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bluebuckets
Apr. 5, 2011, 08:38 PM
So, I have a problem: If I have a bad day, or something bad/stressful happens before I ride, I cannot focus on my ride. I just can't "let it go" and be all there when I ride. Which is dangerous when I'm jumping(My focus is elsewhere), and also extremely annoying because I never get anything acomplished when I'm like this. (My mare is incredibly in tune with my emotions. If I'm frustrated, she's hot, spooky, etc.)

Does anyone else have this problem?

How do you deal with it?

I'm worried that when I start showing her, this could really be an issue. (Stressful show morning would turn into a bad, if not dangerous, show.)

It's not just what you would consider normal, it's like, I cannot just get oner things, even little things. This is part of the reason why I stopped swimming competitively, I'd have a bad race and then my whole meet would spiral downhill. I don't want horse shows to end up like this.

TotB
Apr. 5, 2011, 08:46 PM
Have you ever considered sports psychology? A professional might have techniques to help you concentrate and let go of previous bad experiences and poor performance.

Also, I would consider talking to your trainer to help you have the best show morning possible for you and set reasonable expectations for your day. This sounds like it will help set you up for success later in the show.

Hinderella
Apr. 5, 2011, 09:00 PM
Try to establish a "letting it go" ritual. It can be anything that works for you...a song, an exercise. It should include at least one solid minute ( a full 60 seconds is longer than you think) of silence and clearing your mind. Take an empty box, place your frustrations in it, tie it up and put it someplace away from the rest of your ride...by the front tire of your car. Tell yourself you can revisit that stress when your ride is over, but not sooner. ALWAYS follow the routine..it has to be something you can rely on.

But more importantly, you describe this as " not normal". If you really feel that way, consider seeing a professional and perhaps even using medication. There's no shame in that, and it can work.

Good luck!

kelsey97
Apr. 5, 2011, 09:00 PM
One of the biggest problems with competition of any kind is dealing with the unknown. In your case it could lead to a very unpleasant outcome. You have to teach yourself, or have someone teach you, to be completely focused and not sweat the small stuff. It's unreasonable to think that every show morning will be perfect, its up to you to make it perfect for those few moments in the tack.

Chall
Apr. 5, 2011, 09:41 PM
Do you tack up yourself? I found the effort involved in grooming before putting on the saddle, especially reaching up to groom my tall horse took the ugly out of my day.
It's like I couldn't hold on to my negativity while stretching up and having to put power into my arm (for the grooming).
I don't like to exercise and that just knocked the "stuffing" out of me. I suggest you spend some time before getting in the saddle grooming and communing with your horse.

NeedsAdvil
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:14 PM
My acupuncturist deals with a lot of people w/ anxiety issues. She recommends creating a conscious way to acknowledge and release the anxiety. Whether it's taking 3 deep breaths every time you wash your hands, to taking a few minutes to meditate on everything you have done right that day (woken up, showered, got dressed, ate breakfast, etc). It's a way to train your mind so that when you feel the anxiety or lack of focus creeping up, with practice you can stave it off rather easily. I do not have this issue, but work in addiction and have a lot of patients that do. These techniques have helped them greatly. You basically train yourself to provide yourself with what you need to be your best at any given time. I would highly recommend a sports psychologist, acupuncture, meditation coach, etc.

Whistler
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:18 PM
I know how you feel. Horses are such good barometers to how we feel and on days I'm stressed from work, I'll bring it to the barn. I move faster, am more easily frustrated, and my horse picks up on it and sometimes will result in a bad ride. I do believe it can be changed though through positive visualizations and focusing on a happy outcome before you ride. A lot of athletes use this technique and there are lots of books on the subject. I have also read a lot by Anthony Robbins (don't laugh) who is a great teacher of 'changing your state'. A very quick way to access some better emotions is just taking some very deep breaths, and smiling!

Another great resource is Jane Savoie. She is a Dressage rider, competitor, author, and her outlook on riding and relating to your horse is fabulous. Her daily emails are great and very inspiring.

And of course good old therapy and medication can be great too. Don't hesitate to have a chat w your doc if you are feeling anxious...there are so many ways to work through it. Definitely not something to be ashamed of :)
can you tell I've been there? Good luck and happy riding.

