Show Time

Show Time

The shows are really beginning to open up now. Hallelujah! 
 
This quote so inspired me when I reread it this week, that I wanted to share my thoughts with you about showing. It’s one of my favorite quotes by Dr. Jim Loehr:
 
“When you ride, you’re deepening your sense of joy and appreciation for this opportunity with your horse. You’re learning so much about yourself and your horse. The whole thing is such a fabulous gift in your life. If you win great championships and if you win great medals, that’s just icing on the cake.”

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT AND COMMENT LINK: 

 

Hey, it’s Barb.

I know that a lot of the shows are beginning to open up across the country. That’s so exciting! 

If you compete, I also know you’re really happy about this because we’re all ready to get out. And showing is such a great opportunity to see your friends and have fun!

I want to take a few minutes today to just talk about competition a little bit. Here’s the thing. 

We always think so much about competition in terms of how we and our horses compare to other people… and how were judged… and the results.

Black and white results are important, of course. I’m not minimizing that at all.

I do want to share a little research with you that I think is insightful. It might also be a little bit surprising to you. 

When Dr. Loehr did his original performance research, which was all about performer skills and one’s ability to perform under pressure in any competitive arena… as time went on… he found that if certain athletes did do well, they felt they had to do well again… and again… and again. When their whole purpose was to achieve external results alone, they found themselves on a never-ending wheel of proving themselves. They had to continue to be the best, and never slip-up, at least in their minds!

That’s insatiable, really. 

But what further research showed is that when athletes knew their personal values, that is they knew why they competed and they knew what was important to them. They knew they were becoming more as a person. They knew they were enjoying their friends. They knew each competition was an opportunity to put themselves on the line and stretch! Then, they were happier and kept growing personally. 

So if we as riders have great challenges and things don’t work out very well in the show pen… we can still know that riding and showing a horse is an awesome gift in our lives. We can get up again and brush ourselves off and keep going and growing.

It really boils down to knowing and appreciating what a tremendous opportunity it is to show a horse beyond the end of the day results. 

We can celebrate our friends. We can keep reaching for excellence, keep striving and keep learning. 

Whether you win or whether you don’t win… whether you place or you don’t place, you can review your ride and evaluate all by your own scorecard. What did you do well, and what can you do better? What do you need to work on for the next time you show?

Reaching and learning and enjoying continues on forever. It never changes.

Most importantly, because of these fabulous ups and downs, through it all, as a person you are growing… and becoming… and experiencing!

Again, your friends, the horse you’re riding, and all of your adventures… these are what’s remembered and cherished.

That being said, go get ‘em and have a great time! Stay encouraged. Stay focused on your path. Keep reaching and improving. Measure all by your own scorecard. 

Walking Through Difficult Emotions

Walking Through Difficult Emotions

Staying home for the past few weeks has given me, probably like you, some time to reflect.

There are a couple of powerful ideas that are central to personal performance training that not only work with our horses but also in our daily lives. I want to share them here with you. 

But first, I want to take a moment to thank the health care workers, the grocery store clerks and all those who are the true heroes on the front lines of this pandemic. I also think we need to thank their families. It’s worrisome and exhausting for everyone. They are the ones who are putting themselves in harm’s way for us. I can only imagine how hard that must be… so thank you all.

The challenge is that now (because we have no idea how to handle a pandemic), we have unsettling emotions wash over us. We often have no idea what to do with. 

We feel vulnerable. That’s never comfortable. 

The first idea I want to share from my personal performance training is becoming aware of our own emotions… our own energy state… and then choosing how we will respond to how we feel at any moment in time.

If we find ourselves in a state of emotion that does not serve us, we truly have the power to change it.

It’s a practice. We’re all a work in progress.

It’s not to say that not feeling nervous or fearful or vulnerable is the goal. That would be impossible. We all experience all kinds of emotions all across the board many times throughout every day with our horses and of course, during these current times.

