I should preface this by saying that I have never been a confident person either in or out of the saddle. But I’ve been thinking a lot about confidence recently. Not the type of confidence that sees you standing down your fears. Nor is it the type that when absent leaves you wracked with nerves in the competition arena. I’ve definitely dealt with this type in the past. It’s a different type of confidence that has been on my mind recently. The confidence that I have been thinking about is the type that gives you confidence in your skills, ability, feel and judgement. I didn’t realise that this confidence was missing when I mounted up, but it is.
We’ve been in Brisbane for six months now, and I think I’ve probably had more lessons in the last six months, than I have in the two years prior. I had known that our lack of regular lessons was limiting my growth as a rider. This has been particularly apparent as Nonie and I started pushing into new-to-us territory.
What I knew was that we were starting to get stuck. We were having challenges on and off with the contact and connection and the lateral work has been an ongoing battle. Things weren’t working, and I was blaming it entirely on myself. But I was hesitant to try doing things differently. I didn’t have the confidence in my skills, abilities or most importantly in my feel.
So instead trying something new, I just pushed harder and become more tense. A little seed of doubt sprouted in my chest. And Nonie unable to escape from my aids switched off a bit, making our training all the more difficult. I’ve always had a tendency to be stubborn, but this was certainly not the right approach in the saddle. Unfortunately, like so many things in life, it’s not until you make the change and experience the difference that you realise how wrong things had been.
Since starting regular lessons with Gary Lung, I can feel all of that starting to shift. It has at times felt like we have gone back to square one, and that I am learning to ride all over again. I noticed pretty early on how much more confident I was in our rides, when things started to get sticky I was able to change what I was doing to make things better. I was starting to experiment with making Nonie move her body in slightly different ways. I knew that with another lesson just around the corner I couldn’t go too far wrong. We were both starting to let go and her power was started to shine through. And most importantly the big ball of tension that I had been holding for the better part of the last year was starting to be released.
I would be foolish to think that this upswing of confidence will last forever. But knowing that I got through this period of difficulty and the strategies I used to do so will serve as a good reminder for me down the track.