Bogie
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:24 PM
One of the things I like about riding is that it forces me to live in the present and focus on NOW.

However, when I think that what's going on in my life might adversely affect my riding and I just can't let go of it I either put my horse away or go for a hack on a long rein.

I think that show nerves are different from riding while emotional or angry.

TheHunterKid90
Apr. 5, 2011, 11:21 PM
I have struggles sometimes with maintaining my cool with my own horse sometimes...it never happens with green beans or other people's horses...I think it's because I expect much more out of my own because I *know* he can do it and it irritates me when he's being stubborn or uncooperative.
Of course, as a trainer, losing my patience at ALL is simply not acceptable nor is it productive. I notice that when things aren't working out during my ride or my mind is elsewhere...it always transfers to the horse...he becomes tense and nervous. A habit I have is when I know this is happening I'll transition to walk, and ride on the buckle for a few minutes..maybe go for a short 15 minute trail ride and take a breather. Then, go back into the ring and work for a bit more. If I know my mind is elsewhere before I get on...I will start my ride with a trail ride or a hack around the farm before I "go to work". It's a great way to relax and get focused!

TwoDreamRides
Apr. 5, 2011, 11:32 PM
One of my favorite quotes is:
On the back of a horse there is no room for baggage.

I keep that in mind whenever I step out the door to ride. Some people grumble about long commutes to the barn - my drive is about 45min to an hour. I use this time to crank up the music, roll down the windows and talk to my puppy. I enjoy the scenery. I use my commute to start that letting go process.

I also use grooming for this procedure. I spend no less than 20min grooming before my ride. My car ride has told me what kind of mood I am in - grooming tells me what kind of mood my horse is in.

Finally, I was allowed the luxury if showing two horses in the same division during my college years. I had to learn to quickly adapt to each ride without feeling rushed. I feel like this sealed my learning in terms of forgetting everything else going on around me and learning to ride the horse underneath me.

It's all part of the learning process and being conscious of your decisions and mood.

doublesstable
Apr. 6, 2011, 02:35 AM
I know it sounds crazy but I think horses communicate via some sort of brain thought wave. They SOO feed off of their handlers.. and I truly believe they know what we are thinking.

And yes I know how you are feeling, I have been there.... expecially those hormonal days.

What I do is lay on my tackroom floor and do stretches and relax... and then think to myself that I am with my horses to "forget" all the crap of life.... and we just simply enjoy being with eachother. I take the time to love my horses. Tell them they are good boys... just slow down, take my gloves off and feel their coat.... pet their forhead.... bask in the fact that we are lucky enough to have them in our life.....

I have had some of the most enjoyable rides because of this.....

Your not alone. Life stinks sometimes.

Equilibrium
Apr. 6, 2011, 03:18 AM
For 12 years I rode horses as a job 7 days a week. I started in my late teens and left in my early 30's. The one thing I can tell you is you have to learn to put your emotions to the side for those few hours and then come back to your worries later. It did not matter what was going on in my life I had to focus on the horses. Of course I had days that got the better of me. But I always had older riders to give me advice and help me focus. I remember one rider saying to me that there was 24 hours in a day. 4 of those hours I needed to focus on the here and now leaving 20 for worries. I don't know why that stuck with me but it did and it allowed me to focus knowing I had plenty of time to work out my problems.

I know this sounds simplistic, but it has to be otherwise it would be another worry. Whoever mentioned acupuncture, big help. I went twice a month normally to help with my injuries but when I went through a very bad spell of panic attacks and anxiety, it was the only thing that helped. She put a pin in my ear lobe that I could press in great times of emotional stress. And I also had one horse that kept me going. Indian Warrior, you were a star. No matter how bad things got, I looked forward to him and he never failed to let me realise how much I loved what I did.

I don't do it for a job any more but it is still very simple to place my worries in a drawer and come back to them. The trainer who has my mare told me one day if he's having a bad day he gives everyone off. I told him to grow a set, leave the worries in the truck, and enjoy the horses. He is 13 years younger than me so I can get away with that now and again. He no longer has to give them a day off because of emotions.

