If there's one thing that I'm learning, it's that our brains are funny things.
They need to be told how to assess an event. If not, usually they'll blow it out of proportion when you try to remember that event later on down the road.
Take falling off your horse as an example. There's a reason that the saying you've got to get back on the horse that threw you exists. Sure, the quick answer would be to not let that event make you fear riding that horse or riding all together. But why is that? Why would you develop that fear?
I'm reading a book right now that discusses this topic in a little bit more detail. I'll be sure to share this book with you once I've finished it. Basically, your brain wants to protect you. To keep you safe and alive. So, when something dangerous happens, even if in reality it was just a silly mistake, your brain can easily make it a bigger deal than it was. Especially when you start to obsess over it (guilty!). So, that's why we jump right back on. That's why we do that same exercise right away. It's our way of training our brains to think positively about riding. That way, instead of thinking that riding leads to falling and getting hurt, we end up thinking that riding leads to a joyful, successful and rewarding experience.
I guess our minds hold more importance to our last experience than it does to all of our other ones.
Don't let yourself make something a bigger deal than it needs to be. Just like ending your ride on a good note for your horse, do the same for yourself. Sure, not every ride will be perfect. I can guarantee that you'll keep making mistakes. That is how we learn after all. Instead of obsessing over that one moment, be proud of all the other moments that went right. Maybe you were able to keep your cool while riding in front of other people, maybe you cleared a higher jump than you're used to or maybe you were able to keep your horse's focus for the majority of the ride. Those are all big accomplishments. Be proud of them. That one mistake, that one fall, it was just a hiccup. Dust yourself off, assess what went wrong, take a deep breath, get back in the saddle and try again.
It will only be a big deal if you let it.
I know it's a lot easier said than done. I get that. It's something that I'm working on as well. What I've come to realise is that if you let your few bad moments overwhelm your thoughts, they start to affect your ride. They'll prevent you from progressing and they'll keep you fearful.
There comes a point where you'll have to decide whether you think that these bad moments, these fears are worth hanging on to. Are they worth taking your success away? Are they worth keeping you away from your goals? Probably not. So, you need to change your way of thinking.
You'll need to reprogram your brain.
And believe me, it's not easy. You'll struggle and maybe fall back into your old ways for a bit. Just try to stay focused on what you want. You'll get there eventually.
Keep your head up, stay focused on the positives and keep moving forward. Don't let the little hiccups affect your whole riding experience.
Until next time, happy riding!