3 Tips for Happy Hacking!

The other day I went out for a ride on my beloved black pony and I thought I would share some of the things that came up for me on our ride that could be helpful for you also. I know hacking out or going out on the trail is challenge that some of you face confidence wise so let’s have a look at a few things we can do to keep ourselves in check when our pony steeds become a little distracted.

I will preface this by saying that before riding out, I have crossed my t’s and dotted my i’s. This post is based on the understanding that you equine of awesomeness is ready to be taken out on a hack on his or her lonesome.
I imagine the inlet where I ride must look like the Colosseum to my horse. It’s a huge, tidal amphitheatre that leads out to the ocean, and at low tide, it becomes a packed mud flat that you can conveniently ride on. The hills to the side makes the sound bounce around all over the place, and if I was thinking like a horse, I would think that it would be a place where I would be on high alert; predators from all sides must seem like a possibility. Which leads me to my first point… if you take your horse out on the trail, any responses that they have- if they “look” at something, balk at a suspect leaf, or a patch of dirt a slightly different colour- they are not “naughty” or “stupid”, they are just being a horse. And to the horse, they are thinking of two things: is that item endangering me in some way and do I need to flee?
The little dots you see in the photo are actually me and Morgen:

It’s really that simple. If you can wrap your brain cells around this, it’s incredibly liberating. It means that nothing your horse does in response to something they see, hear or feel is a personal attack on you, lest you make it so.

 Instead, it is your job to do the necessary behind the scenes work to keep your horse safe. To make them go, well, yes that thing I see does make me want to run for the hills, but if Jane says it’s ok, it must be ok. She’s never put me in harms way before. I guess we can rock this out.
That said, horses are not machines. Here are some things I put into practice as I went for a jaunt across the inlet. 

1. Me: Those are Cyclists. Morgen: I think that might be a bear {Don’t make their fixation your fixation}

If you horse spots something in the distance, make sure that their focus doesn’t become your focus. Your focus is them, and on dealing with what is in front of you.
In moments like these, make sure:
* You are focusing on what it is that you want {for example  focus, calm and relaxation}
* You are controlling your physical response {work with the breath, ensure you haven’t become physically tense also}
* You do whatever you need to to keep you both safe {If you can work with the energy in the saddle, do so. If you feel out of your depth, frightened or unsure, hop off and deal with it on the ground}

2. Don’t let one event permeate the entire ride {He’s now forgotten about the bear, I don’t need to keep returning to it in my mind}

 Morgen saw a bear. He got distracted and we brought the focus back and continued on. We can let it go now; I don’t have to continue riding on high alert, or reliving the moment endlessly in my mind. He’s not, so either will I. Just deal with what is in front of you. And what is in front of me now is a horse back to doing his job.

3. Focus on what went well after you have finished your ride

A tendency we all have as humans is to focus on the hiccups, or the things that didn’t go quite to plan, as opposed to the things that went well. If you are looking to build up your confidence with hacking out, then make sure you are creating a library of successful moments in your head, as opposed to fixating on the bits that didn’t go to plan.

For example: 

Option A
Husband: How was your ride?
Me: Oh he got really tense about the cyclists and had a bit of a moment
Outcome: I focus purely on the undesirable parts
Option B
Husband: How was your ride?
Me: Oh, we had some really great moments. For the most part he was really calm and relaxed and we enjoyed ourselves!
Outcome: I focus on the positive. This doesn’t mean I ignore what happened, but I can feed that into my strategy for the future without having to make it a conversation piece.
Try them out for yourself and let me know how you get on!
And to make sure you are super focused on the good stuff, I created a Happy Hacking Success Log Printable- you can download yours below!
xx Jane
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How to change your thinking so you come out winning!

A curly question that I get asked a lot is what do successful riders have that others don’t? What is it about them that allows them to change their thinking on a less than average day and come out on top?

First up, we need to get our head around what the notion of success actually is. Success itself is a very subjective term and can only be defined on an individual basis; as a consequence, lets move forward on the understanding that success is the ability to move towards or create a desired result, regardless of what that result may actually be.

To me, successful riders are not those who have a special gift, or a secret skill that separates them from others. Instead, they have mastered a very specific but most excellent skill to have and that is the ability to control their emotional state.

State is a combination of your psychological and physiological condition and something that we manifest as an outward representation of our internal world. For example, if you are currently feeling nervous, then you are in a nervous state. The same can be said for confidence; when you are feeling supremely confident, you are in a confident state.

How we respond or behave at any moment in time in based on the state of our mind and body. So with this knowledge, how do we then go about managing our state so that we can consistently move towards our desired outcome? It boils down to two things; the ability to consciously direct our focus, and to use our body in such a way that supports a positive psychology.

Focus is the pivot point on which you formulate your idea of the world and of events that are happening to you. It is your focus that determines your outcomes, and as a result your ability to direct your focus consistently towards positive and empowering meanings means that it is the ultimate determinant of your success and happiness.

Essentially whatever you choose to focus on you give meaning too, and as soon as you assign meaning you assign power. Experience only becomes positive or negative once you assign meaning, and the meaning that you assign is a direct result of your focus. Meaning either lifts you up and drives you forward, or brings you down. The real skill then lies in your ability to continually control and direct your focus and to put every situation and event into an empowering context.

The more that you can direct your focus in a way that continually concentrates on the solution as opposed to the problem, the more that you continue to search for empowering meanings, the more successful you will be. The reality is, what you focus on becomes what you feel, whether it’s true or not.

The second sphere of influence is your body. Every emotional state that you move through is mirrored in your body, most obviously in your posture and your breath. Whilst your state of mind has a direct impact on your body, you can also use your body to influence your state of mind; it’s a two way street! Altering the way that you move, hold yourself and breathe automatically affects your mood and your biochemistry.

Every emotion has a physiology attached. If I ask you to adopt the posture of confidence, you would most likely stand tall, shoulders back and head held high. How do I know this? Because this stance is recognized as the physiology of that particular emotion.

