How do you recover when someone questions your self-worth? I think we have all experienced moments when someone has made us feel unworthy. This sometimes takes the form of bullying, but other times it is very quiet and dismissive.

Either way it hurts!

Let’s be honest and admit that this kind of stuff is going on a lot in the horsey world. It may not always be intended, but that’s how it is often received.

Riders often tell me they feel like they are being pushed into doing things they don’t really feel comfortable doing. This might be related to how they are training their horse, the way they look after him or her, the equipment they use or how they ride.

Most of us doubt ourselves. We feel we don’t know enough and, therefore, we should listen to someone with more experience. That in itself is a good thing, however, it can be a bad thing if we feel we are not being heard at all, or that our opinion doesn’t count.


Some instructors can get loud, yell and get pushy. Often, they don’t realise they are doing it nor the effect it is having on their student, and it is more of an ‘in the moment’ response.

Dismissive behaviour

Dismissive behaviour is often much more subtle than bullying but just as damaging.

“You are not good enough and that’s why you were not invited.”

“You shouldn’t own a good horse because you will wreck it anyway.”

“It would be better if you would give up because you are never going to be good enough anyway.”

These negative sentences stick in people’s minds and haunt them forever.

The question to ask is, why this is the case, and what we can do about it.

In my personal life, I refuse to look through the ‘right’ versus ‘wrong’ lens.

This means that I don’t judge things as “this is right and that is wrong”, particularly when it comes to riding and horses.

There are many other ways to see the world many different ways to do things.

  • Different ways to train

  • Different ways to ride

  • Different ways to look after your horse

People will judge something as ‘right’ because it works for them and they judge something as ‘wrong’ when it doesn’t work for them. But just because it doesn’t work for them doesn’t mean it won’t work for someone else!

Every horse and every rider is an individual and every horse-rider combination is an individual combination.

As soon as we make judgements of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, we create conflict and, when there is conflict, the ego jumps straight into its defense mode.

We defend ourselves by attacking, either out loud or quietly and calculated.

It is not about that individual horse and the rider anymore, it is simply the ego’s fight for survival, and the ego only survives when it is proven right.

And, if you don’t prove your ego right, it will do it itself by judging you wrong.

When things reach this point, there can’t be any winners only losers.

Can we protect ourselves when others use these tactics on us?

Remember that when it comes to riding and horse training, there is no ‘right’ way and no ‘wrong’ way, just many different ways of approaching training.

Ask questions and remain open to learning without giving away your power to make decisions.

Learn as much as you can by asking as many people as you can, but always choose the action that feels right for you.

You know what it is like to have a ‘gut feeling’. It’s when you say “I know it’s right for me.” Or you say, “I don’t know, it doesn’t feel right.”

Trust your instinct no matter how much or how little experience you have. If you trust your instinct you keep the power of deciding for yourself, if you don’t, you’ll keep running after others and end up on a roller coaster that will eventually hurt you. Not because the other person meant you harm but because you gave up on yourself.

If you need advice, seek someone you trust and ask. If you are given advice you did not ask for, simply reply:

  • “Thank you that’s interesting. Let me think about it.”

  • “Thank you for sharing but I am happy to keep doing what I am doing.”

  • “I am still learning and at the moment, I am happy with the way things are going. If I need some help or advice I will get back to you.”

Happy riding everyone!

Check out Tanja’s Podcast: Untangled – Simplify Your Life With Tanja Mitton, on Google, Spotify and your favourite podcasting app.