Take a moment to look at the photo below and imagine that’s you riding your horse.
What thoughts went through your mind? Were they mostly positive or negative? What did you physically feel when you had those thoughts? Your thoughts affect how you feel not just mentally, but also physically.
The human brain can only hold one thought at a time. We have an almost constant stream of 20,000 to 60,000 thoughts in a day. We think at 300 words a minute. We can’t go any longer than 11 seconds without talking to ourselves.
So, whatever you focus your mind affects the quality of all those thoughts streaming constantly through your mind.
And those thoughts also affect how your horse feels.Your horse is a master of reading even the most subtle body language. So, even if you don’t recognize that your posture, energy, tension and movements have been affected by your thoughts, your horse picks up on it.
In the scene in the photo, if the rider gets nervous or frightened about the traffic going by, her horse (who might have been ok with cars and bicycles) reacts to her tension and also gets nervous. With her body tense and her mind focused on the traffic, the rider becomes ineffective as she cannot give clear cues to her horse. Both horse and rider are in ‘reactive’ mode. There is no rational thought as the flight instinct kicks in to high gear.
But there is another (a better) option. The rider can’t stop the flow of thoughts, but she can replace them with more helpful ones.
She can take her focus off the traffic and put it on her horse. With focused awareness, she knows the vehicle is coming before it is beside her. She asks her horse to bend away from the car (so if he spooks he will move towards the grass and not into the middle of the road.
With focused awareness, she also knows the cyclists are coming up behind. She can wave them to pass on the far side, ask them to dismount and walk their bikes by, walk her horse up the driveway just in front of them or even dismount and settle herself and her horse from the ground.
When you focus on a problem, your end up in a negative cycle of thoughts that increases self doubt and decreases your confidence. When you focus on finding a solution, you recognize there is (or could be) a problem and you look for one thing you can do to improve the situation. Do that one thing and you will feel better. Then look for another way you can improve the situation. When you feel better, you can help your horse feel better, too.
You have 20,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day. Whatever you focus them on is what you will get – positive or negative; problems or solutions; self doubt or confidence. It’s your choice.
How have your thoughts been affecting your rides? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Enjoy the journey.My book is now available! “Confident Rider, Confident Horse: Build Your Confidence While Improving Your Partnership with Your Horse from the Ground to the Saddle”. Click here to order.
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You’re 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).
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Anne Gage ~ Confident Horsemanship