“He’s lost his confidence now, so we need to build it up again.”
I sat at the side of an outdoor riding arena as Wayne Quarles coached three girls and their horses. It was a bright sunny day with a little breeze and puffy clouds floating above.
The girls were riding through a “grid,” in a line through a series of poles. Some were flat while others were crossed and leaned against the standard. And a couple of jumps were set at about two feet in the air. Things were going well and then things changed dramatically.
One of the girls, Annie, was riding a young, “green” horse named Marty. For some reason, as she approached the last jump, Marty scared himself. He lost his confidence. He hesitated, almost stopping. Then he jumped.
As he jumped, much higher than necessary, I saw Annie come about two feet above the saddle and then settle with a thud on Marty’s back. That’s when Marty began to buck and bolt toward the fence almost 50 yards straight ahead.
As he twisted his body, I heard a collective gasp from others as they feared for the safety of Marty and Annie. Yet, soon after the gasps, I watched Annie regain control and bring the gray-speckled pony back under control. Both were physically sound, but Marty was clearly shaken and had lost his confidence.
Quarles is an experienced teacher and trainer so he recognized this immediately. I watched as he changed his priorities and techniques for the session. “OK, Annie. Let’s work with him so he can get his confidence back,” he said.
Then they began to work more deliberately toward a needed restoration. As they worked, the damage unfolded and as Annie and Marty rode toward a black and white striped jump, Marty twisted violently to the left. That’s when Annie exited her saddle and fell to the ground even while she still clutched the reigns with her hands.
“I’m OK,” she said as she bounced up.
“Let’s give him a break,” Quarles said after he made sure Annie wasn’t hurt.
That’s when I said to myself, “There have been times I’ve felt like Marty.” So, I became intent on letting Quarles teach me about rebuilding confidence.
The next day, Annie and Marty came out to work with Quarles again and I had the chance to distill some steps to rebuild confidence.
First, Quarles had Marty follow closely behind another horse and rider so it would be easy for him to focus on copying successful behavior rather than on his fear. Second, he directed Annie to make sure Marty had good energy going toward each jump as they approached.
Third, he taught Annie and Marty that good energy produces the power needed to get over obstacles. Fourth, he reminded Annie to focus on creating and maintaining balance. Fifth, he worked with Annie to make sure that Marty kept only the next jump in view. And finally, he had Annie praise Marty with a gentle pat and voice as he succeeded. The results were remarkable.
In the end, I watched Annie and Marty complete and entire course with beauty and grace. It was wonderful to behold and nice to see that great advice does make a huge difference. So, next time you find yourself in need of rebuilding your confidence, follow Quarle’s Steps of Confidence Building.
Model a successful person closely. Have good energy going forward. Use the power of your good energy to overcome obstacles. Create and maintain good balance as you move ahead. Focus only on the immediate obstacle in front of you so you’re not overwhelmed, and praise yourself every time you succeed.
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.