Have you ever seen the person that just has a natural talent around horses? Have you ever seen the person with no natural talent? Are you this person? Don’t despair – there is hope! Moreover, the person that is going to have the most trouble improving isn’t the one you would think! Yep, you got it – natural talent isn’t all it is cracked up to be and can even be a pitfall. Actually, the person with 2 left feet and no skills is usually the one who wins out in the end. After watching people work on being better horsemen for over 20 years, I have noticed there are a few common qualities to people achieving their goal. It doesn’t matter what your goal is but what does matter is that you are successful in achieving that goal and the most successful people I have seen, most times, had very limited natural skills to start with. I have also seen lots of naturally talented people but, on the whole, they struggle with leaving their comfort zone so they halt their own progress sooner or later.
This article is to give you a heads up of what you might come up against in your journey to achieving your goal and how to avoid stalling your progress as a horseman. Actually, you could change a few words around and use these methods to help with other goals in your life as well.
Ok, first of all, get it out of your head that you need skills to start; that might be a bonus later but first things first. What you will need first up is a goal and along with this goal you are going to need a reason for this goal. So, you want to ride along the beach with no saddle and no reins and no care in the world like the boy in “The Black Stallion”? Sounds great! Now, what most people do is they focus on the task as the goal but that isn’t enough for those times when it gets hard. You need a better goal than a task otherwise you will end up saying, ” Oh it doesn’t matter – I can live with it just being a dream.” But wait! What about the feeling that you will get from being able to live that dream (safely of course)? How amazing would that feel? Surely, that is something to get out of bed for on a rainy day and go practise! No matter what your goal is, find the feeling behind that task and make that your real goal. Sometimes, when people look for the feeling behind a task they can’t find a very compelling feeling that they will get once they have achieved their task, and guess what that means? Yep, they won’t feel satisfied when they get to their goal. How disappointing would that be? This is more common than you would think, so make sure you pick a worthy goal to spend your time on.
Right, we have a goal and motivation – now let’s make a plan by setting out some smaller steps to lead you to your goal and, if you have a horsemanship coach, use their experience and get them to help you set these goals so you don’t overface you or your horse.
Now we have 3 things settled: the goal, the motivation and the steps but none of these are worth much without the main ingredient and we are going to need a lot of the next bit. It is probably going to be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life till now and, if you have chosen a worthy goal, it should be hard and even frustrating for you sometimes but, on the other side of all this discomfort, awkwardness and frustration is the greatest feeling you could ever imagine – the feeling of self-achievement, self-worth and confidence in knowing that you can do what was before, for you, undoable! Well done! But WAIT! What was that main ingredient we were going to need a lot of? TRY. You are going to need to try and keep trying even if you make a mistake and if you are really stretching yourself, you will makes mistakes often. Now, don’t get me wrong – this isn’t the same mistake over and over. No, you get to make lots of different mistakes and they never get you down because you know that each mistake takes you closer to your goal and develops your skills even more along the way.
Here is a little recipe for you to move forward through your mistakes and lead you to success:
- Get out of your comfort zone and try.
- Evaluate your results.
- Improve where you need to.
For those of you who have mastered the system of scholastic skills, which means you enjoy getting the correct tick on a test, you may have trouble getting out of your comfort zone and making a mistake to learn from but, in the world of horses, this is the best way to learn memorable lessons. However, make sure these lessons aren’t the sort that are going to cause you an injury; just maybe a bit of feeling awkward. Also ensure the steps to the goal that you or your coach have laid out are achievable and follow them. It only seems to get physically risky when we attempt something our horse has no preparation for, so get those steps taken, make some little mistakes, keep moving forward and put your fear of failing aside or you will fail to get off of the starting block. Now, if you have some natural talent already, this first step of getting out of your comfort zone is going to be the hardest part but not so for the no skills person because they are used to feeling awkward so they put themselves in awkward positions more readily. To keep progressing after you achieve your goal, you will need to be willing to put yourself back in that awkward state out of your comfort zone. Don’t worry – it gets easier to do as you learn that if you just do it, there is success on the other side.
Remember this: just “doing” isn’t trying; just “doing” over and over and repeating the same mistake will not lead you to your goal; most times you will need to change things you were never even aware of before. If you have a coach, they will be able to help save you some frustration and lead you to what needs changing, but if you haven’t, you may have to experience some frustration. Try not to feel bad about frustration – it just means your goal is important to you; use it to fire you up for that bit of extra effort you might be needing to make the change and lead you to your goal.
Good luck with your horsemanship and remember to enjoy the journey. It may not always seem fun or easy but it will be enjoyable when you reach your goal. Enjoy your goal and enjoy your horse.