Releasing guilt, perceptions and expectations from our life and riding.
Do you ever get out of practice going to the gym? You have a busy couple of weeks at work, with family and friends, you get out of your routine and don’t work out. Then you get back to your regular schedule and yet you’re still skipping the gym…. You start finding yourself making excuses and saying I’ll go tomorrow. Your mind starts making it into a bigger chore than it is. Then you’re in a big game of mental tug-o-war, trying to motivate yourself to go but then ultimately finding another reason to procrastinate. You get into a guilt spiral feeling bad for not going and before you know it your mind has made going for a simple half hour workout into a mountain you need to climb. You finally muster up the gumption to go and it feels great, takes a short time out of your day and you chide yourself for spending the last two weeks making excuses rather than just doing it.
Ever do this with your horses? I do. Over the years I’ve found myself getting into this same spiral time after time. But what I’ve found is that there’s actually a lot of reasons why we get into this bad habit.
Whether it’s from guilt, fear, insecurities, or frustration, time and time again I found myself getting into prolonged stints of avoiding my horses. I’d go out and take care of them or check on them everyday but never REALLY spend time with them. I’d tell myself that “oh tomorrow I’ll go out and ride my mare” or “tomorrow i’ll do groundwork with my gelding”. Then tomorrow would come and I’d have another excuse. Time would go by and pretty soon it’s two, three, even four weeks and I haven’t been on my horses or spent any real time with them other than daily feedings and some pets to check in and make sure they haven’t cut themselves up or injured something. I was always aware I was avoiding them but not always willing to admit it or dive deeper to see why I was pushing them away.
Eventually though, you have to face the roses and either smell their beautiful scent or feel their thorns. Usually I’d muster up the energy to go out and ride and wonder why the hell I’d stayed away from them for a month when it felt so damn good to feel their steady rhythm beneath my seat and feel the wind toss my hair around as we moved.
The root of the avoidance periods seemed to always stem from me, never from my horses. I’d feel guilty that I’d been busy. Other times a near mishap or discouraging ride would lead to me being fearful or frustrated and putting off actually getting on their backs. Or sometimes it was something as simple as seeing an acquaintance's post about how amazing their horse was running and how their horse was consistently moving up in competition that would poke at my insecurities of my slower progress with my horse and my mind would keep me away again. It sounds stupid and backwards to allow these seemingly small incidences to stop us from riding and going after it with our horses, but our egos cause us to doubt ourselves and magnify our insecurities.
As horsewomen, I have found it even more of a problem for us because we are constantly living under society’s standards and practically programmed to compare ourselves to others and feel insecure about everything we do, the way we look and how much we achieve. It spills over into our lives whether we are conscious of it or not and I know I’m not alone when I say that it spills over into our equestrian lives as well. Thus, you might find yourself avoiding all the feelings and inevitably your horses and riding program just like me.
Once I started noticing this pattern though I had to find a way to fix it, to change my mindset so that no matter what emotion was coming up for me, my horses wouldn’t suffer because of it. So I started reminding myself of this one concept:
Our horses don’t NEED anything from us except our attention, our love, and our time.
The guilt from not riding them enough was MY problem and burden to bear. The fear and frustration from a bad or scary ride was ME holding on to the past, my horses had long forgotten or let go of it. The rate of progression was MY self imposed standards that they knew nothing about. All they needed from me was my time, love and attention. All they need is for us to show up, be there for them, and connect with them. All they need is for us to do our best and start fresh tomorrow without guilt, perceptions, or insecurities.
We are unbelievably lucky to be able to work with such incredible, intelligent and emotional animals who have the capacity to feel so many of the emotions we do. They want to learn, they want to feel accomplished, they feel lonely when they’re left without attention, they want to be loved and work hard for us. They feel all of those things with us but the one thing they know how to do far better than humans…. Is let go. They let go, and they don’t self sabotage. We as their riders need to learn to do the same. We need to learn to give ourselves a break, to let go of our past failures, our inner voice telling us we’re not doing enough or progressing as fast and show ourselves some kindness. We need to focus more on connecting with our horses and setting goals that are based on our own personal journey and partnership rather than external pressures, competitions and comparisons. And we need to build a rock solid equestrian mindset, so we don’t allow our fears, insecurities and self doubts get in the way of our riding.
Which is why I am opening up 3 spots in an incredible 1:1 coaching container. This coaching is for the rider who is ready to develop a deep unbreakable connection with their horse, feel fearless and confident in the saddle and take their riding to the next level. If you want to reach a new level of confidence, control and comfort riding your horse and release fear and limiting thoughts holding you back from being the best rider you can be….. then this coaching is exactly what you need. Book a complimentary 30 minute mindset mastery session with me to see if this coaching is the right choice for you.
And remember, our horses don’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care.