This happens to everyone

This happens to everyone

I have two friends navigating the same challenge but in totally different disciplines.

One rides reining horses, and the other shows pleasure horses.

They both love to show and have been progressing well, and their results in the arena are beginning to show it, too.

But the wheels fell off in the show pen in the past three weeks.

One was angry that she had worked so hard only to get that kind of result, and the other felt humiliated and discouraged.

Raise your hand if you can relate.

Okay, you can put your hand down now!

This video discusses my thoughts on their situations and what to do next.


My first response as a friend was to listen. I asked lots of questions to get the story facts, as well as the story they were telling themselves about the situation and why things turned out that way.

I felt their pain, and I’ve been there many times, too. We try so hard. We’ve invested a lot of energy; things go well – until they don’t – in a big way. It’s a huge letdown and can be very discouraging.

My first thought is that no one escapes this kind of pain. No one. When I was heavily showing a few years back, I shed tears when I missed the finals by a half point in a big show or, on the other side, did so poorly I felt embarrassed. I used to ask God why He had to make it so hard! LOL.

The critical thing to remember for you and me is when it doesn’t turn out well, after we poured our heart into it, know that somehow, somewhere, things went awry.


Yes, but that doesn’t mean anything more than it’s time to be a detective and figure it out. It was never a reflection on if you or I had what it took or if we would ever be successful again.

If we think, “I’m just a poor rider. This will always keep happening because I don’t have what it takes,” that’s shame and damaging to our hearts and confidence. And untrue!

But if we think, “That went to heck in a handbasket, let me figure out if it was my riding, my focus, my horse’s preparation, the cows, the plastic bag that flew across the arena, or something else nefarious?”

Bottom line. Is it something I can control? If so, study and practice the lesson and go for it again. If it’s out of my control, let it go.

I know that sounds easier said than done, but the difference between the two perspectives is massive.

One keeps you searching and learning and builds inner strength; the other gives your brain the message, “You know, you really should hang it up.” With the second one, there’s little room for a bright future because the brain believes everything we tell it.

So, know the bottom will always drop out from time to time. Give yourself some time to grieve the moment. But be a watchdog for those inner thoughts that degrade you.

Let me know what you think – and always be kind to yourself no matter what.


Nourish Your Spirit

Nourish Your Spirit

There is an attribute of extraordinary people that I love. They take care of their hearts. By that, I mean they take time to nourish their spirit.

It seems like this would be so personal that it’s not worth mentioning here, but I have come to know it is central to a successful horse and everyday life – one that’s full of joy and authenticity.

Here’s what I mean.

First, being still and listening within is a practice of the heart and soul.

Next, we never ‘get’ anything to the point where we never need to review it again or build on foundation ideas and skills. Nothing is one-and-done.

I want to apply this idea to a question I received from a social media post from a woman (and I’m paraphrasing here) who is often worrying about getting hurt as she gets older. She doesn’t want to fret about the what-ifs and wonders how to remain confident.

So, in this case, one way would be to visualize or write in her journal every morning about seeing herself as a confident rider – that she trusts her horse and feels safe (she said she did in her question).

Then she could create a ritual at the barn before she gets on her horse to call up calmness. Maybe she offers a thought or a prayer of positive intention for a safe and enjoyable ride. Then every time she begins to worry, she stops her horse, breathes, and doesn’t continue until she feels in her heart that all is well.

In this case, nourishing her spirit would pay big dividends of confidence – and – it would require an investment of energy every time she rides.

No one gets out of having to visit and revisit essential practices that cause us to call up confidence and courage within. And we all will need to do it for a lifetime.

It is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves, and we can do it for anything that truly matters to us.


Building Mental and Emotional Muscle

Building Mental and Emotional Muscle

We talk about mental, emotional, or physical training, but the reality is that the mind, body, and emotions are one.

When we think about something, it impacts our emotions and our body. When we do something physical, it affects our thoughts and feelings. And no matter what we feel, there is a corresponding response in our body and ideas in our mind.

Just as physical muscles can be built, so can mental and emotional muscles. And the process is the same.

For example, we will hit a plateau if we do the same physical exercise routine every day. There won’t be much change, and we won’t get weaker, but we won’t build muscle either.

To get stronger mentally and emotionally, we must expose ourselves to more challenging mental workouts.

How do we do that?

Here are some scenarios for you.

When we are riding well, and everything’s going great, there might seem to be very few emotional challenges. It feels like we’re cruising along, singing a song, side-by-side with our horse. 😊

But challenges always come up, both big and small. Maybe we don’t care for the judge, the weather is difficult, the ground is terrible, or we get a stomach bug. All kinds of situations always happen.

