Riding should be fun and the time spent with your horse should be enjoyable or really … what’s the point? If you’re taking your riding too seriously and have lost the joy, here are 3 tips to help you make the best of every ride.
1. Focus on one positive thing about every ride.
It’s human nature to be overly critical of ourselves. Just look at a photo or watch of video of yourself riding and listen to what your inner voice has to say. If you’re like most people, the first thing you notice is what you’re doing wrong or could be doing better or were not doing good enough. Stop looking for perfection and start looking for small improvements and things you do well. Good horsemanship suggests that we recognize when our horse gives the smallest try and reward him for it. Lets do that for ourselves, as well.
Here are some suggestions for finding something positive in your ride. Compared to your last ride, did you:
- Remember to breathe more often?
- Feel when you were slouching and correct your posture?
- Feel that tension creeping in to your shoulders or hips and release it?
- Notice improvement (even slightly) to your transitions?
- Remember to keep your head up?
- Keep better contact more consistently?
- Notice any improvement (even slightly) in your horse’s response to your aids?
Often our progress is slow and gradual so we don’t notice how far we have come. Try keeping a journal of your riding. Then you can look back in 6 months and see where you really were and where you are now. </>Riding is a journey – an ongoing process of improvement – it will never be perfect.
2. Have an Attitude of Gratitude
Being grateful and showing gratitude for what we have brings a positive light onto things. Write down the things you are grateful for. Use these examples to get you started:
- Being healthy enough to ride
- having a horse that you can spend time with
- the wonderful smell of horses, tack and manure
- having an indoor arena
- having an outdoor arena
- having great trails to ride on
- being able to spend time outdoors
Keep a list of the things you are grateful for in your journal and add to it every day. This practice helps you focus on the positive rather than the negative aspects of your life.
3. Change Your Questions
You can change your perspective and your focus by changing the types of questions you ask. When you ask yourself a question, your brain automatically looks for an answer. Asking questions that begin with “why” or “how come” keeps our thinking small and in a negative spiral. Here are some examples:
- Why do these things always happen to me?
- How come I am so uncoordinated?
- Why do I always forget my patterns, courses or tests?
Asking questions that begin with “what can I do” or “how can I” get your brain looking for solutions rather than focusing on the problem. Here are some examples:
- What do I need to do to change the results I am getting?
- What exercises can I do to improve my timing and balance?
- What is the best way to memorize my pattern or test so that I don’t get flustered or blank out?
- How can I make more time for my riding?
Remember that riding is a journey and it should be fun or it’s not worth doing. It is not the end of the world if we don’t get the perfect transition or win the red ribbon. If our ride doesn’t go as we planned, then it’s just another training opportunity.If you would like to help spread the word about a better way to work with horses, please share this blog with 5 friends, send a Tweet or post on your Facebook page. The horses thank you. You are welcome to use this article in your newsletter or blog as long as you include my credit information: Written by Anne Gage, Confident Horsemanship (www.annegage.com). I would also appreciate it if you’d send me a copy for my media files. Anne Gage Confide Horsemanship http://www.annegage.com