But I think these vulnerabilities and unsteady feelings give us opportunities to develop qualities that serve us well in riding and in living.

The first is self-awareness.

When we ride, and now, we make it a priority to tune into our own emotions on a regular basis. For example, we get grounded before we get on. We get present in the moment with our horse. We take a breath and leave the rest of the world behind.

The way it works in our everyday lives is that we notice how we are feeling. We lean into it. We are aware and then we make a choice of how to respond.

The second step is to respond first with calmness. In riding, breathing consistently for the goal of being in a state wherein you can make the best choices possible, sets you up for success. 

Next, talk to yourself to either let mistakes go or coach yourself through what you need to do. These two tools are truly so empowering.

In these times, when feelings I’ve never experienced before wash over me, I notice them. I do my best to lean into them… and breathe. I have some favorite go-to quotes or scripture verses… or I decide if the fear I feel requires action, I’ll do my best to take that action… or will I just let the feelings wash through me?

I don’t just believe, I know, that as we lean into our vulnerabilities, whether it’s with our horses to make a prettier lead change, or lean into challenges in our lives that we never dreamt would happen… we can take a moment, get calm and then decide on our next best steps.

Every time we do this simple process, we set ourselves up to choose thoughts and actions that empower us and then find solutions.

Let me know what you think about this three-step process of becoming self-aware, cultivating calmness and then making choices.

Blessings to you and stay safe, dear friends.

What Separates Riders

What Separates Riders

It was a chilly and wet day in South Texas. So I decided to take a trail ride.

I was thinking about what separates people regarding those who maintain confidence and succeed, and those who don’t.

This article has the tales of two athletes that tell that story.

I heard a story when I first went to a seminar at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida.

It was about a young tennis star who had come there for ‘mental skills’ training. And she went to the right place because HPI is where they train Olympic and Professional athletes how to perform under intense pressure.

When she arrived, she was 50th in the world standings. She studied and was coached… and within a relatively short time, she rose to #1.

Unbelievable.

And then, she thought she had the mental skills thing down pat and stopped training in them. Within an even shorter time, she fell back to 25th in the ranking.

The moral of the story is what separates people from everyone else is studying top brass information, getting coached and then applying it… and getting better and better and better… over and over and over again.

There’s always another layer to learn and to apply to all kinds of situations.

Great riders in the arena are often separated by their desire to keep polishing and polishing their skills… and also envision what’s possible for them. They also keep at it. They don’t think they’ve arrived. They don’t compare themselves to other riders, either.

Here’s another great example. I live in a football world at my house this time of year, but because I’m not a football fanatic, a lot of things wash right over me.

But I did hear an interview with a famous quarterback who has one of the best winning records in all of football. They asked if he was excited about a win that just happened. He said, “Yes, but what I really want to do is get back and review the video to see why I missed that one pass.”

He didn’t say it in a self-defeating way. He truly wanted to figure it out so he could get better. His whole approach was to keep happily studying and polishing. He did own his greatness, and he did love the results of his team, but he was all about putting together all of the pieces of the puzzle… and getting better and better.

You see, the tennis player didn’t have that mindset … the way of thinking and feeling that the quarterback has… at least not at that time of her career years ago.

I’m not being critical of her… I’m just saying that one of the things that separates everyone, including riders, is a desire for excellence, perseverance, and understanding that it’s a forever journey to keep growing.

And if you do this with what you love… like we love horses… it’s a blast.

How you think and feel about yourself, your riding, your horse, and other people are skills that can be and need to be practiced. Those who practice them indefinitely, separate themselves from others.

Can you relate?

Leave a comment for me. Do you think that excellence, perseverance, and loving your journey are good ingredients for a great recipe for fun and success?

And by the way, because part of excellence is learning about your horse and being relaxed… connection with him or her happens all by itself when you study these skills.

Do You Have the Potential for Greatness?

Do You Have the Potential for Greatness?

