Seems like a simple enough questions, doesn’t it? And when you read the above question, ‘what is holding me back in my riding?’, you probably instantly answered it in your head.
What was your answer?
Now, most of the time I am all for taking the first answer that jumps into your head, the intuitive answer. Except today, I want you to dig a little deeper…
Well, because very often what is holding you back in your riding is either a story you keep telling yourself and others, or an excuse that you have formulated to protect yourself from something ‘uncomfortable’…
It sounds harsh and it is probably not what you wanted to read when you started this post. However in order to really uncover what is holding you back, you need to begin to become very honest with yourself and identify why you are really allowing things to stop you progressing with your riding.
Unmasking Your Stories
Have you ever noticed how what you continue to tell yourself, will usually become a self fulfilled prophesy of sorts?
It is so important as a rider to become aware of the internal conversations you are having every day – and editing them where necessary.
The reason these ‘conversations’ become a reality is because your brain will actively seek out ways to confirm and validate your beliefs. If you think that you cannot canter due to an injury you had twenty years ago, guess what? You probably won’t be able to canter because of that injury you had twenty years ago!
However, if you start to tell yourself a new story, your brain will – over time – begin to look for ways to confirm that. This allows you the space and room to begin moving away from the old, original story.
Over time you can completely change your beliefs about what you can or cannot do. You can mould your beliefs into you need them to look like in order to move forward.
Now, it is important that we don’t actually go out and tell ‘porkies’ or lie to ourselves and others here. But rather turn the story around. Your old ‘I can’t canter due to old injury’ story can become ‘I’m working towards learning to canter again’.
This is a true story; in fact it was exactly what you were doing all along, it is just how you have phrased it or ‘told the story’ that has changed.
So, start with becoming really aware of what you are telling yourself and others, and editing where necessary to suit how you want your riding to progress.
Unmasking Your Excuses
Ohhh, this one will make me a little unpopular! However many of the ‘reasons’ we tell ourselves things are the way they are – are actually excuses in disguise.
A reason is the explanation of what happened and why it happened. It is logical.
An excuse is a reason that tries to justify what happened. Blame is usually placed somewhere – and rarely is it correctly placed.
Most people find that when they are using excuses to justify something, they have to defend it. It is not just stating the facts of the situation. They feel they must hammer the point home.
If we take the transition out of the canter back to trot for example, the excuse might look like “my transitions are not smooth because the trot is too bouncy when I transition down”. A reason would look like “I struggle to remain balanced as the horse transitions back to the trot.”
The difference? The excuse puts the responsibility of the problem out of your control. The reason states the facts – and gives you a focus point on where to begin working on your riding, the balance.
As you ride today, put all your ‘challenges’ through the excuse / reason filter and begin editing where necessary in order to put the ball back in your court. Taking responsibility is the only way you can begin to actively improve your riding.
Honesty and Compassion
Once you have begun to get clear on what you are telling yourself and others, it is important to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of beating yourself up.
There is a fine line between taking responsibility for your riding faults and depreciating your abilities in the saddle.
We are all on a journey with our riding. Your journey is unique to you. Beating yourself up over a lack of progress will only serve to damage your confidence in your abilities in the long run.
These exercises are to help you get ‘unstuck’ when it comes to your progress. Make sure that the ‘excuse pendulum’ does not swing back the opposite way and you begin laying all the blame at your own feet.
There is a balance in riding. There are many moving parts. There can be many reasons things are not working out… Explore all the different possibilities before creating a plan to move forward.
By being really honest with yourself and then compassionate enough to accept that you will not be immediately brilliant at everything you do, you will open to door to explore what things you do need help with.
Your mindset is the first key to begin making changes in your riding. Spend the next few days being aware of the stories you are telling and the excuses you are using in your riding. These are the keys to beginning to really unveil whatever it is that is truly holding you back in your riding.
Once you are figured out what is holding you back, taking action on removing that block is essential. Knowledge is only power when we use it to make something happen.
Join our free Facebook group, filled with riders from all over the world on a journey to improve their riding – one step at a time. Sometimes letting someone know that you intend to take action on something is enough to start that ‘change’ ball rolling.
Share your story HERE and let me know what your first ‘action step’ is to get over what is holding you back from being the rider you want to be.