In part 1 of 8 Steps to Bringing Your Best to Every Ride, we addressed the initial exploration towards setting yourself up for success as a valued member in the partnership with your horse. Let’s dive into the details of how to implement the information you gathered from getting to know yourself, experimentation, and embracing failure. With the promise of creating a more enjoyable relationship with your horse, you can get excited about this process!
4. Create Self-care Rituals- You are what you practice.
Throughout history people have practiced rituals, such as spiritual practices, time with family, and sports that are structured, routine, and fulfill specific needs. The stimulation, growth, and/ or restoration experienced serves to bring us closer to ourselves and connect us to others.
Based on your feedback from Step 2, by exploring skills, routines, and support systems, you can develop daily rituals to aid everything that you do in and out of the saddle. Your chosen routine should strengthen you mentally and physically by helping you feel grounded, strong, and supple. As your foundation, these practices serve to provide intentional responses rather than impulsive reactions.
An example of a solid foundation of rituals includes:
Sleep hygiene- getting adequate quality and quantity of sleep.
Food choices- fueling your body with food that makes you strong and energized.
Mindfulness and breath practice- clearing your mind of clutter and settling your emotions.
Fitness routines- building strength and suppleness, body awareness, and preventing injury.
5. Supportive Practices- With your daily rituals in place, you have the freedom to identify where you need additional fine tuning or outside help.
This is where supportive practices come in. In addition to your daily practices, the support you seek should foster growth, recovery, and can be incorporated as needed or semi-regularly.
Examples of practices to incorporate include:
Bodywork like chiropractic, acupuncture, or massage therapy
Sports psychology coaching
6. Challenges- An instinct for self preservation is the reason we shy away from challenges, but let’s take a second and evolve.
Acknowledge that you are safe and simply planning for a stage of accelerated growth. “Challenge resets our sense of normal, building confidence in our established capabilities and illuminating points for improvement. To put this into equestrian terms, this is how we go from novice to intermediate to advanced. This is how ‘the masters’ became Masters.”
Recognizing those moments may be a challenge in and of itself! A great indicator for an opportunity to grow is that hint of “maybe later” in the face of something you want or know you should do. When you define a challenge that will lead to growth and feel a sense of hesitation, dive in. You are on the right track!
Examples of healthy challenges include:
Schooling & recognized shows
7. Recovery- Unless it relates to the well being of your horse, RECOVERY is a dirty word for equestrians. Notorious for ignoring doctor’s orders, riders refuse to rest until we’re dead.
The truth is, recovery is essential to your well-being and without it, both your body and mind break down. If you’re a typical equestrian, you’re probably not taking time to plan for down time and effective recovery. It is time to start! Give your mind and body get a chance to refresh and reset so that you’re not burdening your horse with your cranky mood, fuzzy brain, or worn-out body.
Examples of great recovery activities include:
Hiking with friends
A night out with your loved one
8. Reflection- We have all had days that run into weeks and weeks that run into months. By getting caught up in “doing” you miss out on the “experiencing”.
Celebrate your efforts by taking a few moments to reflect on your progress. If you miss the opportunity to learn and integrate , your actions are wasted. After all, who better to teach the value of your triumphs and mistakes better than yourself?
Examples of ways to reflect include:
Reviewing video footage
Getting feedback from your trainer
Over time, the practice of structuring self-care rituals, supportive practices, challenges, recovery, and reflection cultivates the confidence needed to create mastery within your life.
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