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4 Strategies to help you stay positive and enjoy riding (again)

Do you feel like you are not making enough progress with your riding? Do you struggle to stay motivated? Do you often compare yourself to others? First of all, you are not alone! We have all been there. As an equestrian coach, my job is to help you on your journey and to get you ‘unstuck’. This is not just about increasing your technical riding skills but also about helping you build confidence and the right mindset. Let’s look at some strategies how to find a positive mindset and enjoy riding (again):

Be HONEST with yourself 

First of all, consider these questions: What drives you? Why are you doing what you are doing?

Trying to find answers to these questions is super important as research shows that we are much more likely to succeed and be much happier over all if we follow our ‘internal motivator voice’. So ask yourself why are you trying to reach a certain goal. Are you trying to please yourself or someone else? Are you trying to better yourself and work well with your horse or are you driven by external pressures or expectations? Trust me, if you are trying to win classes in order to please others or to ‘fit in’, you will struggle to stay motivated when things don’t go to plan. 

Secondly, think about what is achievable in terms of how often you ride, where you are at and where you want to get to. Goals should be challenging but also possible to achieve within the timeframe you set for yourself and your resources (be it time or money). If you have a busy lifestyle and you can only ride once a week, you might not be able to progress as quickly as someone who rides several horses every day. But that is ok! Can you only afford one lesson per month? That is also ok, you can still make lots of progress! Try not to compare yourself to others – doing your best, within your circumstances, is YOUR BEST – period 🙂 

Find YOUR HERD

Find people who align with your values and who believe in you and your goals. We can all doubt ourself (yes, me too!) but having someone you trust on your side telling you that you are doing a good job with your horse can make a huge difference when we are going through these ‘wobbly’ moments. We all need cheerleaders 🙂

If you are struggling with knowing where you are and how to get to the next goalpost, get some help. Find a coach who understands your aspirations and gives you the skills and confidence to take your riding to the next level. For me, the greatest perk of being an horse riding coach is helping my students become autonomous riders and watch them build amazing partnerships with their horses. If your coach does not make you feel better about yourself and your riding over time (which literally is our job!) then you might need someone else on your team.

CELEBRATE (sm)all wins

Don’t just think about all the things you still need to get better at. We all have things to work on. It is important to enjoy the moments when you can finally get THAT transition or you do your first competition – these are all wins and you worked hard for them. Remember the first time you tried to do a rising trot? Or had to drive for the first time? I don’t know about you but I was really not great at either the first time I did it 🙂 But I bet that now you can do rising trot (or drive) without even thinking about it. We often focus on the things which are not going well and forget about all the things that were really really hard at first but now we do them without thinking or even remembering that we once struggled with them.

Keeping a journal can be a great idea – jot down whatever you are currently working on and then review your notes after a month and then again after a few months. You will be surprised at how many things you found challenging few months back and now you don’t even remember that they were difficult.

Process over outcome – Enjoy your riding JOURNEY

Goals are great and we should absolutely set goals to help us focus and track progress BUT – here is a little secret – not achieving your goals is not a failure. Goals are there to guide us but the journey they take us on is actually the more important bit. 

Let’s say I set myself a goal of winning a regional novice dressage competition. But the ‘winning’ is not actually something that I learn from or have complete control over. But as a part of that journey, I would have to:

  • understand which dressage movements I need to ride in the test
  • assess my horse’s current stage of training
  • develop a training plan for my horse
  • learn how to maximise our marks (ring craft)
  • ride in front of other people
  • manage competition nerves

AND the list goes on. So whether I win (‘achieve my goal’) or not, I will still become a better rider and I will have a horse that is more athletic and more responsive and I will probably be more confidence about going out competing. Isn’t that a ‘win’, really? 


I hope you found these tips helpful and I would love to hear from you if you have any specific horse and rider training questions. And if you are looking to achieve your riding goals this year, I would love to be part of your ‘herd’ 🙂 I offer evidence-based training for riders and horses in Hertfordshire and parts of Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire.


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