Losing and Gaining Confidence: Taking a Fall

“We’ve all been there. The experience of losing confidence … sucks. But, if you keep putting yourself in the right situations and state of mind, the confidence does come back.”

Horse Nation is excited to announce a new series that will focus on one of the trickier parts of riding: confidence. Confidence is one of those fragile elements that, once shaken, can be hard to regain. In this series, staff writer Marcella Gruchalak will discuss a variety situations that can cause a rider’s confidence to crumble and practical approaches that have helped her rebuild her confidence.

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As riders and competitors, we know there is a nearly infinite number of situations that can decrease our confidence level while riding. These situations can be anything from taking a fall to losing a trusted equine partner to browsing other people’s social media successes too often. Any of these factors can create uncertainty, fear, and/or difficulty finding enjoyment in the sport.


In this series, I want to focus on a variety of these situations and discuss ways to work through them. These are all things that I’ve experienced, and the methods I am discussing are things that have helped me regain confidence as a rider. We’ve all been there. The experience of losing confidence — for lack of a better term — sucks. But, if you keep putting yourself in the right situations and state of mind, the confidence does come back.

Taking a Fall

As I get older, I realize more and more that the ground is really hard and the reason we bounce back up is because of adrenaline — not young, nimble bodies. One of the biggest confidence breaking scenarios I’ve encountered was falling from my horse at a show after colliding with an arena wall at high speed. There’s nothing like a bone-breaking fall in front of great friends and riders to crush confidence.

@_gru_crew_ The horse wreck that broke my leg and ankle (I got caught up in the stirrup)🤕 #horsefail #horsefails #rodeowrecks #mountedshootingfail #ouch #brokenleg #brokenankle ♬ Oh No – Kreepa

Part of the reason it crushed my confidence is that it was embarrassing. Nobody wants to fall in front of others. Who wants their fall to be the gossip session during everyone’s drive home? Another reason is that I was injured. I broke my fibula in two different spots, which was a reminder of how dangerous the sport can be. That created a downward spiral because I couldn’t immediately get back on my horse and show myself all was fine. I had to wait four months to ride again.

If you’re suffering from broken confidence after taking a fall from your horse, here are some methods that helped me to regain confidence in the saddle:

  1. Make sure your injuries have fully healed. Don’t attempt to ride too early or you may set yourself back even more due to limitations with your riding ability.
  2. Take your rides at your own pace. Listen to your body to help you determine your boundaries and limits. Follow those instincts and rebuild your confidence at a pace that works for you. It may not be pretty, but it will get you further in the long run.
  3. Don’t be ashamed to ask your friends and trainer for extra help. If they care about your well-being, they will be happy to help.


When it comes to rebuilding your confidence with your horse, keep going. There is no one cure-all method to regaining confidence. Riding horses is hard work that takes courage and mental toughness. Every rider, amateur to professional, has points in their riding career where they experience fear, self-doubt, and insecurity. Keep working at it and trying your best and you’ll find the confidence does eventually come back.