Have you lost your confidence in riding? NLP could be the answer

Q: I’ve recently lost my confidence as my first horse had injury and hormonal problems, which led to her rearing andfalling over with me. She had to be retired, so I bought another horse, who is wonderful. However, some months ago, I was badly injured, through no fault of my horse’s, when I slipped and fell while leading him. Although I can now sit on him, I find I freeze with fear. I’ve heard about Neuro Linguistic Programming and wondered if it could help me to regain my confidence.

Wendy Jago, a dressage judge, author and a trained Master Practitioner and coach in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), replies: Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) teaches us to look for the positive intention behind our ‘bad habits’ because there virtually always is one.

It’s really important to give yourself time to recover from these traumas, but at the same time, if you can become aware of how you’re processing your bad experiences, you can help minimise them.

For example, you’re picturing the traumatic time when your first horse reared, in large, bright colours in your mind.

If you change that picture to black and white or sepia, the picture gets blurred and less frightening.

Then make it smaller, like a small dot, and the feelings get less strong, too.

In future, when you find yourself re-running bad experiences, try gathering good experiences from the past and remind yourself – like a voice-over – that the enjoyment and skills you had then are just as much a part of you and will come again.

In practical terms, build up small, achievable successes such as just sitting on your horse (ask someone to lead you if it helps) and focus on him as if you were learning to ride from scratch.

Be pleased with a couple of circuits of the school, and allow your own achievement to gradually stretch the boundaries of your ‘comfort zone’ for you.

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