But when we embrace the idea that just like working out physically to get stronger, we can get mentally and emotionally stronger through adversity, our entire mindset changes. Hardships become opportunities to grow.

We don’t resist challenges. We access what’s in our control and what’s not. We decide what we can do or what we can learn, but through it all, we never turn on our belief in ourselves or our horses.

We take the opportunity to respond calmly with solutions. We keep believing we are enough and we can do it! We welcome those chances to keep learning but never allow them to break our spirit.

When the inevitable challenges come up, how we respond is what makes us mentally and emotionally more vital – or not.


Set Yourself Up for Success in the Show Pen

Set Yourself Up for Success in the Show Pen

There is a big shift happening in the world of horse competition today.

The old model of “I’m an uninformed amateur who’s messing up my horse, and I’ll never get it” is fading in the background. The days of ‘there’s only winning and losing’ are becoming a thing of the past.

Competing is so much more than that. It’s courageous and thrilling – and that’s worth everything.

The old approach wherein everyone believes that progress has to be painfully slow and measured only on the outside is anything from incredibly frustrating – to shaming – to unsatisfying.

Plus, it inhibits your ability to ride at ease, think for yourself, be confident – and feel your horse.

Today’s video is all about a new mindset and how to set you and your horse up for success in the show pen.



For any horse and rider team to perform at peak levels in competition, both must be communicating back and forth as seamlessly as possible.

This type of conversation begins when you’re calm, focused, immersed in the moment, and supporting your partner. Nothing more. You’re not aware of the weather, who’s judging, or who’s watching.

You ride for that insatiable feeling of being at one with a horse. Of course, we all want to win. But feeling in sync with a horse is nothing short of heaven.

That ability for you to perceive your horse moment-to-moment begins with a ‘slow on the inside’ feeling and a positively engaged mind.

It’s a feeling is sublime calmness, with a keen awareness – as if all your senses have been turned on. And in addition to incredible synchronicity with the horse, you can ‘ride through mistakes’ and make good decisions when things go off the rails.

In this new shift, you are beginning to understand that you are responsible for your own state of mind, body, and emotion – no one else can do it for you.

You are also responsible for discovering, understanding and practicing the pieces and parts that add up to competitive excellence – and then systematically cultivating those skills and behaviors – for a lifetime.

In competition, this begins by setting your own ‘True North,’ that guiding compass that is authentic and holds your unique reasons for riding and competing. Those reasons are yours, and then you summon the courage to create a bold vision and believe in yourself.

You also know you are not perfect (and never will be) because the perfection mindset dwells on what’s not going well. Excellence says, ‘Take me to the next mountain top; I’m ready.

On show day, the goal is to be your collective best with your horse. You are there to show your strengths and shore up your weaknesses.

Showing is laying it all on the line at a specific place and time in front of other people. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, but you know you have done everything possible to prepare at the end of the day.

At the end of the day or later at home comes a review. What went well? What worked for your horse? How did you two do together? Celebrate your strengths and accomplishments and be detective-like for your next steps to improve. The love of competition and the pursuit of excellence continues.

Competitive excellence is not only what you see on the outside – it’s an experience shared between the inside of the rider’s soul and the horse’s spirit. It’s working hard individually (and together), getting ready, walking into the show pen, staying cool under pressure – seeing the truth when it’s all done, and then craving more improvement.

The desire for constant growth is never viewed with a depredating eye – only with the constant encouragement of, “Here you go. Here’s your next step. Enjoy!”

This mindset and practicing the steps are your jobs, along with the support of others – but you are still the one who is responsible for going for the gusto.

Embrace the shift, the joy, and the fun. It truly is all about the journey.

Click Here to sign up for my 4-Part Podcast Series, Shine in the Show Pen – which is available to download for a short time. They are my gifts to you.

Please leave a comment for me. I LOVE hearing from you!


Keep Expectations High – No Excuses!

Keep Expectations High – No Excuses!

Hey, it’s Barb,

What I always find amazing is the fact there are always more layers to understand and learn in anything we do.

Of course, that’s true about communicating with our beloved horses and developing our riding skills. The depth and breadth of what seems to just keep showing up for each of us is truly incredible and surprising sometimes for how it comes to us.

Audio Transcript:

Hey, it’s Barb,

What I always find amazing is the fact there are always more layers to understand and learn in anything we do.

Of course, that’s true about communicating with our beloved horses and developing our riding skills. The depth and breadth of what seems to just keep showing up for each of us is truly incredible and surprising sometimes for how it comes to us.

It’s the same with the mental and spiritual side of our lives with horses.

