Anticipating our next ride, we can spend all the time in our day feeling excited about what it will hold! Yet, when we get there, our efforts sometimes fall flat. At one time or another, you or a rider you know has experienced at least one of these frustrations, irritations, and anxieties:
Forgetting what you worked on during your last ride.
Repeating the same lessons over and over again.
Struggling with timing and feel.
Losing track of your motivation.
Of course, we often attribute WHY it happens to factors like missed meals, a long day at work, or a distracting personal matter, but let’s dig a little deeper. We’ve all heard, “work smarter, not harder,” but what does that mean for equestrians?
Inevitably, you will encounter disappointments in your training. It’s completely natural. Success is attained by viewing setbacks as an opportunity and not as an excuse. Your response to discomfort is within your control. Let’s take a look at HOW to overcome these setbacks by igniting our critical thinking skills. The good news? The first step is as simple as getting CURIOUS.
Curiosity is a tool that invites us change our experience. Instead of wallowing in restricting thought patterns, successful riders know when to put curiosity to work. Exploring the different avenues to answer something, even if it’s outside the norm, helps you stay open to possibilities. When you are curiously engaged in gathering information, you function in a neutral state that affords greater mental flexibility. 1
Next time you find yourself frustrated, irritated, or anxious about your ride, change your perspective with a sense of curiosity. Replace those limiting behaviors by:
Seeking out new solutions.
Ask yourself, “What else?” “What are more ways I could approach this?” It doesn’t mean you do all of these things, but you explore them before proceeding.
Enhancing listening skills.
Listen carefully to others and then give and receive feedback without reacting. Assess statements and arguments. Ask pertinent questions. Examine beliefs, assumptions, and opinions and weigh them against facts.
Identify patterns in complex situations.
Find the similarities between current and past projects. Reject information that is incorrect or irrelevant. Adjust opinions when new facts are found.
Regularly seek out real input. Ask, “What are three or four things I could have done better here?” Frame the question in specific terms, instead of simply asking, “Do you think I should have done anything differently?”
Admit a lack of understanding or information. Acknowledge your failures and capture the lessons you’ve learned from them. Have an interest in finding new solutions. Suspend judgment until all facts have been gathered and considered.
Absolutely everyone can advance as a rider by improving their ability to learn! If we remain curious, we challenge our normal standards and reactions - setting our mind on a new train of thought down the path to success. Recognizing the benefits of a curious mind will improve your ability to adapt to demanding situations and function at your best with your horse.
1 Hoobyar, Tom, Tom Dotz, and Susan Sanders. NLP: The Essential Guide to Neuro-linguistic Programming. New York: HarperCollins, 2013. Print.
Edited by Alexandra Grant