Story from the Hull Daily Mail.

When keen horse rider Rachel Reed began to fear the animals she had always loved, she turned to hypnotherapy for help, writes Sophie Kitching.

It was a hobby she loved. But fear began to ruin Rachel Reed’s enjoyment of horse riding, affecting her confidence badly. Worried her anxiety would be picked up by the animals, she decided to seek help in the shape of lifestyle and business coach Linda Johnson, of Release Your Potential, which offers clinical hypnotherapy.

Rachel, 41, of Pocklington, says the results have been overwhelming.

“About 15 months ago, I had to have my horse put to sleep, sadly,” she says.

“He had arthritis. I loved him to bits but he was very spooky, really quite sensitive to a lot of things and I’d not realised quite how difficult he was to manage until he’d gone.

“I started riding the horse I have now, Wolfie, to help give me a bit of confidence and I realised how much he had knocked my confidence.

“While I was confident riding my old horse, I expected every other horse to do the same thing.

“I quickly found out that wasn’t the case, which was great, but I was held back by the fact I wasn’t able to trust my new horse and enjoy it.

“I was concerned that I was going to start passing on my issues to my new horse.”

Having previously beaten arachnophobia, a fear of spiders, through hypnotherapy, Rachel turned to it again to help her enjoy horse riding again.

“I used to have quite bad panic attacks about spiders,” she said.

“It was my partner who organised the hypnotherapy for that for me, because he was concerned I might be driving along one day and a spider could drop down in the car and the inevitable could happen.”

Impressed by the results, she decided to use the technique to put her back in control and in the saddle.

“It’s a very strange feeling, because you know everything that is going on. I can remember it like it was yesterday and I know everything Linda said to me and the emotion I was going through, but you are just so relaxed,” she said.

“We were putting the past behind me, which was quite emotional in terms of letting go of my old horse.

“It was my mind that was holding me back. My ability was there.”

Although Rachel only had one “active session” of hypnotherapy, she was given a series of techniques and tools to help her cope with her anxiety, one of which included a “confidence button” she could press on her hand.

This physical gesture aims to help calm Rachel when she needs it.

“That’s something I can do if I’m riding and I start to get any anxiety,” she said. “I’ve only had to use it once.”

Having been through the process, Rachel says admitting to herself that there was a fear that must be faced was a big step.

“Having had hypnotherapy before, I think it was probably easier. But the biggest thing is acknowledging that you have a weakness and then having the courage to go and do something about it,” she says. “I have changed the way I ride and the way I deal with things, but actually it’s also changed other things in my life.

“The ‘what if’ scenario has gone and, although what we did was related to horses, I’m sure if I wanted to, I could relate some of that to other aspects of my life.

“Some people say, ‘Do you believe in it?’. Well, it’s worked for me.

“I don’t know how it works, I don’t really need to know. I just know, for me, it has worked and it has made such a big difference.”

Rachel has recently re-registered to compete in British dressage this year but says she still faces challenges ahead.

“I’ve got one venue I used to go to with my previous horse and I’ve got to go and tackle that one now, but I know I can do it,” she said. “I’ve got the tools, so I can do some visualisation beforehand and prepare myself for it.”

But although there may still be obstacles to overcome, actually being able to move on is a big success in itself for Rachel.

“Having had a phobia and then having had a confidence or anxiety issue, it is very uplifting to move on from that,” she said.

“There was a part of me thinking maybe I should just give this up because it’s affecting me and could affect my horse. “Thank goodness I wrote an email to Linda and we’ve gone through that process to make such a difference in my life.”

Linda has helped people overcome a wide range of barriers in their lives.

She said: “I help people to change the way they think, change negative behaviours, remove coping strategies and things such as eating too much, smoking and being addicted to chocolate and wine.

“I help put people back in control using 10 per cent of the conscious mind that we can access, but because 90 per cent of what we do is subconsciously motivated, I use relaxation techniques, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and neuro-linguistic programming-type tools, along with coaching, so people can actually be how they want to be.”

In Rachel’s case, this process was very quick but it has had a long-lasting impact.

“I met Rachel initially for a session and I found out all about her and how she thinks and the difficulties she was having,” says Linda.

“Then we had an active session, where I put her into a state of deep relaxation, which is what hypnotherapy is.

“And when you’re in that very deep state of hypnosis, trance and meditation, that’s when the body’s stress hormones turn off and your brain activity reduces. So it’s easy then to access the subconscious and change the way in which the subconscious would act normally on auto-pilot.

“You can then use your conscious mind to overcome the auto-pilot that your sub- conscious automatically goes into when you’re in a stressful or a challenging situation. It is all about the way you think.”

As well as the “confidence button” and hypnosis, Linda used visualisation techniques and a “worry window” to help Rachel.

Linda said: “I gave her what’s called a ‘worry window’. So I said if she was going to worry at all, she could only do it for a certain period of time every day and after that was the end of worry. Everything else had to be completely positive.

“With Rachel, her subconscious was basically saying, ‘If you get on this horse, it is going to be really stressful, so don’t get on the horse’, or ‘if you get on the horse, it is going to misbehave’. But it wasn’t; it was just her thinking that was causing her to do that.

“It is all about thinking positively. If you think positively, then you can think rationally and clearly.”