Competition Nerves?

So, you’re suited and booted, you’ve arrived at the show ground, do any of these sound familiar…?

-You’ve already been to the toilet 4 times and you need to go again!

-Your Stomach is full of butterflies…and not the good kind!

-You’re stressed out and irritable with your designated helper for the day (shoutout to the long suffering husbands/boyfriends/girlfriends/parents etc!)

-You’re terrified the second you enter the arena that you’ll forget what you’re supposed to be doing!

-Your body feels so full of adrenaline that you feel like you won’t be able to physically function when you compete

-You can’t breathe properly or hold your breath all together when you show

-You feel so nervous you want to puke!

Did I miss any?!

Here’s the thing. Competing DOES NOT have to feel like this! Competing is supposed to be fun, and it is possible for you to go out, enjoy yourself, focus, and to feel proud of your and your horses progress.

Here are some handy tips below!

Tip 1: Establish a Consistent Routine

Many riders feel anxious because they lack a set routine, leading to last-minute stress and confusion. A consistent routine is your best friend when it comes to reducing anxiety and ensuring you’re well-prepared for competition. This includes your training schedule, pre-competition rituals, and even the way you warm up before your event. A routine creates a sense of normalcy and can significantly reduce last-minute jitters and disorganisation.

Start by mapping out your week leading up to the competition. Schedule specific times for training, rest, and mental preparation. Stick to this plan as closely as possible to build familiarity and confidence.

Tip 2: Practice Visualisation

Visualisation is a powerful tool for boosting confidence and readiness. Spend a few minutes each day imagining a perfect performance. This mental rehearsal can significantly improve your focus and preparedness.

Some riders struggle with negative thoughts, imagining everything that could go wrong instead of focusing on what could go right. Start to counter negative thoughts by consciously replacing them with positive images. Visualise every detail, from your entrance to your flawless execution and even your victorious exit. The more vividly you imagine success, the more likely you are to achieve it.

Tip 3: Utilise Mindful Breathing Techniques

Deep, controlled breathing can help you stay calm and focused, both during preparations and in the heat of competition. Mindful breathing reduces anxiety and helps maintain composure. An is practice you can implement daily is to inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. This helps lower your heart rate and reduce anxiety, making it easier to maintain composure.

Tip 4: Focus on Positive Affirmations

What we tell ourselves can have a profound impact on our performance. Positive affirmations boost self-belief and help keep negative thoughts at bay. Self-doubt is a very common problem, and we as equestrians often criticise ourselves harshly, undermining our confidence. An easy suggestion to implement is to create a list of positive affirmations that resonate with you, such as “I am prepared and confident” or “I ride with grace and skill.” Repeat these affirmations daily, especially before your competition, to reinforce a positive mindset.

Tip 5: Ensure Adequate Rest and Recovery

Both you and your horse need time to rest and recuperate to perform at your best. Overtraining can lead to burnout and increased stress levels, negatively affecting performance. Try to schedule regular rest days and make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. Listen to your body and your horse’s needs, and don’t hesitate to take a break if you’re feeling overwhelmed. A well-rested rider and horse are more likely to excel!

To conclude, try these five tips: establish a consistent routine, practice visualisation, utilise mindful breathing techniques, focus on positive affirmations, and ensure adequate rest and recovery. By integrating these tips into your preparation, you can overcome common mindset issues and perform at your best in the show ring, whatever your discipline!

If you found these tips helpful and want to dive deeper into improving your competition mindset, I now offer a comprehensive (and completely tailored to you) Equestrian Mindset & Hypnotherapy Package ‘The Competitor Package’ designed to boost your confidence, enhance focus, and reduce anxiety when competing.

To find out more, drop me an email at and I’ll be happy to provide you with more information and get you started!

Dealing with Disappointment as an Equestrian


A decidedly unfun thing we all feel from time to time in our world with horses (and beyond!). Today I’m going to be talking about why its important to feel those feels, even if they are uncomfortable, and a-few ways you can actually utilise them!

We’ve all felt it. You’re out showjumping and you’re having a great round and then you knock a pole down. You fudge up your dressage test you spent weeks prepping for. You arrive at a clinic with your normally calm horse and for whatever reason on that day, they will not settle and you don’t quite get the experience you were looking forward to.

