You know you can have it if you could only fit it in a box, but confidence is not like that nor is dressage. Boxes are great because they can hold things, but the things which give dressage value, such as confidence just don’t work like that.
The subjective side is what makes so many parts of dressage difficult. If the horse was a machine, the boxes we make with our mind would work and what would arise from that certainty is boxed confidence. To fully honor that inner, and subjective, side to things is to find your confidence.
It is not just experience which gives confidence but the quality of the experience. Each moment in the work is a test which but belief and passion are not what grades that test. Ignoring the test also does not work. These are two of the three ways that are used to create a sense of confidence.
The third way of working with the test is aggression which manifests itself through speed and force. Like the other two ways of working with the experience of working with the horse not only does not pass the test but creates a false confidence. These three are the three poisons to good practice.
Combined together, passion, aggression, and ignorance are the demons which give false confidence and the foundation for most of what the horse world uses to prop up the paper tiger of false expertise which is sadly the default setting.
False confidence is the number one source of injury to both the horse and the human. Genuine confidence is not found reciting the mantra of beliefs or disarming our instinctive protections through habituation, but in humble, careful and precise checking with reality.
Real confidence is found in being and doing which is consistent with inner and outer synchronicity. It is not only physical, but psychological for both the human and the horse. Such confidence rests in harmony and lightness between the horse and human, but it also something which can be cultivated by intelligent kindness in both our work with ourselves and our horses.
Finding our proper place in our relationship with the horse is understanding that it is our native right to be where we are with the horse. This is the first pillar of seat training and where good work in hand with the horse starts.
Good instruction leaves aggression, passion and ignorance behind and places the student in the center or in harmony with the center of motion; this can be learned and taught. The secret, if it can be called that, is not held in a box of things. Resting in our being and permitting the horse to do so, as well, is the only way to genuine confidence and to work with our and the horse’s fear.
Good dressage is found in the simplicity of being authentic which is a belief by reason of conformity to fact and reality and so too, is this where confidence is found. So in your work, ask the questions and find the way, with kindness, by being one with the horse and life.