Confident Rider Tips – 7 Tips to Help Improve Your Riding by Improving Your Mindset


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What one thing distinguishes good riders from not-so-good riders and fearless riders from fearful riders?  It is their mindset.  You may have seen a less talented rider do better than a very talented rider in a competition, in a lesson or just riding down a trail.  Your mind set either pushes you forward or holds you back.

Here are 7 tips to help you develop a more positive mindset whenever you’re with your horse.

  1. Be here now. Stay present and in the moment by focusing on the cues from your  horse and your body.  When you pay attention to what is happening now in this moment, you become pro-active rather than reactive.  You can prevent things from falling apart – even if it’s only falling apart in your mind.
  2. Stop worrying about the outcome.  Focus on building a solid foundation and taking each step that is needed for you and your horse to be able to perform well whether that’s on the trail or in the show ring.
  3. Let go of what others might think about your performance.  Stop trying to read other peoples’ minds.  People who care about you will support you.  The opinion of anyone who doesn’t care about and support you is not important.  Let it go.
  4. Leave distractions and stresses from your life at the barn door.  You really don’t want to take them along for the ride.  If you really want to, you can pick them up on your way out of the door.  Or you can also just decide to leave them there permanently.
  5. Let go of striving for perfection.  In riding (as in many things in life) there is always room for improvement.  Recognize where improvement is needed without beating up yourself (or your horse).  Refer to #2.
  6. Avoid over thinking or analyzing what you’re doing.  Being too much in your head takes you out of your body.  Riding well requires not only awareness of your own body and your horse’s body, but also being able to make a connection between you.  Think less.  Feel more.
  7. Make it a goal to have fun.  When you take things too seriously or only focus on results, riding stops being fun – for you and your horse.   You aren’t having fun if you are judging how well you did on every transition, turn, movement or jump.  When was the last time you just enjoyed being with your horse?

And you can get Free Instant Access to many more powerful tips about building your confidence, horse training and horsemanship by visiting my Facebook Fan Page

What’s your greatest mindset challenge when it comes to riding or handling your horse?  What ways have you found to improve your mindset?  Leave your answer in the comments. You can also ask me your most important question there as well.

Enjoy your journey.

My book is now available on! “Confident Rider, Confident Horse: Build Your Confidence While Improving Your Partnership with Your Horse from the Ground to the Saddle”.  Click here to order.

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

Let’s spread the word about a better way to work with horses.  Share this blog with 3 friends, send a Tweet or post a link on your Facebook page.  The horses thank you.

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 (  

Anne Gage ~ Confident Horsemanship – Putting you and your horse in good hands.
Facebook Group – Horseback Riding Solutions with Anne Gage


Are You Riding Your Horse By the Seat of Your Pants?


A new student has recently started taking riding lessons from me.  She has taken riding lessons before. In her other riding lessons, she was trotting and even cantered once – sort of on purpose.

In her lessons with me, she is on a lunge line (well – the horse she is riding is on the lunge line). In my riding lessons, students stay on the lunge line until they are able to steer and control the horse without pulling on the reins.

My new student is finding this very different from her previous lessons. She used to pull the reins to steer.  But now she is noticing the connection between her body and the horse’s body. How the horse’s body moves and how her body moves with his movement when she releases tension from her muscles and joints. How she can steer and control the horse when she uses her seat and her legs in specific ways that work with the timing of the horse’s movement.  How the horse relaxes when she relaxes.

She is finding how wonderful riding feels when it all comes together.

And when you learn to ride this way – with an independent seat and reins that only act as boundaries – you can ride like Richard Spooner did in the video above.

When Mr. Spooner knew that he and his horse were in trouble he dropped his reins, followed his horse’s movement and trusted his horse to get them out of the mess safely. And, his horse had enough trust, balance and self carriage to get the job done.

That’s what trust looks like.

That’s what partnership looks like.

That’s what good riding looks like.

What would happen if you dropped your reins? Would your horse stay balanced and listen to your seat?

I would love to hear what the greatest challenge is that you are facing with your horse right now.  What challenges have you faced and overcome?  Share in the comments below.

