Stepping outside the box

It is very easy to simply do the same thing that we have always done. Whether it be the same exercises in the school or following the same route out hacking. It is all too easy to become entrenched in our habits. Stepping outside the box can give you fresh insight and a different perspective into your riding and your relationship with your horse.

Do you always work your horse in the school through the same set of exercises and through the same paces in the same order? For examples, lots of us begin in walk before progressing through trot work, and then finally to canter. Why not try working the canter before the trot? It can have the effect of opening the trot up and can be beneficial.

Or if you find that your horse seems a little stale, try going around the block in the opposite direction that you usually go. Suddenly, it will seem like a whole fresh new hack. Or you could try leading your horse around your usual walk. Both of you will gain a new perspective from doing that, and work in hand will always help your ridden relationship.

It is so easy to do the same things over and over, but sometimes it is good to set yourself a challenge and step outside of your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be a competition or a huge challenge, it could be taking your horse to a different venue to school him or meeting up with a friend to go for a hack. Or going for an all-day hack (check your weather forecast first!) Whatever you choose to do that is different from your everyday routine will give you a new experience.

Every time we try something new, we learn something. It may simply be that we learn not to do that again! But trying out new things is good for us and our horses. Experiences can always be put towards learning, so that our knowledge and understanding increases.

Being flexible…

…and I’m not just talking about your joints! Flexible joints are great and definitely worth working towards for both our riding and our general well-being, however a flexible mind is a fantastic thing to aim towards.

A flexible mind means that you can cope with the unexpected, roll with the waves. A flexible mind makes you adaptive and gives you the ability to respond intelligently to change. A flexible mind gives you a brilliant tool to cope with the changeable nature of the world.

You had planned to go for a hack on Sunday. You had decided on the route, and really wanted to do it, but then you looked at the weather forecast. It is forecast to be really windy. An inflexible mind thinks “but I’m going for a hack, because that is my plan.” This could lead to all sorts of disasters, such a scary hack, a spooky horse, loss of confidence. A flexible mind might think, “how annoying, never mind, why don’t I go some ground work instead.” This approach means that you have a good session with your horse despite the inclement weather and then the following weekend when the weather is better, you have a nice hack.

You can see the effects of an inflexible mind and the problems it can cause. Whereas a flexible mind allows you to adapt better to changing circumstances. And remember that flexible thinking is a skill, so can be learnt. If you just read that and thought “I can’t do that!” that is a great example of an inflexible thought!

If you think being more mentally flexible would help, here is a link to an article about it (click here). Remember small changes make all the difference, we can’t transform ourselves overnight and also we are all doing the best that we can do, so that we can be the best versions of ourselves.