Four Essentials for Riding Confidence

I want to share something with you today that gives me a lot of clarity and comfort about how we cultivate confidence, courage, skill, and joy with our horses. I will walk you through four essential aspects, and then I’ll look forward to hearing your feedback.


The first area is Horse Knowledge and Experience.

This involves horsemanship – learning about horses’ behavior, their health, riding fundamentals, and discipline-specific skills. Most of the time, we focus on this area during lessons, and it’s how we think about getting ‘better’ in our riding.

The second aspect is Confidence with Other People.

Connection with our horses and people is the most coveted part of our human nature. That’s so interesting. When I do surveys and ask people about their biggest challenges, this always comes first!

It’s about relationships with other people or fear of other people’s opinions of them. It could be relationships with friends, other people in the barn, with trainers or feeling supported, or feeling confident you’re where you belong. This is a massive force in our riding.

The third is what I call Confidence in the Saddle.

By this, I mean the essence of being in the moment, grounded, focused, and feeling slow on the inside.

This area has been a massive part of my journey in the horse world and is something I’m very passionate about because it involves a lot of information, skills, and practice that we don’t usually have access to.

Many of the things we have learned are counterintuitive, for example, being present, being aware of ourselves, of our horse, and being nowhere else but in harmony with ourselves and our horse.

The fourth piece is what I call Confidence Within.

By this, I mean our belief in ourselves and staying true to ourselves, our values, choices, and loves, trusting our journey, and finding the treasures within our lives and our situation – in tough times and good times. This is the underlying inner voice we each have. That inner voice might say, “You can do this, or you can’t do this,” or, “You’re good at riding, or you’ll never get it,” – those kinds of things.

Confidence Within and Confidence with Others are overarching parts of our riding.

By contrast, Confidence in the Saddle and specific horse knowledge, (for example, how to hold the reins, how to use our feet, how to stop a cow, how to jump a jump, how to walk over logs, execute a reining pattern – are more specific to each ride.

I have an adventure coming up that I haven’t done for over two years on the Confidence in the Saddle piece.

I’ll be sharing new information and I’m excited about it.

Stay tuned for more videos on the next two Sundays, and then I’ll do a free “In the Flow Bootcamp” starting May 21st-June 1st.

I will approach this subject from a new dimension, starting with you being in the saddle and then expanding upon what I mean by “flow” and how it’s developed.

I want your input. I would like to know what you’d like to see me cover as we go along; I would love for you to tell me what’s clicking with you, like, “Oh, Barb, I like that, and I understand it, and it’s making a difference!” And then, of course, I want to know what’s not clicking. (-:

I will do all I can to make this fun, practical, and tangible for you.

So right now, I’d like you to leave a message for me about your take on this whole idea of Confidence in the Saddle. In the past. I’ve called it the Ideal Performance State or “being in the zone,” but as you’re about to see, it’s more than that this time.

Okay, thanks. I’ll see you next week. Bye-bye.

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21 Comments on Four Essentials for Riding Confidence

  1. Jeanette Fiveash on Sun, 7th May 2023 1:55 pm
  2. Looking forward to this Barb. I think confidence in the saddle is the most challenging aspect. It has gotten much better and continues to get better but I have some deep seated trauma/PTSD that rears its ugly head from time to time. Learning how to deal with that and refocus my attention to the task at hand is helping. Looking forward to your series on this.

  3. Christine Fortin on Sun, 7th May 2023 2:10 pm
  4. I think any type of confidence, in the flow, or getting to the zone training is beneficial. When information is presented, I often think that’s true, that’s common sense, of course that’s logical but I find practical application and practice is much more challenging. The science connection so interesting! Looking forward to new strategies.

  5. Joanne Milton on Sun, 7th May 2023 3:29 pm
  6. This is exciting! I hope to be in the saddle by the time Bootcamp is over!

  7. robyn kilmister martin on Sun, 7th May 2023 3:54 pm
  8. thank you again Barb, perfect timing to hear your thoughts.

    your mention of “Treasures” in your day/life was just what I needed to hear.


  9. Linda Clavel on Sun, 7th May 2023 4:14 pm
  10. Frankly, my horse does not like me. He has always been ridden by an experienced show person or a trainer and I am neither. I pretty much think I bought the wrong horse. I am showing pleasure, horsemanship, showmanship and trail at regional AQHA shows. I come from a ranching background and had never ridden a horse that was well trained and I am rough and have no “feel” as my trainer would say. I have worked with her 2 times per week for 2+ years. I’m not sure how to proceed. I do appreciate all the wonderful videos and inspirational pieces!

  11. Candis Molde on Sun, 7th May 2023 5:14 pm
  12. I have been riding for many years and love every minute of it . I am pretty confident , I have two nice minded mares that I try to ride daily . I have competed in a cow horse show once or twice and really enjoyed it, however, moments before I entered the ring I did feel myself doubting about entering . But….I cowgirled up and ended up having a blast and even winning some money . My horse knew her job and I ended up learning mine . It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you leave the doubts at the trailer . Thanks for all you encouragement. You are a wonderful example to riders

  13. CAROL JOHNSON on Sun, 7th May 2023 5:21 pm
  14. The past couple years I’ve taken your confidence classes. They helped me get going. Excellent. End of June I’m signed up for a clinic in Hermisten, OR. $500 is sitting there as a deposit. Last year I lost two horses. One an older brood mare another my ‘best’ riding horse. This spring I lost two more. The only other good riding horses. None left. Devastated. Colic. Only eight horses left here but only three are possible rides. (Mini horse, 32, and 30 yr olds, etc. don’t count) April re-starting, groundwork, riding, mounting/walking two of the three. Confidence has allowed me to think and work toward my goal. I’ll pick the best of these two for the clinic. (IF) Next few weeks shaking off negative thoughts. Your teaching is truly for me. Supposed to pay another several hundred $$ but what if I don’t get to go? I will try, work on this with your help. I am older (80), tough, my mind and heart want to start/ride these last horses. Following you the weeks ahead. Thank you so much Barb. I breed and raise my own horses here.

