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Getting the 'mind set' right..

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  • Getting the 'mind set' right..

    Newbie here!

    I'm middle aged, AA rider, a little overweight, body is starting to fall apart, ridden dodgy horses most of my life, had a crisis of confidence at one stage, one or two toxic friends along the way that didn't help. Have the vision in my head of floating around the arena with everyrone ohhhing and ahhing at my riding/horse while I flying change here, half pass there......in reality, I'm not particularly competitve, a little bit lazy perhaps not quite disciplined, never got past second level.

    I have somehow landed a horse with bucket loads of potential, lovely conformation, a trainable temperment, and something special about him. He's got presence! I've been told by several instructors now, just how talented he really is, and it's scary! Got him cheap too. There is a bit of a story with him, but everything is all okay.

    He is a horse that dreams are made of, and I find that I really want to give it my best shot. I need some advice, direction, stories, pep talk, a kick up the butt...to help get my mind right to throw myself in to the fray and just go for it. Help!!!

  • #2
    A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step...........
    Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"


    • #3
      I think one of the biggest assets to any rider/horse combination is having a coach that you trust, and that believes in the two of you. It sounds like you already have encountered a few that appreciate your horse, (yay!) so I would try to select someone whose training philosophies fit in with your own; then GO for it! Having a support team behind you is huge in this sport, to give you those 'pep talks', to keep you motivated and on track. Hopefully you can find someone who will design a training program that suits you and your horse, and allows you to meet your goals. Good luck and have fun!


      • #4
        Definitely a good trainer/mentor...and some good "horsey" friends!!!


        • #5
          I think we all owe it to our horses to make it as easy as possible for them to do what we ask. That means good, knowledgable input for training and a fit rider who can help, rather than hinder, progress.
          See those flying monkeys? They work for me.


          • #6
            The journey starts with a concrete PLAN for creating what you want. You do not have to be competitive to make progress, but you need to hold yourself accountable and have a teacher which forms concrete steps as well. IMho most horses have talent to do the fei movements and learning how to TRAIN progressively IS the journey. And there will be missed steps, rethinking, TAKING responsibility along the way. The BIGGEST step is the basis of collection, ie around second level. Learning HOW to effectively collect (compress the hindleg joints with proper hh) rather than shorten the outline or slow the horse. Then it is learning WHY to choose a given lateral exercise (not 'just ride the exercise' which is itself is a lot). And it is ALWAYS holding yourself to an equitation standard (tact/timing/alignment). You MUST take RESPONSIBLITY DAILY for CHOSING AND MAKING small changes/etc.

            That said it is worrisome that the 'vision in my head' is that thought of friends admiring you' which represents external gratification, or blaming others for previous shortfalls. The gratification must come from small daily successes, and rethinking how to get the horse to always say yes to what you are asking. And it IS the rider's responsibility of the rider no matter how talented the horse is naturally.
            I.D.E.A. yoda


            • #7
              Everything said above, plus being open to "where the journey takes you." Meaning don't be attached to rigid ideas about when and how you "must" achieve this or that.

              Read. Read good books, and A LOT. That way, at each level as you advance, you'll have a very solid theoretical basis, hopefully assisted by your coach or mentor, "the picture in your head" of what you're trying to achieve. Visualization is a GREAT tool!

              And dream a little! The "picture" in my head is more like a movie, and it's always my wondrous little horse and I doing an incredible, magnificent fantasy GP freestyle to The Who's "Rain O'er Me." You can just SEE the tempi changes and extensions in that tune. Just. Magical!

              And "Uber Alles": THIS IS WHAT YOU DO FOR FUN!!!


              • #8
                Fellow middle aged AA rider here.

                I find that committing my goals to paper helps.

                My trainer actually has us do that in a fairly formal way, but I don't think it has to be anything fancy to be effective.

                My short term goals involve a clinic next month and doing well at a show in April, so nothing earth shattering for sure. But on those days when it's cold and maybe rainy and I'd rather curl up on the couch with a glass of wine than trek out to the barn to ride my (nice) horse after work, having something concrete to work toward helps my motivation. There is definitely something powerful about having written goals and measuring yourself against them.
                We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                • Original Poster

                  That said it is worrisome that the 'vision in my head' is that thought of friends admiring you' which represents external gratification
                  Ideayoda, I must say this comes from a very long time ago, admiring (along with many others) a very good rider that was lovely to watch and wanting to be as good as she was. It is also about 'acceptance' in a way. In my first years of riding as a teenager, I never had the right horse, right gear etc and I had overheard some other girls making derogatory comments about my situation. It is something I realise now (after thinking about your post) that I have carried through my whole life. Daily responsibility is something I really do need to work on though!

                  I thank you all so much for your helpful comments. I do have lovely supportive instructors so am very lucky in that regard. Positive friends are so important too and I have some wonderful people around me. I do tend towards the 'wishy washy' and making concrete plans, short and long term goals, committing them to paper will be my starting point. Discussing these things with my instructor, I have no timeframes and perhaps need some, otherwise I tend to work on the same things over and over. My self belief needs working on as well.

                  I knew I was right to post on here!


