How to take positive reinforcement and use it in riding? I will share practical tips in other blogs, but let’s focus on preparation. How can you make yourself successful?
Key Lesson for Riders #5: Emotions in Riding
This is a biggy! I see so many riders get frustrated in the saddle. I also see many frustrated horses! The the most common reasons riders get frustrated are: lack of a plan, no shaping plan (written steps that need to be accomplished in order to get to your goal) and lack of a proper training journal, that can be used as valuable tool in training.
I often see frustration in horses because there is a lack of clarity (riders give contradictory aids), they get punished (receiver determines if something feels like punishment) and don’t understand why or they are fearful and the rider thinks they are ‘just acting’.
In my program dealing with Emotions in Horse and Humans is one of the Key Lessons, your Key to Success in Horse Training and Riding.
Here are 3 tips that you can use to help you deal with emotions in riding.
Tip #1 to deal with Emotions in Riding successfully
Accept that emotions will always be there. Positive ones and negative ones. Even positive emotions like joy can influence your riding aids. The magic is that you can decide how you will react to your feelings and to the feelings of your horse.
Do you get angry if your horse spooks or do you deal with the fact and go look to solve the cause of the fear and deal with that or do you simply accept that your horse can spook?
If you feel anger or frustration coming up, a few simple breaths can help you get back into thinking mode. That can be enough to prevent yourself from taking your frustration out on the horse.
If you realize that you will be relieved from your frustration when you hit your horse, only to switch over to guilt you haven’t won anything, right? Once you realize why you’re getting frustrated you can solve the cause or accept that you’re frustrated for a few seconds and wait until the emotion disappears.
Tip #2 to deal with Emotions in Riding successfully
Context shifts can also cause negative emotions like frustration in riding. Understanding what a context shift is, how it can effect your behaviour or that from your horse will help you adjust your expectations according to the circumstances.
Imagine you’re riding and suddenly you notice someone you look up to, is watching you. This is a small context shift (riding without and riding with an audience). If you raise your expectations towards your horse while you’re being nervous won’t set you up for success. Knowing this can prevent a lot of disappointment, shame and other negative emotions.
You’ll set yourself up for success if you don’t raise your expectations or criteria but do the opposite: lower them slightly so you’ll be successful. If someone is watching you, don’t try out new exercises to show off. Wiser would be to choose an exercise that you know you and your horse can do and do this one really, really good!
Tip #3 to deal with Emotions in Riding successfully
In my decades as riding instructor I saw many frustrated riders. I’ve experienced so much frustration myself when I was younger. Here is how I learn to deal with it. Most of the frustration was solved when I started riding according a training plan and had shaping plans.
If you don’t know what you’re training you don’t know if you’re hitting your goal. When riding suddenly goes wonderful and you’re in a flow you naturally want more of that. Be honest, how often did that happen? What did you do?
Most likely you wanted more and asked more and then got disappointed when it doesn’t happen. Then you’ll end up feeling frustrated and maybe even a bit angry. I didn’t know that -when this happened to me- I was actually ‘lumping’ my training. And instead of being grateful and stop there for a moment to enjoy it, I wanted (demanded) more! That didn’t work at all!
When I made an actual plan and got in flow I could see how I created that moment myself by working towards that moment together with my horse. That’s when I started to see this were moments to celebrate and enjoy. Then stop and take a moment to achor that moment and think how we created that result together. That’s when I started to duplicate those moments more often! This is where your training journal actually turns into a training tool.
Questions? Book a free discovery session with Sandra
If you want to get to know me or have questions about clicker training from the saddle and how I can help you with that, book your free discovery call. Plan your online session in my calendar.
Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.
I help horse owners get the results in training they really, really want with joy and easy for both horse and human. I always aim for win-win!
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