Those feelings of disappointment might be incredibly visceral, or they may be light and fleeting, but all the same, they are to be felt, and listened to.

It is so important, that we do not dismiss uncomfortable feelings. As an equestrian mindset coach who specialises in helping people build a more positive, confident mindset, you might think I’d tell you to push those feelings away, ignore them, or help you get rid of them…however the truth is, I encourage you to allow yourself to FEEL them. These feels, while not light and fluffy, are just as valid as all the others. Joy, happiness, anger, sadness, envy, grief, love, gratitude…all these feelings are experiences that we were put on this planet to feel, and while some feel nicer than others, it does not mean that they are more or less important. Each is here to teach us something and to help us grow.

By trying to push ‘negative’ feelings away or bury them, we inevitably are saving them for a later date, in which they will come back and bite us on the bum when we least expect it!

So, I invite you next time this feeling pops up, to allow yourself to feel it. Cry if you need to, talk about it if it feels helpful, journal it out…do whatever is helpful to help you feel it, so you can move through it.

Disappointment doesn’t mean you should stop, shrink back or give up whatever it is you have been working on. In fact the level at which you feel it is actually a sign of how much you care about ‘that thing’ and that you should keep going!

So how can we utilise it?

Firstly…feel it, and remember its a sign of how much you care.

Next, look at what ‘went wrong’ and what you can learn from the experience. What would you do differently? What can you take away from it to help you/your horse grow and improve?

Finally, make a plan to implement your takeaways, and give yourself and your horse, empathy and compassion as you do. Remember, progress is not linear, and it is in those moments of percieved struggle, that we truly learn.

You’ve got this.

I hope that was helpful! I talk more on this subject in my most recent podcast episode linked below, head there for a listen and be sure to share and subscribe if you find it helpful!

The Power of Pause. Why its so important to take breaks when you work with your Horse.

I don’t know about you, but I remember having lessons (and even later on teaching lessons) where it was all go-go-go. We would go from one exercise to another, whether it was pole work, transitions, jumping etc, without stopping for breath, because it was all about how much ‘progress’ you could pack into a session.

I very vividly remember, way back in the day, teaching this way- feeling pressured to get as much done as possible and to ‘keep everyone moving’.

Nowadays, I’m happy to report that I know much better, and I understand the power of having lots of pauses for integration throughout sessions I am teaching, and also when I exercise or work with my horse.

So why are pauses throughout sessions with your horses so important?

In working sessions between humans and horses, those moments of pause play a crucial role in facilitating learning and integration. This is rooted in the functioning of the nervous systems of both species.

Humans rely on their nervous system to interpret signals and communicate effectively with our horses, and pauses allow for reflection and relaxation, aiding in the consolidation and integration of learning and refinement of techniques, mentally, physically, and energetically.

Horses possess a sensitive nervous system that enables them to perceive human cues, and allowing moments of quiet, provide them too with the opportunity to process information and alleviate stress, fostering a sense of safety and trust, and preventing them feeling ‘overloaded’ with information, particularly if we are working on something new. This then allows us to make progress together, because learning and growing from a place of relaxation, rather than constant buzz and stress, is considerably more effective and enjoyable for all.

Overall, pauses are integral to working sessions, allowing for the synchronisation of body and mind, fostering trust, and facilitating effective communication between humans and horses.

Next time you work with your horse, I encourage you to try introducing some mindful pauses in your sessions to breathe and integrate, it may seem counter intuitive to ‘slow down to speed up’ your progress, but I’d love to know if you try it, how it changes your sessions…because I have a feeling, there’ll be all the better for it!

Thats all for now, lots of Idyllwild love,

Kim 🙂

Are you distorting your experiences with your horse?

It’s a profound question to ask yourself, yet it’s essential for any horse person looking to deepen their bond with their equine companion and enhance their horsemanship skills. Often, without even realising it, we bring our own limiting beliefs and biases into our interactions with our horses, which can hinder our progress and connection with them.

