Sunday, September 6, 2015

No Hour Wasted Challenge Contest Blog Hop Thing!

Blog Hop Time!! No Hour Wasted wants to know about what challenges we have set, or will be setting, for ourselves. She writes:

Tell me about a challenge you set for yourself and accomplished, or set yourself a new challenge and keep us updated!

Well. Challenge accepted!

My 'challenge' to myself is something that might be considered both 'accomplished' and forever ongoing. Really it's a permanent work in progress.

It's the confidence game.

I think most riders have dealt with confidence issues at some point in their riding life. Maybe some are currently working through it too?? Seems like something that gets trickier with age too, with kids and teens being less vulnerable to it, or at least more resilient.

Tho also I know there are a few of you out there who haven't really dealt with undermined confidence or fear as a regular part of riding - and all I can say to that is show me your ways!!! Haha... seriously tho, I'm a bit jealous of you!

that unicorn always reminds me of isabel lol

Anyway, I'm ultimately a very practical person. I like focusing on the task at hand. I don't like distractions. And I don't like getting stuck in the weeds or getting bogged down by details. I want to get out there and, ya know, just do the thing.

The actual physical manifestation of fear therefore reeeeeeally messes up my game haha. Like, how can you focus when your heart is racing and you feel light headed? Or when the logical side of your brain keeps getting shut down by that emotional / visceral reaction to some big ass jump?

But I'm also a very methodical person. Like, the scientific method really appeals to me. So I tried to use my personality to my advantage - and approach this whole lack of confidence with clinical objectivity. Isolating the problem areas (jumping) and breaking them down into smaller more manageable pieces (jumping smaller jumps!) and working on those pieces over and over again to build up our cache of positive experiences.

jumping these barrels was a pretty big deal for me
I also became very protective (maybe even possessive?) of any small improvements. It was important to keep nudging myself forward (I made a rule that I wasn't allowed to jump below 2' bc otherwise 2' would start looking big and scary again -- yes folks this was LAST SUMMER), but I also would not push myself (or allow myself to be pushed) to the point of scaring myself all over again. Slowwwww and steady is my motto, nothing gained in rushing.

Another little rule that helps is refusing to beat myself up for mistakes. And actually, in a weird and perverse way, I kinda LIKE mistakes (to a certain degree). Because really, what most mistakes prove is that disaster isn't actually as imminent as I maybe believe. All those biffed distances? They just prove that biffed distances probably won't kill us. Meaning next time I jump, I'm a little LESS worried about biffing the distance bc it's really nbd.

Obvi that's not to say that I don't want to get better -- but it's kinda hard to focus on becoming a better rider when I'm busy literally shaking with fear.

Generally this whole mental approach to confidence has been working pretty well for me. And I'm aided in no small part by a saint of a horse who takes very good care of me... and lots and lots and lots of lessons with trainers I respect and trust (omg so many lessons!).

So on the one hand, I can say this 'challenge' has been accomplished bc I'm not only back to where I was *before* losing my confidence -- I'm actually riding at a higher level than ever before. It feels REALLY good.

i love her cute expression here, even if i had to bribe it out of her with sugar cubes
On the other hand tho - I absolutely can NOT get cocky, or let ego take over. That fear is insidious and can creep back in at any moment. It could even just take one hard knock. Adding to that fact is the sense that somehow the stakes are higher now, and my margin of error is smaller.

That lesson was driven home HARD when we had that near miss at the corner a few weeks ago. It doesn't look like much in the helmet cam footage, but I seriously thought we were both going down. It shook me up quite a bit. I spent a LOT of time thinking about it, watching the footage trying to understand what happened and why, and talking it over with my friends.

Ultimately my confidence doesn't appear to have taken a hit, but it was a stark reminder that things can happen fast with horses and that I can't get complacent.

So it's a work in progress, requiring constant vigilance. But so far, so good. What about you? Have you had to deal with shoddy confidence? What has helped you get a grip on it?

12 comments:

  1. Confidence is something I battle with often but I've been kinda tricking myself out of it lately. I just don't even let my mind wander to the what if black happens scenarios and try to just always remind myself that I can do it I just have to want to do it (which is tough sometimes when things are intimidating).

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    1. having to 'want to do it' really is the key, i think. i definitely use that idea to talk myself out of fear a lot. like, 'well i want to do it so i probably shouldn't be too scared' haha. sometimes it works too!

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  2. Love this! Love the pictures too. Confidence is a tricky fickle fellow. For me it comes and goes so easily. Lately it has been away. But I think you're doing awesome! You seem to handle yourself so well. I wouldn't have guessed you had so much fear. Love you, love Izzy, love your blog! Great post.

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    1. oh man, soooooo fickle!! thanks tho - i definitely try hard to keep an even keel and not let my nerves or worries bleed through too much. it happens tho. but we keep working on it!

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  3. Queen of shoddy confidence!!! And agree- the inevitable biff here and there reminds me that it's not the end of the world!!! Slow and steady rides is the ticket for my confidence!

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    1. slow and steady - and lots of repetition. i couldn't agree more!

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  4. Love this post! Confidence is definitely not to be taken for granted.

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    1. oh man, it is maybe the worst feeling ever to realize that it's gone. and sooooo much work to rebuild it, ugh.

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  5. Love this. Confidence is a struggle for me too.

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    1. i think it's something that we all face, esp when we least expect it.

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  6. Confidence is a bitch. If I met it in a dark ally, I would shoot it in the face with a shotgun. BAM CONFIDENCE WHAT NOW??!!

    Um yeah I think basically my whole blog is about this.

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    1. hahaha that's hilarious - yea i'd pretty much want to murder my self confidence if i could (except when it's actually falling in line like a good little monkey)

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