I was watching an interview on TV with a college coach. I’m sorry to say I did not write his name or the college name down.

He was talking about when he interviewed for the job before he was hired.

He said that he told the powers that be that if they wanted a coach “to win” that he was not their man. Sure he would do his best, but he was more interested in the growing the character of his players as a measure of success than the scores of the game.

Although I was intrigued by so much that he said, and I was glued to the TV as I listened to him, I wrote down one point in particular that resonated with me – and put it in big words on my vision board.

Keep your expectations HIGH! NO EXCUSES.

It’s interesting how certain things happen in our lives when the time is right.

The two parts of that message – expectations high and no excuses got me thinking about my own expectations about so many things – and if and how I limited my thoughts about them by thinking small or making excuses.

What I found is that sometimes the small thinking doesn’t have to be in terms of limited expectations – although I sense some of that – but it’s more subtle than that. Sometimes it can be a lack of excitement. It’s like a feeling of being resigned to ‘this is just how this or that is.’

To me, what makes the “Keep your expectations high and no excuses,” powerful is both parts of that phrase.

It’s a raise the bar! C’mon, let’s go. You can do it! And don’t be mealy-mousing around with the roadblocks that come up – including the ones I generate by not keeping my eye focused on going for the highest of the high expectation.

I was inspired by that interview. I wish I had written down his name. I only watched for a few minutes, but the timing of the message for me was perfect – as it always is for all of us.

So no matter what you’re doing with your horse, keep your expectations

HIGH! No excuses!

Let me know what you think in the comments. Have a great week.



Questions to ask looking to 2022

Questions to ask looking to 2022

This time of year is such a perfect time to think about 2022 – what we want to accomplish – why we want to achieve it – and what success looks like. Then – what is our path to get there?

I think about new beginnings first regarding the what and why as such essential pieces to ponder.

We tend to think about the logistics of the path, like – where we’ll take lessons – how we’re going to be coached – and who is going to train our horse.

That’s important, but I like to start with the foundation of determining what brings you joy (why do you even ride?)

Then ponder, what is it that you need technically? What does your horse need technically? How will you get each of you improving in the areas that need improving – and then how will you get the connection between the two of you going?

Does your horse stay calm and focused? How will you think in empowering ways and use your body in ways that call up confidence? You’ll need to hone your horse’s mental and emotional skills along with your own.

So again, I think of planning to shore up our needs, our horse’s needs, and then blend them.

When you think about what you’d like to accomplish in 2022, it should be something that makes you so happy.

Next, let’s talk about decisions regarding your horse’s and your technical skill development.

First, you and your horse are a team. In teamwork, of course, it takes two or more to achieve the desired result, and it’s not a solo act.

As a rider, we are the team leader with our horses. It takes two to tango.

I often see amateurs and nonpros feel as if they are responsible for every weakness their horse has or they have. They think they should know most things ‘by now.’ But the reality is they’ve never had the opportunity to learn those skills.

Your horse brings their own set of trained technical skills to the table, and you get your set of riding skills. It’s best not to feel burdened by the pressure you put on yourself to be more advanced than you are.

Yes, you do need to be as objective as you can, perhaps with the help of a coach or professional. Please do your best to understand what horsemanship and technical skills you need next and how to learn them.

The same is necessary to consider for your horse.

In addition to a professional trainer or coach, there is additional information to be found online or by hearing the comments of those more experienced than you.

I think it’s fun to think of your job as a rider, like being a detective. Do your homework. Pick what information resonates with you for your riding and to improve your horse. No one person or resource knows everything. Have fun gathering information wherever you find it. That is the way of learning to be a good rider and horse person.

Above all, please do not blame yourself for being behind. You are never behind, and you are on a magnificent – and very personal – adventure with your horse. Enjoy every moment.


Two Exercises for Showtime Prep

Two Exercises for Showtime Prep

I love this time of year. It’s unique in so many ways. The weather is refreshing, the colors are gorgeous, and there’s a lot of change going on.

For many, it’s a special show season.

In this video, I want to shout out to my friends who are going to their final weekend show, large year-end competition, futurity, or some other big show – and you feel excited. And I know, of course, you want to do well.

First, know that I’m rooting for you. You’ve worked hard, and this is your time. Go for it. Have fun. Focus. Give it all you’ve got and enjoy the experience.

One of my favorite things about showing (or anytime there’s a performance involved and you want to do something extraordinary in front of others) is getting into that place of a calm, yet energized, and laser-focused state of mind and body. It feels like a total immersion into the best of you and your horse.

Nothing exists except you and your horse and doing your job.

