• veronathomas

Getting my confidence back...

Updated: Jan 30, 2019

Confidence is key in our sport. I get so disheartened when I watch other riders go gallivanting around the countryside or fly around a course of jumps. That was something I used to be able to do, and without even realising, a few pushbacks here and there, and my confidence is on the ground.

Without a doubt, this sport is tough. It leaves us exposed emotionally, as we love the equipment we work with unconditionally. When our horse is injured, it can impact our daily lives- they can't just be replaced like a punctured football. Our horse becomes a part of the family, and when they are injured, the sport has to stop. I've found that even these sorts of knock backs can affect my confidence when riding but it's important to always remain positive, whatever the situation and remember why we do what we do.

Remembering my love for horses has been really important to me, especially recently. My two semi-retired horses were tragically put to sleep together, a totally traumatic experience that I wouldn't wish upon anybody. It left a hole in my heart that only sprouted negativity towards the industry. It caused me to leave my job as a Groom, so I could try and focus on the simple pleasures of being around horses again, but it was difficult. If I thought my confidence was on the floor before, it really was now. 

Midnight (Left) and Red (Right), aged 19 and 25.

Resilience has been key for me. After riding a gorgeous dressage horse for two months, I finally accepted that whilst she was beautiful, she wasn't what I needed to be able find my confidence again. In my heart, I knew exactly what I needed, but I just didn't know where I could find it. That was, until I met Misty, a gorgeous, cheeky (nicknamed Monkey) Connemara mare who has literally scooped me off the floor and onto her back, in the kindest way possible. 

Desperate for my share with Misty to work, I knew I had to take things slowly, and thankfully her owner couldn't have understood more. We started off by heading out on a few tentative hacks in company here and there, but before I knew it the tentative feeling was replaced with the biggest smile on my face and that hole in my heart was steadily being pushed out.

For me to be able to pop to the yard, tack up Misty and go on a hack is something I never thought I’d be able to do comfortably again. Not only can I now do this, but I can now do this on my own and it’s purely Misty’s loving little heart that has enabled me to finally feel this confident again. To be able to go out before sunrise and ride out on a frosty morning hack, whilst watching the sunrise and the ice melt, is incredible. This is something I have only ever been able to do with Red and it was always one of our favourite pastimes.

Misty, on our first solo hack.

To get your confidence back, it really is about finding the right horse for you. If I’m ever feeling nervous, I simply sing a nursery rhyme to myself or consciously let the rein out slightly, so I avoid tensing up. Without these three factors, I would never of been able to get where I am now and of course, I'm still getting there, but I've finally found a horse I feel like I can get there with... wherever ‘there’ may be.

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