I’m going to talk about the myth that certain types of people have an ability for higher levels of success. The relationship between personality and performance is often misunderstood.

The truth is your beliefs about yourself determine if you give yourself the gift of unlimited learning and growth.

Your ability to have a vision, feel the right emotions and do your job are what determine if you continue to improve.

Some people believe that if you are shy, you have to change your personality to be successful. To throw that idea out the window, look at the different personalities in any sport. You don’t have to change who you are to be successful. In fact, if you try to change who you really are … that never ever works.

If you tend to be the quiet type, you may need to get more aggressive at some point or let go of things you can’t control, but it’s not about changing your personality.

And what if people tell you that you aren’t aggressive enough and that you don’t have that killer instinct?

Here’s what I know. Being aggressive is a concept. It means different things to different people. If you do need to be more aggressive, first you need to understand when to be aggressive and under what conditions. Ask for concrete examples and clear ideas. Try it. If it works, yah! If it doesn’t work, evaluate whether you should try it again … or not.

And what about the ‘ole killer instinct idea?

Some people think it’s good to want to ‘beat’ other people. I understand that competitive spirit drive. But I would say, that the only thing you have control of is reaching for and exceeding your own personal best … not beating others. When you compete, measure your success against your own scorecard. And know that when you reach the level of excellence of those at the top of the division of your sport, results take care of themselves.

Other people think of killer instinct as an ability to be unaffected by the emotions of those around you. That’s a good thing when it comes to doing your job with your horse. You have your own work to do. It’s ok to feel empathy for other people but don’t let it affect your own mental and emotional state. Work on your own concentration skills. In order to ride at your best, you must be able to do your job with your horse … and your job takes concentration and positive emotions.

The personality traits of highly successful riders are not some special gift from above that they have … and maybe you have them … or maybe you don’t. Excellent riders are not born. All of the skills you need to be successful are made with hard work, excellent instruction, patience, focus, and persistence. They are not inherited.

We all have the potential for greatness. And so do you. True greatness is measured by you … not the outside world.

Are You a “Tough” Thinker?

Are You a “Tough” Thinker?

You can learn to be a tougher competitor in the same way you learn any other skill.

In essence, you are an equestrian athlete. Professional and Olympic athletes train mentally, emotionally, and physically.

As riders, we can do the same. We can utilize the EXACT same skills as the pros. When we do this, we maximize our showing and our riding.  

You can train yourself to be “tough” in your thinking when you show. (That may sound a little harsh to some people! (-:)

But, tough simply means your ability to use words and images to call up calmness and focus on demand. 

Tough thinking can calm your tendency to get angry and lose your cool with yourself, or anyone else when you make a mistake.

How does it work? It’s a discipline before and during your ride.  

The first idea is to always talk to yourself in positive ways. 

For example, you can never rid yourself of a negative emotion by trying to get rid of it. You cannot “not be nervous”. Instead you go for feeling calm and focused … and ready.

You recognize you’re feeling anxious and then you replace the nerves with thoughts that evoke calmness and focus. For example, you could say to yourself, “Stay cool. Breathe. Focus on your job.”

Another part of “tough” thinking is to lean into challenges. You don’t shy away from difficulties. In fact, the whole idea is to learn to love pressure. The more difficult it gets, the more you like it.  

Because stress will always be a part of all of our lives (we can never eliminate it) to be a top competitor, you learn to handle stress. You see difficulties as challenges … not events that will take you down.

And no matter what happens as you ride, you say to yourself … and believe, “No problem!”.  

A Little Secret

A Little Secret

It is widely known that visualization is a key mental skills tool. That’s because we tend to get what we think about. 

I bet you’ve heard this a lot. 

However, sometimes riders tell me they feel frustrated, “I’m so disappointed. My rides don’t turn out the way I see them in my mind. What’s the point? Now, what?” 

Perhaps you don’t know a secret about visualizing. 

Let me explain. 

The role of visualization is not to ensure that everything turns out exactly as you imagine it (although it might!). 

