Courage is embracing vulnerability by telling your story. It’s admitting when you are struggling and when you are proud of your success. Courage is discovering who you are and living that truth.
Sharing your story is liberating. We tend to put on a mask for others to see at the expense of our true selves. Courage is dropping the mask and being true to who you are.
Trying to always be what others want you to be is exhausting and pulls you farther and farther away from your true identity.
Courage is owning your story without shame.
Our goal should be to live an authentic and transparent life and that includes sharing our fears. We believe that if we express our fear that we are in some way weak but we all experience fear in some form or another.
Courage is leading with your heart. It’s standing up for someone in need. It’s putting your moral values ahead of being accepted by others. Courage is leaning into Truth and surrendering to Light.
Courage is accepting who you are and showing yourself love and compassion. This doesn’t mean you settle for mediocrity and discard your evolution. It’s loving who you are at this stage of the journey as you continue to grow into the most beautiful version of yourself.
Courage is pushing past fear. It’s about showing up and being unapologetically you. Courage is failing and then showing up again and again and again.
If we hide our fears, we allow those fears to keep a hold on us. By admitting them, you can begin to move past them. Fear is designed to keep us safe but it can cripple us if we hold tightly onto it. Be courageous and own your fears. Thank them for trying to keep you safe and send them merrily on their way.
Courage is aligning with your values and acting accordingly, no matter the consequence. If everyone around you is behaving in a way that does not align with your values, courage is turning around and walking away.
As social beings, we feel that we need the acceptance and validation of others which can lead us into a lot of trouble! (Hello, peer pressure!)
I think there are many instances in the life of an equestrian in which we show courage but the one I want to write about today is showing. I have been competing horses for over twenty years and yet I still experience some self doubt as I approach a show. Each time we enter into the show arena we are opening ourselves up to criticism (we actually pay for it!). Anyone who has ridden in a Dressage test can most likely attest to the feeling of vulnerability as we put ourselves, our horses and our training on display. Time, money, blood, sweat and tears goes into our training and it feels like it all culminates into those five or six minutes in the show ring. As if if it doesn’t go as planned, it is somehow a reflection on who we are. Bad ride? I must be a terrible rider and because I’m a terrible rider I am worthless. It doesn’t make sense but in the heat of the moment that is exactly how it feels. Courage is continuing to put yourself out there and understanding that each experience has valuable lessons to help us grow.
When I competed a few weeks ago, the schooling day before the show I felt myself getting tense when riding my horse because there were several other trainers coaching in the warm up and while I believe my horse and I have improved, many of these people hadn’t seen us out and about in a while and I was worried that they would think had made no progress at all. I was extra critical of myself- i hadn’t made my horse wasn’t reactive enough, my piaffe was struggling and my ones were hit or miss. Of course my horse could feel my tension and I have to be a certain amount of relaxed for him to work forward for me. I really had to give myself a pep talk- why are you so concerned about what others think? You should be damned proud you trained your horse to this level on your own. So what if you aren’t the best Grand Prix rider in the world? You’re getting better each and every day. Let’s just do our best and go out and have a great time. It took courage for me to push past that fear of worrying what others would think and once I let that fear go, I went onto have a great show and had an amazing time.
Where do you show courage in your life? Playing it small may feel safe but you only cheat yourself out of living a true and meaningful life. Identify your values, discover your gifts and share them with the world. Be unapologetically you!
I rode my three FEI horses in a clinic this past weekend and the theme that kept coming up for me was that of accountability. Those three horses are all schooling or showing the Grand Prix movements and it was a great reminder this weekend that is not simply enough that my horses do the movement. It’s now time to build in the quality and ease with all but invisible aids.
Are you holding yourself accountable when it comes to training or do you cut corners (literally and figuratively)? Do you avoid difficult movements because it’s hard? Do you avoid sitting the trot because it is uncomfortable? I know I have to push myself to do the hard stuff!
I encourage you to dedicate yourself completely towards your evolution. Hold yourself to a high standard. Step outside your comfort zone for the sake of expansion. If you have a bad habit, discipline yourself to correct it.
I used to say that I was a more effective rider than I was a pretty rider. Then I decided why confine myself to that statement? If I keep saying it, that is the reality that I am creating and I will never then be the pretty rider. I decided to double down on discipline myself to keep stretching my upper body tall and my legs long. Each time I’m riding towards the mirror I take a moment and make sure my toes are directly under my knees and not rotated out. I’m still a work in progress of course, but holding myself a little more accountable has made all the difference.
I think it is totally normal in the course of training to get a little sloppy. Maybe we don’t ride our circles 100% accurately or we don’t ride a specific movement at a letter, which leads us to not have total control over the line we are riding. We may avoid riding deeply into the corners or aid just a little to big or do too much to “help” our horse with our own bodies- guilty!
However, if we want to become the best rider that we can be, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. This is the difference between a good rider and a great rider. A great rider is detail oriented and not satisfied with mediocrity. As the saying goes, it’s not practice that makes perfect but perfect practice that makes perfect. And while I do think striving for perfectionism can be dangerous, I do believe that we should pay attention to the details. Don’t accept that bad transition. Repeat until lit is something your proud of.
