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.