The role of consistently seeing and feeling the good that we so desire in our riding is to provide a consistent exercise for moving toward our dreams. 

No one can control outcomes. And no one can control the exact road they will travel in pursuit of skills and excellence. 

So here’s the secret. The role of visualization is not to control outcomes. It’s to give you a disciplined and consistent routine during which you see and believe in possibilities. 

Consistently seeing awesomeness with your horse in your mind is your job. 

The job of life (or God, or the Universe) is to determine how that unfolds. 

Your job is to keep feeling it and seeing what you love about riding … and know that what you so love will come to pass in some form. 

Your job is also to take action. Go to a trainer, or study, etc. BUT, you don’t have to figure out EXACTLY how it will all unfold. 

Will the results be the exact expression of what you dream about/see inyour mind? 

Maybe … but probably not. 

Who knows? They might be better! 

People and opportunities might come out of the woodwork when you least expect it to take you to great outcomes beyond what you can imagine. 

So, keep visualizing. Trust the process. 

Give gratitude for all you do have now. 

Turn over the need to figure out and control exactly how it will all happen. Those things are not your job. 

Your job is to believe and love your own unique adventure with your horse … frustrations and all … and take the actions that ring true to you. 

Be patient. Great things are coming … and … when you look around, so many are already here.

How to Make Change Less Scary

How to Make Change Less Scary

Can you relate to being at one place in your riding at one point in time … and then … for whatever reason … life and ‘stuff’ happened … and you’re less confident … maybe even confused … now?

Perhaps things snowballed in your mind. “What do others think of me? Can I really do this? My progress is too slow. I feel stuck. I’m not like I used to be. I’ll never get there.” And on.

One way to face change is to understand that your situation will always change. 

No one escapes change. 

Sometimes it sneaks up on you. Sometimes it knocks you in the head.

Some changes are out of your control (like getting older, or forced time away from riding). Other changes are more subtle, like different desires now. It’s all so personal. 

However, all that really matters is this place in time, right now … today. 

What do you truly love and want to do, now? But of course, because of all the things you think about your past and other people etc., it’s natural to feel confused and/or lack confidence. 

What made a huge impact on my life (once again) was the work of my mentor, Dr. Jim Loehr. He talks about who you are becoming because of all you do … and designing and judging everything by your own scorecard. 

Your personal growth and joy with horses is truly at the heart of all you do. 

When you value, above all else, the positives and the challenges of your personal journey with your horse, change can be less scary. 

Start from where you are. Keep growing personally. Continue to learn and advance your technical skills. Practice mental skills. Make choice that make you happy. Embrace the adventure of your journey. 

Thennnnn, your brand of your life with your horse … well … it will all be personally fulfilling and free. 

You don’t have to be any place other than where you are right now. It’s enough. You are enough. 

And from this moment in time you can face change, and choose to do whatever you want to do. You design the “terms” of your success … and fun.

How to Find the Courage

How to Find the Courage

It’s a common thing to love what we do, but settle for less than what we really want to achieve.

By that I mean we allow our past results to dictate how we see our future potential.

If you see yourself in terms of past mistakes and disappointments, most of the time you will continue to do the same. And, by the way, we all tend to do this.

Often this limited view of yourself makes you feel sad, and less than enthusiastic. You might settle into a quiet resignation that things will never change.

You settle for less.

I do understand it can be difficult to see yourself achieving the success you deserve and desire. Many times it’s because your view is blocked by reasons why … try as you might … you believe you just can’t do things differently.

However … the past NEVER equals the future.

There is a fun way to think of future success that can stir a new belief about what can be for you.

This may sound a tiny bit odd, but here goes.

Tell a story about yourself in the third person … as if you’re speaking of someone else.

It might go something like, “Once upon a time, there was a fun loving young girl (or guy) named, ___________ who LOVED horses. In her youth she got to do ________ and ________. And then later on x, and x, and x, and x.”

(Of course this person is you.)