Good luck,
Terri

tidy rabbit
Apr. 6, 2011, 10:32 AM
Try some good meditation. Learning how to quiet the racing thoughts in your mind is a skill. Once you learn how to quiet unwanted thoughts you can choose how you spend your moments. :)

It takes practice and a commitment, but the more you do it, the more contented you will be in all things.

It will really really help your riding.

NiQi
Apr. 6, 2011, 10:53 AM
Just an easy tip I picked up... when ever im having one of those days. I force myself to sing a song while im riding. Its usually that song that goes, "Catch a falling star and putting in your pocket, save it for a rainy day....."

danceronice
Apr. 6, 2011, 11:01 AM
Not sure what to suggest. What worked for me, honestly, was the five-odd years of not riding from after grad school until I moved back to Michigan. Part of what happened was I started doing dancesport (pro/am) and when I'd get into the "One bad round = OMG DAY IS RUINED" spiral whichever pro I was dancing with would deflect it. Tibor's method was to kind of force me to face it--"Look, what is the worst possible thing that could happen? Well, it's not going to, so stop worrying about it." Chris just acted on the assumption I'd be fine and strangely when he expected it, I was. It also helped that in a sport where bodily injury wasn't as serious a risk I could learn "Okay, had an off day. Check: did world end? No." It has REALLY helped, because now if I go to the barn and we have a crap day, I have the mental "structure" to say "Did the world end because he's cross-cantering again? No. Was it because I'm horrible or he's crazy? No, he's out of shape because you havent' cantered since December. Okay." Having a competitive, but not quite as stressful, environment working with people who were good at just...de-fusing my nerves, trained me how to apply it. Hearing it from authority figures outside my head worked better than just trying to talk myself into it.

bananna
Apr. 6, 2011, 11:01 AM
If I have had a bad or frustrating day, and then I go riding I try to work on something that I know I will succeed with. I don't try to work on that problem area, or try something new or something that I have to focus a lot on. I stay away from anything where I might get more and more frustrated if my horse doesn't progress at it that day. Instead, I work on finessing something that my horse is a champ at. I might also work on ME that day, so that if I get frustrated, I get frustrated with myself and not my horse. Drop my stirrups and work on my legs, or maybe some other eq exercises.

magnolia73
Apr. 6, 2011, 11:03 AM
I found that listening to my ipod when I ride helps me tremendously. This is going to be all wrong- but I stop thinking about my horse and what I am doing, I listen to the music and swap into auto-pilot.

I get really frustrated at my riding at times, get tense, get yanky and it spirals. Something about not actually thinking about riding or my horse helps me relax and ride better. I also feel the horse better when I have music.

I guess it is not a good tool for shows.

That and at competitions, you need to learn to laugh at yourself. Make a deal with yourself not to care about the outcome. If it doesn't work out, so what? Who cares? Next class please.

danceronice
Apr. 6, 2011, 11:10 AM
That and at competitions, you need to learn to laugh at yourself. Make a deal with yourself not to care about the outcome. If it doesn't work out, so what? Who cares? Next class please.

Lol, this is another thing dancesport taught me--came in handy when my hair came out of its bun in jive in my first competition with my new teacher. Embarrassing...

Ask yourself: is the world at an end? Is my life over? Have I ruined my horse FOREVER? Are one or both of us dead? Chances are, no. There will in fact be another class.

Carley Sparks
Apr. 6, 2011, 11:58 AM
I discovered this talk by legendary UCLA coach on TED this morning. He coached basketball, but the advice applies to all athletes. (EPSN ranked him as the greatest coach of all time, in all sports). Maybe you'll find some of his strategies useful. I was inspired.

