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pushing thru mental barriers....

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  • #21
    Originally posted by mbm View Post
    I don't mean to argue. But i am WELL aware of the consequences of this issue and i know that working thru it will be of enormous benefit... I am working against many years of misinformation (aka bad training "advice" ) and displaced "concern" (aka i am emotionally worried that this or that will hurt my horse when i in fact know it will not)

    my specific issue is upping the anti in what i ask of myself and my horses..... this will require much much more work and is the only way i will get where i want to go..... however i have a big fat block that i need to get thru.
    Trainer says i am well able to do it it isnt a skills issue or anything... i just have to get out of my own way - sounds so easy

    i edited this to be more clear as i was on my iphone which is hard to type on!

    Ok. still don't know what the issue is. Are you saying you're afraid of pushing your horse to work harder because you think it may hurt her?

    I don't know? Set a goal of we will do 'X' for this ride and just do it?

    anyway, best of luck sorting it out.

    ETA: ok just read the other posts (I got caught up in something mid post and missed the most recent replies)

    This sounds like a case of sucking it up and just doing it. However, this approach does not work for everyone, so perhaps a sports therapist is in order.


    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by Eventer13 View Post
      Just read a little more-- when you say you are worried you will hurt your horse, can you give an example? Are you, say, asking for more uphill movement that is harder work and you feel bad? Or is it more along the lines of you're cantering down to a big oxer and you're afraid you'll miss and land in the middle of the jump, and hurt your horse?

      I've had experience with both, and I think they're pretty different "blocks."
      lol! asking for more and needing to be more determined to get it - aka asking horse to use its body to the best of his ability.... even tho at the moment they would rather not..... for my pony that means truly being forward and working hard - for my mare it used to be controlling her body and not allowing the energy to go all haywire...

      i try to think about *why* i have such a hard time with this... i am a decent rider - i have decent timing and feel.... i just dont want to hurt them (and yes, it sounds silly when i say it out-loud)

      my poor trainer is dying for me to get thru this lol!
      Last edited by mbm; Oct. 6, 2012, 11:52 PM.


      • #23
        So I am confused. So have you ever ridden in a lesson with your trainer, had it video taped, and then went to that place you think is being "mean" or is "ugly" your trainer is trying to get you to, then watched the video?

        Because it still sounds to me like you have some paranoia of something that isn't reality. Or are you scared to look it straight in the eye and see it on film? Because if I understand correctly you have been riding with this trainer for years and are a year into riding this pony, something clearly is not working with the communication between the 3 of you. Him just telling you what to do doesn't seem to be working. And hey, I have been there myself..

        Just today I had a lesson taped on my new pony, we have had some ugly rides in the past week. I certainly didn't want to see it. But I now have a much clearer picture of what I am doing to contribute to what is happening, and can now put together what I feel from the saddle with the reality of what is happening.
        On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by Perfect Pony View Post
          So I am confused. So have you ever ridden in a lesson with your trainer, had it video taped, and then went to that place you think is being "mean" or is "ugly" your trainer is trying to get you to, then watched the video?
          i dont think that my riding is "ugly" at all..... nor did i say that - what i said was that i feel that at times being more determined is being "mean" - obviously that is not a rational thought process given the facts.

          Because it still sounds to me like you have some paranoia of something that isn't reality. Or are you scared to look it straight in the eye and see it on film? Because if I understand correctly you have been riding with this trainer for years and are a year into riding this pony, something clearly is not working with the communication between the 3 of you. Him just telling you what to do doesn't seem to be working. And hey, I have been there myself..
          yes, that would be my mental block that is in the way


          • #25
            I"ve been told a few times... (or more....) "Stop being his friend and start being a rider".... I"ve also been told that by setting standards and sticking to them....I'm being nicer than just nagging or letting them get away with it then getting mad when it's not working.

            Maybe if you think of it that way... I do get it.... He's my buddy.. he tries his heart out for me... why do I keep demanding more? Only with me... I think it's more me being lazy.... I ask, it's hard, but I do it... he doesn't immediately respond because it is harder, and i give up. ha!!!

            But.... try to think of the ways it's better for them... by asking them to work more properly, they are using themselves better which is healthier in the long run. Think of exercising... yes, it's hard to run a mile, do 5 pushups (Yes... FIVE pushups are hard for me) and I don't like it... and when the Wii instructor person is goading me on I want to punch her in the face.... but I'm glad when I do it because I know I've worked hard and achieved a goal. And it pays off in the long run... I"m stronger, fitter, healthier...