Bring your story up to date.

Now, you’re ready to tell yourself “what happens in the future.” This is where you tell the future story with details that excite you.

” (name) decided one day to break out of feeling stuck. She saw herself doing what she really loved.

She decided to never let adversity dampen her spirit. She used obstacles as opportunities to grow ever wiser and stronger.

She took risks. She designed a riding life she loved, which was ___________. She went on to ________________.

She got feedback and instruction from __________. She practiced new mental tools to stay calm and focused. She always saw herself as an awesome rider.

She was so excited to not listen to those voices in her head that told her she couldn’t do what she loved in the way she loved to do it.

She told herself that she was enough … and that it was all about HER journey … and not how things were judged on the outside.

She became creative. She asked for help. She never gave up. She loved her riding life. She went on to __________.”

As you dare to tell a story to yourself … about yourself … in the third person … that will make you smile. All of a sudden those things seem possible.

Most importantly, you will feel enthusiastic again.

Live, and relive, and relive that story in your mind as if you’ve already achieved it.

This simple story telling tool can light a spark of new belief in unlimited possibilities for you.

Perhaps your story will come true … perhaps it won’t. But to be sure, whatever version comes true, you will have the joy of a moment-to-moment journey. And who you are becoming … and the magnificence of the journey … is what it’s all about.

The Soul of Competition

The Soul of Competition

If you’re a competitor, chances are from time to time you might feel anything from anxiety to intimidation. What if I fail? What will they think? What if I let me trainer/spouse/friends down? What if I’ll never be good enough? What if I don’t make it?

It can be nerve wracking.

While those nagging questions are natural, I have ten perspectives on competition to turn your trepidation into an experience of pure heart and soul.

1. Some folks have a passion to compete and some do not. This seems to be more of a natural personality trait. It’s not a better than or lesser than comparison with other people. It’s a natural joy to compete, or not.

If you’re not a competitor, don’t compare yourself to others who do.

If you love to compete, enjoy it for its own sake. You are meant to be there. Wherever you are in your skills and accomplishments (or not) doesn’t matter. You are enough right where you are. You are on a journey of ups and downs and arounds …. and always learning about yourself.

2. The difference between not riding in competitions and riding in scheduled shows is that shows require that you put yourself and your horse on the line at a specific scheduled time where you’re judged by a person or a clock.

These two elements by nature “push” you to be your best. Know you are helping yourself expand your experiences and skills. Celebrate that you have the discipline to keep reaching for more.

3. While competition appears to be “against” other people (meaning your results are measured externally) I submit that the only real competition is within yourself.

When you enter the show arena, your job is to do your very best in that ride, at that time. Judge your results by your own past performances.

As you continue to grow your mental and technical skills for your discipline, the external results will automatically take care of themselves. Your job is to keep upping YOUR game.

The secret is to be in the heart of your job each moment each time.

The great wrecking ball to any ride is thinking about the outcome.

This perhaps is the greatest discipline of all about showing … staying focused on all you can control. Get focused. Get into the highest level of relationship with your horse at that moment. Go for it. That is truly all that exists, no matter what significance any particular ride might hold.

Ride each ride like it’s the most important ride of your life. When you take this approach, you practice high level performance skills every time. This results in consistency. A “big” show won’t make a difference because that’s what you always do.

This is up to you, and only you to see it all this way.

4. Competition constantly challenges your belief in yourself. It beckons you to believe you can “do it” no matter what happens on the outside.

It’s natural and easy to feel vulnerable, frustrated, embarrassed and doubt your abilities when you fall short.

The challenge is to treat yourself as you would support your dearest friend.

Tell yourself over and over (in good times and bad) that you believe in yourself no matter the outcome. Know it. Claim it.

Your journey is a worthy and awesome one each step of the way.

Know in your heart that your belief in yourself can never be shattered by inevitable disappointments.

