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Mind, Body, Emotions - Impact On Learning & Training

As the saying goes “Frustration begins where Knowledge ends” Getting frustrated happens often as we work with horses. They can hit every emotional “hot button” we have. They can make us feel brilliant and then turn right around and make us feel inept…all in the same session! 
 
The control of emotions/frustration is very challenging for us humans because we invest so much of ourselves into our horses and our horsemanship. When our horse "doesn't get it" or “doesn’t do as we ask” we feel frustrated and even betrayed a bit. We take it personal and sometimes even get angry. Add to this the fact that we all have “goals” in mind and want to achieve them.
 
 
We want to be better than average in the things we do. We set our “performance bar” to a certain level and we push to get there. While the drive to improve is a good thing. oftentimes the by-product of that drive – frustration and pressure - if not managed, gets in the way of us actually achieving the results we want. It is not pretty or prefect but there it is.
 
So, what to do when the hydra of frustration, pressure and anger rears its ugly head? One approach is to walk away from what is really frustrating us for a moment. When we are with our horses we can breathe in, breathe out and just walk with the horse on the lead line. Personally as I am walking with my horse, trying to regroup my emotional state, I talk to myself and my horse. I ask out loud what am I being unclear about or what I am “moving too fast” to try and do? In short, I hold myself accountable to the emotions and a really try to recognize that those emotions are getting in the way of clear communication. Then when I feel I have gotten out of my own way and that my horse is calm and thinking about what we are doing I go back to the thing that caused the frustration or emotional response and I slow WAY down. I try to break the task down into smaller parts and do ONE part at a time with a couple of slow breaths in between. I check my body language. I make sure I am being clear, being patient and being quick to release/reward the task goes better that when I got frustrated we take a break. If it goes well two to three more times with improvements being made I quit that task and go on to something else. I look for the win without pressuring myself to get a win. 
 
 
In a perfect world those emotional reactions would never come up. But most of us are far from perfect. We struggle and we fail. Yet, we have set a goal, so we pick ourselves up (emotionally), dust ourselves off, love on our horse some and try REALLY hard to see this from the horse’s point of view.
 
I let my horse be my mirror. If I am leading clearly, with patience and am ready to release/reward then our performance goes much smoother. If I feel those emotions creeping up (or flaring up) I have to step back and review “why” and try to move past them. It is not an easy thing to do. But, in my horsemanship it seems like it is an essential thing to do. I believe I’ll be working on this for a long time. Remember to breathe in, breathe out and move forward.
 
If you need some assistance with your horsemanship journey, please feel free to reach out to Lucky Star Horsemanship at luckystarhorsemanship@gmail.com or find us on the web at  www.luckystarhorsemanshipny.com. Find and follow us on Facebook and Instagram too! Thanks for reading.
 
Looking for more advice? Check out the HorseClicks blog to discover a wealth of equestrian knowledge that will up your riding game! 

 

Michael Canfield
Published on 04-08-2022
Michael is the Staff Clinician and Assistant Director of Equine Programming at Pine Ridge Dude Ranch in Kerhonkson, NY. Michael is also the Founder of Lucky Star Horsemanship which offers a variety of services, from lessons to equine event organization, to the community. Michael has worked with humans and horses for over 15 years, helping them to establish a solid foundation of Communication, Confidence and Leadership.