Updated: Dec 31, 2019
A love letter to yourself is the best gift you'll ever give this new year.
As 2019 comes to a close, I am struck with this thought that change is about to happen. Every January, millions of people make their New Years resolutions. And whether it's for plans of success with your equine partner, or a personal fitness goal such as losing weight, we all do it.
This next year the one thing I want is to just be me. And be OK with that.
This is my wish for you: this next year make your New Years resolution about loving who you are a little more instead of changing. It's not about NOT striving for the best, or setting goals. Goals are important. But what if your goal was just to accept yourself? Accept your horse. Accept your trainer and barn friends. Don't try and change yourself. Just be a better version of you!
Being Ok With Being You
You might think this is a counter-intuitive plan. But the more and more I see horses and humans working together, the more I come to the conclusion that fighting against the grain only hurts you and your equine parter. Realizing what you already have is a great place to start the 2020 season.
In our culture we do a little too much searching for what's next and not enough self-evaluating or self-loving. One of the biggest issues I see with horse and rider is what I like to call "the battle of the wills". When you both have a different perspective/ idea/ want. Well, what if you just went with it? Stop trying to ride the horse you want, or think you can afford, or hope you'll have one day, and start riding the horse you have. This will make you a better horseman and more empathetic human.
I like me. It's taken me years to say this out loud but yeah, I'm pretty great! And so are you! And so is your horse. And even if they aren't so great at times- just treat them like they are.
What's that saying?: "...treat someone like how you want them to be and not how they are." This rings true to me.
Sometimes when I am doing equine bodywork with a horse: they shove it off, don't want to be healed, or don't want to deal with whatever it is that's troubling them. If I get to an area of pain- they resist. Resisting is a trauma response. Ignoring is too. Horses get really good at shutting down.
So don't let them. If your horse just isn't responding the way you want, try accepting that.
Sometimes It Takes Time
A new year many times symbolize(s) change and disappointment. How many times have you made a plan or a pact to yourself, only to break it a few days later? That's because what we ask of ourselves is usually not sustainable. We shove so much on ourselves that we just can't carry anymore. So allow yourself to do less. Try recognizing your tries this new year instead of what you AREN'T doing.
When you change your frame of mind, amazing things can happen.
Be you and no one else. In doing this you will learn to recognize and relate to your horse. Just accept them and work with what you have. This doesn't mean you don't need a trainer or a bodywork session, or a few extra shows in the year to help things along. But if you are constantly disappointed, take a step back. Don't go for the win if you know it just sin't there, go for consistency.
Don't have your expectations set so high that you will be feeling bitter and let down.
My new years resolution is just to be me and love it!
My life has changed dramatically since I started thinking in these terms.
Do things daily that are sustainable and good for your mental health.
Do things daily with your equine partner that are sustainable and good for their mental health.
Self-love and self-appreciation are two acts that are not rewarded in our society. But guess what? Horses reward these. Horses do to us what others can't -they flip things on their sides don't they? Think more like your horse and gain a little perspective.
In a herd of horses, there is a balance. There should also be balance between a horse and his rider or owner or caretaker. When you aren't seeing or feeling this balance- go back to the drawing board.
Try these steps for "doing you" this next year:
-Reward the try- if you know your horse is trying to do the right thing but just missed the mark, reward them. If you have had a really hard day but get on and ride in your lesson anyways- reward yourself.
-Stop comparing yourself and your horse to others. It is so easy to see someone else's ride and think "wow"... But stop watching. It just isn't helpful. We are our own worse critics. So stop comparing.
- Embrace reality. Truly try and embrace what you have going for you and also what you don't. I have short legs, for example, and am not built for equitation. Others have a beautiful seat but have no eye to a jump. Some of us would never be brave enough to conquer Tevis and others try it yearly. It really doesn't matter. Embrace your reality now and work on things as they come.
- Embrace those around you- there is enough success for everyone. One of the worst things you can do as a competitor or just as a horseman is to ignore others. And worse yet, judge them. Embrace your fellow riders. The equestrian world is too small for rivalries.
-Give it your best and leave it alone. Harping on one bad move or over-analyzing every little thing in your ride will eat you up. Give it all you've got and move on to the next thing. Yes, listen to suggestions, for goodness sakes, but beating yourself up won't get you anywhere. Horses don't do this and neither should you!
New year, same me: and I like it that way.
Finally an idea I can wrap my head around.
Do you. Don't try and be anybody else.
Your horse will thank you. They already think you are pretty perfect.
I hope this holiday season finds you well.
And the new year brings you hope for what is to come.
Go on and be yourself in 2020.
And reap the benefits.