have you just bought your first horse or pony and it seems very different to perhaps the Riding-School horse that was so familiar?
Have you just returned to riding after a long break, and your confidence is not what is was and this makes you tense?
Do you feel that you are not achieving all that you and your horse are capable of, or you have lost your motivation to keep trying?
Do find yourself making excuses as to why you can’t ride today, tomorrow, in that area, or at that time?
As riders we are all subject to periods of feeling anxious, scared and lack confidence to push ourselves to the next step.
Fear can be very debilitating and can take all the fun out of riding.
The fear we feel from the anticipation of something terrible happening, relates closely to the flight or fight response. Once this response has been created it can be quite hard to undo. That’s because our mind (the unconscious part we are unaware of) is trying it’s best to keep us safe, even when any danger has passed and even when it was only a’ perceived’ danger in the first place.
No one is saying that riding doesn’t involve risk, that would be naïve, but generally speaking, on a day to day basis, if we assess those risks, take the necessary precautions and learn to understand the body language of horses (and don’t ignore them), we are generally quite safe around horses. Time, patience and understanding usually reaps great rewards.
Our subconscious mind; which is vital for our survival, can often hang on to unwanted and unneeded memories, these become trigger points for fear, anxiety and tension, as our minds try to convince us that extra caution is needed – something awful is about to happen!
For example, let’s say that one day you were using a mounting block to get on your horse and just as you put your weight in the saddle the hose lurched to one side and you fell to the ground with a painful bump.
From then on, every time you carry out this same activity, your subconscious mind will connect back to this incident and in an attempt to keep you safe, it will make you feel apprehensive about climbing on board. The good news is that in time, if you carry on using the block and nothing happens, your subconscious mind will eventually become desensitized to the situation; the process will become routine, acceptable and anxiety-free.
This happens in all walks of life from the first crossing of a busy road to a first driving lesson.
The problems only really starts when the subconscious mind won’t let an incident go. It never becomes desensitized, routine or acceptable, without anxiety rearing its head. The subconscious mind has become trapped in the flight or fight response cycle.
This is when the subconscious mind needs a helping hand, it just needs tweaking so that once again it sees things as they really are and lets those old, negative reactions subside, back into proportion, leaving the conscious mind feeling positive, confident and able to function normally. Self-Hypnosis can offer that helping hand.
Self-Hypnosis is a wonderful, gentle, non-invasive, alternative therapy, that works in a holistic way with mind and body. Bringing together emotions, feelings, thoughts, physical and mental awareness into the here and now, using mindfulness techniques to calm the mind and let riders reach their full potential without fear and anxiety.
You may not become the next Olympic gold medallist but you may enjoy the delights of riding down a country lane or popping over a course of jumps or doing a beginners dressage test, For many of us, this is as big an accomplishment as receiving an Olympic Gold Medal; It is to these people, I dedicate my website.
People come to horse riding from all walks of life, sometimes it‘s the realisation of a childhood dream, sometimes the re-kindling of a long lost hobby, or the interest arrives by accident, often through cross contamination… “if you can’t beat them, you might as well join them”, but we all have different stories to tell about our fears and anxieties and how they have affected our lives as horse riders.
The fascination we have with the horses is so embedded and entrenched in our psyche as human beings, that often it is hard to explain to someone who has never been bitten by this bug, why those of us who have, are prepared to put ourselves through so much anguish, financial hardship, anxiety, fear and often discomfort to achieve our goals. Giving up riding altogether when things seem hopeless is often not a perceived option. In an attempt to hang on to a way of life that we feel lovingly entrapped in, we will continue to keep our treasured four-legged friends as companions or pets, acknowledging inwardly that we feel frustrated with ourselves and helpless to make changes, but not knowing where to turn to so that we can begin to try to make those changes.
Each day we hope that for some reason, something has changed, we live in the hope that just one day, the feelings of fear, and dread that prevents us from riding with confidence, will somehow disappear from our minds and bodies whilst we sleep through the night. We imagine the change could happen because the sun is shining on us, the wind has died down, the road works have finished, the litter has all been collected, that blooming dog is indoors; the jumps are more inviting; the poles are more solid; the cross-country ditches are shallower, the ground is good, or the fences not so high; the dressage judge will miss that spook, you will remember to breathe, the horse strikes off on the right leg, or better still, the horse has read the dressage test beforehand!
The Confident Rider Series include downloadable Self-Hypnosis sessions available for most disciplines as well as a Nervous Rider Action Plan.
More information can be found at www.confident-rider.co.uk
About Sharon Shinwell
Sharon Shinwell is the creator of The Confident Rider Series of Self-Hypnosis Audio Sessions for Nervous Riders and is a UK qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Life Coach and Psychotherapist. Sharon owned and bred horses for over 30 years, so she knows only too well the highs and lows of looking after horses, riding them and competing with them.
Sharon’s inspiration for ‘The Confident Rider Series’ was her clinical work with Nervous Horse Riders. Having talked to and worked with many riders, who were often on the verge of giving up, she realised that something needed to be done to prevent this unhappy outcome and sooner rather than later!
Due to her success in this area, she was approached by the publishing company, David & Charles to co-author the highly acclaimed book “Ride with Confidence” which was forwarded by Kelly Marks.
Although now semi-retired from face-to-face therapy, Sharon specialises in Equestrian and Downhill Skiing Sports Psychology, supporting and helping riders and skiers to help themselves by using Self-Hypnosis recorded sessions that can be downloaded for instant use.