Confidence is a fragile commodity. We all need it. Sometimes we have it, sometimes we lose it. Some people appear to have too much of it and others not enough. And why is it that at the critical moment it seems to go missing? It does not matter what you are striving to achieve if you do not have confidence in your ability to succeed you might as well go home. On the other hand if you are overconfident you may be, as they say, riding for a fall!
Riding a horse is something that requires real confidence. After all it involves a large animal with a mind of its’ own. It is all very well to say that golfers or tennis players require confidence. They do, but their golf club or their tennis racquet is never going to spook at the ball. As a rider I must be confident that I can stay on my horse and not fall off and get hurt. I must be confident that I know how to ride well enough to give the horse the right aids so he will know what I want him to do. Above all, I must have confidence so that my horse can have confidence in me.
I have met riders who are not confident about their ability as riders due to a previous accident or mishap that has left them nervous. Or they may have had bad instruction. A bad coach can seriously undermine the confidence of a student rider. I am sorry to say there are coaches out there who seem to do this on purpose. I’m not a psychotherapist so I cannot tell you why they do this; power, control, ego…who knows? But once confidence is gone the rider’s ability to ride suffers dramatically. In the case of a fall or injury the rider can regain it by riding a calm horse and over time regaining their ‘nerve’.. If the rider has lost it due to an abusive coach then that is damage that may take a long time to repair.
Confidence can be difficult to maintain when faced with the big challenges. But if you know you are ready for a challenge and you trust in your preparation and training you can take on the challenge and succeed. The Puissance wall must seem daunting as the rider comes up to 7 feet of wall. But with the right approach the well trained horse and rider can sail over the top and land safely. I think this is an analogy for many of the challenges we face in life.
We live in an “easy everything” culture but as sport psychologist Dirk Stroda says: “confidence does not come in a pill.” We must take time and work at it.
“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
― Mahatma Gandhi