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Rider confidence Part 5 - 3 lies we tell ourselves when we’re not confident

In the first blog in my Rider Confidence series 5 Keys to Building Your Riding Confidence I looked at some key things you can do to boost your confidence levels with your horse. Following on from this I have looked at Why groundwork is essential to building your rider confidence, Don’t push yourself (or your horse) too far and a topic very close to my heart - Getting off!

This week I’m going to look at 3 lies we tell ourselves when we’re not confident. These are the things that little voice in your head will tell you to undermine you. Starting to recognise these things is the start to be able to tackle them so here’s some of the things that I often hear from people who are having confidence challenges...

“I’m Letting My Horse Down” 😔

I’m going to reveal a secret here - your horse doesn’t care what he ‘achieves’ in his life. He doesn’t know his dressage percentages or what placing he got for the speed class, he doesn’t spend his time in the field wishing he could go on that fun ride (although he may well enjoy it when he gets there!)

So unless you are not keeping up with his care, you aren’t letting your horse down. You may not be where you want to be right now, but in this case it’s much better to tell yourself ‘I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it’.

We’re often so focussed on where we’re trying to get to that we forget where we’ve come from, we forget the progress we have made to get where we are and don’t give ourselves credit for that. My advice, look at where you’ve come from and see where you are now as a stepping stone to where you are going and smile 😁 (makes all the difference!)

‘I’m just being silly, I shouldn’t be like this’ 😩

In my experience the people who are successful, breakthrough their fear and get to where they can confidently have a great time with their horses are the one’s who listen to their fear, respect it and work with it to completely resolve it.

Your fear is trying to tell you something, probably that either you or your horse or both are not ok in a given situation. Listen to yourself, respect your fear and steadily work through it, break each part down and resolve it.

“I will never get there, I’m not good enough”

This one is the one that if you allow yourself to buy into it will cripple you and become a self fulfilling prophecy. It’s the one that will undermine all your progress and keep you exactly where you are.

It takes discipline to believe in yourself, so hold on to that little spark that says ‘but maybe i can!’. Remind yourself of the progress you’ve made so far, we’re often so over focussed on where we’re going that we forget to look back and see how far we’ve come.

Look at how far you’ve come, give yourself a pat on the back and use that as proof that you can achieve your goals. Take the small steps that will all add up to lead you where you are going.

One of my last and most important tips...

Surround yourself with supportive people 👭

Having a supportive ‘cheerleader’ will make all the difference to your journey. When you are having difficulties it’s really easy to feel isolated and like everyone is judging you. When you start feeling like this, or if you have a set back you need someone on your side who will make you that much needed cup of tea, sit you down, remind you of how far you’ve come and believes you can do it! 😇☕️

Hold on to that spark of hope, keep your dreams alive and you will get there. It takes time for sure but it is possible.


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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