            Maybe thinking of it in that sense will help???? You're not being mean.. you're his coach, his personal fitness person Your trainer pushes you, right? And you may get frustrated and be slightly annoyed sometimes, but you don't really hate her. (or him) and you're glad in the end that she pushed you to succeed right?!

            Good luck... I'm having my own mental block now... only it seems to be more of a "why can't I just man up and ride right the first time" mental block... which isn't so much mental and... just riding better.


            • #26
              I have had quite a few students who had previous exposure to "woo woo" "pooky wookie jumps because he wuuuuuvs me" "I don't want to make him listen because I want my pony to like me" nonsense.

              I remind them that no one wants to work, at least I don't, but It is a means to an end..... In exchange for forty minutes of work 5 or 6 days a week (horrors!!) pookie wookie gets fed, shod, clothed, picked up after.... Better deal than we get! And every horse in the herd wants to be friends with the boss mare, so what better way to ensure their devotion? Nothing you do will hurt as much as getting double barrelled by a grumpy mare who already warned them to move once.....!

              Third Charm Event Team


              • #27
                Originally posted by mbm View Post
                how did you do this? this sounds veeery familiar ;-)
                Good question. Probably a combination of doing the homework at home, and just trying hard to shake off the bad stuff when it pops up. I don't know if I actually physically have done it, but at the last couple of events, when I've made a mistake, I've thought about shaking my head, as if to clear the bad thoughts that want to come at me ("You idiot! Why'd you do THAT?!" "It's all going to go downhill now!" "Good grief! Can't you do anything right?" etc), and move on, going back to the plan that I laid out for myself. It takes A LOT for me to keep it up. I find it very hard, really, but when I do it, it pays out. I DID have to hit a really low point, mentally (as others have alluded to, a little bit like coming around to a 12 step program), before I was really able to get to serious work. And, like I said, I am far from recovered. I am still VERY fragile, and really want perfection. For me, it is also compounded by desperately wanting to give my very, very nice but green horse the very best ride (which is a BIG part of why we have so many Rs on our record this year).

                Just to touch on the video thing...video is a fun and nice learning tool to have (though, I have made it this far with very, very little video). BUT, I don't think it can necessarily help in all situations LIKE THIS. At the event that was my low point, I came out of show jumping anguished over my ride and had zero intention of riding xc (if I rode that bad in show jumping, I did not want to risk riding that badly at fixed, solid fences). Several people told me it didn't look that bad (and I should at least go out on xc). My point, to all of those comments, was that it FELT THAT BAD. When you are in your head as deep as I was (and sounds like maybe as deep as the OP is), video won't help. You will see the mistakes you made (even if they don't look THAT BAD), and you will relive the feeling you had, and it will put you back on that cycle. What DOES help is seeing GOOD rounds (see? I CAN do it right! The only video I have through this process this summer was one good round at 3'3" in a jumper show. But it felt good to see myself doing well. Had I seen that horrific round, I think I may have sold my horse and my tack).

                OP, try and break down the PERFORMANCE part of your issues to some basics. Then make a plan for homework you can work on and things to work on in lessons. THEN STICK TO IT. If you get in your head, go back to the basics. Find that spot that you can get to every time your brain gets away from you. You have to fight for it, especially in the beginning.

                Also, there are several good equine specific sports psychology books and work books out there. Maybe you need a quick shopping trip to Amazon? I know one girl who got a lot of help from those (I plan on spending some of my winter working through some of them).


                • #28
                  Woo-woo? Pshaw. As if dressage isn't full of.... oh. Oh I see.

                  Step 1: Don't read UDBB.

                  Step 2: Delineate your goals. What do you want to achieve? What does success look like to you?

                  Step 3: Ride fairly. If you ask for trot the same way 5 times and your pony answers correctly 4 times and blows you off the 5th, reinforce the aid. Being wishy-washy with the aids is less comforting to the horses than being clear and consistent. The onus is on you, though, for consistency of aids and expectations.

                  Step 4: Take some time off. Depending on your block, this may just be the time cooling out after the ride where you take off to the hills and play around on some trails. Alternatively, it may be taking an entire day to groom and hand graze and take a mental reset.

                  Step 5: Repeat step 1. Just to make sure.

                  I really like Step 2 because you can have an overarching goal (ex: get my 5yo pony to GP) and break it down a lot of times (pull my heel under me when I ask for lengthened trot, get 3 steps of half-pass today, etc.). Granted I'm a very goal-oriented person so your mileage with Step 2 may not be as advertised.


                  • Original Poster

                    so so many great and insightful comments - i really appreciate them! i will start working on everything suggested.....

                    as for this

                    Originally posted by cnm161 View Post

                    Step 1: Don't read UDBB.