  15. Diane Hiser on Sun, 7th May 2023 6:02 pm
  16. I have a new horse (60 days) & am trying to learn a new discipline. I have always fought with self-confidence so the first 2 shows have been scary. Remembering the concepts from Ideal Performance State I say out loud to myself and to me horse, ‘we can do this’’. It really really worked. I look forward to the Confidence in the Saddle information.

  17. Randee Fox on Sun, 7th May 2023 6:04 pm
  18. Hi Barbra!
    This sounds amazing. I’d like to experience all of the Flow dates!
    May 14: How Flow is Developed
    May 21: Elements of Flow
    May 24-June 6: In the Flow Bootcamp

    Thank you!
    Randee Fox

  19. Kathy McBride on Sun, 7th May 2023 6:35 pm
  20. Barb,
    This sounds really amazing! I think this will be very valuable information. Thanks for sharing it with us. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

  21. Lee Ann Bates on Sun, 7th May 2023 7:03 pm
  22. I feel like I have gained quite a bit of confidence riding older, seasoned horses, but I would like to know how to be more confident on a younger horse. They have such a different feel — usually more narrow in the body, quicker moving, nervously looking around at everything, may not respond to rein and/or leg cues as well as older, finished horses. I get nervous, which of course then makes them anxious.

  23. Mindee Spear on Mon, 8th May 2023 4:54 am
  24. Looking forward to the Confidence in the Saddle and the bootcamp series. I find it refreshing to hear and think about these relationships and connections with our horses and people. It is important to be clear about what we are magnifying in our life experiences. Thanks for your clarity and expressions of love for our dear horse companions. Mindee Spear

  25. Tassie Sitton Corbett on Mon, 8th May 2023 5:57 am
  26. This sounds great. I’m always ready for one of your courses. They are so helpful. Looking forward to the next few weeks.

  27. Ramona Dopps on Mon, 8th May 2023 8:02 am
  28. Barb,
    Looking forward to the Confidence in the Saddle and bootcamp series. I have ridden for almost my entire life (I am 62 years old) and now have an amazing barrel horse that for whatever reason, his speed scares me. Over the last two years, I have lost 80 lbs and my entire riding has changed drastically, and for whatever reason, I cannot seem to get my timing or body to be where I need them to be at speed. The struggle does affect my mental state as I know what I should be doing, but just cannot seem to make the breakthrough to what I need to do. What you said in this vlog about confidence within and with others resonated with me. I do have a good support system, but they are getting frustrated with me because I still struggle to make it to the next step.

  29. Jaime Brown on Mon, 8th May 2023 4:28 pm
  30. Looking for some help to find some confidence with a talented sassy youngster. We are getting through with time and repetition but….
    Thanks in advance

  31. Mary Kay Russell on Tue, 9th May 2023 10:43 am
  32. Just starting riding again after taking a year to reconnect to my traumatized horse by working on my own mindfulness. Taking it really slowly. This info may be just what I need. Thanks

  33. Roberta Rollins on Tue, 9th May 2023 11:26 am
  34. Would love to hear continued words on remaining calm, confident, and focused in the saddle!

  35. Katherina Moller on Tue, 9th May 2023 7:10 pm
  36. I’ve been a trail rider all my life, and would really like to take my horse to a show for ranch riding or horsemanship. He was trained for pleasure class (yuck) and trail, so he has the training, and we’ve been together 10 years, BUT I am so nervous about being in front of people to compete. I don’t know how to get past that fear! I love your theory and teachings.

  37. Mark Mahnken on Tue, 9th May 2023 11:02 pm
  38. It shouldn’t matter but I have this negative voice speaking to me. I have been turned down by the top NRCHA rider ever,(3 times now)(guess who) to have them train me which makes me feel like I have VIP people in the industry who don’t want me to succeed. Turned down for no apparent reason. I feel I am talented and I now have a talented horse that I raised and am training now. I have had two other world class horsemen work with me and they had no problem training me. Both of whom I still have a good relationship with. One said he was pleasantly surprised at my abilities as a horseman. It is what it is but that’s my negative still small voice that is a minor haunt. I am basically a confident person so I will prevail. Not cool entering the arena knowing there are others hoping you will fall on your face. Never had any arguments or ill words with this man. He just says “can’t help you with lessons”. Like my DNA isn’t good enough. So my haunt that I will get over after we show well. Maybe all competitors go through this in one way or another?

  39. Kacee Casto on Wed, 10th May 2023 12:11 pm
  40. Thank you Barb for expanding your class on IPS. I am do not compete in cow horse events but I’ve been following you for a long time. 18 or more years.
    I’ve grown a great deal from your teaching and philosophy. I am really looking forward to this adventure which it sounds like will help me apply what I’ve learned for my competition into my technical skills improvement, my training, my interpersonal relationships which I have only recently realized dramatically affect my Horsemanship work! Amazing how many humans I need to interact with to keep things together for me and my horses. I just focused on my relationships with my horses. So, again, thank you for expanding this topic to include other areas of our Horsemanship and ourselves.

  41. Tracy Allen on Thu, 11th May 2023 4:26 pm
  42. Hey Barb, thanks for tackling this topic! It is one that I think is often kind of forgotten by people who ride, train and show. We often get so caught up in “making progress” that we forget that just checking in with ourselves and focusing on internal growth can make such a difference. Keep up the great work! Love following you!

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