It’s race day, the early morning sun is shining, horses are eating and all is well. We haven’t competed yet so we have nothing to be angry, upset or disappointed with. We are in a place of optimism, possibilities and potential, “yay I think I am really going to crush it today”.
Then, we get on our horse, things start to go south. They’re hot and anxious, they’re distracted, they’re anything we don’t necessarily want them to be in order to perform well. All of a sudden, your mood has done a 180 along with your vision of the day. You’re now getting tense with your horse. Your smile is now a tight, clenched jaw and your eyes are staring at your horse with anger and frustration like why aren’t you doing what I want you to do?!! (side note, it isn’t all about what YOU want THEM to do) moving on though..
Before you know it, you are taking a back seat to your emotions and you’re allowing your horse to control how you feel about yourself and the situation. Your body and mind don’t lie. When physical aspects of ourselves change, so does our mind, that’s why they say it is impossible to be tense in your face and also be relaxed. (give it a try). Open your mouth, take your tongue off the roof of your mouth and relax the lower part of your face. Feel better?
So what does this have to do with anything?
I see often, riders developing a sour attitude, being overly serious and taking out their new emotional frustration on their horses. Things don’t always go to plan, horses are horses after all and competition brings so many uncertain elements that we simply cannot control every aspect of.
We are leaders, I preach this often. We have to approach the situation how we want our horses to be as well. That means relaxed, focused, present, light and soft etc. It is one race, one competition. It’s not the end of the world if every element didn’t go to your plan.In life nothing really does, so take it as a life lesson and learn to adapt to change however it’s going to come. Being able to be resilient in new situations will give you an advantage in the show arena.
Next race day I want you to be aware of how your horse influences you and how you influence your horses.
If your horse is acting less than ideal, how are you managing yourself to take back control of yourself? Are you going down to their level and becoming the rider you didn’t want to be in the morning? Are you getting quick and aggressive with your hands because your horse is “misbehaving”? “Are you being the example?
That can mean you hit a barrel today, that’s ok. We have to gracefully accept it. We have to trust ourselves and our horses, we have to allow the results to happen however they’re going to happen, we can’t control that. But we can control our attitude. We are the leader and we have control over many things, mostly our outlook and how we handle it.
I love horses and competing because the lessons I take into my day to day give me insight into becoming content and fulfilled no matter the uncontrollables that come my way. Next race, I want you to catch yourself getting caught up in the uncontrollables. How are you responding to life and your horses?
This is up to you so please choose the right thing. Choose to accept, choose to go easier on yourself and especially on your horses. They are doing it all for us, it’s only fair to respect their efforts no matter what happens. Pat them, give them love, be the leader, show them by example what it means to love the job and love every good or bad thing that comes with it.