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Help! I think too much.

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  • Help! I think too much.

    Hey COTHers,
    I have a huge problem with thinking too much when I ride. I can never just ride, I always have to worry or over-think, and I end up just holding myself back. Sometimes, I even make myself nervous, and I think I've even managed to lower my own confidence. It is absolutely not my trainer--she's one of the best I've had. She's nothing but encouraging, and when there's something I need to fix she always tells me in a constructive way and always talks through with me the different ways I can ride something differently. It really is just me. How the heck can I make myself just shut up and ride? I had a lesson today and my trainer even said that the only thing keeping me from being better than I am now is myself (this came up because I was being pretty hard on myself over something trivial). I never realized how bad I was about over-thinking until she said this. How can I get over this mental block?
    If i smell like peppermint, I gave my horse treats.
    If I smell like shampoo, I gave my horse a bath.
    If I smell like manure, I tripped.

  • #2
    Sing while you ride or listen to music, then you are focusing on singing/ the music as opposed to worrying. I knew someone that one of my trainers told sing when she came up to jumps because she worried and it helped. Sure it may seem ridiculous, but whatever helps haha.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by DejaVu View Post
      Sing while you ride or listen to music, then you are focusing on singing/ the music as opposed to worrying. I knew someone that one of my trainers told sing when she came up to jumps because she worried and it helped. Sure it may seem ridiculous, but whatever helps haha.
      Haha I've always thought about singing twinkle twinkle little star when I'm jumping but I'm not sure the mare would appreciate that
      If i smell like peppermint, I gave my horse treats.
      If I smell like shampoo, I gave my horse a bath.
      If I smell like manure, I tripped.

      Comment


      • #4
        Learn to meditate and get control of your monkey mind. :-)
        P.S. Monkey mind is just the internal chatter you are talking about inside your own head.
        Last edited by equisusan; Jun. 18, 2013, 09:44 PM. Reason: Definition of Monkey Mind
        You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!

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        • #5
          People have told me that I think too much.

          That's like telling someone they breathe too much. They have a breathing disorder.... they are a binge breather.
          It's all BS. You think in an amount and rate that is comfortable for your mind. Other people find that what you can describe about your thought process boggles *their* mind, so they come up with a pithy and utterly unhelpful diagnosis of your problem.

          IMO, you need to be left alone with your mind-- to use however it serves you--- just like you are in charge of your own lungs. What this means in terms of horseback riding is that you need to learn to do all the thinking, experimenting with doing X or Y when your horse does Z, explaining to yourself why you'd do X or Y, telling yourself how you'll cope if the one you choose doesn't work...... yada yada.

          When you can do this often, the amount you think won't seem like "too much," but just right.

          I have to tell you, for as often as I have had people tell me that I think too much, I have *never* had a horse say that. They dig it that I have a very focused, dialed-in ride.

          What "you think too much" as a criticism means is "you are considering stuff that I, as another rider, don't worry about." You can distract yourself with singing or learn to meditate and hope it carries over to riding.... or you can figure out with practice which stuff seems important for you, according to criteria you develop, and which doesn't. IME, having other people dictate that to you doesn't work.

          I haven't explained this well, but I hope you see that you ain't doin' it wrong and that you need more autonomy, not less in order to become that more natural, brave, spontaneous or responsive rider you'd like.
          The armchair saddler
          Politically Pro-Cat

          Comment


          • #6
            I would agree with when your schooling outside of your lesson, stick the earbuds in and sing out loud, focus on the beat of the song against the beat of the horse. Some of the strangest songs have the best riding beat - one of my favorite Gary Glitter - Rock and Roll.

            And a trick my coach did to me last week that was meant to help me stop dropping my left hand when riding, ended up doing that PLUS stopped all the other mind chatter as I was so focused on this stupid trick. I had to hold my whip in both hand like a handle. And I had to do my whole lesson, including jumping with my hands like that. Definately some of my better releases on my jumps, and I totally stopped my nerves and the constant chattering (heels down, chest up, look straight, stop looking at the standard, breathe, lift my shoulders, stop pestering with my leg, stop looking at the jump, quicking picking at him at the distance, breathe, whats the next jump, heels down.....) because I could only focus on that whip. Strangest trick but it certainly worked, we both commented on it after. Good luck, tell us what ended up working for you.

