Q: I ride my friend’s lovely cob, but every ride I have on him, I put myself down. I think I’m such a rubbish rider, but my friend tells me otherwise. What can I do to help stop me getting anxious about my riding?
Tina Sederholm answers:
I’m really glad you’ve found a horse who is amazing and you enjoy riding. Swings in confidence happen to everyone, although it appears you have very high expectations of yourself, which will cause you to be more susceptible to those swings. It is useful to aim high, but expecting yourself to be brilliant immediately is unhelpful and unrealistic. The truth of the matter is that you are a better rider than some people, but not as good as some others.
Loads to learn
Even though I have been riding for nearly 40 years and teaching for 25 of those, the same is true for me. I still find I have more to learn – in fact, that is what makes riding and teaching riding so very interesting.
It appears to me that you get anxious, particularly to do the right thing, but anxiety is also not useful. When you feel your adrenalin rising, stop whatever you are doing (including talking) and take three or four slow breaths, in and out. Then start again from that calm place. You will find much better solutions from this attitude.
If you find yourself getting anxious again, do not beat yourself up, but stop, breathe and start again. You may find yourself having to do this many times a day.
Good luck with your riding, and keep reminding yourself why you do it, rather than measuring yourself against some impossible vision of riding perfection.