Confidence - its not a linear scale - discussion - The Horse Forum
  • 4 Post By Overread
  • 1 Post By Reiningcatsanddogs
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post #1 of 4 Old 02-22-2016, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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Confidence - its not a linear scale - discussion

*might have put this in the wrong section and thus might see it moved by passing mod*

So I got to thinking about something today - confidence - in a totally unrelated area to horse riding, but something that I think is worth raising as a point of discussion in relation to working with horses as well.

What got me thinking is that the way confidence is presented to us its often seen as an ethereal something that we "gain" through experiences. Something that builds up and up and up, sometimes slow and sometimes fast. Something that through regular experience and training we should at least maintain if not improve upon.

It's also something shown often that can be knocked out of us by a period of lack of contact with the area of interest; and also by major negative events (this could be anything in the horse world from a bad fall to losing a race or many other things).

However I've come to realise that this isn't the case; at least not for myself in many areas and not for, I think, many others. Because many times we find ourselves losing confidence without that disaster - without that huge mistake. And sometimes without that series of little mistakes that adds up to a big one.

What I think happens is that we have to respect that confidence has different impacts on us and that there are different "types" of confidence we need to gain.

What I feel is a common situation is that there is confidence related to something that is new. It's the unknown, the mysterious, the strange or just the newness of something to us. It raises loads of questions and one is often quite inept at the activity so there's huge barriers to overcome. And with the right attitude and, often, help along the way one can and will break through this and Gain confidence.

But I feel there's a second stage and that's the one that catches more out than we realise. Because its not based on a problem or accident or disaster or event. What I think its based on is discovery.

We move from where everything is scary and new to where we can SEE those real dangers or potential dangers. We move from a point where, to put it in horse terms crudely, the whole horse is a risk and new to us to where we know the dangerspots like the backlegs.
I think many people start to see and identify, even if not overtly realising we do it, the dangers in what we are doing.

This raises a brand new barrier of confidence; but one that I feel is often ignored or forgotten about during training (especially on activities that might have a very short duration of training). I think its further compounded because a semi-trained person tends to get left to their own devices more and more; so not only are there new dangers, new areas that confidence needs to be built up upon; but there's also potentially reduced support (I would say the nature of horse riding and training can get around this as training tends to be viewed more long term).

So if we can see two areas of confidence chances are there are more. By being more aware of confidence not as a linear scale but as a series of hurdles and also as a series of potentially invisible hurdles that defy the concept of continual increase/maintaining (in confidence) I think that it can make those who choose to teach/instruct/support/help more effective.
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post #2 of 4 Old 02-22-2016, 05:17 PM
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I think you have brought up some good points, such as that sometimes it is a lack of progress rather than a big or small negative event that can knock down your confidence and that you can reach a point where it really hits you that what you are doing can present a real danger or even kill you.

The most important point though that I think you made was the importance of having a real time support system in building/rebuilding confidence.
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“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer

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post #3 of 4 Old 02-22-2016, 06:38 PM
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Absolutely agree. Ride with people. Confidence through safety and security- contained riding area. A large help is riding a longe line with a teacher. Small steps.
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post #4 of 4 Old 02-24-2016, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Overread View Post
It's also something shown often that can be knocked out of us by a period of lack of contact with the area of interest

Because many times we find ourselves losing confidence without that disaster - without that huge mistake.
This was exactly where I found myself a year ago. I moved my horses home, was no longer in a boarding " community" and I found myself riding less and less, and become more anxious about riding. My confidence was shot- over nothing! I didn't have some huge crash, I didn't even witness anything, it was simply "lack of contact with the area of interest."

And like what Sherri said- What got my "groove" back was sending my mare to the trainer, watching him ride her and seeing that she's not this fire breathing dragon I had conjured up in my mind. Then moving on to ride with him and others at his barn and now- deciding to board at that barn. I have that community/ camaraderie that I was missing before, and not I ride almost every day and I'm not at all nervous about it like I was a year ago.
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