Building a Confident Rider with Dana Hokana

Tackling the Mental Obstacles Between You and Your Horse Show Goals

Part One: Dealing with Your Biggest Hidden Obstacle – Fear
Learn to Have Faith in Yourself

Confidence. What an important word! The definition of confidence is “a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something.”

Confidence is something that everyone desires, but many people only long for. Many people have confidence in some arenas of their life but not in others. Other people feel that you either have confidence or you don’t. Others feel that if they would just lose twenty pounds, or if they were younger or older or taller or shorter, then they could become confident. Many people hold the belief that if they would only look a certain way, then they would have confidence. However, the opposite is usually the truth. Confidence starts on the inside, and confidence can be acquired and learned.

My desire is to help you to realize, “You can do it too!” I also want to help you to uncover and transform your inner hindrances, as well as transform your riding skills, and to teach you to transform your horse so that you may have the success that you desire.

In this article we are going to step into the mental arena. The arena of your thoughts and emotions. I believe that the three biggest factors that contribute to a lack of confidence are:

  • Fear
  • Lack of faith in yourself and your own negative self talk
  • Preconceived ideas of what a person should look or be like

I want to help you to become confident in the you that you are, in the body that you have, right where you are today!

Lets get started!

Fear of what you look like.
Fear of what people think of you.
Fear of what people may be saying.
Fear of rejection.

Fear has always been the greatest enemy of success. More people are held back by fears than by any other factor. Fear is a powerful emotion. Fear is such a strong emotion that it can override everything we know to be true and can stop us from moving toward our goals and dreams in life. Fear left unchecked can ruin people’s lives. Many people don’t realize they are yielding to fear as they use words like “nervous” or “anxious” or “stressed out” or “timid” or “shy” to describe their feelings. When really, the root of all of these feelings is fear!

Building a Confident Rider with Dana Hokana

Many, many people have allowed low levels of fear in their life for so long, they have become accustomed to the feeling of it. They don’t even realize they are living with fear.

Fear of failure is a common fear. Fear of failure is what holds people in their comfort zone. It is what makes people avoid risks and live life playing it safe, and often people look back at their life and wish they would have done some of the things they really wanted to do. We fear showing in that big event because we might fail, but by giving into our fears we have already failed.

I want to give you some life changing tips to help you to overcome your fear and learn to have faith in yourself…

Reframe your definition of failure

Do you know that failing is a part of achieving success? Failure is an essential part of becoming a success. One important secret to eliminating fear of failure is to realize that when you fail its really only feedback. In showing or competing with horses in life, it’s often feedback from a person or group of people. It’s today’s feedback, not necessarily tomorrow’s and definitely not the feedback of forever. Embrace the learning experience of it. In reality, this type of learning experience is often worth so much. We pay high prices for knowledge and that’s valuable. But the learning experiences of success and failure are also an important piece of knowledge.

Learn to bounce back quickly from your failures

How quickly we bounce back is greatly related to how we looked at our failures. When you had a bad result in the show arena, how did you perceive that? Change your perspective of it; laugh at it. If you aren’t happy with yourself, forgive yourself. Allow yourself to not be perfect. Be grateful for the learning experience.

Change your self talk

Building a Confident Rider with Dana Hokana

Do you know you can be your own worst enemy or your own best friend? Are you your own coach? How you talk to yourself about failures, imperfections in yourself, your abilities, your looks, will determine your outcome. Your thoughts and self talk will determine your destiny.

Do you know your thoughts precede your feelings?

Try it now. Take a moment and picture the most rewarding experience between you and your horse that you have ever had.
Revisit it in your mind.
Now, how do you feel? Excited? Hopeful? Happy?
You are experiencing feelings because of your thoughts.Now take a moment and revisit a really upsetting experience with your horse.
How do you feel? Hopeless? Embarrassed? Afraid?
What are the feelings associated with that failure?