                  • #10
                    In addition to the many other wonderful suggestions already made, I have a kind of weird one: start a blog.

                    Since I started a blog about my new horse a few months ago, I've had a much easier time handling the "mental" side of dressage. Blogging about the journey keeps me focused on the right things, it makes me take the time to think through the lessons I'm learning, and it makes me set and stick to goals better than I would have otherwise (because I feel like I'm putting myself "out there" even if nobody actually reads it.) It makes me do things like work out and read dressage-related books more often, because it's fun to talk about and review new things/books/ideas on the blog. It's even made sucky things like injuries and setbacks easier to handle mentally. It's not the approach for everybody, but documenting stuff on a theoretically "public" site has helped me organize my mind and approach.


                    • #11
                      Love the blog idea!! Seaside how lucky are you!! I am an older adult just starting dressage on an appendix who was my little hunter. Every day is a joy for me. But you have something special, a horse who can make your dreams come true!! Take advantage and relish every moment of the journey!! And the blog will allow the rest of us to experience your joys vicariously so please start that blog!!


                      • #12
                        Perhaps we should have a joint/shared AA rider blog!!
                        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                        • #13
                          For me, two things:
                          1. Remember you ride for yourself... compete against yourself (that's what one thing I love about dressage), and do it because you love it. Not for ribbons or accolades.
                          2. Find an excellent trainer - the right one for you and your horse. May not be a big name, may or may not have lots of medals.... but DOES have the right attitude/methodology/abilities for both you and your horse. This is probably much harder to accomplish than #1!

                          Supportive friends will come along....



                          • #14
                            I think your sense of humor and self-deprecation will serve you well. Tally-ho!


                            • Original Poster

                              Thank you everyone!

                              As for blogging...I've only just really starting reading this forum! I have no idea how to 'blog'. How do I find them on the internet?


                              • #16
                                If you really are serious jsut remember that you'll need to ride about 6 days a week and ENJOY IT
                                I have horse to sell to you. Horse good for riding. Can pull cart. Horse good size. Eats carrots and apples. Likes attention. Move head to music. No like opera! You like you buy.


                                • #17
                                  I haven't been blogging as much the past year, but here is my riding blog.



                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by SaddleFitterVA View Post
                                    I haven't been blogging as much the past year, but here is my riding blog.

                                    I really don't want to hijack this thread but I just had to say how much I enjoyed reading some of your blog and that your "Romeo" could have been my "Lord Jim". And I had to laugh at the draw reins. My first side reins were made from old bicycle inner tubes!
                                    Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"


                                    • #19
                                      I had a lightbulb moment this winter that you might also find helpful. In addition to having long term and short term goals, it is important to have a plan for each ride. I *thought* that's what I was doing before, but I think I didn't realize...or wasn't able to understand...what that could mean. Just in the last month, I've gotten a new understanding...and it came from looking at my long term goals for 2013. In doing so, I asked myself what I needed to improve in order to accomplish them. Because I'm boarding at an indoor facility for a couple months this winter, there were certain of those goals that I needed to work on there because of the optimal conditions. I determined that it wasn't enough to just think "oh, I need to work on X items". I started thinking about what those items were and what exercises could help us improve...watching clinics, reading, watching videos...all of these have given me interesting exercises. As I've been incorporating them into our daily and weekly rides, I have started to understand that a lot of dressage is doing the homework and checking the boxes. I can't work on the same thing every day, so I focus on different areas we can improve and also make sure we do lots of things we're already pretty good at, so we both feel successful and stay relaxed. It really has changed the way I think about riding.

                                      Sorry for the long post...but I hope it was helpful.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by CFFarm View Post
                                        I really don't want to hijack this thread but I just had to say how much I enjoyed reading some of your blog and that your "Romeo" could have been my "Lord Jim". And I had to laugh at the draw reins. My first side reins were made from old bicycle inner tubes!
                                        Thanks! Romeo gets all kinds of special privileges at the farm. And he still abuses them.

                                        snbess - As for a ride-plan, definitely helps. I have a calendar I keep in the barn where I at the minimum log all rides. I sometimes will log something like "si/hp/fc" if I did an extra bit on something. That is shoulder-in/half-pass/flying-changes. I have a cryptic shorthand that i use. I also log if the horse felt off. Frequently, I don't log anything besides the ride, but extra long, or lessons always get noted.

                                        I try to ride my primary horse 5-6 days a week, and I want to make sure at least one of those is a trail ride/easy day. I'll do one day of basics, no lateral, w/t/c, 10 or 20m circles and work on quality of gaits, compressing and extending the stride within gaits. Another day will be a lot more lateral work, another day, working pirouettes/super collected canter, I'll toss in some half steps down a couple of long sides in 2 or 3 rides a week, but not daily. If I'm feeling stumped, I grab the test book and read a test (appropriate level for the horse), decide that I'm going to work towards a section of a test...

                                        Having a ride plan is truly helpful, but always remember to ride the horse you got on, today. Don't ride yesterday's horse or tomorrow's horse. It might have been amazing yesterday, and gasp worthy today. If that is the case, adjust the ride plan.