One way to practice being in that place is to think through how you want it to go at the highest level possible for you and your horse. Write it down. Then visualize it. Practice being there so when you are at the show, it feels like you’ve been in that physical show arena – you’ve been on your horse – and both of you are doing your glorious thing – a million times already!

Here’s my second thought for you.

Going to the show is not the time to catch up on training. That part of preparation was done at home.

Treat yourself and your horse to the time it takes to easily get ready on show day – to show your best. You’re not entering an arena to cover up your weaknesses.

If your horse has some spots that need help, plan how you will do that at the show, but for support, not trying to finish out your training.

It’s not your job to be perfect in the show pen. It’s about going for excellence. Staying focused and loose by thoroughly preparing on show day will help you do that.

So those are your exercises.

Rehearse over and over in your mind, who are you and your horse at your best? Get that picture and feel it in your mind and body. Don’t let it go.

And then give yourself all the time you need to do what you need to do to get you and your horse ready to walk into the arena feeling on top of the world.

None of us have any control over results. They always take care of themselves.

Have a blast. How lucky we all are to have the opportunity to be with our horses and the people we love.

Leave a comment for us, please. We love hearing from you.


The eyes have it

The eyes have it

A while back, I did a personal performance clinic in Florida at an English barn. They invited me to ride one of their jumpers over some low jumps at the end of the day. FUN!

In the clinic, I discussed the importance of keeping our eyes up. I coached the riders to do the same.

This is a critical technical skill for all disciplines, and from my perspective as a Performance Coach, keeping our eyes up builds confidence and helps maintain it throughout our ride.

So now I’m on a jumping horse. I started down the line to go over a set of crossbars and – whoa! – I went right around the outside of them! My eyes weren’t up and looking where I needed to go. Obviously, I didn’t feel confident. I didn’t look past the jump or go down the middle of it!

We had a good chuckle out of that one.

We all KNOW we need to keep our eyes up when we ride. Our horses follow our eyes, and we stay focused – but – we tend to drop our eyes constantly.

We can help ourselves keep our eyes up by consistently coaching ourselves to keep looking where we want to go. And then we do!

This works because when we continually look where we’re going, our body moves in specific ways. The horse feels these subtle changes through our seat and legs and responds accordingly.

The other reason is a little less tangible – it’s as if our horse gets an invisible message like a laser beam from our eyes to their brain!

From a personal performance point of view, keeping your eyes up calls up and sustains a feeling of calm and focus.

What huge multiple wins when you keep your eyes looking in the direction you intend to go. You direct your horse’s movement almost effortlessly – and – you feel confident and focused on the inside.

But as I said before, we ALL tend to look down. It feels more ‘natural. However, if you commit to coaching yourself to keep your eyes up and focus ahead to where you’re going, you will have a powerful impact on your confidence, and your horse will be more responsive.

Have fun and feel good communicating with your horses with your eyes.


Podcast: Nerves in Horses and People

Podcast: Nerves in Horses and People

Hi, it’s Barb.

I was thinking about this challenge of ‘nerves’ that’s a tough one.

And if you think you’re the only one, believe me, you’re not. It’s a challenge most of us have.

And I was thinking about it in the context of our horses. They get nervous, too.

I thought it would be fun to see the similarities… and the differences… between our horse’s nerves and ours, one solution that works for both, and who’s ultimately in charge of getting the situation back in the calmness column.

So, imagine you’re at a show or a clinic, or someplace away from home.

You pull up to feed, and your horse is pacing about in the stall. He’s worked up. He nickers with his head up.

But when he sees you, he feels comforted… and the hay and grain take his mind off of whatever was bugging him, too.

Fast forward to saddling time. He’s still fidgety and super distracted. He’s kind of a pain to saddle, really.

Now you’re in the warm-up arena. He is looking around like crazy. It feels like his feet are three feet off the ground.

You get the picture.

And on top of that, you were nervous and excited to begin with… just being there.

So now both of you are in the same boat. Somehow that doesn’t feel like the ideal situation!

Now, I want to step back for a moment and talk about the reasons why horses get nervous, and the reasons why people get nervous.

Horses typically fret about something that scared them in the recent past, like a loud bang that came from nowhere. Or, they fret about the present. Examples of that would be separation from their buddy or blowing flags in an arena or the wind. Obviously, those are just a few possible reasons.

So, their anxiety is about a not too distant past or the present.

By contrast, we humans get nervous because of our thoughts about the future. Will I ride well? Is my horse good enough to be here? Am I a good enough rider to be here? What if I make a fool of myself? I don’t feel ready… and on. What if I forget the pattern? What does so and so think of me?