If you want to work with me live and in person to learn more strategies and techniques for increasing your confidence, improving your horse’s behaviour and building a stronger partnership with your horse, visit my website or contact me about hosting a clinic or workshop at your location.

Enjoy your journey.

My book is now available! “Confident Rider, Confident Horse: Build Your Confidence While Improving Your Partnership with Your Horse from the Ground to the Saddle”.  Click here to order.

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

Let’s spread the word about a better way to work with horses.  Share this blog with 3 friends, send a Tweet or post a link on your Facebook page.  The horses thank you.

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

I would also appreciate it if you’d send me a copy for my media files.

Anne Gage ~ Confident Horsemanship – Putting you and your horse in good hands.
Facebook Group – Horseback Riding Solutions with Anne Gage

4 Steps to Help You Achieve Your Riding Goals

Do you find yourself setting riding goals and then not following through on them? You start.  But, then you get sidetracked. You get frustrated with yourself and your horse as you don’t progress the way that you think you should.  Before you give up, here are 4 steps to help you stay the course.

Choose the Right Direction

Your goal must match your beliefs or you just won’t be motivated enough to work towards it.  For example, if you set a goal to win a dressage class but you really don’t enjoy showing then you are not very likely to put much effort into achieving the goal.  Maybe what you really want is just to improve your riding skills or master canter transitions with your horse.  If your goal doesn’t align with your true desires then you will be travelling in the wrong direction and you’ll have a hard time following through.

Consistent Action

You can only reach your goals by taking consistent action.   This means making your goal a priority and setting aside the time needed for the activities related to achieving your goal.   Recognize that you will probably have to sacrifice some other activities in order to do this.  Schedule the time and don’t let anything else take priority.

If you work on your goal related activities for as little as 1 hour a day, five days a week, in 1 year you will have devoted 260 hours to it.  That’s the equivalent of a 6 week college course!

If you allow other activities to take priority, then either you aren’t really committed to your goal because it’s the wrong goal (taking you in the wrong direction) or you don’t feel you are a priority in your own life.  Whatever the reason, you will feel defeated, discouraged and frustrated. If you aren’t committing the time towards taking the actions necessary to achieve your goal, ask yourself “why not”.

Consistent action also includes balancing the other parts of your life – taking care of yourself, getting plenty of rest, spending time with family and friends.  Avoid doing all or nothing.  Moderation is the key to consistency. Make time for both work and play.


Stuff happens so be flexible.  You may need to adjust your goals as you go because situations change.  Don’t be afraid to change your goal to adapt to new information or life situations.  Consider what happens when you are driving your car.  You have to constantly make a series of changes.  You drift slightly one way – you correct.  You drift slightly the other way – you correct.  You get too close to the car in front of you – you correct.    You probably don’t even consciously realize you are making these changes.  But, if you weren’t making them to adjust to new situations moment to moment, you would end up in the ditch or in a crash.   Don’t be afraid to make changes. Think of change as the steering mechanism on the journey toward your ultimate destination.


It takes patience to stay the course and reach your destination.   This can be a tough one to master.  But, without it you will give up in frustration.  In our fast paced lives, we are used to instant gratification and not having to wait for anything.

Everything happens in its own time.  Let go of expecting everything to fall into place for you right away.  Growth takes time.  And achieving goals requires growth.  If it doesn’t, it isn’t a worthy goal.

To stay on course, remember these 4 steps and constantly remind yourself that you are on a journey.    The journey is much more important than the final destination.  Enjoy it.

The Secret to Achieving Your Riding Dreams

Spring is usually the time that we horse-people have great plans for our riding. Maybe you dream of the shows you will compete in and the ribbons you will win. Perhaps its the big trail ride you plan on completing. Or maybe you just want to ride for pleasure several times a week.  But, then life happens and when you look back in the fall, you realize that you haven’t done what you set out to do.  I am as guilty of this as anyone else.  If you are like me, you feel  discouraged and disappointed and vow to do better next year.  Why does this happen?  You lose your motivation or your confidence fails. Riding gets shoved way down on the list filled with other priorities.

What’s Your Dream?

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Horse-people of all levels face challenges to their motivation and confidence at one time or another.  Whether you’re a beginner, novice or advanced rider, there is a simple technique that anyone can use to improve your riding skills, confidence, and motivation.  This technique enhances your learning experience and allows you to evaluate your progress.  All it requires is taking the time to set some short term goals.

