The 10 Top Horse Riding Mental Strategies

The Top 10 Mental Horse Riding Strategies To Banish Fear And Build Training Confidenceby Margarethe De Clermont (Nottinghamshire)

Whatever it is you want to achieve with your horse and your riding, there is one fundamental concept you have to accept in all its complexity: You have to exercise your mind with as much diligence as you exercise your body.

There is a vast variety of mental strategies at the thinking horse riders disposal:

Mental rehearsal, anchoring, resourceful state induction, eradicating limiting beliefs with affirmations, reframing, perceptual positioning and many more… There’s at least one to suit every rider, though most riders prefer to use their own combination of techniques.

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Top 10 Mental Strategies

The following ten mental strategies are some of the best confidence boosters for horseback riders.

Start by accepting yourself exactly as you are.

You are good enough exactly as you are now. That does not mean that there is no room for improvement, just that you are perfectly acceptable in whatever state or condition you are right now. And while you are at it, give your horse a break and accept him too – just as he is now.

Mental rehearsal

Athletes every where use this technique to prepare themselves form competitions. Imagining and fine tuning every step of their performance results in a dramatically enhanced outcome.

Install anchors

An anchor is a stimulus that generates a specific state of mind. For example, touching a thumb to an index finger while holding the reins could be an anchor that will make you feel more confident in the saddle.

Journaling Diary

Keeping a journal or training diary can be a powerful confidence booster. When you feel as if your training is going nowhere, you can look back at past achievements to remind yourself that you often feel most discouraged just before your greatest breakthroughs.


The power of hypnotic suggestion on your sub-conscious should not be neglected. I believe it is an essential supplement to the thinking rider’s mental toolkit.

Practice Gratitude

Be grateful for everything you and your horse have achieved so far, no matter how small and insignificant a goal it was. Get a gratitude attitude

Goal setting

Your self-esteem, awareness, ability to communicate with horses and people, energy and happiness can all be amplified by setting goals. This type of confidence-building takes time, although the sense of achievement when you reach that elusive goal, is an instant confidence booster. So aim for the moon, if you miss it you will still land among the stars.


In reframing you choose what an event will mean to you and how you are going to respond to it emotionally. After a dressage test you can focus intentionally on what went well, instead of every little thing that went wrong. Usually we tend to maximise our mistakes, even if they are in the minority. Often we are blind and deaf to our own successes.

Get rid of limiting beliefs

Most of us have very rigid ideas of who we are, what we can or can’t do, what we do or don’t believe about horses and riding, about instructors and farriers and vets. Very few of us are willing to adjust our beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Instead of changing our beliefs, we get even more entrenched in our comfort zone, and decide instead to find someone or something else to blame: our horse, for example. Or the weather, another rider, the course planner, the trainer, our instructor etc. etc.

Discover your own learning style.

Your mental fitness determines how efficiently you learn; how easily you remember new information and master new skills. How effectively you can use your brain to achieve the goals you aim for is subject to your level of mental fitness.

Train Your Brain - Mental Strategies

Start your mental fitness program today.

You get mentally fit in exactly the same way as you get physically fit. By exercising your mental muscles. Daily, preferably. Otherwise as often as you can find time. The fitter you are mentally, the more spectacular the increase in your confidence.

Ride with Supreme Self-Confidence and Tame Your Fear, are powerful e-books written exclusively for equestrians by Dr Margarethe de Clermont, a medical doctor and NLP practitioner