“I was antsy to touch the horses. June encouraged me to mount. She assured me that I had the skills I once believed I had. She directed me to ride. I rode. I rode in the way I yearn to ride — to feel the way I yearn to feel.”
Hypnotherapy for nervous riders – via ZOOM – from Ballygraffan, No. Ireland. June Burgess, leadership coach, horse trainer and Eventing champ agreed to use me as a test case for equine-specific hypnosis. My issue is anxiety when trying to push past comfort to advance in riding. The death of my husband has unleashed mini stress attacks that are foreign to me. I feel a disparaging gremlin lying in wait at the horse’s feet.
No swinging pocket watches, whirling wheels or “you are getting sleeeeepy.” June assured me the process is all about relaxation. I had doubts about my success with hypnosis. My monkey-mind brain ricochets with distracting synapses. Struggling to urge my cranky laptop to ZOOM didn’t help. Yet, surprise! The hypnosis worked. I surrendered – with a little reminder to stop rewriting the relaxation script.
I released to June’s voice. I traveled into the “mind pictures” she painted. Okay, yes, I changed the forest to a beach and random plants for lilac bushes. These images felt familiar and encouraged comfort and peace.
June guided me to an image of horses on the beach. I could smell the sea air – feel the breeze ruffling my hair – the sun on my face. I was antsy to touch the horses. June encouraged me to mount. She assured me that I had the skills I once believed I had. She directed me to ride. I rode. I rode in the way I yearn to ride — to feel the way I yearn to feel. My body responded. I had the joyous sensation of actually riding — with abandon. When June summoned me back to my laptop, I could hardly wait to ride again — for real.
- Like any muscle building, this process takes practice.
- Replace fear/anxiety with what is.
- Recognize and embrace that nothing bad is going to happen. If it does, I can handle it.
- Break the anxiety habit by replacing negative visions with “success” visions.
- Have a “cinematic” approach – paint the vision of success with broad, vibrant strokes.
- Feel myself riding in the “success scene.”
- Breathe. Sigh. Smile.
- Throw my heart into the ride and my ass will follow.
Riders of all levels fall victim to their self-created and situational anxieties/fears. Ladle on how we beat ourselves up for those emotions. How can we ride with joy – with confidence — when we slog along all that emotional garbage? A smidgen of self-hypnosis during coffee before heading to the barn, or in the car instead of listening to Stevie Nicks will set up for success. Banish the “what ifs.” Replace them with a vision of wings on our horses’ hooves.
Give it a shot. All we have to lose is useless anxiety.