Confidence means different things to different people.
It can be the difference between success, achievement, overcoming or not.
Confidence is a highly sought-after attribute. Many envy what others appear to have. Whether or not we [perceive] we have it or not, it can affect our lives in general.
With regard to riding, it can make a difference to what horse we buy, how we ride, what we do.
Do we hack, compete, and at what level? Do we have the confidence we think we have? Many riders have seen another buy a horse only to witness they’ve over-horsed themselves.
Young riders appear to have lots of it. Is that the fearlessness of the young, and not having life experiences that often result in limiting beliefs, or evolving commitments as we get older?
Not all have it, and their confidence can be knocked too though from, say, a fall, that pole down in a team event or that nasty comment such a you’re pony’s so ugly!
Do young people even understand the concept of confidence or do they just 'do'?
We can ‘spot’ confidence in others.
But, what does it look like, or feel like?
What does someone do to create that impression?! How do we experience it? How do we know?
Many people may look confident but feel very different inside, masking insecurities in some way. The same for our horses too.
Dictionary definitions include:
But, what does that mean? Here’s a collection of different riders’ descriptions:
Confidence and, or, mentally healthy? Mental health and confidence are intricately connected.
Good mental health is a sense of wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem. Interestingly, the dictionary definitions and people’s descriptions of confidence almost mirror the definition of mental health!
Having, lacking or lost confidence are words in many people’s and riders’ vocabularies, yet words which lead to limiting beliefs. “Oh I can’t jump 1.00m!” when they’ve been jumping a 16.3h ex 2** eventer at 0.90cm, so another 10cm?
Are we too hooked up on the word confidence perhaps?
Many people just get on with things. Is that confidence, or mentally healthy, or both?
Do those people think in those terms though?
So do we sometimes overthink, or over worry about being confident rather than considering ourselves mentally healthy?
It’s clear that confidence is a key factor in our mental health and well-being, but are they interchangeable, or even the same thing, given the two definitions?
Yet in reality, fear, the unknown, being unsafe, or not in control, impacts confidence.
In equestrian, things like falling off, getting hurt, challenging ourselves or someone, people laughing at us, failing, losing, coming last, having a pole down, not getting the expected dressage score, ‘that’ movement, a horse bolting/taking off are factors.
Equally, confidence to run a business, with its ups and downs too is challenging. It’s easy to see how confidence can be effected.
How we regain, find, improve our confidence; how we overcome fear, apprehension, or caution should be done with patience, encouragement, support and time.
The saying “feel the fear and do it anyway” can motivate too. How often have we done what we’re fearful of, and then have a huge smile on our face! Jumping that 1.00m, jumping at all, hacking on our own, riding in front of people, competing at such a high level, travelling overseas, returning after an injury or illness.
And remember, if we’ve done something once, we can always do it again.
How we sit, stand, walk, talk, ride, move reflects ‘confidence’.
This affects those around us, their perception of us, our impact on others.
It affects our horses and how we ride too. If we ride fearfully, defensively or apprehensively, our horses might become backward moving.
If we ride purposefully, focused, ‘ride every stride’ as my old instructor used to say, we allow our horses to travel and be forward going.
Our body language makes a difference; to us and everyone around us.