As a short tempered and easily frustrated person in everyday life, you can imagine that bringing that into the equestrian world will not help me or the horse in anyway; and you’re right. To be a
para-horse, they have to learn a lot alongside their normal training. They have to learn how your body works, what you can and can’t do, and how you adapt to riding. They have to figure all of this out, on top of being able to perform what you’re asking of them. Along with people, horses also get frustrated when they’re confused or don’t understand what you’re trying to tell them to do (ie. Mixed signals). Training a horse takes a lot of time and training a para-horse takes even longer. Now, imagine you’re like me. Someone who wants to see results immediately, wants a problem fixed immediately, and when they have a bad ride they feel like the world is ending. Everyone has their bad days, and everyone feel unmotivated from time to time or feels like they’re putting in all this time and effort and still ending up at step number 1. In this blog session, I’m going to share with you how you can keep a positive outlook when things turn to shit.
1. Sticky Notes
Sticky Notes are the holy grail to staying positive (at least in my opinion). You can write yourself positive affirmations, sayings, quotes, lyrics, etc. and look at them throughout the day. When it comes to riding and you’re trying to work on a problem, let’s say it’s keeping the horse collected, you can write sticky notes with little tips and tricks that you can remember while you’re riding. I put my stick notes in my tack locker, so I see them while I’m gearing up for a ride. Little thing like, “You got this”, “Remember, it’s all in the wrists”, “Today, you’re going to make progress.” Seeing this little message gets my endorphins flowing (happy brain chemicals), and changes my mood, which helps me have a better attitude and a better ride.
2. Jam Out
If you’ve ever heard the song “Bad Day”, you know where this is going; if you haven’t, go listen to it! When I’m tacking up my horse, I like to zone out and listen to some music to get those endorphins flowing and get my mind off of whatever might have gone on earlier in the day that could affect my attitude towards my horse while I’m riding. I would suggest Bluetooth headphones or earbuds, so you don’t have to worry about cords getting in the way, and just rock out! Listening to your favorite song can be really beneficial to your health, for equestrians and non-equestrians. AS well, while you’re on the horse, listening to music can help with rhythm if you’re playing a song that has a strong beat to it.
3. Take a Day
So, I’ve done this recently, and it really helped! I’ve been keeping a pretty good attendance record at the barn and have been making it out almost every day to at least ride if I didn’t already have a lesson scheduled. After about 5 days of frustrating rides where I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere, I decided to take a day off and reboot. I didn’t want to keep going in with the mindset that we weren’t going to get anything done and come in with that kind of attitude; cause then I would be stuck in that “we’re going to fail” bubble and I wouldn’t be able to work around the problem that you and your horse are having. Take this time to relax, go do something fun and take your mind of horses, riding and everything barn related. Focus on you and what you can do to make yourself better. Then, go into your next ride with a fresh mindset and attitude and rock it!
4. Keep Positive Friends
Having people that support you, even on your bad days, can make or break you. I am so lucky that I have so many awesome people at my barn that constantly support and uplift me, even on my most frustrating days. Being able to ask for advice, help or encouragement can help both you and your horse. It’s ok to not know everything about riding, even though you feel like you need to. I’m
constantly asking more advanced riders for tips, tricks and sometimes even quick lessons on a problem I’m having a immediate trouble with. Having friends to ride with, tack up with, and socialize with will immediately put you in better spirits, and can make your day and ride that much better. I can’t tell you how much fun it is to just ride with others on a Friday night; and learn from them too!
Riding can be difficult, no one said it was going to be easy. There’s so much work and time that has to go into the sport for you to be successful. I’ve had so many times where I’ve felt like I’m taking one step forward and three steps back! It can be irritating, frustrating, unbearable, you’ll feel like you want to quit; but don’t! All of the hard work you put in will be worth it! And someday, when you’re an advanced rider and some rider is feeling down on themselves, you can be there to encourage and guide them.