Your standards may differ from horse to horse and they will change over time. We will be more forgiving of a young horse just learning walk to canter transitions than we will be to a Grand Prix horse that should be held to a higher standard.
Of course in all of this we must have self compassion. Training is tough and training in this way can be a physical and mental challenge. Be kind to yourself. Do your best. Make mistakes, learn from them. Enjoy the journey.
Of course we can apply accountability to the larger scale of our life. Where can you be held to a higher standard? For me, it’s being able to handle my stress by finding positive coping mechanisms rather than emotional eating that leads to further guilt and stress. Do you scroll Facebook endlessly instead of reading a book that can further your growth? Are you distracted in moments with your children? I challenge you (and myself) to be hold yourself accountable. Nobody is going to do it for you. Be present and aim higher. You can be and do anything you set your mind too.
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
-Henry David Thoreau
It’s no secret that we all perceive the world in different ways. The same situation can cause two different people to have completely opposing reactions based on their individual personalities and previous experiences. For example, while for one person, public speaking can be a thrilling and invigorating experience that brings about joy, and for another it can be panic inducing and terrifying, throwing the individual into fight or flight mode or causing them to completely freeze up.
How do you relate to your world and to the challenges that are presented to you?
If you believe that the world is out to get you, you will find evidence of this in all of your experiences. But if you see the world as a benevolent and kind place then you will see evidence of this. Reality is, in a way, an illusion. We experience it through our own, unique filter based on our previous life experiences.
You have the choice every single day to choose how you will relate to your experiences. The key question to ask is not “Why is this happening to me?” but instead “why is this happening FOR me?” If you choose to find the opportunities for growth in all situations, you will shift yourself from victim to one that is in control of your life. You have the power to create your own reality based on your perceptions and reactions to life’s experiences.
All of life is an incredible journey, though not always an easy one. Focus on the lessons you can learn and the ways in which you can grow into the most beautiful version of yourself.
Next time you encounter a challenging situation, whether in training your horse or perhaps a difficult relationship with a coworker, ask yourself what are the lessons for me to learn here? How can this help me grow? Are these experiences happening for me to bring about my highest evolution?
You have the power to choose how you interpret your world. If you believe you are a failure, you will see evidence to back this up. If you believe you are never good enough, you will find support for this too. But, if you begin to cultivate self love and acceptance and begin to see yourself as a most beautiful incarnation of light and love, then, guess what? That is exactly what you will see, and, when you do fall short, because we are all human after all, you will be able to show yourself compassion and understanding because you know who you are at the deepest, most spiritual level.
It’s like when you’re driving a horse trailer and all of a sudden you notice all of the other horse trailers on the road or if you make an intention to see all of the red cars along the road they are all but invisible until you make that decision to see them. They were there all along but until you set an intention to see them, they were not perceived.
I had a major burnout in 2014. I felt like every ride I had was a failure. I felt like I could not make progress and was a terrible rider and trainer (even though evidence did not support this). I had no joy when riding because I had decided, more subconsciously than consciously, before the ride even began that it would not be good enough. I had no compassion towards myself and would become angry and frustrated. It was a tough time and I questioned why I was even riding anymore. I had decided that I was not a good rider, that I was a failure and I saw that each and everyday even though from the outside looking in I looked successful and happy.
My story is not an unusual one. I think anytime we are passionate about something, we go through times of difficulty when we question ourselves and our abilities as we attempt to live up to some impossible standard. Who set these standards anyway? Early life experiences of always falling short- getting the B instead of the A or not being as successful in sports as our parents believed we should have been or not being as comfortable in social situations as our sibling. Whatever the case may be, we all have our own unique stories that create our current perspectives. The key is understanding that you can change it if you wish.
Now, five years after my burnout, I am loving riding more than I ever have. I took off about six months from riding at the end of 2014 into 2015 when I was pregnant with my first child. What had become a stressful job for me now was my alone time, the time when I could focus on myself and my horses. My horses became a place of peace and solace, my rides became the time in which I could quietly study to improve myself and through improving myself, improve my horses. Develop the rider, you develop the horse. Did I magically become that much “better” a rider in the last five years? I hope I have improved but more likely it is my interpretation of myself and my rides now that had led to my joy. Where I used to berate myself for not ever being good enough, now I enjoy the journey each and everyday and when I do have difficult rides I can see them for what they are, not a reflection of my failure but as a beautiful opportunity for learning and growth.
If you are interested into shifting your life and finding more peace, happiness and freedom, I encourage you to set an intention to find the things to be grateful for. Make this a practice. If you can begin to train your mind to look for the positives in your life, it will be easier to find the lessons that aid you in your growth in tumultuous times.
Believe that you are the creator of your own reality and begin to shift the perspective of your life into one in which you are evolving into the absolute best version of yourself!
This blog will be all about personal growth. I will discuss different topics and issues, some relating to horses and some not. Feel free to comment!