            Comment


            • #7
              Count. Not necessarily the strides in a line, just 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4. It will help you to connect with the canter rhythm which will make everything flow a bit better.

              If you want to sing, I'd suggest Row, row, row your boat... It matches up to a canter better- yes my trainer has made us do this and yes my mare really liked the singing.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mvp View Post
                What "you think too much" as a criticism means is "you are considering stuff that I, as another rider, don't worry about."
                Consider yourself receiving a virtual hug from me, MVP, because that quote right there is usually the real "it" to the situation as I've come to find out. It's either the quote OR it's trainer speak for "you make ME think too much to try and come up with an answer for your question(s)."

                That last one drives me absolutely bonkers -- I'd rather the trainer nut up and just say "you know, interesting question! I have no idea, but I'll research it and get back to you." Some trainers are miles apart on it -- I got a huge smile from the lady I take English lessons from, coupled with "I love your questions -- they make me think and become a better trainer." I'd like to think she wasn't being facetious.

                DottieHQ, here's a suggestion that's kinda worked for me: is there anyway to break things down into smaller bits to work on? Write up a little list of things you think you need to work on and rank them in order of most difficult to least difficult or in order of most complicated to very simplistic. Go from the bottom up. Some might only take one try and they're fixed, others might take a couple of lessons. Prior fixes and confidence boosts will set the stage for new things.

                I get very, very flustered when there's "too much new and uncoordinated" on my plate all at once -- I can't put things into the neat little categories my brain wants them in. Taking things in chunks has helped me and boosted my confidence immensely.

                Comment


                • #9
                  this came up because I was being pretty hard on myself over something trivial)
                  If you've ever watched a Ray Hunt clinic or video, he'll say something REALLY scathing, followed by the statement, (paraphrased) "If that doesn't apply to you, I didn't mean you. If the shoe fits, I meant every word".

                  Also in a Ray Hunt (or Buck Brannaman clinic) you will often see a horse worked with a flag. The flag will create a lot of 'noise' that the horse often reacts strongly to. The handler keeps up (without completely blowing the horse's mind) until the horse lets go and is able to ignore the flag.

                  The next thing is probably moving the horse forward by using the flag, showing the horse that when backed with intention to DO something, the flag means something.

                  The purpose of both of the above, is to have the person, or the horse, learn that lots of things taken 'personally', can be completely let go of. And when the handler/teacher's intention is there to tell you something important, THAT is when you pay attention.

                  It can be exhausting to worry and fret over the making of mistakes, of 'humiliating yourself' by doing something wrong in front of your trainer or an audience.

                  I think what your trainer might be saying is something to the effect of, "You don't have to beat yourself up for making a wrong choice. You can recognize that, I don't have to tell you that you got a short spot to the vertical. If you can let go of your own mental flogging, and go try again, you'll get it. But your own mental flogging is unnecessary and taking up time and brain power."

                  Perhaps you can think of your own mental criticism self-talk as a waving, flapping flag...that won't hurt you, that you can't stop, but you CAN ignore perfectly well.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    When you're too busy over-thinking or talking, you're not listening. I mean, REALLY listening. To really LISTEN, you need to shut down your brain to the person in your head that's yaking, yaking, yaking over the person trying to talk to you. This problem is not restricted to riding. I see it all the time, everywhere.

                    This is a common problem with re-riders or adult riders new to the sport. Sit down, shut up and listen to what you're being told - it's basic kid 101. You don't have time to over-analyze everything when riding a horse. Effective response to a horse has to happen in a split second. It's instinctual and if you over-think everything or are blabbing at your trainer, you'll never get to that point. If you are not focused on the horse underneath you, you lose every opportunity to be a better rider.

                    Next time your trainer tells you to do something and you're tempted to question it or have the "why" explained, shut up. Just do it. You might be surprised at the results. And, next time, when something doesn't go right, quit trying to explain it. Listen to what your trainer says and try and do it right the next time.
                    Surgeon General warns: "drinking every time Trump lies during the debate could result in acute alcohol poisoning."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Pick just a couple of things to focus on.
                      Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Fillabeana View Post
                        If you've ever watched a Ray Hunt clinic or video, he'll say something REALLY scathing, followed by the statement, (paraphrased) "If that doesn't apply to you, I didn't mean you. If the shoe fits, I meant every word".

