Don’t Let Insecurity Take the Reins

The fear of not being good enough is real, but you can overcome it.

By Jane Pike

Ever worried about not being good enough in the show pen? You’re definitely not alone. When it comes to discussing limiting beliefs in all their manifestations, the fear of not being good enough ranks No. 1 among riders, regardless of whether they have competitive aspirations or not. Transfer this to the arena, and this underlying thought process sucks the joy out of your competition experience at best, and, at worst, stops you from showing up altogether.

The fear of not being good enough hurts riders at all levels of competition. Break the self-doubt cycle by creating a new mental image of your ability in the arena. (Photo by Kaycie Timm)

What Do You Believe?

To turn this around, it’s important to understand what a belief is and how it affects your outcomes and results. So, what’s a belief? Essentially, it’s your most practiced thought. Most of your beliefs aren’t consciously chosen, but instead arise as a result of conditioning, experience, and the meaning you attach to those experiences. The fear of not being good enough is what might be referred to as a foundational or core belief, which means it acts as a driver for your feelings, habits, and behaviors and sets up an operating framework that colors your perception moving forward. 

For the sake of example, let’s pretend you’re riding at a show that’s important to you, and on some level, you harbor the concern that you might not be good enough. As you ride into the pen, your horse spooks at something just inside the gate. 

“I knew it,” you say to yourself. “I don’t know why I even bothered coming. Everyone here knows I’m way out of my league.”

This internal conversation dampens your resolve and, as a consequence, you feel any enthusiasm that might have existed drain out through your feet. This new emotional climate will be reflected in the amount of effort you invest in your ride and, subsequently, the results you’ll experience. 

In a nutshell, your beliefs directly affect how you feel. How you feel determines how much effort you invest in the moment, and that, in turn, affects the outcome of your ride. 

What’s Real?

Humans always look to match up how we feel with our external experience. Essentially, we want to prove ourselves right. 

If you believe you’re not good enough, you search for evidence to support that self-assessment. You could have easily brushed off your horse spooking inside the gate as no big deal, but instead you use it as confirmation that you weren’t really worthy of being there in the first place. In this way, you create a system of reinforcement where the outcomes you experience validate what you ultimately think about yourself. The same is true of the opposite, which is why the saying “success breeds success” is such a commonly accepted reality. 

How then, do we create a belief system that supports the outcomes we want to create and how we’d like our experiences to be?

Don’t let your self-doubting beliefs outweigh real results and stop you from succeeding in the show pen. Instead, create a belief system that supports the outcomes you desire. (Photo by Kaycie Timm)

Steps to Succeed

The first step is to challenge the belief. Is it really true that you aren’t good enough? Chances are, if you’ve been rumbling with the idea of not being good enough for a while, it will be hard to argue for the opposite. “Yes,” you might say. “It is true. Look at my results! Look at how it is that I feel!”

To which you’d reply, “Your results are in part determined by your beliefs (remember the cycle we described earlier?), and how you feel is different from something being true.” 

Feeling not good enough is very different from being not good enough. Your experience is entirely subjective and based on an identity that’s taken shape on the back of the limiting belief you’re talking about.  

Second, it’s important to separate what you might currently be experiencing and the results you’re getting from your worth as a rider, trainer, or person—period. Your intrinsic worth is never in question. If you use the competition arena as a means to validate who you are, you’re setting yourself up for a major failure. A result in the show pen, or at the end of any ride, bares no reflection of your ultimate self-worth. The foundation that all of us are operating from is one of worthiness. Winning or losing on any given day does not impact that in any way. 

Third, ask yourself if holding onto the belief that you aren’t good enough is serving you in any way. Or is that belief only causing you to argue for your limitations?

Let’s step out of this bubble for a moment and think about what it is you ultimately want. If I asked you to close your eyes for a moment and think about what you’d ideally like to experience in the show pen, what comes to mind? Marinate in that vision for a few minutes.

Maintaining the mental picture you’ve created, ask yourself, “What do I need to believe to bring that scene to life?” 

The false premise that most of us operate from is that we need to experience something before we can develop the self-belief, but the opposite is true. Success is an inside-to-outside job, and the way you demonstrate your beliefs is through your actions. If you wish to move from the place of not being good enough, you must make movements in a direction that supports it. 

How would feeling good enough impact…

…the decisions you make?

…the amount of effort you invest?

…how you support yourself and those around you?

…the risks you take?

Get curious about what you need to believe to align with your dreams and aspirations, and allow your future actions to be generated from that space. 


Jane Pike of The Confident Rider

Jane Pike is an equestrian mindset coach who specializes in giving riders worldwide the skills they need to ride with confidence and the mental fitness to be focused and in the zone for competition. Visit to learn more.