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  • Haley Wright

Develop Confidence in 5 Easy Steps

Confidence: A feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.

So much of what goes into riding a horse is based on your confidence. If you are confident, your horse will be too. However, so much of what I see in myself and my students is a different response... Fear. Why? Is it a distrust of the horse or ourselves?

Maybe it is a mix of both. In either case, it can be crippling.

With most of my life spent in the saddle, I have gained confidence from the many good ...and bad... experiences. With every ride, whether in the practice pen, the trails, or in competition- I have realized there are things that can "make or break" my ride. All of which I try to constantly instill within myself and to my riders.


So, here is what I have to offer in terms of pushing the fear back and entering a new level of confidence...

Number 1- pray. I find myself at the most peace where I can finally quiet the world around me- in the saddle. However, every time I head for the warm-up pen, nerves naturally start raging. Thoughts like "Who is going to show up today?" "We hit a barrel the other day during practice, did I teach her it was okay?" "I am at the bottom of the drag?!" "My saddle pad isn't strai........." And that is where I have to STOP! In the end, it is ultimately out of my hands, (like most things in this life). That's where that prayer comes in. If you ever see me muttering to myself, I am not as crazy as I appear. That's just me giving all those mostly irrational worries I am holding onto over to the only one who can handle it all. Who says riding a horse can't be spiritual?


Number 2- trust. Trust should follow that prayer. Trust Him, trust yourself, and trust your horse. Do not be limited by your surroundings. Don't be intimidated by those around you. Your horse relies more on your trust in them than you know. If you come in with a mindset that you are going to get smoked, your body will relay that message right down the reins. You and your horse are beyond capable! Believe it.


Number 3- be kind. Be kind to those around you. They are likely going through the same roller-coaster of emotions, on top of whatever else life has thrown at them that week. Pass those good vibes right on. Do not root for anyone's failure. Be the cheerleader you would wish for them to be for you. Equally important... be kind to yourself. It is okay if you do not have the run you envisioned yourself having. Wide turn on 1, knocked barrel at 2... Yes, it is a bummer, (okay, it downright sucks!) but it happens. Sound familiar to life? If you get knocked down, get back up again and give it your best shot the next chance you get. If you beat yourself and your horse up for a mistake that you cannot go back and change, you are only setting yourself back three steps. IT IS OKAY.


Number 4- grow. Growth inspires confidence. Looking back from where you started to where you are today... Wow, right? Who knew? Now start looking forward to what is to come. Dream big and do not limit yourself (but remember number 3 if things do not go at your pace). As one of my favorite pastors of all time likes to say, our God is a crock-pot kind of God- not a microwave kinda God. I have to remind myself of this constantly. I want to do things at my pace. Looking back though, I am glad that things did not work the way I had hoped for because it is so much better!


Number 5- learn. Never stop learning. What does that look like? I think it looks like going and riding with new people, while you get to know them and what shapes how they ride. Leave your phone at the trailer and go talk to people! You can learn a lot from your peers, young and old. I feel like I have gotten more experience in the past year simply from speaking to and watching great horsemen and horsewomen at barrel races and even in my own backyard, as I ride with people from different backgrounds and disciplines.


I hope you can take these things and begin to grow in confidence day by day! See you in the arena, my friend!


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