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5 ways to recognize if your ego is affecting your training progress and how to overcome this nasty habit.

Do you find your horsemanship changing when someone is watching?

Yup, you and your horse suffer from ego based horsemanship (I made that up, please don’t use that in your college paper) 

Let me explain: When no one is watching, your focus is completely on your horse’s progress. Nothing is sacrificed. You’re patient, you have time for them to learn, and usually a lot of progress happens in these quiet moments.

Things start to change when other riders, or audience’s start to show up. The competitive athlete in you, switches your focus from what’s best for the horse too wondering what they’re thinking. This may be the reason you’re experiencing competition anxiety, or perform one way at home then tank at the show. You, my friend, are allowing others to think for you.

Stop allowing others to do the thinking for you.

Here are 5 thoughts that show your focus is ego based vs. training based.

  1. Do they see how great of a rider I am?
  2. Do they realize the caliber of horse I’m on?
  3. Will I ever be as good as her/him
  4. She/he is not riding right, I can ride that horse better
  5. I’ll never outrun their horse

Or you sacrifice your training to show off or to prove a point. Another way you can sacrifice your competition is when you’re thinking of a winning run and you’re focusing on who will be there, who will see it, and how you will look from the crowds perspective vs. what a winning run feels like. 

Why is this type of thinking hindering your performance?

  1. It instils fear, doubt, and comparison. All of which will take your energy and focus away from making a productive run. “Comparison is the thief of Joy” -unknown. You have around 15 seconds to make quick decisions which leaves no time for fear or doubt.
  2. You end up sacrificing what your horse needs for your own self image. This never ends up well.  Horses are notorious for humbling you when you need it most. Do yourself a favor and focus on what your horse needs first.
  3. You miss out on being present in the moment and enjoying a stellar performance. 

Here is what I have learned from my years of competition. The right people will see your potential and you have no control over when or how they see you. Oftentimes you shine brightest when you’re doing your thing and you think no one is watching. If you truly are a good horseman/ rider then proof is in the pudding my dear. Since you have no control of how people look at you, don’t waste your time trying to prove yourself to them. 

If you want people to see how great of a horseman you are then your focus needs to be on your HORSE 100%. It’s only you two in the arena and that is where your focus should be. Whether you have a crowd or not, that should not change the way you ride or your competitive spirit. You go in and you make a run, PERIOD.  When you make it to the loud rodeos, guess what?! You’re going so fast everything else goes blank and it doesn’t even matter who showed up to the rodeo. If you want to make it to the big leagues, you better get used to lights, camera, action and you better have a disciplined mind to help you stay focused. It’s easy to get distracted. It’s easy to let doubt creep in and friend, the second you doubt yourself is the second you lose your race. Train your mind to focus only on what is important and life will happen for you.

When you start feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed, reflect on the thoughts you’re feeding your mind. Are they true, are they about comparison, are they something you have control over? Then do you and your horse a favor and let it go. Write down and sign a “commitment” contract to yourself, saying you will not sacrifice your horse’s confidence, health and or progress for the sake of others’ opinions. In this contract list down what is most important to you, why you’re competing and what your goals are. Every time those doubts come into your head, remember your contract with yourself. This is your dream. The world will keep turning if it’s not completed and you’re the only one who has to live with your choices. Don’t look back and realize you allowed others to make the decisions for you. 

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