This might look like:

  • Out on a hack/trail ride, in an hours ride your horse spooks twice, but you get back and all you can focus on is those ‘massive spooks’ which were really only 5% of an otherwise pleasant ride
  • You finish a dressage test, get a great score, but can’t believe it because you remember yourself ‘riding terribly’.

Limiting beliefs are those deeply ingrained thoughts or attitudes that hold us back from realising our full potential. These beliefs can stem from past experiences, societal conditioning, and self-doubt. When it comes to horses, these beliefs can manifest in various ways:

  1. Fear and Anxiety: Perhaps you had a fall or a negative experience in the past, leading to fear or anxiety around riding or handling horses. This fear can create tension in both you and your horse, impacting your ability to communicate effectively and eroding trust.
  2. Perfectionism: Striving for perfection in your riding or training can lead to frustration and disappointment when things don’t go as planned.
  3. Self-Doubt: Doubting your abilities as a rider or handler can undermine your confidence and clarity in your communication with your horse. Hesitation or uncertainty can confuse your horse and lead to miscommunication.
  4. Comparison: Constantly comparing yourself to others or feeling inadequate in comparison to more experienced horse people can diminish your enjoyment and progress with your horse.

So, how can you start to change these distortions and improve your mindset and outlook when spending time with your horse?

  1. Awareness: The first step is to become aware of your limiting beliefs and how they might be influencing your interactions with your horse. Pay attention to your thoughts and emotions during your time with your horse, and notice any patterns or recurring themes.
  2. Challenge: Once you’ve identified these beliefs, challenge them. Ask yourself whether they are based on facts or simply assumptions. Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations and focus on your strengths and progress rather than perceived shortcomings.
  3. Mindfulness: Practice mindfulness techniques to stay present and focused during your interactions with your horse. Take deep breaths, relax your body, and let go of any tension or stress. This will help you communicate more effectively and build trust with your horse.
  4. Education: Continuously seek to expand your knowledge and skills as a horse person. Take lessons, attend clinics, seek out coaches (ahem!) or read books and articles on horsemanship to deepen your understanding and confidence in working with your horse.
  5. Patience and Persistence: Changing deep-seated beliefs takes time and effort, so be patient with yourself. Celebrate small victories along the way and stay committed to your growth and development as a horse person.

By addressing and reframing your limiting beliefs, you can unlock new levels of connection, communication, and fulfillment in your relationship with your horse. Remember, it’s not just about what you do with your horse but also about the mindset and energy you bring to the partnership. So, are you ready to let go of distortions and embrace a more empowering and enriching experience with your equine companion?

If yes, and you’d like a little help…you know where I am! Check out my services page or drop me an email and I’d be more than happy to help!

Practicing Praise & Snapshotting Behaviors

How often do you let your horse know they’ve done/are doing what you’ve asked them for?

Praise is SO incredibly important when working with your horse, particularly if you are working on something new or challenging. Actually saying out loud ‘good/good boy/good girl’ and pairing that the release of pressure, or with some kind of reinforcement such as a rub/scratch or treats etc (whatever is best for you and your horse) is a great way of ‘snapshotting’ the moment that your horse has offered the behavior (or steps towards it) that you are looking for. The better your timing with this, the more ‘drive and try’ your horse will have to working with you, making the whole experience more of a positive interaction, and a more enjoyable experience for both horse and human.

For me, I find that consistent ‘pairing’ of using my voice and other positive reinforcements is key, particularly at times when I am working with my horse and can’t physically reach them (such as lunging, long reining or liberty work) because then when I want to praise them, they will get the same good feelings from me simply using my voice, as they would if I was physically giving them a rub or a treat. This method utilises principles of classical and operant conditioning to shape behaviors effectively.

So my question to you is, do you praise your horse out loud? Do you work to pair that with other reinforcement…and do you keep an eye out for moments when you can snapshot behaviors that you’re after…?

If not, I highly recommend giving this a try, and please feel free to let me know how you get on in the comments!

If you’d like to learn more about this, I talk all about it on the podcast episode linked below!

Otherwise, I hope you found this helpful, and I’ll be back with another blog soon!

Over and out!

Kim 🙂 xx