Psst … There’s a Secret to Building Your Confidence with Horses (and Riding)

When I tell people that a few years ago I lost my confidence for riding, they usually have 2 reactions.  First, they are surprised to find out how scared I was (shaking in my riding boots scared).  Second, they want to know “If you were so scared, how did you get to be so confident now?”

Desire for successI won’t lie – it took a lot of work and it didn’t happen over night.  But, here’s the secret … the main reason I was able to regain my confidence was because my ‘why’ was stronger than my fear.  If I didn’t regain my confidence, I would have had to give up doing what I love best and find another way to make a living. 

I love teaching other horse lovers how to get the best out of themselves and out of their horses.  I love seeing them develop confidence, improve their skills and build better partnerships with their horses.  I love seeing the positive transformation of the human and the horse – together.

It takes desire, dedication and determination – and a lot of work –  to regain your confidence.  It takes courage to take even baby steps forward when you are ‘shaking in your riding boots scared’.  The more clear you are about WHY you want to be with or ride horses the more motivated you will be to do the work.

What’s your why?  It’s that one specific reason you want to be with or ride horses (or a particular horse).  Your ‘why’ might be so that you can enjoy spending time supporting your horse loving child or partner without feeling stressed or anxious. It might be that you want to be able to enjoy a trail ride in the woods or along the beach with your best friend.  Or maybe it’s because you want to be able to do your best in the show ring.

Whatever your why is bring it to life.  Write about it in your journal, create a collage about it or visualize it.  Be as detailed as you can possibly be using all five senses.  What do you feel?  What do you smell?  What do you hear? What do you see?  What will you gain?  How will your life better?  At least once a day read what you’ve written, look at your collage or run through your visualization like you’re watching a movie.

Keeping your ‘why’ in the forefront of your mind will give you the courage to push through the difficult times.  Those times when you just want to quit because it seems to overwhelming.  Those times when you don’t feel like you’re making any progress.

And, remember to recognize and congratulate yourself for the baby steps you make.  Any forward movement is good – it’s movement in the right direction.

You’ll get there – one (baby) step at a time.  I know you can.  Because I’ve been where you are and I did it.

Your Turn – What is your ‘why’ for wanting to be with or ride horses?  Share your thoughts in the comments below – you might inspire someone else.  

Share this post to spread the word about a better way to work with horses.  Enjoy your journey!

There are lots more practical and in depth tips on improving your Confidence and your Partnership with your horse in my book “Confident Rider, Confident Horse: Build Your Confidence While Improving Your Partnership with Your Horse from the Ground to the Saddle”.   NOW AVAILABLE on!

 Interested in organizing a Confident Horsemanship clinic at your location? Click here for more information.

You’re welcome to use this article in your newsletter or blog as long as you notify me and include my credit information: ~ Written by Anne Gage, Confident Horsemanship (  

Click here to grab your FREE REPORT “The 3 Most Important Secrets You Need to Know to Develop Confidence with Horses”

Brought to you by Anne Gage ~ Confident Horsemanship – Putting you and your horse in good hands.


16 thoughts on “Psst … There’s a Secret to Building Your Confidence with Horses (and Riding)

  1. This is such a timely article for me. I’m just getting back in the saddle 6 months after my horse’s major rodeo bronc routine put me on the ground with a broken arm. I’m not back on him! I’m starting out with lessons on a very well trained senior (large) pony under the watchful eye of a great coach. I’m soon to be 64 years old so this is a big step for me but I MUST have horses and riding in my life. The mental battle is the toughest one to win.

    • Hi, Kris … Thanks for sharing your story. Starting back on a horse (or pony) you trust and with someone on the ground you trust is a great step to regaining your confidence. Understanding the cause of your horse’s bucking is another important step. The horse that bucked me off (and started me on this confidence journey) had a physical problem that we were unaware of. Knowing that meant I could do something to help him and reduce the risk of it happening again.

      The mental stuff is absolutely the most important part of regaining your confidence. Fortunately, that is something we can practice anytime and any where – not just when we’re riding.

      Enjoy your journey.


