Sunday, 18 March 2012

Tales from a nervous rider - Part 1

Fear and anxiety - unfortunately these feelings have played far too large a part in my life so far, and I know I am not alone in this.  Although I have always loved horses, I have always been a nervous rider.  So I was delighted to make contact with Vicky Smith, a UKCP registered NLP Psychotherapist and a qualified Coach. Combining her NLP expertise and love of horses, she set up Inspirational Riding Solutions in 2006 and has been successfully helping horse lovers to rebuild their confidence ever since, working with 'happy hackers', semi-professionals and professional riders.

I am delighted that Vicky has written the first of a 2 part guest blog for me and I am sure that many of us will identify with what Vicky says.  

GUEST BLOG  by Vicky Smith, Inspirational Riding Solutions

For all you nervous equestrians out there, here's a tale from an ex nervous rider of 20+ years. This is me jumping my first ever x-country course after dreaming about it forever!

I was always a nervous rider, even as a child, so I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to finally jump my first x-country course at the ripe old age of 34 after a lifetime of dreaming about it.

After several terrifying incidents riding as a child, I finally gave up in my teens. Years later, having never lost my love of riding, I decided to ‘do things properly’. I finally bought Ted off the internet (argh I hear you cry – definitely not doing things properly). I had weekly lessons – for years, with different trainers, yet nothing could shake the fear and anxiety I felt inside. I had to psyche myself up for days if I was going hacking and always felt relief as soon as it was over. I eventually became too frightened to hack out, too nervous to compete and even at times too scared to canter.

At that time in my career as Head of T&D at KCC, I heard about NLP. I thought I was going to learn new skills, however, I ended up changing so many things in my life for the better – one of them being my riding. I was gobsmacked at how much change was possible, and how quickly.

I learned that traumatic events create emotional memories, which create certain automatic responses and behaviours. I’d had lots of traumatic events as a child: horses bolting, being thrown off, throwing myself off, to name a few! After things like this, the brain is on constant alert for similar situations that might mean danger. In my brain anything associated with riding meant danger – even though at one level I knew I was perfectly safe, I still felt scared inside. This was completely irrational – why did this keep happening? 

NLP taught me that my mind had created limiting beliefs and negative emotions inside me that made me behave in certain [irrational] ways every time I went riding, or – and this is even more weird – every time I thought about riding. My brain was making me so scared that I virtually stopped riding – confining myself to the indoor school.  

Part 2 will show you how I managed to turn things around.  If you can’t wait, take a look at my website to see how I overcame my fears:

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