Today I wanted to share my two cents on what to do when you are presented with a challenging situation. Last week our group attended one of the biggest shows in our region. I entered Freedance in the CDI small tour (PSG Friday, I1 Saturday and I1 Freestyle Sunday) and I entered Jypsy Rose into her very first PSG all 3 days.
Friday was pretty rough. I was so focused on keeping Freedance round in his top line that I sacrificed balance in our PSG test which led to some uncharacteristic mistakes and we scored the lowest we have scored in that test. I knew I would have to deal with Jypsys nerves and tension in her test but it was more extreme than I expected and I don’t think I had one step of walk in all the walk work! Needless to say this didn’t lead to a very good score. On top of it all my almost three year old daughter seemed to hit the “threenager” stage that day. I felt overwhelmed and like a big failure.
My normal response would be to criticize and berate myself for entering the show at all and then I would direct anger at myself for riding poorly or feeling like I didn’t prepare myself or my horses properly. It’s amazing how mean we can be to ourselves. We say things to ourself we would never say to a friend! What I needed to do in this state was to reframe my mind and my perspective.
The first question to ask yourself is what went well? What can I be proud of? With Freedance the CDI was my goal to work towards these last few months after having the baby. Having this goal pushed me to work on my fitness and nutrition goals. I’m proud of how rideable Freedance is in the show ring. He can be tense in the warm up with other horses at times so it was a big win that we had a good, relaxed warm up and as soon as we go in the show ring he was confident and brave. With Jypsy, she warmed up beautifully and is really feeling ready for the level. I’ve felt really stuck with her for a long time and was worried she wouldn’t progress much further but over the last two months back in the saddle I feel she is finding herself especially in the canter and I’m thrilled with how she feels. She did get very tense once we went into the main arena (and away from all other horses) and became extremely vocal! But aside from the not walking debacle we only had two small mistakes and much of the test felt quite good. I could be very proud of that.
The second question to ask is what can I learn from this situation? With Freedance I learned that with his tricky neck I need to ride the contact a little more open so he can lift his shoulders to be in a better balance. With Jypsy I understood my job is to be the best leader I can be to coach her through her nerves.
This next one is a big one- Set new short term goals. My goal for the next day with Freedance was to ride him a little more open and a little more engaged from behind. We ended up with a clean test and scored almost 64% and placed 6th! With Jypsy I just wanted her to call less than the day before which she did and we had no jigs in the walk and had a totally clean test to break into the 60s! I was thrilled with both horses.
I think it’s easy to get focused on the outcome which we really have little to no control over. What we do have control over is how we choose to perceive the situation and we can choose what changes to make that will lead to improvement in the future. Allow your goals to be flexible. You may go into the show expecting a certain score or result but maybe the horse is nervous in the arena or struggles with a specific movement. Adjust your goal to having a more relaxed horse than yesterday or more success in a specific movement and don’t be angry with yourself if it isn’t perfect. Perfectionism is the enemy of progress! Look for the lessons in all situations that will lead to the greatest growth. Don’t dwell on the mistakes but do learn from them. Sometimes when bad things happen they lead to the greatest opportunity for growth.
Remember your thoughts create your reality. Express love in all you do and you can’t lose!
Until next time,