In the moment where things are going pear shaped, these are the two main areas to pay attention to. Where is my focus? Am I directing my focus in a direction that is allowing me to remain resourceful? Am I asking myself the kinds of questions that direct me to seek out the answers that I need?

Then check in with your body. What do I need to adjust? How is my posture? How is the quality of my breath?

Paying attention to these two key areas will allow you to automatically shift direction towards the outcomes you desire.

xx Jane

But what if I get it wrong? How to get over the fear of ruining your horse (+ free printable)

A little while ago, I posted on the Confident Rider Facebook page this quote:

Perfectionism gets in the way of success. Commit to daily, imperfect action rather than perfect inaction.

A few riders sent me messages discussing their concerns and challenges that they were facing, and a big one that stood out for me was the fear of ruining or somehow causing harm to their horse. This came up for a few different reasons specific to each individual but more than a handful of riders I spoke to felt stuck in one spot based on the mindset that potentially taking action in any direction could see them doing something wrong.

I get this, I really do. It really is a most lovely and compassionate thought- that somehow your skills won’t be up to scratch and your horse could suffer as a result- but the mere fact that you HAVE that thought tells me that you are exactly the sort of person who SHOULD be out there doing things with their horses. The kind of person who considers what it is they are doing and what the ramifications of their actions are. That said, staying in one spot is not going to help anyone (least of all you), so I’ve put together some quick and easy guidelines to success to get you out of that headspace and create some momentum to get you back to doing whatever it is you want to be doing with your horse!

Drum roll please…

1. A  plan please! Learn, learn and learn some more.

You don’t have to be a hero, but you do have to be intelligent. If you are worried that your skill level is not up to speed find someone that you respect and talk through the challenges or training issues that you are currently facing. Put a strategy or a plan in place that provides you with really clear goal posts and markers that you can hit along the way, and then use the resources that you have at your disposal to understand what it is you are doing and how to continue forward.

The things is, when we are learning anything new, sometimes things get a little… messy. They can even feel like they are falling apart! This doesn’t mean, however, that they actually ARE falling apart, it’s just the nature of learning a new skill or leaping outside of your comfort zone. Be prepared for things to not look pretty at first… it will be worth your time in the end!

 2. Re-evaluate what mistakes mean

The idea of “getting it wrong” or being afraid of “stuffing up your horse” is a huge, immobilising force and is a key ingredient in procrastination and the feeling of “stuck-ness”. Most learning happens from initiating a process– you can pre-plan as much as possible, but it’s only through experiencing both correct AND incorrect action that the real learning happens. If you can start to reframe the idea of mistakes and think of them as “solution finding” rather than “mistake doing”; often we only know what is right after we have experienced what is wrong. It’s really important that you put one foot in front of the other and start to initiate the kinds of processes that are moving you towards finding solutions.

 3. Reflect and assess

If you remain conscious of the process and sensitive to what is working and what isn’t working, it’s unlikely you would let things develop to the point where they are unworkable or irreparable. Keep reminding yourself that learning is a really cyclic process; if in doubt, just go back to point number one!

Now go out there and take some action!

xx Jane

Grab your free printable below to take you from stuck to on track! 

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A bad experience. A break. And now any jump seems too high!

Julie wrote to me about a situation that I know is not at all uncommon; she had a series of “bad experiences” jumping, a bit of a break (in her case a few years) and now she is finding on her return that her mojo and jumping confidence has totally left the building. Gah!

Here’s what she has to say….

I’m wanting some help over coming my fear around jumping. I am an experienced rider and although never overly brave, I would happily jump around metre courses. However, I had a couple of bad experiences and a break from jumping (a few years) and when I have come back to it I find that even the tiniest fence is terrifying.

My thought process the whole time is what will go wrong, such as the horse will stop and I will go over its head rather than thinking about what will go right. As a result I avoid jumping. I really want to get back into it and to be competitive again. What can I do?

The situation that you are describing is not an uncommon one, although in saying that it doesn’t make it any less frustrating or upsetting. In regards to the bad experiences you describe, here’s a slightly different look at it which will help you make sense of how your mind has stored the experience…

Whenever we experience a strong emotional reaction that is linked to a specific event the two essentially become interlinked or anchored to each other. Our minds do this as a short cut mechanism to prevent us from repeating harmful or dangerous experiences unnecessarily. Regardless of the actual outcome of the experience, your mind has interpreted it as threatening to your emotional or physical security (it goes all homeland security on you), and simplistically speaking has stored the experience in the hard drive of your subconscious mind.

If you think of the mind like a computer, in order for us to access specific files, we need to provide the right triggers. In this case, jumping for you if the trigger for the file to be reopened, and as a consequence you experience a negative reaction- your mind is simply trying to prevent you reliving the same experience again. It has your best interest at heart! Given that you have had a significant period away from jumping and left on a “bad note”, your mind has had many opportunities to revisit the file and play the movie of your experience over and over again, reinforcing the emotions. The time lapse between has also ensured that no other experiences have been provided to challenge or undermine its validity.

There are three main objectives that I would like to work with here. The first is to reprogram your association with jumping from one that is negative, to one that associates it with pleasure and fun. Instead of thinking about what it is costing you, or how bad it feels to jump, I want you to switch it around and think about what it is costing you not to jump. Get as emotional as you can. We want to switch the “pain point” around. For example, not jumping might mean that you aren’t able to achieve the goals that you set out for yourself, that you rob yourself of an exciting and pleasurable experience with your horse. Think about everything you are going to miss out on by not jumping and give yourself some leverage.

The second is to create the future in advance. Sit down and write out your vision for your ideal jumping round or training session. You don’t have to think too far ahead- this might just involve you happily popping over a couple of small jumps in the arena. Introduce as many of the senses are possible. What do you see in your mind’s eye? What’s going on around you? How do you feel as you go over the jumps? What are you saying to yourself? What is your internal dialogue as you successfully complete the rounds? Once you have created a picture, live the scenario out in your imagination for a few minutes a day. Visualisation is one of the most powerful tools to affect subconscious change that we have at our disposal. Marinate in the vision you have created for yourself and begin to live a different jumping reality in your mind.

