A little PICK ME UP
Problems and set-backs in your riding are inevitable. When everything seems to be going wrong, practice asking these questions of yourself to give you a quick and easy ‘pick you up’:
“How far have I come?”
During a recent training session I kept dropping my inside hand in the canter a centimetre, maybe two. It was having a detrimental effect on my horse’s ability to stay on the circle. To Mark this kind of problem is like a beacon flashing at him, to him it looks like I’m dragging her round with the inside hand and he said so! I got a little uptight about the whole thing so ‘skulked’ off after the session to reminded myself that there was a time when I couldn’t canter more than 2 circles without collapsing in an exhausted, purple faced heap and my circles were what I now call squircles (squarish circles), egg shaped or worse I couldn’t actually get my horse onto a circle without actually dragging her round with the inside rein. (I am ashamed to confess)
It’s all relative, when things are going wrong, it’s hard to recognise what is going right. It’s easy to screen out the good things and only focus on the bad things. Remind yourself that some things are going right. Purposely look for the positive, even if it is something very small.
“Are my thoughts the truth?”
One of the most important things to remember is that you have some control of the situation. If you are not in complete control, the one thing you can always control is your attitude and reaction. You can control your emotions. It’s a little abstract but if you can get your head around the fact that emotion is derived from thought and if you experience strong emotions it’s really helpful to look at the thoughts that came before the emotions and then ask the question “Are these thoughts based on truth, or my perception of the truth?”
I’m feeling a little anxious because my training isn’t going well, some days it seems you just like you simply can’t ride! A couple of people are gathered at the corner of the arena and they are laughing. I feel utterly deflated. Why, because in my world they are laughing at my lack of skill.
Is this the truth? No, of course not, it is my perception of the truth. The emotions of dejection were derived from my thoughts that some people are having fun at my expense. When in fact, they are simply having fun; nothing to do with me!
“Tipster, Can you help me?”
You can e-mail me and ask for help. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Finding someone to help can be problematic. However, it’s one of the best ways to deal with tough situations. The very act of composing the essence of your issue in an email can help you clarify exactly what the problem is and help you find your own solution. If not, hit send and I’ll see what I can do.
“What did I learn?”
Here it is again, my old friend failure. Never fails to help me. Failure is my friend. No matter how bad you think a situation may be, it is almost certain that something good will come out of it; at the very least a lesson in how not to do something and perhaps elimination of something you needed to try.
Sure as night follows day, it will change
With some things in life the struggles feel like they’re going to last forever, but with Dressage, very few riding issues last for an entire riding career! Except maybe that left shoulder, damn it! Remind yourself, that things won’t be this bad forever because sure as night follows day it will change. If things are great at the moment, make the most of it, things will change. The only constant is change.
Patricia – The Dressage Tipster