One of the biggest mistakes riders make when we're trying to overcome horseback riding fears is that we direct our efforts toward the conscious mind. You know--willpower, iron-jawed determination. The problem with that strategy is that you can only make short-term, temporary changes when you direct your efforts to your conscious mind. To make permanent changes, direct your efforts to the part of your brain that truly determines your actions--your subconscious mind.
You see, your subconscious mind believes everything you say and imagine, sees it as the goal and tries to make it come true. It’s just waiting for your instructions. So, like a guided missile, it'll keep you on the course you've set for it. And you alone are responsible for charting that course by what you see in your mind's eye and by what you say you want.
When I think about changing mental software, I'm reminded of Albert Einstein's definition of insanity. He says, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result". If you’re a fearful or timid rider, you've probably been beating yourself up about it for a very long time. The software in your mental computer says you’re a chicken so you're going to feel like a chicken. So, if you want to demolish fear, the only way you can change the way you feel is to reprogram your mind by installing new software in your mental computer.
The bonus of changing your mental software rather than using will power or iron-jawed determination is that it's a lot easier to do and the results are permanent. All you have to do are two simple things. Reprogram your mind through visualization and self-talk.
Here's all you need to know about visualization:
1. Relax. (Take 3 deep breaths.)
2. Fill in details. (What are you wearing? What does your horse look like? What do your surroundings look like?)
3. Use your five senses. (Feel the contact with your horse's mouth. Smell the clean, fresh air. Hear the rhythm of your horse's gaits. See the ring where you're riding. Taste the salt from the sweat dripping down from your protective headgear!)
4. Use emotion. (Fully experience being brave, confident, and relaxed. To help you do this, just remember another time in your life when you actually felt that way.)
5. Repeat daily. (It takes about 21 days to develop a habit.)
Here's all you need to know about self-talk. Always speak to yourself in the following way:
1. Use the present tense as if you already possess the quality you want. (I am confident, courageous, or calm.)
2. Use a positive phrase. ("I am relaxed" as opposed to "I am not tense." There is no picture in the mind for the word "not". So when you say, "I am not tense, your mind only hears, 'I am tense.")
That's right, folks! It's that simple. Use visualization and self-talk to become the bold, fearless rider you've always dreamed of becoming.
A Happy Horse