When You Add to Your “Pool of Knowledge,” Being with and Training Horses Is All the More Rewarding

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The year winding to its close in a flurry of parties and family and (at least here in Vermont) snow often inspires nostalgic glances back while perhaps ambitious resolutions are cast forward. It is a time when those of us who ride or work with horses on a regular basis may evaluate goals met (or not), consider the steps gained with a particular project and where they’ll lead in the months ahead, or perhaps ponder the role that horses play in our lives now, and the one we’d wish for them in the future.

In her book COLLECTIVE REMARKS, FEI and USEF dressage judge Anne Gribbons shares how competing on horseback eventually came to hold less importance, as the satisfaction of figuring out each individual horse while adding to her own “pool of knowledge” gained significance. At TSB, we aim to support those who spend their lives striving to learn more about horses, to appreciate different approaches from different disciplines and schools of philosophy, and to consider new ideas while respecting the tried-and-true of classical equestrianism. As we add to our own “pool of knowledge,” we hope we have a chance to add to yours, too.

All orders from the TSB online bookstore placed before noon on Thursday, December 18, ship FREE in the US in time for Christmas.

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“Full Circle” from COLLECTIVE REMARKS by Anne Gribbons

When I was a kid and started riding, competition was the farthest thing from my mind. All I wanted was to be around horses, to breathe in their wonderful sweet smell—to me more exhilarating than any other fragrance on earth—and to touch their velvety coat, to look into their sad and all-knowing eyes. Riding them was a privilege and a joy beyond anything else I could desire. In short, I was just like any other horse-crazy kid in the world. Years later, my whole life became involved with horses, and with serious training arrived the need for competition; the fire it lit in my blood was a whole new aspect of riding. Jumping and eventing keeps you on your toes, but even dressage can be exciting when there is a good class and you have a long-term goal in mind.

Today, after many years of competing and after obtaining some of those goals, I must admit that I look at showing differently. The few minutes in the ring still makes my blood run faster (although the reasons may vary from joy to alarm), but the rest of the scene can appear as just “more of the same.” The planning, packing, traveling, loading, fussing, waiting, re-packing, and traveling again is a lot of work, and when I think of all the weekends in my life that were absorbed by horse shows, I sometimes wonder about my sanity….

After all this time, I have almost returned to base. Although, thankfully, more experienced, I am back in the mode where I am totally satisfied staying at home with my horses. The training, which has always been the true motivation for diligently showing up at the barn every day, is the constant that never becomes monotonous, uninteresting, or exactly the same two days in a row. It would be impossible to stay inspired while training horses but for the fact that every single horse has something new to offer, which gives you reason to add to your pool of knowledge and meet the challenge of dealing with that specific individual.

My triumphs today are not measured in ribbons and scores, but in the satisfaction of having a day when a horse who had a problem suddenly catches on and performs a movement with ease, or a particular sequence of exercises feel just like you know they should: no tension, no resistance, and no effort, just horse and rider gliding together. The ultimate satisfac­tion is to look at a horse you have known from the time he was broken and watch him grow more beautiful every year because of the building of his muscles and strength. The finished, happy, and sound Grand Prix horse is a work of art, and all the time it took to bring him there is well worth it. Things of quality take time, and your trained horse does not have to go to the Olympics to give you an enormous amount of pride and joy in your accomplishments together.

 

COLLECTIVE REMARKS is available now from the TSB online bookstore.

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“Ride in the Pursuit of Excellence, Not the Pursuit of Perfection”: 6 Habits to Change Now So You Can Love Riding More and Perform Better Because of It

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Striving for the impossible—that is, perfection—is one of the greatest causes of stress and underperformance. It occurs when an intense need to win makes it impossible for you to accept anything less.

Perfectionists mean well and try hard, but usually overthink, overanalyze, and are self-critical. They set the “bar of expectation” so high it almost always leads to a chain of events characterized by making a mistake, dwelling on it, feeling frustrated, and becoming disappointed because they’ve let themselves–and perhaps others—down.

Sound familiar? See if these 6 common habits of perfectionists describe you when you ride, train, and/or compete. Do you:

  • Place unreasonably high demands on yourself?
  • Make mistakes because your fear of underperforming makes you tense?
  • Feel most motivated by ribbons, standings, spectators, or “beating” your opponents?
  • Struggle to ride in the “present” because you are focused on (future) outcomes?
  • Attempt to ride with perfect technique, which causes you to ride mechanically?
  • Feel unable to let go of your mistakes or like you must make excuses for them?

The good news is, you CAN overcome perfectionism! In his fantastic and energized new book PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING, sport psychology expert and international riding coach Daniel Stewart gives you these tips for changing your perfectionist habits, loving riding more, and riding better because of it:

  • Set goals focused on how you’ll perform rather than how you’ll finish.
  • Learn from your mistakes: They are learning opportunities not missed opportunities.
  • Focus on the solution to a problem instead of a problem itself.
  • Focus on yourself, not on others, whether lesson mates, opponents, or spectators.
  • Stay in the present moment: Avoid thinking about past mistakes or future standings.

PRESSUREPROOF here

For loads of clearly defined, individual steps to mental and physical success in the saddle, including ways to strengthen mental imagery, goal-setting tools, stress management techniques, keys to sensory, short-term, and long-term memory, and much much more, check out PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING, by Daniel Stewart, available now at the TSB online bookstore.

“I truly believe that, regardless of your understanding of sport psychology, Pressure Proof Your Riding is an essential read.”

–Kevin Price, CEO US Pony Club

“Daniel’s enthusiasm is infectious, and his attitude toward emotional challenges makes having nerves and insecurities seem so normal— and so manageable.”

–Leslie Threlkeld, Editor, Eventing USA

CLICK HERE TO READ A FREE EXCERPT OR ORDER NOW