22/ FEBRUARY 2021 THE RIDER Use Visualisation To Become A More Confident Horse Rider

Anne Gage, The Horse Riding Confidence Coach

If you’re struggling with

your horse riding confidence, using this one simple technique can help you feel more confident quickly. It’s something that all high level and professional ath- letes use. Visualisation is a mental process that enables us to feel

more prepared and confident to- wards specific activities or life events. You already use visualisa-

tion. You are visualising when you recall past experiences or imagine future outcomes. The problem may be that you’re fo- cusing on negative ones. To use visualisation to build

your confidence you need to see positive experiences in your

mind’s eye. And you need to re- play them over and over. This technique works because your brain can’t tell the difference be- tween what is real or what is imagined. Visualisation works even if

you can’t actually see pictures in your mind. What’s really key is evoking the emotions - the posi- tive emotions - you want to have. By practising these emotions, you’ll be able to deal with the real life situation much better. This is a skill used exten-

sively by athletes preparing for high-pressure perform- ances, surgeons preparing for complex operations, mil- itary and police operatives about to conduct dangerous missions. If it works for them, it will work for you, don’t you agree? Visualisation done con-

Karen Dallimore, OAC ‘85 Great Beginnings

Horse Basics is a coaching service for horses and their handlers based in Orton, Ontario. Call me to find out how I can help you with

handling and husbandry, goal setting, Extreme Cowboy obstacle work, recreational riding or just plain enjoying your horse. For more infor-

mation visit my website at or find me on FB at Horse Basics.

Sweet Grass Farm, Orton, Ontario

519-855-1127 • • @horsebackwriter

sciously and in a positive way benefits anyone who wants to increase the quality of their performance and the

confidence with which they do any activity. These are extreme exam-

ples, but the reason you as a horse rider should practise visu- alisation is that it can help you to ride and handle your horse with more confidence, more focus, more positivity, more patience and more connection.

How to Visualise: Begin by putting your focus

on your breathing. Be sure to use your diaphragm so that you com- pletely fill and then empty your lungs on each inhale and exhale. Breathe deeply and rhythmically making your exhale longer than your inhale. Don’t worry if your mind wanders. Just gently bring your focus back to your breath. Continue breathing in this way for a couple of minutes to relax before moving on to the next step.

On each exhale, allow your

body to relax a bit more. Start at the top of your head and move down through your face, neck

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and shoulders, arms and hands, upper back and around your ribs, lower back and around your pelvis, and down your legs all the way to your toes. Releasing tension with each out breath. Visualise your up-

coming ride, seeing each of the key activi- ties in your mind one at a time. Driving to the barn. Getting your horse from the paddock, Grooming and tacking up. Leading your horse to the riding arena. Standing on the mounting block, Getting in the saddle. Be as detailed as you can.

See what you would see. Feel what you would feel. Hear what you would hear. Smell what you would smell. Bring all of your senses into the visualisation. Imagine each step of the

process as accurately as you can, as if you were actually there doing it. If you notice any changes in your heart rate and mood while you are imagining in this way, simply exhale into re- laxation as you did in the first step.

Take your time. If you need

to, it’s okay to go back over something and do it again until you do it the way you want to do it. Imagine living through each key part of the ride relaxed, calm, positive and confident. Taking just 15 minutes to do

this exercise can have a dramatic effect on how your ride turns out. The more you practise, the better you get, so take time every day - and before every ride - to visu- alise the positive ride and results you want to have.

BIO: Anne Gage, The Horse Rid-

ing Confidence Coach, began specialising in helping anxious horse riders after losing her own riding confidence. As a recovered anxious rider, she knows what it’s like to be truly terrified to ride. She also knows how impor- tant the relationship between horse and rider is in confidence. Anne’s unique coaching ap- proach includes riding skills combined with qualifications in equine behaviour, NLP and hyp- nosis. (But don’t worry, she won’t have you clucking like a chicken!). Find out more at

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