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Be Brave Enough To Ride Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Be Brave Enough To Ride Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Lauren O'Malley
Show jumping - horse - braids - equestrian

By Lauren O’Malley

It’s natural to feel nervous about moving up to a new jump height or tackling courses at a faster pace.

Generally speaking, equestrians are pretty brave to begin with. I mean, we’re navigating an animal with its own thoughts and instincts over jumps and at high speeds.

Some riders are really lucky, and by that I mean they are naturally just really brave, fearless riders. I, on the other hand, have never really been naturally brave and bold in the saddle. More often than I would like to admit, I constantly am having to fight the urge of wanting to stay in my comfort zone.

It’s a struggle to get past my nerves and try something new or more difficult. But by doing so, I know I’m learning more and honing my skills with each ride.

Thanks to some really great trainers, and incorporating psychology into my riding, I have some solid resources that help me get out of my comfort zone and gain more confidence whenever it may be needed (which is often). I like to think of these resources as my toolbox. I am opening this metaphorical “toolbox” each and every time I get on a horse.

Prepare But Don’t Over Analyze

One of my favorite tactics I like to use is turning my fears or worries into “if, then” statements. If I am concerned about my horse spooking, doing something unpredictable, or simply not being able to complete a movement, I turn my worry or fear into an “If this happens…then, I will do this…” statement. When I can pinpoint what exactly is worrying me or causing me to not want to leave my comfort zone and ride through the situation, I can decide how I will deal with the moment if it happens to arise.

Once I realize that I can handle the situation and ride through it, I am able to continue on with the ride and push a little bit further.

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Ride With Music

Another favorite resource of mine is listening to music when I ride. I never wear
headphones for safety reasons, but I will ride with my phone in my pocket or strapped down. I have a specific playlist with encouraging and “feel good” songs that help keep me calm and inspires me to ride better. It also improves my confidence in the saddle. This then transfers to the horse and creates an environment for a really successful and productive ride.

Rely On Your Support System

I am a firm believer that if you are with the right trainer, they will never ask you to do something that you aren’t capable of. Sometimes it takes someone else believing in you or showing you what is possible to realize you can leave your comfort zone and become a more confident rider.

With almost every trainer I’ve ridden with, I have always been able to be open about how I am feeling and where my confidence level is that day. There is absolutely no shame or judgement in asking to slow things down, or to make the exercise a little more challenging if your trainer agrees.

Not only is riding such a physically demanding sport, but it has a huge mental component, too. Sticking to the familiarity of your comfort zone is fine for a little while, but once you decide to test the limits of that comfort zone is when true growth happens.

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