Finally, work to incrementally increase your comfort zone. Look to bank a series of successful rides that you mind can draw confidence and reassurance from. There is no height requirement; start off with poles on the ground if you need too! Remember, your current situation is not a determinant of your future reality; you are just looking to put the stepping-stones in place to build up to jumping bigger heights.

Think of the point you are at now as point 0 and where you want to be is point 100. Between these two points are a myriad of others; what points could you introduce that would allow you to gradually build up your jumping confidence? Recognise that feelings of discomfort will always be present when you are extending the parameters of your comfort zone; feelings of terror mean you have gone too far. Look to move forward only as far as you can easily step back. Over time, your comfort zone will begin to expand and your jumping confidence and capacity can only increase as a result.

I have no doubt with a few tweaks and turns, you will be back to rocking it out in the ring.

Best of luck!

xx Jane

How your attitude affects your confidence (and what you can do about it!)

Attitude and self-confidence seem to exist in a dynamic state of flux. They are involved in a cosy little relationship where they like to do pretty much everything together. If Self-Confidence fancies going for a ride, it asks Attitude how it feels about it. If Attitude is having a good day, chances are Self-Confidence will be feeling pretty perky also. They are basically co-dependents (let’s be honest).

The pesky problems arise when we base our attitude and our self-confidence on things that are outside of our control. Quite often, our self perception is based on a “ranking system”, where we judge ourselves and “how well we are doing” against a particular external event or circumstance. This means, that if we are “doing well” or we feel like we’re doing well in a particular activity or at particular challenge then our self-confidence is increased, and vice versa.

And herein lies the key; perception. In order for us to develop a consistently positive attitude and self-confidence, we have to develop new ways to talk to ourselves, to change our self-perception and to navigate through our riding challenges in a way that promotes and uplift us rather than denigrates and downgrade us.

Changing your attitude towards yourself is the key to building confidence that is not based on external markers and success.

Here are four things to work with to boost your attitude and your confidence!

1. Self talk.

Notice how you talk to yourself, especially when things aren’t going to plan. Self talk is so important because it highlights for you what you believe to be possible, and as a result of that belief system, how much potential you tap into.  Really be aware of how you’re talking to yourself; if you find you are talking to yourself in an overly critical way, recognise what is happening and actively choose to delete the negative voice.

What is useful at this point is to have a “personal mantra” or a one liner that inspires you that you can repeat to yourself; something that redirects your focus and reminds you of what it is you are working towards.

2. Practice a different response. 

If you’re used to being your own worst critic- for example if you conditioned yourself to react in a specific way in response to an event- then it can be a little bit hard to break out of that cycle and choose a different manner of thinking, a different way to respond- but that’s exactly what you have to put into practice. If you notice yourself being overly judgmental towards yourself, decide to choose a different thought. You do have the choice! Clarifying for yourself what it is that you want as opposed to what it is you are trying to avoid is an important part of this process; look to move towards something as opposed to away from something.

3. Choose to surround yourself with positive people.

The saying goes that you are the sum total of the five people that you spend most time with, so make sure they are quality people who think quality things and expect quality outcomes! It really is so important. If you feel like your self-confidence is something that needs to be nurtured make sure that you choose external circumstances and environments that support you- choose the people that you surround yourself with, choose environments that you put yourself in and really treat yourself as a work in progress that needs to be supported and uplifted.

4. Practice, practice, practice, practice practice, practice.

Everything that I’ve talked about- practicing self talk, practicing choosing a better response, practicing dropping critical self judgment- these are all practices, they are all skills that come with time and repetition. And the only way to gain those skills is to put them into practice. Don’t beat yourself up if it you forget or slip back into your “old ways” despite your best intentions. Press reset and practice again. Over time, your new, positive practices will become your default, and it will be easier and easier to pick yourself up in the face of challenge and keep moving forward in the direction you desire.

xx Jane


Want to work on your attitude? Grab your Winning Attitude Cheat Sheet!

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How NOT to let your mind run away with you!

One of the most common conversations I have with riders involves breaking patterns; intercepting modes of behavior or ingrained responses that are preventing them from doing the things that they want to do, or getting in the way of them being able to produce a certain result.

Firstly, realising that we are in control of responses- at all times- is crucial. If you think that your mood or reactions are due to people or circumstances outside of yourself, then you immediately give away your personal power to that which you have no control over. Terrible idea. Don’t do that.

What I want to talk about now, however, is consciously designing a “thought interceptor” (sounds like something off the matrix I know!) that use can utilise to redirect your focus when the superhighway of your brain space is travelling in the wrong direction.

But first, a back story.

There’s an economy to the thinking process that is designed to save us time which essentially takes several chunks of different information or activities and groups it together into one bulk item. For example rising to the trot; after a while that becomes an unconscious activity that you don’t have to think too much about, even though there are several different elements that contribute to making that possible.

Driving your car is another example of this; after a while you don’t have to think about the separate elements that form together to allow you to drive your car as unique activities. They become one item which is involved to “driving your car”.

Once your brain realizes that there is certain pattern of behavior that you are repeating again and again they become conditioned responses in the nervous system; the sole reason behind this is to ensure that we are operating efficiently. It’s there to save us time so every time were are presented with stimulus A, we know that reaction B needs to come from that; creating a neurological shortcut between those two points allows us to operate in the most efficient manner possible.

I’m going to continue on with the driving analogy because it’s a really good way of illustrating the point of using a thought interceptor in your everyday life and certainly for your riding.

Let’s say for instance you’re driving to work and you drive the same route every day; after a while, the driving experience of getting from A to B becomes essentially an unconscious activity. Of course there are elements of conscious behavior; you know you stop here, you know you go there, but certainly along the way our minds can deviate from the task at hand and we can be thinking about how our last training session went or what we watched on TV the night before. All manner of things comes up in our conscious mind while our unconscious mind is busy showing us the way.

