This week I wanted to give a big shout out to one of the finest horsemen, great
showman, kind and resilient, yet tougher than nails, and cowboy extraordinaire. If
you’ve never met Doug Williamson, just go right up and introduce yourself! He’s
one of the most friendly and approachable trainers in the NRCHA. I could on and
on, but no one could say it better than Lindsey Stornetta of Platinum
Performance. Please take a minute to read this article about him and then make it
a point to meet him. You’ll be glad you did!
This week I wanted to give a big shout out to one of the finest horsemen, great
Do you ever come across someone who oozes self-confidence? In today’s post, we are going to talk about what mentally strong people do and what they don’t do. They seem to have this incredible mental strength that sets them apart from the rest. But what gives them that mental strength?
They aren’t set back by past mistakes
Mentally strong people try things and challenge themselves. They aren’t sure if something will work the first try and they’re ok with that. They’ll keep at it until they either come up with a better plan or realize it simply won’t work and move on to something else. And they’re ok with that too!! They also don’t let their past mistakes deter them from trying new things and new ways.
They take risks
They realize they may have to take risks, really big risks, in order to achieve something, and they will. It’s not that they aren’t afraid of taking risks or stepping out of their comfort zone, they just realize that it is something they MUST do in order to attain/learn/achieve something. They know that taking risks also brings about new opportunities too! Embrace change is their motto!
They take responsibility for their actions
Not everything works, and they aren’t right all the time, and sometimes they mess up. They know this. They aren’t perfect. They will admit to wrongdoings and take full responsibility for a situation if it was their fault.
They look at the whole picture
They will take a situation or issue and see both sides of the problem before they make a decision or form an opinion. They are not quick to judge or throw a fit. They will take a step back and look at the whole picture before a conclusion or resolution is reached.
They practice kindness
If someone is being mean, rude, or ignorant to them, or anyone else for that matter, they won’t lash back with the same rudeness. They will take the high road and kill someone with kindness, smile and walk away. They know that hate doesn’t cure hate, love does. Mentally strong people know this. They can control their emotions in tough situations.
They’re not afraid to ask for help
In order to have great mental strength, you will know when you have to swallow your pride and either ask for help or admit you’re wrong. Swallowing your pride is a great character trait for many people and something you should practice. People will tend to have more respect for you when you can do this. Not only that, but when we have the right support systems in place, we all win!
Don’t quit when the going gets tough
Let’s face it, we all have moments where we want to throw in the towel and walk away from something that is causing us too much frustration. One of the most important things mentally strong people do is ‘not quit or give up’. They keep at it and learn what they need to in order to move ahead. Remember, not everything is going to go our way. And that’s ok.
They set firm boundary lines
They have no problem setting a strong and firm boundary line around themselves. They know it’s totally ok to say no to others and yes to themselves. They aren’t people pleasers. They are wise and self-respecting. They know that their mental health and happiness come first before anyone else’s
They help others succeed
They know life isn’t a competition. They understand that we are all in this together, and there is great strength in numbers. They want others to succeed too! We all remember our first failure and what it feels like. The achievements of others truly make them happy and bring them great joy. They cheer people on, lift them up, encourage them, and do whatever it takes to help another person. We celebrate other people’s success with them!
They practice gratitude daily
They know how vital daily gratitude is. They remember to stop and take a look around them to see how blessed they truly are. Whether they journal their gratitude daily or do gratitude meditations, or simply whisper to God or the Universe, “thank you,” they make sure to do it each and every day.
They leave the past behind
Mentally strong people know they won’t succeed in life, in any area of life, if they drag their past and all the negative emotions that go with it into the present and future. Instead, they will deal with the demons from the past any way they can and let them go. They know the past has no place in their present life.
They forgive the people who hurt them
They don’t hold grudges, anger, resentment or any other ill feelings towards the people who hurt them. Like the past (and leaving it behind), they know it’s important to let go of all hurt and anger in order to move forward. Mentally strong people don’t become strong by holding onto grudges. They let it all go and move on.
They take some alone time
Self-reflection and peace is super important to them whether they want to take time and sit quietly or take themselves on a solo road trip, mentally strong people make sure to pencil in some alone time. Being with friends and family and loved ones is great but it’s so important to decompress and recharge away from all the chatter and noise.
They continue their education
They know learning is important, and they take any opportunity to learn new things, no matter how hard it is. Mentally strong people embrace learning.