      • Thanks for your reply, Anne. I haven’t solved the “why” of the bucking but have taken steps: my saddle (bought specifically for my horse) was checked by a fitter and needed minor restuffing; major dental work 6 weeks ago by a highly regarded equine dentist showed many issues even though annual floating was done by my vet. He’s always been VERY fussy about bits. I’ll be having a total vet check some time in the new year. A chiro checkup last May didn’t show anything significant at that time and some training rides by a very good rider elicited the bucking behaviour – occasionally. BIG mystery: pain? behaviour? fear of pain? lack of respect? Wish they could talk!

  2. This artical left me thinking, I want to be really confident with my horse but for some reason I can’t be, I think it’s because I’m nervous he is going to kick some one (he likes a lot of personal space!) How can I help over come my fear (with out starting on another horse?)

  3. I’m still trying to get back into things. I was in an accident my horse started bucking I was riding out her buck until I went forward her head up hitting my face. My cheek bone smashed with fractures in eye socket. I have three plates. Now I have a calmer horse we bond well and working together on both our confidence I send everyone out there luck it takes time.

  4. i love riding my young 5 year old, we have a mostly calm relationship but my problem is i dont often have people to ride out with and the only time he takes a tantrum is when theres no one around.. iv had various people ride out with me, give advice etc. but they only see him when he is behaving and im relaxed. i do set small challenges but i have to pick days i feel brave so i know il follow through with walking past the field with evil cows in it, and going across that open field which clearly looks like a predators trap,, but i feel like i just want to jump off and run away, which im thinking is how my boy is also feeling, as he usually starts by the usual head up, then down, turn, buck and away bucking, i know i cant ride through it cos im always thrown after the 3rd or 4th buck… this dosnt happen every ride, just now and then out the blue,

  5. Pingback: Confidence is Key! 6 Tips on how to Beat competition Anxiety. – The Horse Rider's Read

  6. I love your “WHY” I can relate to that. I have recently bought a great highland pony, after two bad buys, I want to continue after recovery from a bad fall on her. Being older it has shattered my confidence, bruises are long gone. (This is not my first accident) I have been riding for pleasure on and off since the age of 11 and could not image ever giving up. I am going to start with baby steps and do not care what other people think or say. My daughter is very supportive and finding a suitable riding instructor that understands is not easy. I am trying a ten minute ride on Saturday fingers crossed with a new instructor.

  7. I’ve been searching everywhere for some kind of hope, and I think I found it. My ‘why’ is definitely to one day be able to take my (now 4 year old) Thoroughbred to a national competition. He’s a difficult ride, but I like to believe that the most difficult horses are often the best ones. I’ve never been the most confident rider due to a few bad falls as a biginer and it’s been a long, hard road for me on this boy. I’m 13 and nervous, he’s 4 and uncertain. But he’s one of the smartest horses I’ve ever ridden and I’ve never been one to quit easily. I hope everyone else reaches their goals!

  8. Finally, I have found a site where everyone on here is the same as me!!! I thought I was the only one in the world that had issues and it is quite amazing to see a 64 year old still giving it a go. After a really bad fall and surgery on my rotator cuff for torn tendons (extremely painful) and torn tendons in a finger, I have not been in the saddle for about 6 months. My two boys (yes, I am greedy with two of them) are just the most gorgeous boys and it was not my big boy’s fault that I canned off. I really think I will go and get lessons (with them) to help me out. When I see other people riding, loading their horses and just getting on with it, it breaks my heart that ALL of my confidence has gone. Oh well, I am going to do the vision board and get on with it. 🙂

  9. Thank you so much for your article. I’ve just started riding again after a reasonably long break and have lost a lot of the confidence I had when i rode as a child. I keep expecting myself to be at the level I was when I stopped despite that fact that I was riding horses I’d ridden for years and knew well whereas now I’m at a completely new riding school with new horses and a new instructor. Sometimes I get so frustrated as I know I can/should do better but my love of horses keep me hanging on in there. Reminding myself why I’m doing it will hopefully help me to relax and enjoy it more instead of feeling so self concious.

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