So what happens if one day you are driving to work and all of a sudden there is a tree that’s fallen down, completely blocking your route? That is a pattern interrupt. What happens at that point is the unconscious mind gives over its power to the conscious mind, which is essentially the decision-maker. The decision-making power always lies with the conscious mind, so whenever something happens which deviates from the norm it pulls you out of this unconscious patterning of behavior and asks for a new decision to be made.

In order to force the unconscious or subconscious mind into a new decision-making mode you have to throw a spanner in the works. Why? When we have been practicing a certain outcome for a period of time, it becomes a conditioned response and our nervous system is habituated to behave in a certain way. In order for the outcome to be different, or for the pattern of behavior to change, we need to intersect the path with something, and that’s where a pattern interrupt becomes so useful and so handy.

One of my big catch phrases I use myself is “choose a better thought“; what is the best thought that I can choose in this situation?  Despite what you may be feeling, you are always free to choose a better thought than the one you’re currently thinking. For instance, if I am wanting to introduce a very simple pattern interrupts to a negative thinking process, if I manage to catch myself at that point that point where the negative thoughts starts to permeate my conscious mind, I will take my hair band which often lives on my wrist for obvious reasons and give it a snap.

That semi-uncomfortable feeling of the snapping hairband is a pattern interrupt; it’s something that my mind is not expecting me to do along the way of continuing or perpetuating a negative thought pattern. Do whatever you need to to interrupt the negative thought process and then take the opportunity to choose a better thought.  

There is however a ‘modus operandi’ to how the pattern interrupt sequence works, and what you need to do first is to identify a pattern of behavior that you’re looking to change. Once you’ve done so you really want to study the process, so you look to see if there any specific triggers that set it off and then what the chain reaction is from there. It’s the chain reaction from A to B. Then what you’re looking to introduce obviously is a pattern interrupt, something completely unexpected that you wouldn’t normally do in that situation. It could be anything like pulling your earlobe, or clucking like a chicken, snapping your hair band; anything that sends that neurological process into a tailspin so you can then replace it with a better thought or a better action, a better process that takes you closer towards where you want to go and further away from where it is that you don’t want to be.

Have fun and good luck developing your new pattern interrupts!

xx Jane

Rider Q&A: Riding outside of your comfort zone

Jessica Newtons asks:

“I am confident in an indoor arena, but outside on a trail or outdoor arena my confidence disappears. I am looking for things for my horse to spook at and waiting for him to spook…which means he is looking for things to spook at!”.

I discuss a plan of action for incrementally increasing your comfort zone in the video below. Thanks Jessica! 

xx Jane

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Rider Q&A: Fear of losing confidence after a break

It’s quite a common fear to be concerned that your riding mojo (and everything that goes along with it!) is going to leave the building if and when you need to take a break. On our Worry Wednesday thread, Sharon Bettany posted:

“I have made so much progress this year with my confidence levels and my horse’s skill levels. What worries me is that I am going to lose it over the summer break and I will be basically starting again when the break is over.”

Sounds like a plan of action is in order! Click the video below for tips on how to manage your mindset and pick up where you left off after a brief sabbatical from riding.

xx Jane

How to protect your positive mindset!

I was talking to a friend the other day who was feeling a bit blah about life, and we got to talking about positivity. She felt as though she was really trying hard to remain positive in her riding and her life, but as soon as she was met with any resistance (a conversation with her partner which didn’t quite go to plan for instance), she felt her mojo leave the building.

I know there have been times in my life where I have felt that living in a cave could be a really attractive option (a cave with stables and an indoor arena attached mind… perhaps some really nice trails you could ride out on. I have standards!), but as we all know, the art of being a real life superhero comes not with banishing yourself to the hills (or your imaginary indoor arena), but with getting out there and doing your thing even in the face of opposition.

We’ve all been there at some point or another, and it can be frustrating and annoying when you are making a conscious effort to make things happen, but you feel as though you are fighting against the tide. Sooo, I decided to put together a video for you to give you some tips as to how you can protect your positive mindset… let’s get into it!

xx Jane

Let’s talk fear…

Let’s talk fear.

But first…

Let’s talk rabbits. Now rabbits are pretty much the same the world over; no matter where you are reading this from, rest assured that the behavior of the rabbit in the northern hemisphere, will be the same as that of the rabbit in the southern hemisphere.

And then do you know what happens?

He will come back.


Because the rabbit always returns to the last place he felt safe.

The story the rabbit is not dissimilar to how many of us lead our lives when we are governed by fear. It’s kind of like a loop- we bolt away from the perceived threat at a million miles per hour, and for a period of time, it really feels as though we are making headway! We are moving away from what it is that scares us. It might even feel as though we are winning the battle! But in reality, all we are doing is looping around… and eventually, we come back to the exact same spot, where scenery that looks remarkably familiar to the one that we just left.

Because it is the same place that we just left.

Essentially, this is the fear loop; we have a stimulus that causes a fear reaction, and as a result of that reaction, we flee. We may not even physically flee, but certainly, we leave the building mentally. Although it times it might make you feel like you are making progress, you are just hitting the boundaries of your loop, the boundaries of your safe place, your comfort zone.

And the reality is, you are afraid of what exists beyond these barriers, even though this is exactly where you know you need to go.

Fear is a deeply ancient emotion and one that is designed to keep us safe. With that in mind, we certainly don’t want to eradicate fear; contrary to what you think, we don’t want to become fearless, but what we do want to do is learn to dance alongside it, to learn to become a welcome and willing partner with fear.

What does that mean though, to become a welcome and willing partner with fear? It means that we learn to accept and recognize fear, but we don’t let it rule us to the point of paralysis, or allow it to stop us from doing things that we actually want to do.

And while we are at it, I will tell you why we don’t want to be without fear either. We don’t want to be without fear, because a life without fear would probably be out and out crazy, short and potentially idiotic. If you didn’t have some element of fear, you would jump on a totally unprepared horse with little thought to the consequences; you would ride a horse not good in traffic down the side of the expressway; you would ignore all the cues that indicated either horse or rider was unhappy in some way and go ahead with it anyway. I think you can see where I am heading with this.