                    Step 5: Repeat step 1. Just to make sure.
                    you hit the nail on the head and i am cracking up! it was *totally* the UDBB mind set that has me so f'd up! the crap that gets spouted is so insidious and so - well - wrong! and very very destructive to good riding!

                    i have worked thru so much of that incorrect disinformation but i still have a ways to go to purge that BS from me forever..... one.last.push.....

                    and yes, hitting a personal worst is usually the thing that gets one to be willing to do the work needed.... for me it was my first test with 4 yo pony - test was lovely - he was a good boy - a little bit spooky at the judges booth - we stayed in the arena, stayed on course, etc etc..... but i had NO energy!!! and i was mortified that i had to go to the whip *in front of others* to get him going! the horrors!!!!!

                    anyway - good thing it happened because now i am determined to put that one final thing behind me forevah! ;-)


                    • #30
                      Become an extension of your trainer. Your trainer's voice =your brain. Your body's reaction is automatic. No choices, no questions, stimulus-response.
                      The impolite term for this is "shut up and ride." If your brain is in the way, then your job is to channel hers until doing it right is a nerve pattern.

                      This is exactly what you'd do with a scared greenie. You'd say "here's your job, focus on me, I decide , you yield." 100% of ye time the horse I better for it.

                      You be the greenie. If you can't replicate this in your solo rides just go hack and have fun. Save the tough stuff for lessons. You can show once you've internalized it.
                      Shut up! You look fine! --Judybigredpony
                      Ms. Brazil


                      • #31
                        Your last post and the comment about using the whip in front of others has me wondering...is the issue really fear of hurting the horse, not being seen as a friend by the horse, or a fear of not being perfect? What I mean is, having to use a whip in front of others could be viewed as the horse not being perfect thus the rider didn't perfectly train him. It isn't true, but it is a common fear. Some people get so wrapped up in that fear they can't show, or even ride, in public.

                        Fear of hurting the horse and not being liked usually stems from a "people pleaser" attitude. That is just a nice way to say the person needs validation from everyone else. They can't assert themselves because someone might not like it. Instead they internalize those feelings and try to be liked even more. Unfullfiled needs of childhood. If this is the case remind yourself that the horse doesn't have these feelings. He doesn't sit around thinking, "Why did she use the whip when I didn't want to go forward?" His brain just doesn't operate like that. Horses are like young kids, they want and need a leader, boundaries, and clear rules to function in. Even when they resist the system they still really want it, they are merely testing the leader to make sure you are worthy of being their leader. There is a reason you were drawn to the "lovey-dovey, no boundaries" training method you were involved in before. No one but you knows why, but it did meet some need or some ideal for you at that time. IMO, THAT issue is what affects you now, not the actual training method you learned back then.

                        Fear of not being perfect is something different. You could work through this with a counselor (LCSW) instead of sports psyc. Cheaper and the results will spread across your entire life instead of just your chosen sport. I have a friend who does sport focused therapy and many of his clients see him before a big game or big event to get a quick "adjustment" from him. It works, but it seems the bigger issue was never addressed so they become dependent on the counselor. If your issue has expanded beyond shows and affects your daily riding I think you'd benefit more from standard therapy.

                        My litmus test for such things is this. "If it was your best friend sharing this issue with you, what advice would you give them?" Often it is so easy to analyze an issue that we don't "own" but we are crippled when it's closer to home.

                        I don't know enough about you or your situation to say any of the above are your issues. I just wanted to share some things I have learned in my profession as food for thought.


                        • Original Poster

                          lv4running: insightful post! my feeling is that my issue probably is more about being perfect than about being validated..... i could be wrong, but given who i am and my life i am going to say validation for the most part isn't something i crave

                          now being perfect - that is something different and may actually be the root cause of all this.... hmmmm.....

                          oh and fwiw, when i say woo-woo training, i do not mean no boundaries, i luv my horsie, it is a replacement child/pet kind of stuff - i mean more along the lines of a warped sense of how a horse learns and how training progresses..... as an example: if a horse goes BTV instead of properly thinking that the horse just lost balance for that moment - it means the rider is hand riding, rides rollkur, doesn't know what they are doing and in fact is ruining her horse and should immediately start riding long and low - forever......

                          or, if a horse has a difficulty with something - instead of working thru it (even if there are non perfect moments) you call in every alternative practitioner you can find instead of RIDING the horse to wellness.

                          or another: it is a sin to use your hands while riding

                          i could go on.... and on.... those are the kinds of things i am talking about that are insidious and detrimental to progressing... because they are self defeating.