http://www.getmyfix.org/658/john-wooden-on-true-success/

naturalequus
Apr. 6, 2011, 12:43 PM
Really good advice here. I'm a pretty high strung individual who is easily frustrated, so the horses (and my work!) have taught me an IMMENSE amount of discipline and patience to keep my emotions in check irregardless of the circumstances (which you find helps in your personal life as well of course). What has worked for me, and mostly seconding what others have already noted:
1. My ex would use breathing techniques and taught me to use them when I am uptight as well. Three deep audible "wooo-saaw" breaths. Three breaths (and audible) is key.
2. Undemanding time - if I'm just too flustered for whatever reason, I back off. Maybe go for a trail ride or ride on the buckle, until I feel better.
3. MUSIC! I have an ipod in or I turn on the radio in the arena. I listen to country music - or something similarly relaxing - when I ride and I just sort of sink into a zone when I ride and listen to the music. It's amazing what music can do. All else just fades away.
4. Since I'm such a high energy individual, if I'm feeling particularly uptight, I'll work it off at the gym first. Run it out of my system on the tread and do some kickboxing sets until all that frustration is out. Then, a little tired, I head out to the barn for a day of horses ;) It takes the edge of mentally when I can exert myself physically beforehand.

Anyways, those are a few of the things that work for me.... definitely second most if not all the advice mentioned above :)

KingoftheRoad
Apr. 6, 2011, 02:31 PM
This is really interesting to me, because one of the things I LOVE about riding is how I CAN'T focus on anything else other than my horse. I always tell my husband that is the best thing about going to the barn after a crappy day at work, because I have to concentrate on what I'm doing, or it will be a disaster.

I guess what's intriguing to me is that I've never really had to work at doing that, it just seems to come naturally once I'm at the barn, doing the things I need to do to get ready for my lesson or my hack, then somehow I just don't have mental room to think about anything else that is sucky right then. It's usually not until I'm driving back home that I remember what a crappy mood I was in before I got to the barn.

I'm wondering if it has something to do with what it takes to ride each individual horse? For example, my guy is just turned 7, unfortunately HUGE, and can be a bit spooky/hare-brained/stubborn at times. So once I get on him, it's pretty much a survival instinct to tune in to him and what he's looking at, paying attention to, etc.

Do you have the same problem focusing when you're taking a lesson? The vast majority of my lessons are private or shared with one other person, so my trainer is always talking to me, watching me, so I'm that much more intent on doing it right.....just wondering if that might help.

rwh
Apr. 6, 2011, 08:38 PM
This is really interesting to me, because one of the things I LOVE about riding is how I CAN'T focus on anything else other than my horse. I always tell my husband that is the best thing about going to the barn after a crappy day at work, because I have to concentrate on what I'm doing, or it will be a disaster.

I guess what's intriguing to me is that I've never really had to work at doing that, it just seems to come naturally once I'm at the barn, doing the things I need to do to get ready for my lesson or my hack, then somehow I just don't have mental room to think about anything else that is sucky right then. It's usually not until I'm driving back home that I remember what a crappy mood I was in before I got to the barn.

I'm wondering if it has something to do with what it takes to ride each individual horse? For example, my guy is just turned 7, unfortunately HUGE, and can be a bit spooky/hare-brained/stubborn at times. So once I get on him, it's pretty much a survival instinct to tune in to him and what he's looking at, paying attention to, etc.

Do you have the same problem focusing when you're taking a lesson? The vast majority of my lessons are private or shared with one other person, so my trainer is always talking to me, watching me, so I'm that much more intent on doing it right.....just wondering if that might help.

Lol. I, too, am in this boat. When I'm at the barn I close out the world. Unfortunately, it always comes back to me the second I make the left turn out of the driveway to head home. If only I could live at the barn :)

bluebuckets
Apr. 6, 2011, 10:50 PM
Wow, thank you all so much! There are some great tips and strategies here, I will definitely try them.

Horseymama
Apr. 6, 2011, 11:03 PM
I am with Kingoftheroad and rwh, too. My horses encapsulate me in their funny little worlds, and I can't think of anything else but them when I am with them. I get so involved with what I think they are thinking and I talk to them a lot about how I imagine they must be feeling. I have entire, long conversations alone with my horses. I think it is my own version of meditation.

The other day my farrier walked into the arena as I was riding and having this out loud, very long conversation with my horse as if he were another human, and I was so embarrassed when I saw him standing there. It was like being caught singing in the shower! But who cares, this is how I get my jollies!