You actually want fear to alert you of future dangers, and ultimately; it demands and deserves respect. However it has been programmed by evolution to automatically lead you to believe that any step into the unknown is going to end in your demise. And what’s more, it’s not particularly original. Fear isn’t really interesting in your expansion and growth. It’s not interested at all in you really charging forth and seeing what you are capable of. Quite frankly, its key interest is in keeping you… small. In boxing you in within the realms of what you already know. It likes your comfort zone. It’s what it knows. And so, frankly, it is going to try its hardest to stop you from permeating the periphery.

Fear might be something that we need, but it is certainly not something that we want to go basing our identity around. Fear is actually super boring. It does the same stuff all of the time. It never changes, never decides to mix things up. It never backs you in your decisions to expand, grow or try something different. It’s predictably and mind-numbingly boring.

If you want to choose a path, choose the path of the brave, but not of the fearless. Bravery means you get out there and you do something, even if it scares you. Fearlessness means that being scared does not even come into your reality.

Although you may not initially know how, the first rule in overcoming fear is to no longer allow it to have any authority in your life. You can make space for it. It can travel alongside you. But it is definitely not allowed any decision making powers; it doesn’t get to cast a vote or have a voice, no matter how loud you can hear it shouting in your ear.

You are absolutely the author of your own story, and your story will change the minute that your attitude does; the minute that your attitude and focus changes from what is happening in the future, to what is happening now. Right now.

Be mindful of when you are approaching things from a place of fear, or from a place of resourcefulness. It’s pretty easy to tell the difference. When you are operating from a place of fear, the little voice inside you shouts out, “Be careful! Don’t do that! What is going to happen to me?! I’m doomed!”.

The fearful voice is a voice of blanket generalizations and unqualified statements.

The reasoned voice may still be afraid, but it asks more resourceful questions. How can I make this work? What do I need to put in place to ensure the best outcome? You are in your body, connected, thinking things through whilst simultaneously holding the faith that you are going in the right direction.

Make the decision that from this moment forward, you will learn to travel comfortably with your fear. That you will respectfully decline to engage it in conversation, even if there are times when you hear its voice. That even if you feel as though fear has a strong presence at that time, even if you are unsure what to do, you will give yourself the space that you need, take the kind of actions that you need to take to keep you moving forward, however slowly, however incrementally. Forward, forward, forward.

Fear is not your excuse to keep returning back to the last place that you felt things were within your control. Instead, accept its presence and allow it to accompany you for the ride, no matter what it is that you achieve or accomplish.

And achieve and accomplish you will.

xx Jane

Have you heard about JoyRide? JoyRide is my new membership club designed specifically to give you the skills you need to ride with confidence and joy. For $30USD per month, you receive a new video tutorial, workbook + bonuses, plus ongoing support and assistance from me, a qualified and experiences mental skills and mindset coach, and the other riders in the JoyRide community sharing the journey with you. You don’t have to struggle along by yourself! Check it out here! xx

The Value of Reflection

We have all had rides that have left us feeling well below average on the Rider Hotness Scale, and whilst on many occasions its good practice to shift your focus to the future and keep on going, there are times when looking back and focusing on what went wrong can be the best thing you can do to get you moving forward.

So what do you do when your training session or competition experience has not resulted in you on the top podium belting out the national anthem at the top of your lungs to an appreciative and adoring crowd (ok, so this may have featured in my horsey day dreams at one time or another)? You grab hold of that session and you filter out the little nuggets of gold dust that it has left you in its wake.

Let’s have a look at the process.

1. Recover

I didn’t want to get all PollyAnna on your from get go, so I am allowing for a certain recovery period, also known as a temporary pity party, wallow, or a few minutes when you drop to your knees and swear that if God could just make all your rides in the future really great, you will never do anything bad ever again.

Letting yourself feel bad for a confined period of time can be a necessary part of the process, and brings closure to whatever specific event or training that you are endeavoring to recover from. Put a cap on it though. Your visit to Camp Crappy should be limited to a maximum of 24 hours. After this, it’s time to up sticks and move on.

2. Review

Now we are getting to the good stuff! Your task here is to sit down and look unemotionally at your ride in all its glory- the good and the bad. Your role is not to be critical, judgmental or negative. It’s simply to identify the parts of your ride that are of interest.

If you find it hard to emotionally distance yourself, in your mind’s eye, pretend you are at the cinema, watching the ride unfold on the screen in front of you. Get comfy. Make a note of everything that comes up. Celebrate the wins and jot down the challenges.

As you move through the process, ask yourself, what did I do well? Where did I come up short? What were some of the processes that led to me making an error or facing a particular challenge?

Get it all down on paper.

3. Reflect

Once you have your list of awesome-ness collated, sit down and rationally review its contents. Again, your task is not to be critical or judgmental, it’s simply to learn.

Ask yourself, what could I do in the future to prevent this situation happening again? What worked for me and my horse? What decisions yielded good results?

If I was to repeat the training session or competition knowing what I know now, how could I do things differently?

Think of this as an exercise in creating successful tomorrows as a result of learning from your yesterdays!

4. Reboot

It’s time to reboot and get back to it. Engaging in a process of reflection can be an invigorating and exciting process- if you allow it to be. It’s a primary opportunity for you to embrace new learning, identify areas that need improvement and create plans for the future. Allow the reflective thinking process to keep you humble while you continue to progress towards magnificence!

Engaging in an ongoing process of reflection, learning, planning and activation will leave not only ensure that improve and grow progressively but will allow you to view each ride as a valuable experience that will help to shape your training and competition future in wholly positive ways.

xx Jane

Let’s talk jealousy…

Let’s talk Jealousy…

Oh, the old green eyed monster! Unless you are some sort of highly ascended being who has never been caught in the wrath of a jealous moment (and in which case I want to meet you and give you a high five in person), most of us have experienced a jealous moment or two over the course of our lives. For the most part, jealousy is seen as something that needs to be trampled on and never mentioned again, and that may be so if the only course of action you plan to take is to let your jealousy fester and become a much larger force de vivre, such as bitterness, bad sportsmanship, or chronic grumpiness. Delightful right?