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by FitToBeTied View Post
                            For me, it was like the first step of a twelve step program, admitting that there was a problem. After a bad event, I went to my trainer and said I have to learn how to do X. No more excuses.
                            in rereading this thread, this popped out at me and this is exactly what i did.... after being mortified by my lack of ability to ask for what i needed in my test - i went to trainer and said

                            "i'll do whatever it takes to work thru this - no more excuses! "

                            it's amazing how powerful the mind can be.... both for the good and bad :-)


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by mbm View Post
                              i mean more along the lines of a warped sense of how a horse learns and how training progresses..... as an example: if a horse goes BTV instead of properly thinking that the horse just lost balance for that moment - it means the rider is hand riding, rides rollkur, doesn't know what they are doing and in fact is ruining her horse and should immediately start riding long and low - forever......

                              or, if a horse has a difficulty with something - instead of working thru it (even if there are non perfect moments) you call in every alternative practitioner you can find instead of RIDING the horse to wellness.

                              or another: it is a sin to use your hands while riding

                              i could go on.... and on.... those are the kinds of things i am talking about that are insidious and detrimental to progressing... because they are self defeating.
                              Do these feelings transfer to other riders or just to your riding? If you are the only one who's riding is judged this hard (in your own mind) then it's more likely a "Peter Perfect" syndrome. We can tell you, and you can know, these thoughts aren't rational, but a therapists can help you really understand these feelings and work through them.

                              FWIW, if you are always to blame for any riding issue the horse doesn't have boundaries. He can't have limits if you are always responsible for anything less than perfect riding. He isn't allowed to make a mistake or have an off day because you accept responsibility for everything. When you are working him your mixed messages are very confusing to the horse. Even if you don't feel like you send mixed messages, lacking the self confidence to be right in your riding will be noticed by the horse. I hope that makes sense.

                              None of what we ask a horse to do is natural, not for the horse or for us. Training is always a learning process and it will never be perfect. BNTs find horses that fit in their training, and they have a lot of horses to try out for the best fit. We common folks often take the horse we have and try our best to fit our training and riding to that horse. That is not an easy thing to do, and it takes a lot of effort and forgiveness. No real point to this other than to say it's okay to not be perfect which I am sure your rational brain knows already...the emotional side of our brain is what gets in the way.

                              Try reading some book on perfection personality and see if you find yourself in the pages. I used to ask people, "What is the worst thing that will happen if you aren't perfect?" The answers were amazing. Then start working towards the reason you are judging yourself so harshly. Just understanding those things can be quite insightful. THEN, find some mantras that help you and post them on the mirror, in your car, tape them to your sadle cover, or anywhere you will see them as reminders. Reshaping behaviors is not a fast process, but you can have great gains in 60-90 days.

                              Lastly, I will offer this: when you visualize a ride try visualizing all the things that can go right and wrong. Visualize the horse BTV and all the reasons that can happen. Consider the most common, logical reason for this and truly tell yourself that it's okay for that to happen. If you practice these logical thoughts in your head BEFORE the ride it can help you during the ride to acknowledge the entire ride for what it is...an oportunity for you and the horse to learn and grow in your chosen sport. Even BNTs aren't perfect in their rides, they just know how to make the best of a mistake or bring a mistake around to something good.


                              • Original Poster

                                I am much more forgiving with others ..... I am on iphone so will be brief.... Your comments about the rider always being at fault is 100% true and luckily i worked thru that a few years back.... It is one of those things that is so destructive to progress.... I will look into some books - do you have suggestions? And tnx for posting... Very helpful


                                • #36
                                  You may also just need a break from dressage. Do you usually school dressage when you ride, and do you have access to trails? It might do you (and your horse) some good just to go out gallivanting if you haven't had a chance to do so recently.


                                  • #37
                                    Ok, I'm out of it. What's UDBB?
                                    --Becky in TX
                                    Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
                                    She who throws dirt is losing ground.


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by Kairoshorses View Post
                                      Ok, I'm out of it. What's UDBB?
                                      Unmitigated DoucheBag Bonanza
                                      (Ultimate dressage bulletin board)
                                      Shut up! You look fine! --Judybigredpony
                                      Ms. Brazil


                                      • Original Poster

                                        btw thought i would let folks know that i tried to push thru the barriers for my lesson today and i think i was successful! had a *fantastic* ride, we worked our asses off - it was so cool!

                                        i even got a call from my trainer tonight giving me a thumbs up for the work we did

                                        <jumps up and down >

                                        so thanks to all who shared insights, stories and ideas..... it really helped!!

                                        now to replicate it day in and day out ;-)


                                        • #40
                                          A great sports psychology book is "Mind Gym" by Gary Mack.