Stop Holding Yourself Back in your Horsemanship Journey

90% of riders make this mistake. Stop it today.

Hey Resilient Rider,

“Tell me about your recent run,” I asked.

“I had just completed my ranch riding pattern, and as I dismounted, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I could have done better. ‘I missed the first lope overs by an inch.’ I kept replaying the scene in my mind. 

I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. By the time I was back at the trailer, I was questioning my abilities as a rider altogether. I thought, ‘Maybe I'm not cut out for this,’ and I could only notice every mistake we made.” It was obvious that what started as a simple review had morphed into a crippling cycle of self-criticism, overshadowing her passion for riding and any ability to see any positives from her ride.

We went back through her run again, this time focused on being more neutral. "I missed the first lope overs by an inch," she noted, but instead of dwelling on it, we stopped that thought and acknowledged, "I can adjust my approach next time." This constructive reflection left her feeling empowered. 

By the time we finished reviewing her run, she was smiling, thinking of how much she had improved since her last run. "I’m getting better every time, and my lope to an extended jog was really nice" she shared, feeling encouraged and excited to apply what she had learned. The review had turned into a positive affirmation of her progress and potential.

I notice over and over when I review runs with folks that the most common thing to do is not to acknowledge what went well, but to focus on what went wrong. And what’s wrong with that, you ask? Shouldn’t you focus on what needs improvement? 

When you focus on what you lack, most folks fall into a negative downward spiral of self doubt and criticism. Self-doubt often sneaks in through a seemingly innocent door: “I could have done better.” (And can’t we all?) On the surface, it sounds like a simple reflection, but it can quickly spiral into a cycle of self-criticism and doubt. This little thought plants a seed of uncertainty that can grow into a barrier for future decisions and actions.

Why does that matter? 

Snl It Matters GIF by Saturday Night Live

I’m sure you remember being a kid, and I see this so much in my kids and their friends. It’s a really common thing to not try. Because trying isn’t “cool” and if you don’t try, then if you fail… well, it wasn’t like you really cared or tried anyway - right? It’s self protection. So if you didn’t study for that test and did poorly… well, who cares. As parents and teachers we have to actively guide these youngsters to focus on effort over outcome as the best way to actually achieve success. 

And there’s more. How you treat yourself during a review of your performance greatly impacts your willingness to participate fully in your horsemanship journey. If you know that you’ll harshly judge yourself later, part of you will always hold back. It's a natural self-protection mechanism, but it’s one that will hinder your progress.

So how do you review a run in a way that encourages progress instead of discourages it, and doesn’t leave you circling the drain? It is entirely possible to look at your past actions, learn from them, and still remain kind to yourself.

Here's 3 tips on how to do it:

  • Stay Neutral: this is so much easier said than done, I know. But try. Evaluate your choices without attaching shame or criticism. It's not about being perfect; it’s about learning.

  • Feel your Feelings: It’s okay to feel disappointed by a result. I know I sure am disappointed when things don’t go how I had hoped. The trick is to acknowledge your feelings without letting them define you.

  • Learn and Adapt: Don’t get stuck in the mud, friend. Use your experiences as lessons. Ask yourself what you can do differently next time, and then move forward with that knowledge.

In your horsemanship journey, you will experience a wide range of emotions. You’ll make decisions that, in hindsight, you might want to change. That’s part of the process. What’s important is that you can change your behavior without adding a layer of shame or criticism.

By changing how you review your performances, you can build a more resilient mindset. This approach not only helps you in the show pen but also in every aspect of your life. Remember, you’re always free to choose differently and grow from every experience.

Until next time, keep striving, keep learning, and most importantly, keep believing in yourself.

Ride on with confidence,


PS - Ready to get the lowdown on exactly how to prepare for a competitive run, and examples of how to break it down after? Come join us in RRA to ride and compete with confidence, not self-doubt.  —  Resilient Reiner Academy

PPS- Prefer to listen instead of read the Newsletter? I got you! The Resilient Reiner Newsletter also comes as a podcast! 🎙️ Tune in to the latest episodes now!


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