They practice compassion and have empathy
Life is tough for so many of us, not to mention that the past two years really hit some of us hard. People who are mentally strong understand this and know what tough times feel like. They show compassion and have great empathy for people who are going through hard times, and they do it with grace.
They maintain their integrity
Mentally strong people will honor their word, respect others, treat others kindly, and maintain their integrity. Integrity is as important to them as it is their business. It is one of the main things people will notice about them.
They work on their weaknesses
They know their weaknesses. They also know how to learn and grow from them. Someone who has great mental strength will take the time to work on their weakness. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and though you may not strengthen all of yours before you die, at least try to make a big difference.
They drop bad habits
Whether it be smoking, drinking, biting your nails, eating bad food, or whatever it is, mentally strong people will take time to work on dropping their bad habits. It’s the really detrimental ones that need to be worked on. And a mentally strong person will do that.
They accept people as they are-no judging
We are all equal, and we all deserve to be treated equally, with respect and compassion/kindness. We are all battling demons no one knows about. A mentally strong person doesn’t judge or point fingers at anyone. They give respect to everyone they meet and accept people for exactly who they are, as they are.
It’s blanketing time of year again! Where did summer go??
There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to blankets. Here are a few to ensure your horse stays warm and comfortable:
1- Is your horse turned out or kept in a barn? If he’s turned out, you’ll need a more durable canvas blanket especially if he is out with his buddies. It should also be waterproof as horses given their choice of being in or out, normally choose out, even if the weather is terrible. Also, whether they are in or out, pay attention to the temperature. If they sweat under a blanket, not only does the salt take a toll on their coat, but a damp blanket from sweat as the evening cools, can cause them to get chilled. . If you have a high denier count and it’s waterproof, it probably won’t breathe well so be sure to take it off during warm days.
2- If you have stickers or even shavings, a fleece lined blanket can be literally a pain as everything will embed itself into the fleece. It might be better to go with a canvas or nylon lining, though “loft” can help trap warm air and keep them more comfortable.
3- A good fitting blanket is very important. Don’t just use a previous horse’s blanket who was about the same size. If it’s too big, it’ll ride too far back and rub the horses withers on top, or hang way low on their chest in front. If it’s too small, they’ll rub the hair off in front of their shoulders. Most well known blanket manufacturers use a good cut so their blankets fit most horses well. My experience with cheaper blankets was usually a poor fit in the front.
4- Do you want to be able to take it off over their head and be able to adjust it in the front? That’s a nice option, just be sure to get one that has an easy to adjust front, so after a few weeks, it isn’t welded shut.
5- Are you going to use a hood for the winter? If so, be sure your blanket has 3 D-rings to attach it to or it’ll wiggle around all the time and probably rub their mane out.
6- Layers- I always preferred a sheet during the day and a blanket over the top of that at night. It cut down on chore time and kept them comfortable at most temperatures.
7- Do you use lights? This might need to be addressed in its own article, but keep in mind that when you keep a horse under lights their hair stays nice and slick, so they no longer can keep themselves warm enough. The same goes for horses that have been clipped. The more hair removed, the more blanket fill to consider using to compensate.
8- Forage – If the temperatures drop below the horse’s 41-degree thermoneutral zone, they will be using more energy to stay warm. This means, their normal calorie intake may not be enough and extra forage can help them maintain their body temperature. Plus, eating and digesting food creates heat.
9- Acclimation – Have you recently moved from the previous winter? Maybe you’ve moved someplace colder than the prior year and your horse needs to adapt to its new environment. A blanket can help them acclimate to the new climate.
10- And let’s not forget “sleezies”. They’re great, except for the poor folks who have to put them on and take the off! There’s a pretty good learning curve with sleezies.
Signs Your Horse is Too Hot
· Sweating – this can be under the blanket, along the neck, or behind the ears
· Heavy breathing
· Change in behavior – could be more lethargic or restless
· Rubbing the blanket to try and remove it
Signs Your Horse is Too Cold
· Tucked up tail to try and keep warm
· Seeking shelter or huddling up with other horses
· Change in behavior like pacing to try and warm-up
· Weight Loss – typically a more long-term sign that they’re too cold
A quick trick to check if your horse is comfortable is to place your hand under their blanket near their withers. Does it feel cool or too warm? If so, you can adjust your blanketing needs accordingly.
Those are my basic considerations when it comes to blanketing. It’s so nice when a horse doesn’t get too shaggy in the winter. That way when you ride, they don’t get so hot and dry off much quicker. However, if that’s not a consideration, letting them go “commando” is the easiest option. I noticed that the unblanketed horses always slicked off quicker in the spring.