Like any emotion that we embody, jealousy is just another messenger that is vying for your attention in order to tell you something, and predominantly the message is that you have seen something that you want for yourself.

Someone has won an event that you would love to win

Someone is riding a horse that you would like to ride

Someone is making progress in training and you feel stuck in one spot

Someone has overcome their nerves and anxiety and you still feel unconfident and afraid.

It’s not about the other person. It’s about you. It’s about you wanting something for yourself that you perceive to be out of your reach or capacity to achieve in the present moment, and as a result you feel, well…. jealous. It’s horrible, frankly, and we have all been there, but the truth of the matter is, that staying there and marinating in your little pool of jealousy is not going to do anything to help you except make you feel worse. Nasty!

That being said, let’s have a look at some of the positive messages of jealousy and how you can use them to take the next best step forward.

1. Jealousy indicates you are ready for the next level, that you are open to some kind of transformation

If you see someone doing or having something that incites jealousy within you, reflect on your emotional reaction and ask yourself why you are feeling this way. What is it that you actually want? If it’s to win a certain award, feel or ride a certain way, or to achieve a certain level in training, don’t wallow, get busy. Or better still, get inspired!

That point that you are aspiring too marks your aspiration point. Fabulous! You have something concrete that you want to work towards. Now to work your way backwards! If this is where you are now, and that is where you want to be, what steps do you need to take in the meantime to bridge the gap between the two. And then decide on one step that you can take within the next 24 hours to set you on course toward your target.

2. The only behavior you can control is your own

The reality is, at the end of the day, the most likely person to be affected by your jealousy is you. There’s nothing wrong with feeling jealous for a moment (News Flash: You’re human!), but don’t let it define your future. Recognise it, evaluate it, thank it (it’s provided you with some good insights as to what you want), and then get on with DOING something to get towards where you want to be.

Envy and jealousy is boring really. Who wants to hang out with someone who blows smoke over the success of others but doesn’t do anything to change their own reality? Not me, that’s for sure. Yawn…

3. Learn to Celebrate other people’s successes

Here’s the thing: other people doing well doesn’t mean that you are failing. You are unique, your horse is unique, and frankly, the journey that you are on is yours and yours alone.

Celebrating other people’s success is an important emotional reminder that you not only think they THEY are worthy of the success, but you are also. After all, if you can’t see good in other people’s awesome moments, who’s to say that you will see good in your own?

See the achievements of others as an indication of what’s possible. There’s plenty of room at the top after all!

xx Jane

Survival Tips For Putting Yourself Out There

Survival Tips to Transcend the Moments When You are Going to Put Yourself out there and feel a little …. Stupid.

It’s a sad state of affairs when we limit ourselves and our capacity based on what other people are thinking. If you are hung up on the thoughts and opinions of others, or don’t put yourself out there at the risk of looking stupid, here are three of my top survival tips for setting that baggage aside and strutting your stuff like the equestrian version of Charlie’s Angels. Let’s hit it.

1. Remember your outcome

When we start feeling stupid and worrying about what everyone around us is doing, we forget why we are doing it in the first place. It distracts us from Mission: Awesome and instead turns it into Mission: Hot Mess. Know what you are doing there, why you are doing what you are doing and how it fits into your overall plan and future goals.

Anyone who achieved great things spent some time feeling like they didn’t know everything, like they couldn’t yet do what they wanted to do in the way that they wanted to do it, and yes, feeling a bit stupid. When you start to stretch the bubble of your comfort zone you are quite literally expanding your comfort zone. And when you start to expand your comfort zone, guess what? You feel uncomfortable! If you don’t feel uncomfortable, well… you are still inside your comfort zone.

Uncomfortable is ok. Your comfort zone will expand to meet you in time. But if you don’t move the perimeter posts, it’s never going to happen.

2. Remember, it’s temporary.

We need to reframe this for a second. You are far from stupid right now. What you actually are is a Neural Highway Ninja. Basically, all those neural networks in your body are connecting up new pathways, joining the dots together and building both your mental and physical muscles in ways that will allow you to get out there and repeat the same task much more ease-fully in the future. You getting out there and actually doing it- not thinking about it, talking about it, or drinking coffee about it- is the only way that you are going to make this happen. The only way.

Forget stupid. Your totally bad ass. B.A.D. A.S.S.

You heard me!

3. Work out your Inner Circle of Awesome.

In all likelihood, most people aren’t as obsessed with us as we are. Strange I know. If, however, you just can’t get past wondering what other people are thinking, then you need to get selective. Narrow it down.

In the Academy, I talk about the Inner Circle of Awesome. Your Inner Circle of Awesome is your crew, your posse, the group of people that know you, know your horse and know where it is that you are both heading. These are people who have your best interests at heart and whose opinion you can listen to. From their constructive feedback, you can pick out the jewels that will help you further your training and continue on.

Everyone not in your circle of awesome you can absolutely listen to, but they are essentially surplus to requirements. Appraise any feedback on its value mechanism. Can I use this information to improve the performance of me or my horse?

If yes, fabulous. Thank you and move on.

If not, fabulous. Thank you and move on.

Be clear on what you want, and take immediate steps towards actualizing it. If you are going to shine like a crazy diamond, you can’t hide under all the rocks in the pond. Get out there and do it! I’ve got your back.

xx Jane

Mental Training for Competition

Last week, someone asked me about the approach I take training riders for high-level competition. For many, the thought of it comes as a shock. Wouldn’t someone competing at the elite level of his or her sport already have it together? What would they need with a coach like me?

Well, it turns out, quite a lot! Mental training techniques are not all about overcoming fear, working with confidence issues or taming anxiety. They are primarily about optimization- how we can optimize and train our minds to deal effectively with the pressures and stresses that arise in the competition arena.

My chief aim when working with someone who is interested in bettering their performance is to allow them to fine tune the existing skills that they have and produce their desirable outcomes on a more consistent basis than they would be able to previously

I am not their riding coach.

I am not their dressage or jumping instructor.