So the horse’s anxiety is typically about something in the present. The rider is in the future and a projection of a poor outcome.

I have a solution for both you and your horse.

Bring your attention and your horse’s attention back to the present moment in ways that consciously relax both of you.

And here’s the key. It begins with us, the rider because we have to be in a calm state to bring our horse back to that place.

We are the leader. Without our calm and clear guidance, the horse has no way to bring his focus back. Plus, if we don’t get grounded, we will only escalate our horse’s anxiety. That’s no good.

How do you bring your attention and your horse’s attention back to the moment in ways that relax you?

First of all, that’s planned and practiced at home before you get to your event, so you have a game plan for how to handle it.

It’s not that you’re sure you’ll be nervous or your horse will lose it, but just in case you’ve got it covered.

Some ideas for you would be rhythmic breathing and a planned repetitive script spoken as a mantra, like, “Stay cool, Barb. Stay cool.” Notice that both the breathing and speaking to yourself are in a rhythm.

What would a plan for your horse look like?

Well, of course, that depends but walking in small circles with flexing, or some rhythmic exercise, like alternating changes in the speed of gaits are a couple of ideas.

Of course, in this podcast, I’m just brushing over the top of the surface of ideas.

But a key takeaway is for you to practice relaxation exercises for both you and your horse at home so you can use them in situations away from home.

And the most important idea of all is for you to practice ways to calm yourself, that really works because your horse needs you.

That’s what I have for you today.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Know you’re the best. Leave a comment—Bye-bye for now.


Podcast: Nerves in Horses and People

Podcast: How To Be Extraordinary

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been observing riders who are absolutely killing it… recreational riders, teachers, coaches, and competitive riders.

I’ve observed 3 things in all of them make them stand out, and inspire me.

I hope becoming more clear about these 3 attributes inspires you, too.

And the best news is, all three are yours for the taking! You have to do them for yourself consistently.


Hello, my friends.

I’ve been getting a lot of requests for podcasts, so here you go.

The quest for learning and excelling… and being happy… and helping our horses… and providing well for their happiness… can be fun… and exasperating all at the same time!

And believe me, I’m right in there with you digging deep for these things in my own life in general, and with my horse.

I’ve always been fascinated with the human, horse, and human/horse potential together. It drives my passions.

It’s exciting for me to uncover even the simplest of ideas or tools that we absolutely CAN DO that open up wonderful doors for us. Of course, when we work on ourselves, it immediately helps our relationship with our horse.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been observing riders who are absolutely killing it… recreational riders, teachers, coaches, and competitive riders.

I’ve observed 3 things in all of them make them stand out… and inspire me.

I hope becoming more clear about these 3 attributes inspires you, too.

And the best news is, all three are yours for the taking! You have to do them for yourself consistently.

#1. They have a drive for excellence for its own sake, not for recognition from the outside world.

They have tremendous personal passion for what they do.

These riders LOVE their job with a horse, whether it’s showing, teaching, or training. And they want to be fabulous at it so they can experience the excellence of it for themselves.

Just the excitement of getting out there, doing it, and seeing how good they can get thrills them.

They see standards set by others as inspiration and something to strive for… and maybe even exceed… but it’s not about beating others. It’s to see what’s possible for themselves.

They’re immersed in their own job with their own horse.

Every day is an adventure and an opportunity to learn and excel.

#2. They have the ability to focus on the process and not the results.

They’re all about the horse and the truths about communicating with a horse.

How does a horse understand?

How can I read my horse better?

How can I do better to build their confidence and show them what I want?

These riders love learning and measure everything as compared to themselves and how they’re doing with their horse… not to other people and their horses.

#3. They never give up.

And while these riders absolutely DO have their vulnerable moments, they have learned that their journey is an awesome one.

There is nothing innately lacking in them.

They have learned that HOPE is a verb, not a noun. They will find a way around or through a challenge. In fact, sometimes, the harder it gets, the more they love the challenge.

Challenges and setbacks are to be expected in their eyes.

In fact, problems are their greatest sources of insight about exactly where they should improve, which brings us back around full-circle to the love of excellence for its own sake and focusing on the process, not the results.

What’s interesting is that sometimes their extraordinary success is almost a surprise because they’ve been so consumed by what they’re doing!

So here’s a path to adopting these three characteristics for yourself.

Tap in first and foremost to your own heart.

Make sure you love what you’re doing for its own sake. If you don’t, change it.

Keep reaching one step at a time because you love what you do so much that you can’t wait to learn and do it more.

Know that you’re always enough. Your personal worth is not measured by how you ride a horse!

Your journey is your greatest source of joy for you!

Most of all, have a blast.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!