Balance and How to Achieve It - Part III

We covered the physical part of balance, now let's continue with the mental challenges.

I become mentally unstable when frustration takes over. I start with doubting my capabilities as a horsewoman and rider. I doubt I will not make it to the next step, will never be a self-confident enough rider, am generally not able to live up to the horse's need - the list is endless.
Sure, physical balance is vital, but the mental setup is important too. You are more likely to fail if you think right from the start that you won't make it anyway - sometimes this mindset will even stop you from trying in the first place! So let's change something about that.

When you feel frustrated, try the following

1. Continue with your plans. Don't ever let your frustration and self-doubt get in the way of what you desire. You can change your approach, your teacher, your methods, your clothes - take the steps that you think are necessary to help you leave that dark place. But don't you quit!

2. Start a blog. If you feel that is too much time to invest, read blogs. Out there is a supportive community of fellow riders who have experienced just what you are going through. You will get advice, help and many words of comfort when needed - and you avoid scolding or stupid comments that might come up in social network groups or message boards.

3. Don't expect too much in too little time. I know you want something and you want it now. But developing skills - no matter which ones - takes time. Allow yourself to try and to fail. Don't expect things to happen perfectly at first try. They will work out in the end, and that is what counts.

4. Write a list with your achievements or just think about them.  What helps to cheer me up is to take a closer look at what I've achieved so far. I check my little successes, that raise my sense of achievement. For me, that has nothing to do with ribbons, but of course, you can fish them out too. I look at challenges I was facing in the past, situations or maneuvers I had trouble with. And then I check the outcome. Am I still stuck where I was or did I manage to change something, did I develop? Here are some examples
  1. After dropping out of the riding club, I thought I'd never ride again. I felt like a complete failure and didn't think anybody would entrust me with their horse, let alone riding it. Well, today, people pay me for taking care of their horses and for helping to develop them.
  2. I thought I'd never get side movements. That I'd be never able to ask a horse to sidepass, do shoulder- or quarter-ins. Well, right now we are working on yielding to the leg in trot.
  3. I had huge problems to ask my horse to lower his head. He was just non-responsive and counted on me giving up. Well, we fixed it (by asking and waiting long enough).
So whatever your successes are, make sure you are aware of them and your achievements. Celebrate yourself and give yourself some merit, you deserve it! 

Anna Blake who writes one of the (if not the) best horse blogs I know did two great pieces relating to frustration:"What to do when nothing works" and "This too shall pass"
In a post from January Dressage Hafl addresses the "blue monday", the most unpopular day of the year, and gives some tips to cheer you up.
You'll find the first part of the series here, and the second part here.

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