“It’s the power of seeing what we want, setting an intention to see it through in the most favorable light, and then committing to it.” -Barbra Schulte
This riding advice from horse professional and National Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee, Barbra Schulte, is just what I needed to help get my riding off to a good start this year.
Yes, I know we are months into the new year. But without an indoor arena, the weather in my area often keeps me from riding with any frequency/consistency until May.
This Spring is no exception. My riding “year” is definitely off to a slow start.
I put “year” in quotes because I don’t get a full twelve months to ride at home. It gets too cold for me to ride around November. My riding season typically lasts about six months in any one calendar year.
Since I ride at home about half as much as I would otherwise like to, I want to be purposeful and focused when I do get in the saddle.
Maybe that’s why the recent email blast from horse professional Barbra Schulte titled “Calm, Clear, Committed” resonated with me. It’s exactly how I’d like to ride.
And yet, I struggle. Instead of calm- clear- committed, I tend toward anxious- muddled- hesitant. Qualities that unfortunately don’t make for a great horse listener or horse leader.
Twenty years ago, I re-entered the world of horses as an adult. I thought my awkwardness around horses was simply because I had to re-learn so many horsemanship skills. Everything felt weirdly familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. It was nerve-racking.
I was sure that with just a little bit of time and effort that I would be the type of calm, confident, proficient horseman that I always wanted to be. But it has not worked out like that.
Without marching up a hill where I reach and stay at the top, my progress is more roller coaster like as my confidence waxes and wanes.
I have felt successful in certain situations. With certain horses. With certain support. But with others, not so much. It’s frustrating and painful to feel confident doing certain activities with certain horses, but not be able to replicate that same confidence later when confronted with different circumstances.
I know I’m not the only horse person who feels that way. Or who struggles with being a better listener and leader for their steeds. Who can’t seem to build on previous times of confidence to the degree that they would like.
We know it’s not all about mastering physical skills or techniques. There is a certain kind of mindset that is a large component of interacting successfully with horses. Maybe like me, you let your past disappointments and present doubts come along for the ride just a little too often?
I wish I had great words of wisdom. Some magic answer in a bottle. Something to easily and automatically defeat all those things that haunt. But I don’t.
The only way I know to keep moving forward is to continue absorbing information from others about ways to be a better rider and handler. Including a heavy focus on the mental aspects of riding.
For me, bathing in a sea of information hasn’t “cured” anything. But I believe it keeps me in the game. It keeps me doing more with my horses than I would otherwise.
Perhaps Barbra Schulte’s words can do the same for you, encouraging you in your own horse journey. May we all be calm, clear, and committed during our next ride.
“It’s the power of seeing what we want, setting an intention to see it through in the most favorable light, and then committing to it . . .
It’s the difference between allowing ourselves to be drug down by our imperfections or keeping our eye on small step goals and taking lumps in stride. The missteps do have the best information to help us improve, and we make sure we stay committed to enthusiasm and positivity as we experience the inevitable mistakes.
When you ride, it might be talking to yourself about being calm, noticing where your horse’s focus is, being clear about your message, asking your horse for a move then seeing what happens but not allowing yourself to go down the rabbit hole of limiting thoughts and discouragement.
The next time you ride, get clear about one or two small steps you want to achieve.
Approach them with the expectation you will be calm within. You will communicate clearly with your horse.
If things get muddled, slow down and come back to stay calm – and get clear again. Either back up a step or try again . . .
Don’t give in to or waste time on bummer feelings about disappointments when things don’t work out. Return to calmness and clarity and stay flexible on your pony.
There is great power in the energy you bring to everything you do.”
-Barbra Schulte via an April 2022 email blast