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Rider Confidence, Part 1 - 5 keys to building your confidence

I don’t know about you but I don’t bounce the way I used to when I was 22 and immortal. I think somewhere along the line my brain realised this and I became a lot more cautious about just getting on any horse that was put in front of me. My brain realised the things that could happen and made me listen to it by giving me a healthy dose of fear if I didn’t. Fear is there for a reason and it can be a really positive thing if acknowledged and used as a guide for when you need to reduce the risk of the situation.

Now let’s be really honest here, Riding is a high risk sport - fact! You are working with an animal that weighs half a tonne, has the response time of a Ferrari and his priority is his own survival which means to get away from potential danger as fast as possible 💨🐎

When you think about it, it’s amazing that horses allow us to do the things we do, it’s miraculous really, but it is risky so if you are someone who struggles with your nerves well you’re probably pretty sensible!!

That said, YOU CAN minimise the risk and YOU CAN become more confident around horses and riding horses.

Why do I say this with such conviction? Because I have helped a lot of people and their horses through their confidence issues and have seen it happen time and time again. I have seen people go from quivering in tears on the mounting block to hacking out confidently with their friends and everything in between.

It takes time for sure but it is possible to regain your confidence and get past the place where fear dominates your interactions with your horse.

My job in this is to help you and your horse understand each other and be safe together and in my experience there are 5 keys things that get this to happen:-

👉 GROUNDWORK - the more you can work with your horse, SEE he’s ok, and know how to prepare him to be a calmer ride the better off you’ll be. Groundwork is not about staying on the ground forever, it’s about learning skills get your horse calmer and more mentally prepared for your ride

👉 LEARN WHAT WORKS - learn how to spot the first signs that your horse is getting worried. Then learn what relaxes your horse and what he struggles with so you have strategies to help him. Every horse is a little different but there are patterns, if you’re not sure - get help 😊

👉 DON’T PUSH YOURSELF OR YOUR HORSE TOO FAR, take your time and make sure each stage is good before moving on to the next. This is a process and by definition will take time ⏰

👉 GET OFF!!!!! I can’t say this enough (big shouty capitals on their way!!!) if things escalate YOU WONT TEACH YOUR HORSE SOMETHING BAD BY GETTING OFF! You will keep you both safe and give you a chance to regroup, do some groundwork to relax your horse and get back on only if it’s safe to do so, if not, seek help 😉

👉 FIND A CHEERLEADER you need someone who’s on your side and won’t judge you if it’s taking a while. It’s so easy to feel alone and that everyone is thinking ‘you should be doing ....’ We are often our own worst enemies here as we often don’t give ourselves any credit for the progress we have made unless we’ve reached the final goal.

Lastly remember your journey is your journey and it takes exactly the right amount of time for you and your horse 😁

Over the next few weeks I will look at some of these in more detail and explore more on how to build confidence and get back in the saddle 😊🦄💕


Before trying any training technique it is important to rule out pain or discomfort. Saddle fit, teeth, back, hoof balance and lameness issues should all be checked by a qualified professional before applying any training.

If you have questions or need idea's to help with a specific problem feel free to get in touch with me on


Lyla has been helping riders and their horses in the UK, USA and Europe for over 15 years. She has prepared horses for crowds of over 6,000 people with no calmers or ear plugs for venues including Birmingham NEC, Aintree, Bury Farm EC and Hartpury.

Lyla specialises in horse psychology and behaviour problems with a specific interest in dressage and has worked with horses from grass roots to Grand Prix across the UK and Europe including international competitors and Olympians from Spain, the US, Canada and the UK.

See or email for more details.


All training techniques discussed are from experience only, it is impossible for to accurately advise on horse/rider combinations without seeing them live. Lyla Cansfield & Equine Mind & Body Training strongly advise anyone considering using any of the techniques discussed to get live help and can take no responsibility for the outcome of applying any of the techniques discussed without supervision. Riding is a high risk sport.


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