Three simple keys to boost rider confidence

Posted on February 25, 2019 by Categories: News

How then do we boost rider confidence?

The part of the mind that we need to work with, the unconscious (aka subconscious) mind, is key to building confidence and enjoyment from out riding. This part of the mind literally has a mind of its own! It has set ways of doing things and left to its own devices, will instil fear quite easily and successfully. We want to undo the way the mind perceives riding and convince it that we actually enjoy riding a half tonne semi-wild beast! Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of the unconscious mind and see how they can aid riders.


  1. Your unconscious mind is always listening to you. It takes everything you say about yourself and others very literally and very personally. As a rider, you can stop talking negatively about your performance over and over again, stop repeating all the things you feel nervous about. This only encourages the unconscious mind that you have a whole load of ‘evidence’ that you shouldn’t be riding. The mind makes you feel even more nervous, in an attempt to stop you doing the very activity you’re telling the mind is scary and you’re not good at. The mind is trying to protect you from riding by making you feel bad every time you do it!


  • What to do about it
    • Stop chatting to others, to yourself and to social media about your issues. That only engrains them further.
    • Keep your thoughts more balanced and don’t give into negative thoughts
    • If your mind wanders and you find yourself in a negative pattern, tell yourself firmly, “No!” and press your re-set button!


  1. Your unconscious mind needs very clear instructions, its job is not to fathom out what you want, from the multitude of thoughts and ideas that flash through your head. In that jumble of wanting to be confident and ride and not wanting to ride, the mind assumes the worst and decides you don’t want to ride. So it makes riding unpleasant. Just to please you and what you said you wanted!


  • What to do about it
  • Be clear in your instructions. Tell the mind only what you want to do, never what you don’t want to do.


  1. Think of your unconscious mind as a young child, think of how you would react towards a child who felt nervous on their pony. Would you give them lots of negative ‘what ifs’? Tell them they aren’t a good rider? Tell them to give up? No? Then that’s out third tip, be kind to your mind!


  • What to do about it
  • Be kind to yourself by giving yourself a figurative pat on the back for each and every victory no matter how small.
  • Treat yourself as you would a child who’s anxious about their riding, no need to shout or tell them off or tell them they’re no good!


By communicating in these more ‘mindful’ ways, we start to break down nerves, because nerves are created by the unconscious mind to protect you. If the mind knows we’re OK, it’ll tone down its over protective nature. By practising these 3 simple keys, we can pave the way for more mind work, if necessary. There are many tools in the toolbox to install new ways of thinking and acting. For example, hypnotherapy and NLP (neurolinguistic programming) and Time Line Therapy(TM) provide fast and effective means of pressing the re-set button. If you’d like to know more, my new book ‘The Confident Rider Mindset – how to hack your mind for riding success’ is now available in paperback and Kindle versions here.

If you’d like to know about how NLP and hypnotherapy can help to boost rider confidence by having a private or group session, take a look at this page for NLP and this page for hypnotherapy. I also run trainings and workshops  in NLP and hypnotherapy Click here


Dr Tracey Cole is a Trainer and Master Coach of NLP, Hypnosis and Time Line Therapy™ she works with and trains equestrians from around the world on how to maximise and boost rider confidence and ways to use the mind to enhance performance.