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How I regained the confidence to ride my horse after two accidents

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

I used to be a competitive rider. I would regularly compete and I enjoyed training with my horse six days a week.


And then it all fell apart.


First with a horse-riding accident where my horse slipped and fell on me, breaking my leg. A few years later I lost my focus dismounting, fell off my horse, and fractured my knee which stopped me


in my tracks. I was laid up for 12 weeks, felt totally powerless, and very low. I obviously couldn’t ride at all and started to think how I’d ever get back on a horse again.


But this story has a happy ending!

Julia McHugh and horse
Julia McHugh - Your Horse is Your Mirror

I set upon a journey of trial and error as I desperately wanted a different outcome for my future. I found three techniques that have not just allowed me to ride confidently and freely again but also formed the backbone of my equestrian mindset coaching business.


I’d love to share these three key techniques to help you see what’s possible when building confidence in horse riding.


Horsemanship – For Humans


Horse and rider connecting
Horsemanship for your mind

After my first accident, I sought a horsemanship trainer to fix my horse. After all, it was all about my horse’s behaviour that meant I’d fallen, right?


I soon discovered it wasn’t about my horse at all…it was me. I needed to learn the language of the horse: how to communicate in his language and become the leader he needed.


I couldn’t believe what a difference it made. Accepting I was a key part of the problem instead of putting all the blame on my horse. I was blown away by how quickly my horse’s behaviour changed once I changed my own.


You can learn to control yourself, so you can control your horse.


The Power of Your Mind

Once I’d taken responsibility for my actions, I discovered I couldn’t shift some of my thoughts. I’d read about mental rehearsal, where you run a movie in your head with a successful outcome. I just couldn’t remove the negative outcomes played out in my mind.


It was tiring, emotional and made me feel like giving up; I felt incapable.


Then I discovered NLP (neurolinguistic programming) and a way to take control of my thoughts and more importantly how to cope with negative emotions like fear.

I was so fascinated in NLP and hypnotherapy that I trained to be an NLP coach & practitioner and hypnotherapist in 2016 then gained my master NLP coach & practitioner and hypnotherapist qualifications in 2020.


Your mind is the most powerful muscle. Learn to use it effectively!


What’s your WHY?

My second accident was totally my fault. My mind was too busy (my life was too busy!) and I lost focus. While I lay in bed for three months, I started to reflect on what I really wanted to do and what would give me that fulfilled feeling I was searching for.


I realised something crucial; I was chasing other people’s dreams not mine. Those 12 weeks gave me the time to work out what I needed. I started to feel excited that life wouldn’t just go back to normal – it would be so much better.


Accidents can do you a favour – they can give you the time you really need to discover your real passions, likes, and dislikes.


Taking time to think about YOUR desires and passions is powerful.


What happened next?

Regaining my confidence didn’t just mean I got back on my horse. The discoveries I made I knew I couldn’t keep to myself. Now my business, aptly named ‘Your Horse is Your Mirror’ serves other women feeling the urge to do things differently in the future, ride with freedom and go to new places.


My mindset programmes show you how to train your mind, discover your power within, learn the language of horse and find your WHY.


If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about how to build your confidence to get back to horse riding get in touch now



horse riding across fields
Horse riding with confidence



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