Earning Your Confidence
Improving your confidence as a dressage rider comes down to your ability to prepare.
Everything from your fitness off the horse, your 20-metre circle you ride in the arena each day, through to your nutrition, mindset and sleep habits. All of these things prepare you for your competition.
When we prepare ourselves by practising accuracy in our schooling, we improve our ability to ride accurately at a competition under pressure in front of the judge.
When we improve our fitness off the horse, we improve our ability to stay focused and not get out of breath when our adrenaline kicks in at a competition.
When we practice being present and in the present moment during our day to day lives, we improve our ability to stay present when under pressure. When we are better at remaining present we are better able to listen to the horse and not to get distracted by things around us and instead stay together as a team.
Those that ride in the rain, are preparing themselves for the unknown weather at a competition and are more likely to be unfazed by the weather when entering at A.
When you spend time learning your tests and run through the movements of your tests while schooling you are going to be more prepared for your competition.
When you have consistent test practice days the more you will also learn about how to prepare your horse for each movement better.
When you video your test practices and put yourself under pressure at home, the more confidence you will have at a competition.
When you work out your warm-up plan and time and allow room for things to go wrong, you will remove undue stress with time pressure.
When you get out competing at low-stress events like ribbon days and take your horse off your property regularly you are allowing yourself and your horse to build confidence in new environments together. The more you do this, the more confident you will feel with the new environments that come with competitions.
Why is all this important when it comes to confidence?
Well because I believe confidence is earned. I don’t believe you can just ‘be confident’.
However the more prepared you are in all elements and the more prepared you are for the unexpected the more confidence you will have earned.
Want a recipe for stress and anxiety? Throw yourself in the deep end when you aren’t prepared!
Want to instead ride with confidence? Prepare yourself as much as you can and plan for the unexpected.