Have you noticed how good you feel when you complete something you have set out to do?  You feel good about yourself.  You feel proud of yourself.  Even small achievements increase your self esteem and motivation.  This is why setting small goals that can be accomplished within 30 days is so powerful.

The effect of goal setting is especially powerful when you achieve something that is important to you personally rather than something you are doing to please or impress someone else.  This is the first important element in setting goals that will improve your confidence and motivation.  You need to know the benefits that you will personally receive when you complete the goal.

Effective goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.  Saying “I will canter my horse” is too general a statement.  An example of a SMART goal is “I will canter 20 strides on my horse on the left rein by May 20, 2012.”

Specific – Describe exactly what you will accomplish.

Measurable – Define how you will know when you have reached the goal.

Achievable – Keep the goal realistic when considering your level of effort and commitment. Do you have the resources to achieve this goal? If not, how you will get them?

Relevant – Why is the goal significant to you? Make sure the goal is about you and not for pleasing someone else – not your coach, your friend, your spouse or your parent.

Timely – Set a realistic time frame for completing your goal.  Setting short term goals that you can achieve within 30-60 days will help keep you motivated.

Effective goals need an action plan. Write down the specific action steps you have to take to achieve your goal.  Include an expected completion date for each of the steps and celebrate as you have complete one.

As you outline your action steps, consider the possible obstacles that could prevent you from achieving your goal.  Roadblocks are experienced by everyone.  They interfere with your progress causing you to lose motivation and become discouraged.  When this happens, your self-esteem and confidence are also eroded.  Being prepared for potential obstacles by making a list of possible solutions for each one will help keep you on track.  Rather than giving up, you simply adjust and carry on.

It is much easier to achieve your goals and stay motivated when you share them with someone who will support and encourage you, and who will also hold you accountable.  If you have a coach, let him or her know what your goals are so he or she can focus your lessons in that direction and offer encouragement through the process.  If you don’t have a coach, maybe finding one is one of the action steps you need to take to be able to complete your goal.

Success also requires that you take 100% responsibility for your results.  That means letting go of excuses, blaming and negative thinking. When obstacles come up (as they will) find ways around or through them rather than getting stopped in your tracks. Any step forward – even the tiniest of baby steps – is better than doing nothing, maintaining the status quo or moving backwards.

What steps are you willing to take to improve your riding and your confidence?

I encourage you to commit to trying something different for the next 30 days.  Make a small plan – a step by step sustainable plan – that includes SMART goals.  Download this SMART Goal Setting Work Sheet to get you started.

If you would like to help spread the word about a better way to work with horses, please share this blog with 5 friends, send a Tweet or post on your Facebook page.  The horses thank you.
You are welcome to use this article in your newsletter or blog as long as you include my credit information:
Written by Anne Gage, Confident Horsemanship (  I would also appreciate it if you’d send me a copy for my media files.
Anne Gage
Confident Horsemanship

Friday July 1, 2011 Spyder Returns to the Show Ring

Here’s a photo of Spyder (Remember Spyder Man) and me in the Aged Geldings Halter Class at the Summerama Quarter Horse show a few weeks ago. This was a significant event as it marked Spyder’s return to the show ring after 3 years. When I first met Spyder, he was so fearfully aggressive and explosive that he had injured his owner while being walked from the barn to the paddock.

Spyder’s lack of trust in humans and lack of self confidence made him a dangerous horse. Continue reading

Is Your Horse Getting What He Deserves or What He Needs?

I spent some time at a sanctioned/recognized horse show recently and was honestly appalled by some of the training techniques I saw being used by many of the trainers and riders.  Draw reins were used to pull the horses’ heads in to their chests.  Reins attached to shank bits with large ports were pulled and yanked upwards either to get the horse to raise his head if it was too low or to lower his head if it was too high.  I didn’t understand how all this pulling was “training” let alone how the horse was supposed to know the difference between the cue for raise or lower his head!  These techniques are accepted as “the way” to train horses for competition.  Had I asked a rider why he or she was being so hard on the horse, I am sure the answer would have been “he deserves it”. Continue reading