What’s your ‘scary thing’? Is it cantering? Competing? Riding in the open? Riding in a group? Working a horse on the ground? We all have something guaranteed to push our buttons more than other things.
When you think of that ‘thing’ what are the words you associate with it? Are they positive, strong, exciting words? I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark here and suggest they’re not… Experience with nervous riders tells me the words are negative, backwards, with a side dish of failure to them. Am I close?
It’d be easy for me to now write ‘so just change the words you use when you think about something you get worried about and you’ll be fine’ and finish the article. Of course it’s not that easy, if it was that easy I wouldn’t be writing this!
However…what if over time you challenged your thought process? What if you challenged the language you use and what if that actually started to make a difference? What if instead of the thought process being ‘it’ll be a disaster’, ‘I’ll fall off’, ‘I’ll forget the test/course’ if was ‘I can’t wait see if riding that movement is better than it was yesterday’, ‘I’m going to nail that test/course’, ‘what a beautiful day for a ride’.
First of all you need to recognise the actions you have negative language around. For some of us we’ve carried a negative thought process around with us for so long we don’t even realise we do it. Think of something you may not be particularly good at, or something which makes you feel nervous. Think about the self-talk and the language you use with that. Now, replace that with language that’s positive, language that’s about action, language that has a great result. Once again, it’s not ‘fixed’ now however if you train yourself to think positively about that action each time you think of it you’re well on the path of success.
How many of you finish your ride and automatically focus on all the things you need to improve on? Of course we need to do this to an extent to continue to refine and learn but do you really want the end of your ride to be negative every day? For the next week at the end of each ride or handling session with your horse name two great things you did or your horse offered to you. Write them down somewhere, celebrate them, use them as motivation for the next ride. Above all, draw awareness to how your language directly relates to your actions…who knows, it could impact other areas of your life also!