This might seem a little counter intuitive, “Isn’t it easy to enjoy riding an amazing horse?” It might seem so at first, but for those who have had the privilege to ride a talented schoolmaster, often found their own performance and enjoyment plummet. I hear it all the time, riders who call me and are thrilled with their new mount but also daunted with the pressure that has come with it. The pressure of proving to be worthy of riding this wonderful horse can create the idea that now making mistakes is a death sentence. So how do we turn this pressure into enjoyment of riding the horse of your dreams?
1. Set your own goals
It’s easy to get carried away now that you have the perfect partner and you might feel the need to prove yourself constantly. Owners, team coaches and trainers might want you attending and representing at the first possible opportunity, but you are still working with a living animal and you guys need time to become a team. So instead, don’t be afraid to set your own goals and allow yourself time to get to know your new partner.
2. Let go of perfection
Your horse has a more impressive track record than you do and everybody already knows you are going to be riding it (news travels fast in horse world). You haven’t even arrived at the show yet and already you feel all eyes on you. You have thoughts like “What if I make a mistake?” “Everyone will know and talk about it!” You consider your horse to be perfect, so you feel you need to be too. However, this fixed mindset often leads to making more mistakes, not less. Allow yourself time to learn and make mistakes, learn from them and move on. Like Michael Jordan so famously put it, “I have failed over and over and over again, and that’s why I succeed.”
3. Create connection
In addition, your horse is probably more forgiving than you give him credit for.
Just be present, listen, learn and enjoy the process of getting to know each other.
So like with any relationship, getting to know each other, creating trust and becoming a team takes time. Plan in time to connect, not just in the tack but also time spend connecting in the stable, field or paddock can be a real game changer. Also, don’t assume too much of how this new partnership is going to be like. Just be present, listen, learn and enjoy the process of getting to know each other.
4. Focus on growth
If you haven’t already learned about the difference between a growth and a fixed mindset, please read my other blog: Why your mindset controls your riding and 3 ways to make it work for you. The best way to make the most of your partnership is to focus on learning together. The easiest way to do that is to make a clear long-term plan of what you’d love to achieve together and all the process based goals you need to work on, in order to make that plan a reality.
5. Embrace the chaos
Every time we start something new, try something different or start riding a new mount, know that usually the first face as part of the process is a little (or a lot of) chaos. From chaos we progress to “getting used to it,”,to “this is working out quite well” to eventually, “what do you mean, I used to be unsure if this was going to work?” Change might bring about chaos, but it’s how you deal with it that matters. So embrace the process and enjoy the ride.
Feature photo by Leslie Threlkeld.
Written by Annette Paterakis
Annette Paterakis - The Equestrian Mental Coach - specializes in mental coaching for riders of all levels. She is passionate about working with riders and trainers to help them better understand the mind and reach peak performance. Annette is the author of the book "Keep Calm and Enjoy The Ride", available through Amazon. For more information give her website a gander: annettepaterakis.com