I am their mental coach and I am there to give them the skills to build the muscles of their mind in the same way a personal trainer would be on hand with a program to build strength and endurance in the body.

If you want to get physically stronger; if you want to improve your jumping technique; if you want to get better dressage scores then you hire a trainer who can give you proven methods and skills to enhance your own skill set and performance. Hiring a mind coach is no different; I help people identify the processes that bring them results and give them the skills that increase their mental fortitude and enhance the mind’s ability to focus.

One of the big fallacies is that professional riders don’t feel nervous. Nothing could be further from the truth! Many of the elite riders that I work with DO feel nervous, and it’s often inevitable. Pre-competition jitters can enhance performance by sharpening our sensory systems, but they can impair our performance when we can’t adequately control them. This is where the ability to be able to deal with pressure becomes so important.

There are several elements that I attend to when putting together a program for competitive athletes, and each are specified and tailored to the individual concerned. All combine to form a formula that can be worked through on a daily basis.

The first is breath work. From a physiological point of view, as soon as we experience pressure, we experience an acceleration of our heart rate. Controlled and specific use of the breath gives us primary control over our “arousal state”, which is the level of energy that an athlete experiences prior to and during performance. Across the board, we are looking to keep our heart rate below 120 beats per minute. Without adequate mental preparation, anyone whose heart rate exceeds 120 beats per minute will experience significant loss of mental focus and “sharpness”; over 150 beats per minute and we switch over to survival mode. As a consequence, controlling our heart rate with our breath becomes more than significant.

I will summarise briefly the other elements that are attended to:

1.     Specific mental programming techniques in relation to our internal dialogue on the field, or our self-talk: This helps to continually direct our focus and avoid unhelpful internalizations of doubt and negativity.

2.     Visualisation: Repetition of specific past and future outcomes and projections using proven and researched visualisation methods

3.     Beliefs and Identity: Our self image is the key agent of our behavior, bringing forward the thoughts, actions and behaviours needed to fulfill our ideals and expectations.

4.     Anchoring: Connecting specific stimuli with specific emotional states.

When the right ingredients are combined, what you are left with is a highly effective and easily implemented mental training workout. It’s the practical means to develop tangible results that are reflected in performance.

xx Jane

Flexing Your Mental Muscles

Jenny really has it going on. At the moment, she is pretty much at the top of her game. Pictures of Jenny pop up on your newsfeed and you can’t help but have a quick peek. You try not to give them too much thought, but I mean, what can you do?! They are right there!

She looks great of course. She’s riding the horse that everyone would like to have in their paddock or barn. Wow, he must be amazing to ride, you tell yourself. Imagine having a horse like that! She transports said horse in a top of the line, brand new truck. It’s so shiny it looks, almost unused. You mentally compute the cost of the truck and compare it to the cost of a house. For a little minute, you think that you may have actually swallowed your tongue. You need a glass of water.

Wow. Jenny looks phenomenal in a pair of breeches. Actually, it’s like breeches were crafted specificallywith Jenny in mind. It’s not normal. People shouldn’t look that good in stretch lycra, should they? No. It’s not normal.


When Jenny struts her stuff at competition, she seems to really have it together. Does she EVER lose her cool? You can see the whole package, the professional demeanor on the 15 second clip with the inspirational musical background she’s just uploaded to Instagram. Sickening and irresistible all at once. You try to turn it off, but instead watch it 5 times on repeat. You notice that you have wrinkled your nose slightly.

In her photos, Jenny always looks so happy. Actually, speaking of her photos, does she have a professional photographer follow her around? Is that her partner? Who looks like that when they are mucking out? You flick a piece of hay of your jodhpurs and consider whether it’s time to put them in the wash.

Many of us have a Jenny in our lives, or have come across a Jenny at one time or another. Some of us might be inspired. Wow, they might say. If she can do it, that means I can to! Let’s get out there and make it happen!

But equally as many will entertain feelings that are a little…. Uncomfortable. For instance, they might compare themselves to Jenny and in the process feel a little… less than. That’s not our fault though, they tell themselves, that’s Jenny’s fault! Splashing herself around like that!

And there might be a tiny background voice saying, Why aren’t I able to keep it together like she is? What’s wrong with me?

We may even host our own pity party. It’s not fair! If I had the money, I’d be able to do what she’s doing! If I could buy a horse like that / own a truck like that / get help like that. I’m just not that lucky! I could if….

Or it may be a bit more covert, a little more undercover. An eye roll. A sigh. A “uugh, not Jenny again! Spare me!”.

These reactions can seem… inconsequential. Insignificant. Justified even, at least in our own minds. But in reality, little moments, these little diversions into the negative, into comparison- they cost us something. They remove money from our mental bank and leave us with less to draw on. Ultimately, they are nibbling away at our mental strength.

Why? Well, let’s take a look. It’s not enough to try and cultivate positive habits and beliefs. We have to work at removing our negative habits also. Negative habits, no matter how small, how inconspicuous, or seemingly harmless, will hold you back. They divert your focus away from possibility to “lack”. They rob you of your power and steal your momentum.

Let’s look at the top 3 mental habits that take the glittery crown of our mojo’s without us even realizing.

1. Holding onto unhealthy or negative beliefs about ourselves

Even if you can’t isolate what negative belief patterns you are operating from, you can almost always recognize their effects. When we are acting from a belief foundation that is limiting us, we tend to feel stuck. Limited in our capacity, like there is a whole range of activities and experiences we would like to take part in, but we don’t believe them to be available to us. Oh, they can do that, but I can’t. I’m not a good enough rider to do that. I’m not as lucky as them.

More often than not, we magnify our misfortune in our minds and allow it to carry forward into our future. Instead of viewing a situation or challenge and temporary, we grant it a sense of permanency, and carry it forward into our future decision-making and outcomes.

When we are operating from this mindset, pity parties are a common occurrence. Sometimes we invite other people to join us- we gossip, look around us and bring other people down- or we party alone. It’s not fair! Why does this always happen to me!

We are problem focused instead of solution focused.

