Why I Started Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland (and why I still love it).

Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland will soon be twenty years old! What began as a vague idea that riders might appreciate what I was learning personally, has grown into something that I love and am extremely proud of.

In the early 2000’s I was looking around for a career change and wondering what to do. I had been a community midwife and left that for all sorts of reasons, had a bit of a break, then I missed working with people so began wondering what I could do next. I had been doing some psychology studies and my tutor suggested that I might make a good counsellor so I looked around for some suitable courses.

None that I found seemed to appeal until a friend told me about a course in hypnosis and psychotherapy which was accredited, thorough and a good academic challenge so I found out more. As soon as I read the syllabus I knew that this was the course I’d been looking for, I applied and was accepted. The course gave me an excellent understanding of how the mind works and how to help people to overcome challenges in their thinking and their beliefs. To be awarded the diploma in Hypno-psychotherapy it was necessary to complete a dissertation so I chose the subject “The use of hypnosis in sport – with particular reference to horse riding”. It was fascinating to discover the endless possibilities that my qualification would allow me.

While I was doing the course (which took two and a half years to complete) I started to apply what I was learning to my own riding and almost immediately I noticed an enormous change. 

I had never been the most confident of riders but very quickly I noticed that I was pushing myself more, worrying less and enjoying everything I did with a new found increase in confidence and self belief. I felt GREAT!

When I came to the end of the course I decided to see if I could use my new qualifications to help other riders and popped an advert in a freebie horse magazine to see what would happen.

This was 2004 and I was almost immediately inundated with riders saying “HELP!!” and my little business was born!

Initially, riders were a fairly small proportion of the clients I was seeing and the rest were people with various other issues like general anxiety, phobias, stress related conditions etc. However, over the years, the number of riders I was seeing grew and a few years ago I decided to focus totally on riders. Of course, each rider comes with a whole lifetime of experiences and “issues” and I believe that it’s extremely important to regard every client as a whole person not only a “riding issue”.

As well as working alone I enjoy making connections with other equestrian professionals and collaborating with coaches to offer sport psychology and confidence boosting techniques alongside the riding skills training offered by the coaches. There is huge scope in the equestrian world for education and rider development through teaching the mental skills needed in order to fulfil goals and simply worry less.

I’m a great believer in lifelong learning and, over the years have done many more courses which help me to help my clients. During lockdown in 2020 I completed the  APEC Advanced performance psychology course run by Centre 10. This has allowed me to deepen my understanding of equestrian sport, strengthen the depth of my knowledge and to meet and learn alongside other coaches with vast and inspirational understanding of this amazing sport.

A few years ago I was driving home from giving a talk at a local riding camp , smiling to myself after a great evening and filled with the warm glow of realising that my career had brought me to a place where I felt I was meant to be and which I totally loved. It’s a very good place to be.

I’m now at the age where many of my close friends are retired, or are talking about retiring, and often get asked when I will do the same. However, I am fortunate to be in a place where retirement is the last thing on my mind. I am still learning and I’m still loving what I do and intend to continue to make a difference to the riders I work with for many years to come.