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Lack of Confidence?

By Sheryl Lynde / Horsetrader columnist - May 1st, 2018 - Trainer Tips, Training

Trainer TipsIt gets to us all at some point: the feeling that maybe you don’t quite have what it takes to make it happen.

Perhaps you have just entered a competition and are excited about the challenge of bringing your horsemanship to the next level. You arrive at the show and your insides are in a twist. You can’t believe you signed up for this. You watch the other competitors warm up their horses and you feel out of your depth.

Or, maybe you are struggling to get to the next phase of your riding ability and you feel as though it is a physical impossibility. You are out of your comfort zone and easily frustrated. Your movements are awkward, and attempts to execute new habits and a different riding style have proved unsuccessful.  You need to ride faster, develop a better seat, be softer with your hands, use your legs, stop leaning, watch the cow, etc. You know what you are supposed to do and what it is supposed to feel like, but you are unable to transfer your vision from your head to your hands, seat and legs in a time frame that you have set for yourself.

Or, it could be that you have made leaps and bounds in the progression of your skill level, but self-doubt is holding you back — flashing pictures of past mistakes which cause you to be inconsistent in your results.

Confidence — or lack thereof — is a game-changer. If you are going through a crisis of faith, relax. The best of the best go through the same moments of doubt, just at different levels. Contrary to popular belief, confidence is not something that you either have or you don’t; it is a skill set that you develop.  It’s an emotion just like any other emotion that exists as a result of us performing within a very specific set of circumstances.  It is an emotion that is both individually unique and easy to apply once you understand the steps necessary to progress, as in the building of any foundation.

Often people confuse confidence with competence, but they are as different as verbs and nouns. Confidence is an emotion that we can draw from when needed, but competence is a level of skill that is developed over a period of time. For instance, if I want to ride at a certain level in any discipline, or simply learn a new maneuver, I need to practice over a period of time the individual components within that specific maneuver before I can reach a higher level of competency. The length of time is necessary in order to develop new motor skills as well as allowing different neural pathways to form that permit me to execute that maneuver seamlessly. Just like driving a manual transmission. You have to use your right hand to shift, depress the gas pedal with your right foot while simultaneously releasing the clutch with your left foot as well as steer with your left hand and maneuver traffic. The first attempts were not pretty. But after a period time and with repetitive, consistent practice, you were able to perform all the required tasks smoothly and without thinking.

By comparing your level of skills or competency to that of others, you are engaging in an exercise of futility. The time it takes for you to develop new motor skills is as individual as DNA; some riders have natural ability while others have to work harder. There will always be someone better than you, and thank goodness. They inspire, motivate and show us what is possible to achieve.

Confidence comes from within. It’s an understanding that brings clarity in knowing that although you may struggle at times with getting to the next skill level with any endeavor; this does not define you as a failure or a winner. Doubt, worries and fear are adversary emotions, some well-founded, while others are ludicrous and have no merit. The well-founded fears pertain to our safety, such as attempting to school or ride a horse outside of our depth or competency level. Seeking guidance from a professional in addition to consistent, repetitive practice over a period of time will reduce the strength and power your doubts and fears hold over you. You will succeed; your efforts will be rewarded. Stay with it.

Be a watcher of your thoughts and emotions. Break it down, settle down. Identify the reason for your doubts or fears. Fear of getting hurt, frustration at feeling a lack of progression, doubt in whether you have the time, passion or ability to do this? Seek guidance when you need it, focus on your path, not others, and do your best. Let go of your doubts, let the wind carry them on down the road.

Sheryl

 

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