                        Also in a Ray Hunt (or Buck Brannaman clinic) you will often see a horse worked with a flag. The flag will create a lot of 'noise' that the horse often reacts strongly to. The handler keeps up (without completely blowing the horse's mind) until the horse lets go and is able to ignore the flag.

                        The next thing is probably moving the horse forward by using the flag, showing the horse that when backed with intention to DO something, the flag means something.

                        The purpose of both of the above, is to have the person, or the horse, learn that lots of things taken 'personally', can be completely let go of. And when the handler/teacher's intention is there to tell you something important, THAT is when you pay attention.

                        It can be exhausting to worry and fret over the making of mistakes, of 'humiliating yourself' by doing something wrong in front of your trainer or an audience.

                        I think what your trainer might be saying is something to the effect of, "You don't have to beat yourself up for making a wrong choice. You can recognize that, I don't have to tell you that you got a short spot to the vertical. If you can let go of your own mental flogging, and go try again, you'll get it. But your own mental flogging is unnecessary and taking up time and brain power."

                        Perhaps you can think of your own mental criticism self-talk as a waving, flapping flag...that won't hurt you, that you can't stop, but you CAN ignore perfectly well.
                        This is exactly how I feel, you nailed everything. Thank you.
                        If i smell like peppermint, I gave my horse treats.
                        If I smell like shampoo, I gave my horse a bath.
                        If I smell like manure, I tripped.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Something that's not clear (to me anyway) in your post is what exactly you're thinking about that's causing a problem. If I've had a recent crash, or anything really that's upsetting like a bad spook it does derail my thinking. I approach a fence thinking about what's going to go wrong and all they ways it could go badly, and I end up causing problems because I ride timidly.

                          If the above scenario is not in play, then I spend a lot of time thinking about my mental body-position checklist and getting the horse where I need him (do I need to approach this fence at an angle because there's a turn after etc). This makes me ride more assertively, which lo and behold turns into a fun lesson where I can make real progress.

                          Thinking itself isn't so much a problem (again I can only speak for myself), in fact you really need to be thinking ahead if you want to ride the most efficient course possible. But if there are constant negative thoughts that are causing you to work yourself up to the point where riding is no longer enjoyable, then yes it's something you need to address.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I count strides when on course, even cross country! Fifty seven, fifty eight, fifty nine...If just flatting I count one, two, one, two if trotting. Sometimes I switch to "just keep swimming swimming swimming.."
                            McDowell Racing Stables

                            Home Away From Home

                            Comment


                            • #15


                              You're welcome!

                              I went to a Buck Brannaman clinic, I was in over my head with an OTTB gelding.
                              The very first thing that happened in the clinic, was that Buck took my horse away because I didn't know how to handle him on the ground- he was pretty much walking all over me.

                              I wanted to disappear.

                              I was thinking about how I was unprepared and wasting other peoples' time and about what the onlookers thought about me.

                              When I realized that most people were rooting FOR me, most clinic participants were eager to learn how Buck could make a peaceful, happy, respectful horse out of a really bothered hot mess, and that learning about what came up was what the clinic was about...I was able to let go.

                              That was a big gift to me, getting put on the spot like that so I could learn to let go.
                              The next clinic, I wasn't uptight at all about 'what everybody else thought', I was involved in accepting things as they were and addressing them from that point. It has been tremendously freeing, and I feel like I can learn a lot more from that place.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I too am an overthinker/worrier/perfectionist. I find that the more miles I have in the saddle, the more I ride by feel and not thought. The feel and muscle-memory will come, just remember riding is supposed to be fun and make each ride a positive one for you and your horse.

                                I like to have two or three things to work on each ride and not try to tackle everything at once. This week I am focusing on being light with my hands, getting my horse quick to respond off my leg, and more two-point to improve my jumping position. Narrow your focus to a few things before each ride you would like you and your horse to improve on and don't beat yourself up over everything else.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                                  I count strides when on course, even cross country! Fifty seven, fifty eight, fifty nine...If just flatting I count one, two, one, two if trotting. Sometimes I switch to "just keep swimming swimming swimming.."
                                  I like this! Definitely a Finding Nemo fan
                                  If i smell like peppermint, I gave my horse treats.
                                  If I smell like shampoo, I gave my horse a bath.
                                  If I smell like manure, I tripped.

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