5. Showing is an adventure. Oh my! You never know what’s going to happen.

There’s that soulful relationship with your horse you absolutely cherish. How are the two of you going to mesh today?

There are all the people you get to meet. That’s always a trip!

There’s the show management. There’s the weather. There’s the ground. For those of us who work cattle, we wonder what the beasts will be like today … fire eating dragons or puppy dogs?

Who knows what the day will bring?

Enjoy being amazed. Life is meant to be an adventure! If you compete you signed up for a big adventure.

6. For a particular show season, set an “outcome” goal you can measure and that thrills you. This will fuel your motivation to get going and pick yourself up when you fall. An example would be to win a year end award of some kind.

But once that goal is set, just keep it quietly in your heart. Turn it over to God … or to the stars. You can’t control it.

But you can control many things. Show by show, class by class, focus on the tiny baby steps you can do, like how you use your seat or feet, or how you prepare yourself and your horse.

When you set these “performance” goals and you focus on them, you will automatically be taken to your best possibility to achieve your outcome goal.

That’s all you can do! And you can bet you will grow your skills … and hopefully attain your outcome goal.

7. Don’t just set your performance goals, get passionate about them. Focus like a laser beam on them each and every ride, moment by moment. There’s nothing else for you to do. You’ve prepared. You’re at the show. Go for it.

8. Video each ride. Study it closely. Evaluate your ride in tiny pieces.

Give yourself a celebratory fist pump for what you did well. Own these pieces. Don’t skip this step.

Wherever you fell short, search the video for exactly where the error just barely began. That’s the place to improve upon next time. With this approach, you have a totally customized achievement plan.

9. Be forever grateful … for the incredible opportunity to do what you do … for your horse … for your friends … for your trainer … for the awesomeness of just being able to physically get up in the morning and go show a magnificent horse.

Really, when you think about it, what a magical opportunity you have. There is no failure … only experiences. You are so lucky!

This is your journey. Drink it up.

10. You are always enough. Where you are at this moment is perfect. You are growing. You’re extraordinary. There is no failure. There is only an adventure.

That is the soul of competition … drinking up all of the magnificence of your own incredible journey. It is a gift.

True Confidence​​​​​​​

True Confidence​​​​​​​

How would you define “true confidence”? Would you find it in an award or recognition? Would you say it is a feeling of security when you get on your horse? Would you find true confidence if you were calm in most situations?

It’s pretty hard to nail down one definition of “true” confidence because it could be one, or all of those things. It’s so personal.

At this juncture in my life and career, I have an additional take on confidence. It is the most important definition of all to me.

Just like you, I have my own ups and downs, on and off of a horse. Sometimes they are technical challenges. Sometimes they are mental challenges. Sometimes they are more personal, like what decision to make.

I think “true confidence” comes from knowing that no matter what is going on around me (or within me) that I’m okay … that nothing can alter my faith that the journey of my riding and my life is always working out to a positive outcome for me.

It’s knowing that all of my setbacks, all of my challenges, and all of my fears are mine to work through. Somehow, some way, I will come out on the other side stronger for it … if I choose to see it that way.

My approach is to be acutely aware of my challenges and fears … and then figure out if I simply need to let go of them, or if I need to take action.

True confidence is also knowing that whatever choices I make, that I know I am doing the best I can do in that moment. It’s knowing that every one of my decisions is never right or wrong. It’s just a choice that gives me direction.

It’s taken me a while to arrive at this faith in my personal journey … and to get back to that faith as quickly as possible when I feel off course … but I’m getting better. I’ll be practicing forever.

That’s the nature of our horse experiences. We never totally arrive. We are all just on a very personal journey.

True confidence to travel that journey with ease and energy comes from within … not from the outside.

So, my friend … whatever blessings you have … celebrate them. Be grateful. Whatever challenges you have, embrace them. Your journey is unique and meant just for you. Seek the gifts and the lessons.

Our horses are our comforters, mentors, and partners in our great personal adventures.

Keep practicing and coming back to true confidence.