Jumping with confidence is a block for many riders at some part in their riding career, and luckily it is an area where NLP coaching can make a significant difference. It is particularly important to work with an experienced coach with a good understanding of horses and training as part of working together is to develop new behaviours. The following true story is about an experienced rider and demonstrates how NLP can be built into riding lessons.
Breaking a cycle of lost confidence in horse and rider
Jenny used to love jumping, but a series of incidents had left both her and her mare nervous at the thought of jumping. The horse would sweat and start napping, if they went near the jumps in their schooling field. Of course this made Jenny tense and nervous too and the cycle just escalated.
It was important to break the cycle with a change of states – for once the rider has changed her emotional state from fear to confidence, the horse will quickly follow. This is a key part of why an instructor can ride their pupil’s horse better than they can!
In our first session together I asked Jenny to remember a time when she had really enjoyed jumping – a magic moment. She described it to me and by asking questions about it we intensified the memory. Then we ‘anchored’ it so that whenever she pressed her thumb onto her forefinger the memory and the feeling would come back. It was easy to see it had by the way her posture changed and her face lit up!
By using it during the lesson she was able to keep the good memory as she came to the jump. The horse, of course, picked up Jenny’s new found confidence and relaxation, so she also calmed down and relaxed significantly and we were able to work over trot and canter poles.
As we moved to small jumps, Jenny admitted that she was seeing a horrible image of crashing among poles, which was interfering with the good anchor we had set up. 5 minutes later the ‘collapse anchor’ technique to shift it left Jenny incredulous! ‘I can’t believe it, it’s just gone’ she said! Try as she would, she couldn’t get it back either….. They finished that session with some low jumps approached in trot and canter, a huge smile on both their faces!
This example summarises just one aspect of the relationship between instructor and rider. NLP techniques need to be used in context and with regard for horse and rider safety. My pre-assessment ensured that the issue with jumping was not due to back soreness, poor fitting tack or other issue with the horse. I was able to assess the rider’s competence and balance. Therefore, in this situation as an experienced instructor I knew that the jumping would be safe, enjoyable and appropriate for the horse and rider at their stage of training. Please beware of working with these techniques with people who are not qualified – or insured - to train riders and their horses.