If you find yourself behaving in the way, ask yourself- what am I choosing to believe about myself in this moment? Is this belief moving me forward in the direction that I want? And if not, what do I need to believe in order to create the kinds of outcomes that I desire?

2. Shifting Responsibility

How we respond to any event or circumstance is a choice. We are always in control of our own feelings and our own responses to any given situation. This realization is the foundation stone of owning your own power. When I talk about power here, I don’t mean physical power; I mean the quiet confidence that comes with the realization that how you choose to behave is something that you have control over. It may be the one great freedom we are all blessed with, the ultimate equalizer.

Seek to develop a level of consciousness that allows you to respond to your environment as opposed to mindlessly react. You are in control. No one has the power to make you feel a certain way, or behave in a certain way unless you assign it to them.

3. Generalised, global beliefs

Global beliefs, as the name suggests, are more expansive. They rise to the surface when we take an entire group and assign a label to them all. An example of a global belief would be “Thoroughbreds are hot” or “Everyone who competes at a high level is wealthy”. Banal examples, but we take an entire group and we assign to them something specific. In doing this, we are actually diminishing our own capabilities, and operating from a fixed mindset.

Believing that all Thoroughbreds are hot, for instance, may cause you to pass up the opportunity to work with an amazing horse just based on your own biases of breeding.

Believing that everyone who competes at a high level may stop you putting in the required level of effort to compete at a high level yourself. After all, if you don’t currently have the funds, what’s the point? Your belief system will limit the decisions that you make, and as a result of those decisions, the actions that you take moving forward.

Whilst it may seem a little daunting to dig in and analyse what unhealthy belief systems are holding you back, you can’t really afford not to. We have to train our minds to think differently, and to move away from comparing ourselves to the person next to us.

So the next time “Jenny” pops up in your news feed, flash her a smile and send her a virtual high five. One person living their dreams is all the evidence you need that you can get out there and live yours too.

xx Jane

Cultivating Confidence

Earth to Planet Confidence? Can you hear me?

Confidence issues. They are the Captain KillJoy to our Super Hero selves. You don’t have to be a psychology expert to know that confidence- or a lack of it- affects every aspect of our lives, and obviously has a huge affect on how we conduct ourselves in the saddle. I thought in this particular post we could go all Keanu Reeves (I’ll probably bust out some sweet moves as I’m writing), dive into the matrix and have a good poke around inside the workings of our mind and how we can use it to our best advantage when cultivating confidence.

Ready? Excellent. Let’s get in there.

Now you have entered the inner workings of your brain space, you will notice that it is operating in two distinct parts. You may not have seen them before from this exact angle, but you will recognize them when I tell you that they are the conscious and the unconscious (or subconscious) mind. I know it’s a surprise to realise that the conscious mind is actually really small. You don’t have to worry- this is not an indicator of your intelligence- it’s just that the conscious mind actually only occupies a very small part of the overall mind-scape, even if it is the area that we are the most familiar with. If you imagine for a moment that you are floating on a canoe on a lake, the canoe would represent the conscious mind, and the lake your unconscious mind. It’s important (obviously) but it’s only a tiny slither of what’s around us (or inside us, as the case may be).

Anyway, back to the mind. Your conscious mind is communication headquarters. It sends out to the world everything that you wish to communicate, and also controls your inner dialogue, the little voice inside your head that speaks to you. It’s Captain Communicator, sending out into the universe everything that the unconscious mind commands.

If you would step into your unconscious mind, you would notice it to be a huge storehouse of all your memories and experiences. Everything that you see in here is malleable- it can be extracted, molded and shaped in a thousand different ways, but the shapes that they form for us join hands with Captain Communicator and come out on the other side as our habits, behaviors and beliefs. It uses all of the information that it has stored to make sense of all the incoming data that you receive from the world, with its primary job being to keep you safe and ensure your survival.

You will also notice that between the unconscious and conscious minds there is a filter. This filter is made up of two layers; your belief systems and your focus. Your belief systems and your focus are hard at work picking through the storehouse of past memories and experiences and then using them to give meaning to your present circumstance. This filter system is the most powerful mechanism you have at your disposal to determine your reality. Essentially, whatever you choose to focus on, you give meaning too, and as soon as you assign meaning, you assign power. Your consequent experience only becomes positive or negative as a direct result of your focus, which has the power to lift you up and propel you forward, or bring you down.

If you have shaped your identity or associate strongly to the idea that you are an unconfident rider- you might believe that you aren’t good enough, or that you don’t have what it takes- then this belief will inform your focus. Our minds always seek to make our external reality congruent with our internal world. It wants them to match up. Consequently, if you believe that you aren’t good enough, your filter system begin to search through all of the resources of your unconscious mind to support your assertion and presents them to the conscious mind in defense of your case.

Your focus will rally to support the cause also. Believe you aren’t good enough? *** rubs hands together *** let’s see what meaning we can attach to all our your present and future experiences show you how true this is! A training rider that didn’t go to plan then becomes a reflection of your inability as a rider, a personal blight as opposed to something that is able to be worked through and constructively used to your advantage. After all, seeing things differently or focusing on a different possibility would go against your belief system, and the mind most certainly doesn’t want that. We want the inside and outside to match remember!

Think about it in terms of your own experience; if you are a rider who identifies with having confidence issues, do you sway towards being positive or negative, pessimistic or optimistic when it comes to assessing your riding and your future possibilities?

The ability of your conscious mind to direct attention and awareness is one of your ultimate super-powers. In order to create confidence, you must learn to control what it is that you are focusing on, and the actual skill of directing your focus comes down to reprogramming your belief systems and a single, ongoing decision to control your focus; deciding how and what you will think and consciously directing your thoughts in a way that creates positive meaning, action and momentum.

Becoming confident riders starts at this point- by recognizing the belief systems that limit us and understanding the ways that we allow them to inform our focus, and consequently, our reality. The key to the Confidence Vault comes with your ability to attach an empowering meaning to any given situation and adopt a new belief. No belief need be permanent. They are self-created entities- the only power they hold is the power that we assign them.

xx Jane