It’s not a Method, it’s a Mindset.
My point isn’t to criticize methods and their use, but to emphasize the importance of using the correct mindset when training horses.
The most common questions I receive are often based on very similar scenarios. Most people ignore the first 10 problems their horse communicates to them, but they are only interested in resolving the 11th problem.
It’s kinda like saying: “My child is failing the 11th grade. I need help, what do I do? Oh by the way he also failed the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th grades.”
What it sounds like in horse terms is: “My horse paws and rears when tied up. He won’t stand still when I saddle him. Anyway, he is rushy at the canter. How do I fix the rushy canter?”
All mammals’ sense of safety comes from attunement, as UCLA professor of psychology Daniel Siegel refers to as “being seen and being heard.” Trauma therapist Sarah Schlote has taken one step further and said that it’s the sense of being seen, being heard, feeling felt, and getting gotten.
Ignoring the first 10 pieces of crucial information from your horse (paws and rears when tied up, won’t stand for saddling) and instead trying to fix the 11th problem (rushy canter) is not only a terrible way to train horses, but it also communicates a lack of attunement. You are saying to your horse, through your inaction and lack of awareness “I did not see those first 10 attempts to communicate your concerns.”
When you ignore the little things because you have a goal in mind (flying lead change, trail ride, etc.) it’s easy to run into big problems and then believe that you aren’t good enough. No horse is too much horse for you, IF you can choose to do things you can succeed at. This is where it becomes a mindset, not a method.
If you’re a subscriber and have watched the 3-Part series called Working With A Pushy, Anxious Warmblood, in Part 1 I simply had the owner stand on the other side of the fence from her horse for an hour or so. Trying to do more than that would have become problematic and she wouldn’t have been able to succeed. She would then tell herself that she is over-horsed or that she doesn’t measure up, or any of the other limiting beliefs we have.
The series goes on to show how a change in your mindset will allow you to constantly have small wins with your horse training.
Being successful at this work all comes down to your mindset, whether it’s choosing to work on what you’re good at or being present enough to notice the little things that go wrong and then persisting until they’re resolved.
In most of my replies to questions, I’m not giving advice to solve the problems, I’m trying to change the mindset that is causing the problem in the first place.
Before you try to learn a new exercise with your horse, take a moment to reflect on where your mindset is, and where you want it to be.
Rate is not just for the fence. (It’s even essential in the reined work circles and rundowns).
In my last article I talked about judging with Bobby Ingersoll and how he broke down the fence work into the simplicity of “stop-rate-turn.” It inspired me to go a step further and relate it to other events.
My understanding of rate is when a horse quickly gets into the position of control on a cow and maintains it by getting in sync with the animal, matching its speed, thus, allowing the rider to choose the moment to throw their rope or slightly increase speed, in order to turn it. Training a horse to rate for your event allows the rider to execute the required maneuver with a much higher degree of precision.
How rate relates to steer stopping: In the steer stopping, rate means getting into position quickly from the box and getting in sync with the steer so the rider can choose the moment to throw the rope for maximum accuracy (not having to reach way out nor over running the steer).
Matt Koch exhibiting good rate steer stopping:
In cutting, rating means reading the cow through the turn, exiting, and immediately getting into the position of control and maintaining it until the rider signals a slight increase in speed to get the cow stopped. The turn must be executed with good form (drawing back over the horse’s hocks), in sync with the cow, letting it pull the horse through the turns then immediately regaining position on the other side of the cow. The horse must “cover” both sides of the cow. This means the horse must get as far across the cow on one side as it does on the other. If they don’t, then they get lopsided and aren’t controlling the cow, nor are they in sync with it, so rate isn’t happening either.
Wes Galyean and Third Edge exhibiting great rate (not to mention amazing eye appeal and covering both sides of his cow for position and control credit!)
In the reined work, rating in the circles means being able to accelerate smoothly into the highest rate of speed desired and maintaining it until the rider eases down into a smaller slower circle. In essence they’re reading the rider’s body signals like they’d read a cow in the other events. In the rundown rating means smoothly increasing speed (in almost undetectable increments) over the length of the arena allowing the horse’s body to be in the best possible position to execute a smooth, powerful slide.
This important ingredient also is necessary for a fast, efficient barrel run, and even pacing for a jump! It’s well worth the time and effort to teach your horse to rate in whatever event you do, for a flawless run with tons of eye appeal!