BeeHoney
Apr. 7, 2011, 12:03 AM
I have a little routine when I first get on a horse...no matter what (just about) when I first get on, we walk and relax for about five minutes. I know some people like to just get to work and start asking for something pronto, but I just empty my head for a few minutes--notice how pretty the sky is or just feel the rhythm of the horse walking under me. Just some simple walking & relaxing, and if I'm on a more well trained horse, I could easily be accused of completely spacing out. I don't let the horse walk in lazy slo-mo or act like a ninny, but as long as they walk straight and free that's all I bother with. This gives me--and the horse--a chance to set aside whatever happened earlier in the day and start our ride from a "good place" inside. A little side bonus to this routine is that the horses learn that no matter what the first 5 min of their ride is going to be completely boring, and that makes things really nice when you first hop on at a scary or exciting new place.

As I've gotten a little older and had more responsibilities piled on me, I have come to realize more and more how each ride is a gift and how lucky I am to have the time, energy, health, athleticism and financial resources to get to ride at all--and this is a very good thought to help clear away negative emotions.

Trakehner
Apr. 7, 2011, 07:27 AM
First off..give yourself enough time. If you're already stressed because you haven't given yourself time to do it right, you've lost before you start.

Horses have a different clock than we do, they take as long as they need given their druthers. I was on my jumper last night...he didn't really want to deal with the ring last night...OK, so we went for a hack. It was one of those lovely windy cool late afternoons. He spooked some, worried some and decided a 1' wide stream was shocking! At one point he was staring at something...I just let him. I think he stared for 3 minutes then started to "whistle" (faking interest), and off we went. Sometimes, just stopping and letting your horse concentrat will reduce stress in both of you.

A glass of wine once you arrive at the show can be a good thing. Takes the edge off just a little bit.

Don't blame yourself, don't look to blame yourself, don't figure everyone else is blaming you...really, you need to get over blaming yourself.

Sing! Sing something in a low key. You can't tense up if you're in Barry White's key. You'll have to relax your muscles or you'll squeek!

Smile! Look at horse shows, how many smiles do you see? Not many. Look at the pro's, especially the older ones...they smile and laugh. Just remember, it's a horse show, not life and death. Don't take yourself so seriously.

englishivy
Apr. 7, 2011, 08:30 AM
Didn't read all the replies, but don't think I saw this posted.

-Go to www.usefnetwork.com
-Click on the brown button on the left.
-USEF happenings will appear on a tab connected to the brown button; when you move over it, the "George Morris Horsemastership Training Session" will appear.
-Click on it.
-Go to Day one Lecture two

Watch Jane Savoie's lecture and feel the empowerment!!

I've had all my kids watch this, and although everyone enjoyed it, the ones with emotions/anxiety loved it. I mean LOVED it. They have become so empowered in the saddle. I'm having them all watch it again just before our in house schooling show, for good measure. :winkgrin:

I feel like it is hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars of great education FOR FREE. I highly recommend it!!:yes::yes::yes:

BAC
Apr. 7, 2011, 01:58 PM
This weeks issue of COTH has an article on a sports psychologist who also rides and competes, it was very interesting. Maybe you should contact her.

naturalequus
Apr. 7, 2011, 03:39 PM
I have a little routine when I first get on a horse...no matter what (just about) when I first get on, we walk and relax for about five minutes.

I think this is another really good tip from BeeHoney. I usually get on and walk for at least 10min as part of my warm-up, if I can! Sometimes I have to give the horse more to focus on, all depends on the horse, but I try to start with a long relaxing warm-up walk.

The barn and the horses is a form of meditation to me as well. Once I'm in that zone, I'm in for good and everything else absolutely melts away. I'm loose, relaxed, happy as a pig in mud, and jabber away to my horses constantly. But as a high-energy individual, sometimes it can be difficult to get into that zone initially if a lot is happening in my day or life at that time, so I can sympathize with the OP for being unable to get into that zone, for whatever reason, even with a demanding or challenging horse (which my main guy is too!).

Horsegal984
Apr. 7, 2011, 08:46 PM
I have a bad day playlist on my Ipod. It's all songs from my 8th grade, jr year oh HS, when I didn't have real worries. Stuff like Ice Ice Baby, and This is how we do it, and Whoop there it is... (Am I dating myself yet?)

