Over the weekend I went to the Spokane 3 day that starts the show season. Lots of horses and their people, the smells and lots of “stop” being said to horses. I joke if I could get paid a dollar for every time a human said “Stop” to their horse, I could retire.
But I digress.
I go to these horse shows and I observe A LOT. I am an “expert” in humans but horses, not so much. I listen to the trainers and what they say, “Loose reigns”; “Sit back”, “too fast”, “get him/her going forward”, and the occasional, “nice”. It’s a series of commentary about the horse and the relationship between the human doing it “right” and that leads to success.
You know what I don’t hear? Anything about the mental and relational aspects of riding. Remember, I’m about the HUMANS.
What do I mean by that?
So often I see riders (the humans) doing all of this stuff for their horse. Tack, grain, treatments, lessons, etc. and yet, they do very little for themselves in that process. I recently asked several riders what they needed to be successful at a 3 day show and the list for self was very short vs. the list for the horse was VERY long. I get it, horses do require lots of stuff and we want to care for them as best we can. I’m in agreement with that concept.
The focus for riders though wasn’t/isn’t on the connection with their horse – and I’m NOT saying there is no connection – but rather, not connection with intentionality. There isn’t a time, especially at shows, where the rider goes into the stall with the sole purpose of just connecting. No really. If you’re saying that’s not true, when was the last time you did it? Amidst all of that stress and anxiety of performance and we’re not being intentional about relationship time.
Great effort in care of horse, getting positions right, repetitively practicing things and yet, very little time to just create relationship and connection.
Name the last time that you had a relationship with someone that you didn’t take the time to BE rather than DO. Nothing wrong with doing, it’s just not terribly relational. And then go on a deeper level, when you are stressed out, what’s more meaningful, when someone is with you or just does things without checking in with meaning and connection? I know what my answer is.
One of the things I love about coaching humans with horses is we get to talk about this connection with intention and how this can make a difference in taking your riding to another level. It’s leadership WITH connection. The feedback that I get from riders I’m working with is that it DOES make a difference. I’d love to discuss it with you and how it might impact your own riding and performance.
Quiet your mind. Sharpen your focus. Ride to your peak performance.