You can change or help those negative feelings by telling yourself something different about the experience. Tell yourself what you learned. Speak positively to yourself about it. Look for something positive in the experience. Spend some time using positive imagery. See yourself doing what you are afraid of doing confidently and powerfully. See yourself looking, acting and being how you want to be. See the end result as positive and good! Don’t stay in the negative experience.

Can you imagine if you stayed and lived with those feelings that the negative imagery had developed? You would alter your choices. You would probably do whatever it took to play it safe. But discipline yourself to say something positive to yourself. Make your self talk be positive coaching. You are coaching yourself all the time, whether you realize it or not! Focus on your victories! Stay excited about the good and stay out of the bad.

Face your fears courageously

Every person has felt fear at one time or another. All of us have to deal with it. For some people the fear can be motivating, and for others, it’s crippling. How you view it and how you see yourself in the situation is key! See yourself as above it, not beneath it. View that fearful situation from a position of power and use words to describe it that will empower you.

Building a Confident Rider with Dana Hokana

A fascinating thing about fears is that if you face them courageously, they diminish. On the other hand, if you let fears back you up they will grow bigger and more powerful. One important key to overcoming fears is to face them quickly and courageously. If possible, don’t give yourself time to get afraid.
Push yourself, make yourself do what you fear and you will grow stronger and stronger.
The more you push through and face what you are afraid of the faster you will no longer be afraid of what you feared.

Develop faith in yourself

The definition of faith is: Trust or confidence in someone or something.
Faith in yourself is self confidence!
Work on believing in yourself. Remind yourself of your accomplishments, not your failures. Spend time meditating on some of your greatest victories. In life, or in the show arena! Be your own best friend, as well as your own personal coach. Treat yourself well. Encourage yourself to victory. Stir yourself up!

Identify where your faith is

It takes a level of faith to even ride a horse. Faith in the horse, faith in yourself, and even more faith to show and compete.
Become very mindful about your thoughts! What do you actually have faith in? Do you have faith in something good happening or something bad happening? When you anticipate something bad happening, that is fear.

Fear is actually faith in the wrong thing happening!

But you can choose! You can choose where to put your thoughts, and where to put your faith. Put your faith in yourself!

3 Tips to develop your confidence and acquire more faith in yourself

Building a Confident Rider with Dana Hokana

Perfect your posture

People often carry themselves exactly how they feel inside. In addition, how you carry yourself communicates a lot to other people, as well as your horse, about how you feel about yourself. Keep your chin up, shoulders back, and back straight. Walk with confidence and purpose! When you look confident, you will be approached as someone confident. You will find people’s reactions to you will be different, and more positive. Even your horse will trust and respect you more!

Research shows that how you position your body cues your mind to feel a certain way. Use this important tool to your favor and watch it add to your success! I’ve noticed that in a business I can often spot the owner or the manager simply by how they carry themselves. They seem to have a level of authority. Develop that trait!

Look up and look people in the eye

Often people lacking confidence, or people who are ashamed of their body or themselves, will look down or avoid eye contact with people.

When you force yourself to look someone right in the eye, you are saying, “I’m okay with me!” So, when you enter the arena, don’t be afraid to look the judges right in the eye confidently. Look people in the eye, never to stare someone down, but to show that you are unafraid and friendly.


Practice smiling; you will be surprised how much better you will feel. Smiling sends subtle messages to your brain and is proven to help you feel better. When you look someone right in the eye and smile at them, you are sending out positive energy. This world operates under the law of sowing and reaping. What you sow, you will reap. Sow a happy, sincere smile to others and you will reap favor and positivity. Your confidence, and faith in yourself will grow and grow!

Confidence is really a belief, or faith in yourself and the outcome.

Many people not only don’t feel good about themselves, they also don’t believe in themselves! Decide to believe in yourself!


Self confidence is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of fear.

You can master fear!

Stay tuned for “Part Two: Dealing with Preconceived Opinions of How You Should Look or Perform”

To learn more from Dana Hokana consider joining Team Hokana for access to over 200 streaming video lessons plus new ones every month.

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