And I use Bach's Rescue Remedy for shows, and nerves in general. I have found it helpful to take the edge off, and I have worked witha therapist to learn to let go. When I feel I am getting too wrapped up in things, and being too negative, I have learned an exercise, where you Inhale while thinking Breathe.. then exhale slowly thinking Flash Flash Flash, where the flashes clear my mind. I repeat 3-5 times, until I'm ready to focus on something new, at least for a little while

JazCreekInc.
Apr. 7, 2011, 08:58 PM
Tonya Johnston is a Sports Psychologist in CA who helped me immensely when I was just getting back to showing after a long break. I had ridden some really bad stoppers before I stopped showing for a while and I had a lot of anxiety. A few sessions Tonya and a lot of hard work on my own has changed my world completely!

dab
Apr. 7, 2011, 09:25 PM
I'm with KingoftheRoad too -- What hooked me on riding from Day 1 was how the rest of my life disappeared as soon as I got on a horse --

OTOH, I know this can be an issue for some riders -- One thing a trainer used to tell one of my lessonmates was that he had learned to identify the days when he shouldn't get on a horse -- He knew he wouldn't accomplish anything useful when his mind was in the wrong place, so it was better if he just didn't ride on those days --

kinnip
Apr. 8, 2011, 07:57 AM
When I have too much baggage, I like to go for a gallop in the pasture and jump random features. I literally cannot think of anything except what's going on under me.

Jolie_
Apr. 8, 2011, 11:47 AM
Didn't read all the replies, but don't think I saw this posted.

-Go to www.usefnetwork.com
-Click on the brown button on the left.
-USEF happenings will appear on a tab connected to the brown button; when you move over it, the "George Morris Horsemastership Training Session" will appear.
-Click on it.
-Go to Day one Lecture two

Watch Jane Savoie's lecture and feel the empowerment!!

I've had all my kids watch this, and although everyone enjoyed it, the ones with emotions/anxiety loved it. I mean LOVED it. They have become so empowered in the saddle. I'm having them all watch it again just before our in house schooling show, for good measure. :winkgrin:

I feel like it is hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars of great education FOR FREE. I highly recommend it!!:yes::yes::yes:

Just wanted to say thanks to the original poster as I am one who suffers from the same problem. I watched the above video this morning and really enjoyed it so will try to apply some of her techniques.

Afire At Night
Apr. 8, 2011, 12:31 PM
I think it's more important to figure out and deal with the message *behind* the emotion(s), instead of just trying to stuff it or deflect it with breathing exercises or meditation, or trying to just "forget about it". When you just try and stuff it without actual release you only serve to blow up and it'll manifest itself in other ways. That's really cool that your horse is so sensitive to you, that'll serve as a very accurate bio-feedback loop to tell you how you're actually feeling behind whatever mask or facade you've donned. Your horse will still be able to tell how you're feeing even if you've fooled yourself.
On stressful days consider trailriding or hacking out, if those are options, instead of focusing on a lesson/training.

I would highly recommend reading "The Tao of Equus" by Linda Kohanov. It's one of the most influential books I've ever read, its helped me through a lot of stress.

Hope this helps!

Afire At Night
Apr. 8, 2011, 12:39 PM
I can relate though, I quit a highly successful track career (state/nationals) halfway through high school because I was burned out on the pressure I put upon myself during meets.
I'd done a bit of horse showing also, but felt it was a good time to take a break from organized competition, so for the time being I'm taking a break to focus on training/horseback riding :D
Maybe take a break from shows if you need to step back a bit and take a break from the stress/pressure?

mvp
Apr. 8, 2011, 01:29 PM
Riding several horses a day in high school *taught me* the skill you want. These guys have it right:


Do you tack up yourself? I found the effort involved in grooming before putting on the saddle, especially reaching up to groom my tall horse took the ugly out of my day.
It's like I couldn't hold on to my negativity while stretching up and having to put power into my arm (for the grooming).
I don't like to exercise and that just knocked the "stuffing" out of me. I suggest you spend some time before getting in the saddle grooming and communing with your horse.

If you can physically move while you are concentrating on a task at hand, I think you'll find it a form of meditation. It's easier than "watching your breath" or doing yoga for the Monkey-Minded of us. But it's the same thing.


I am with Kingoftheroad and rwh, too. My horses encapsulate me in their funny little worlds, and I can't think of anything else but them when I am with them. I get so involved with what I think they are thinking and I talk to them a lot about how I imagine they must be feeling. I have entire, long conversations alone with my horses. I think it is my own version of meditation.

The other day my farrier walked into the arena as I was riding and having this out loud, very long conversation with my horse as if he were another human, and I was so embarrassed when I saw him standing there. It was like being caught singing in the shower! But who cares, this is how I get my jollies!

This is the other piece. Don't try to control your emotions. Concentrate 100% on the task at hand. You have a sensitive mare who will make you do that. If you give all of yourself to her for a time (and that stretch will get longer and longer), you will find that you will have had "time off" from your emotions. It's better than sleep, it's better than a week on a tropical island.

The way I learned this was riding all those horses back to back. Every time I put my foot in the stirrup of the next horse, "the meter had to go back to zero." I had to begin each horse with a clean slate. I got better at it over time. But if you start knowing that you'd like to do this and focusing all of your energy and thought on just what the horse needs in the here and now, you'll learn to meditate with the very best of the gurus.

Horsegal984
Apr. 8, 2011, 08:59 PM
And I do agree with trail riding, and just pouring it out to the horse. There have been several times I have decided the neighbors must think I'm nuts, because i'm out on the trails bawling my eyes out and talking to the horse, who is pretty much steering herself along the trails. But ya know, after even a 20 min ride like that, and letting it OUT I can focus much better and my horse is nicely warmed up now for some arena work!

Jaideux
Apr. 9, 2011, 12:05 PM
My trainer is currently helping me figure out how to "work through" those moods I can't shake. Normally I would just say, "eh, I won't ride today" but since I am getting back into lessons and showing, I can't afford to throw away that kind of money by backing out of a lesson or show just 'cause I'm in a funk.

What seems to work well for me is a few things:

1) Taking the time to groom and check in with my horse. Lucky for me, he's a piggy grey so there is plenty to groom :) Part of this is also taking the time to scritch his favorite spots, dirty or not.

2) When I get on, I do a focused warm up at the walk. I do some free walking, then start asking him to move off my leg, then do some bending. I think about (what apparently is) the centered riding skills we've been working on: are my seat bones even, if my horse fell out from under me would I land standing or topple over, is my posture correct?

3) I take the time to do some of the silly stretches that help my posture- airplane, hands on hips, etc.

4) Doing an emotional check-in with my trainer. She asks how my horse is- I give her a brief summary of how his mood seems to be today, how our rides have been this week, and anything specific I want her to look for. Then she asks how I am, and I freely put it out there if I'm feeling rested and energetic, if I'm barely hanging on to my sanity, if I'm feeling tired, if I'm feeling upset and distracted.

Just putting it out there that I'm feeling sub-optimal usually magically lets me "let go" of about 60% of my baggage I brought in! 30% is taken care of with how my trainer is gifted in her ability to find a way to acknowledge my limits without letting me off the hook to do good work, and the other 10% is out of my hands and in the hands of neurochemistry and my metabolism :)

doublesstable
Apr. 9, 2011, 01:37 PM
Didn't read all the replies, but don't think I saw this posted.

-Go to www.usefnetwork.com
-Click on the brown button on the left.
-USEF happenings will appear on a tab connected to the brown button; when you move over it, the "George Morris Horsemastership Training Session" will appear.
-Click on it.
-Go to Day one Lecture two

Watch Jane Savoie's lecture and feel the empowerment!!

I've had all my kids watch this, and although everyone enjoyed it, the ones with emotions/anxiety loved it. I mean LOVED it. They have become so empowered in the saddle. I'm having them all watch it again just before our in house schooling show, for good measure. :winkgrin:

I feel like it is hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars of great education FOR FREE. I highly recommend it!!:yes::yes::yes:


AWESOME!!! Thanks! I want to ride with Jane......