Plaidcast 324: Tonya Johnston’s Inside Your Ride with Kyle King by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services

Tonya Johnston’s Inside Your Ride


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Tonya speaks with top international Grand Prix rider Kyle King about ways to work on your mental skills during your cross training. Tonya also talks about how to use a challenge mindset to bring your best to the ring. Brought to you by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services. Listen in!


  • Host: Tonya Johnston, Visit her Website, Facebook and buy her book Inside Your Ride
  • Guest:  Kyle King is a top international Grand Prix rider, trainer and clinician. He is a second-generation professional horseman and his national and international success in recent years has helped him make significant progress in the world rankings. Kyle has a simple, positive, and confidence-building style of teaching. From beginner to Grand Prix level, Kyle’s main goals for his riders’ are to feel more balanced and confident in their skills.
  • Photo Credit: High Desert Sport Photo
  • Title Sponsor: Taylor, Harris Insurance Services, Taylor, Harris Insurance Services (THIS) was founded in 1987 to provide specialized insurance for all types of equine risk. THIS places their policies with the highest rated and most secure carriers, meticulously selected for reliability and prompt claims settlement. THIS is proud of their worldwide reputation for responsive and courteous service, and welcomes the opportunity to discuss your equine insurance needs and provide you with a quote.
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    • This transcript was generated automatically. Its accuracy may vary.
    • Tonya Johnston [00:00:30] This is episode 324 of the plaidcast. I’m Tonya Johnston, mental skills coach, and this is Inside Your Ride. Today’s podcast is brought to you by Taylor Harris Insurance Services and the Plaid Horse Magazine. On today’s show, I speak with Top grand prix rider and trainer Kyle King. Kyle has been a fixture on the West Coast for a long time with continued national and international success. In the past few years, he has moved up the world rankings and continues to find ways to win while teaching his clients to do the same. Today, I will also be sharing a tip about how to use challenge mindset to use your nerves as excitement and bring your best to the ring. 
    • [00:03:05]  
    • Tonya Johnston [00:03:06] Thank you so much for joining me today. I’ve been so excited to support my clients through the start of their winter circuits or time lessoning at home in some rather challenging weather conditions, I have to say. So whatever whatever you have found yourself doing, I hope that you’re having fun and getting a good start to the year going. And for myself, it’s so inspiring to be a part of teams that are interested in utilizing every tool they can to uncover their personal best. So I’m just really enjoying the work and I simply love being a part of progress no matter where it happens. So for those of you showing this month, here is a mindset tip. Think about how you’re going to use your next show to work on what you want to build in your riding, not how you can be identical to, but better than everyone else in your class. So when we’re all jumping the same course, we can get distracted into thinking that there is only one way to be the best. And that scarcity mindset creates stress and distraction. So instead, look at the show as a workshop for you to work on your own mental and physical skills. You’re always in route to being the best you can be to closing your personal, unique performance gap. So what’s that? What’s that term performance gap? Your performance gap is the gap between your current skills. And your potential. So our aim as athletes is to get as close to our potential as possible. That’s what makes for showing exciting. What makes competition exciting is because it’s an it it’s sort of a charged atmosphere. It’s a exciting atmosphere. And this concept of wanting to sort of step into your potential is a way to access your strength, your confidence and your focus. So my call to everyone is to go out there and have fun and rise to your potential, right? So think accordingly, support yourself accordingly and waste no time on comparison. So now when you ask yourself what are you using your next show to accomplish? This is a great thing to even jot down, you know, brainstorm, get, get yourself even like an index card or a Post-it. You know, I’m old school with that. You know, as far as setting your intention. So play around with that question. Right. What are you going to use your next show to accomplish? So for those of you who are interested in joining the next session of my mindset, boost my remote group mental skills coaching program, the spring dates will be coming out soon, so please watch my social channels or message me for more information. As you know, I’m on Instagram at Inside Your Ride and on Facebook at Tonya Johnston, Mental Skills Coach. Now let’s get to my conversation with Kyle King right after these messages.
    • Tonya Johnston [00:08:35] Kyle King is a top International Grand Prix rider, trainer and clinician. He’s a second generation professional horseman and has national and international success in recent years has helped him make significant progress in the world rankings. Kyle has a simple, positive and confidence building style of teaching. From beginner to Grand Prix level, Kyle’s main goals for his riders are to feel more balanced and confident in their skills. Hi Kyle. Thank you so much for joining me today. 
    • Kyle King [00:09:02] Thank you for asking me to do this. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:09:04] Yes, absolutely. Yeah. No, this is fantastic. I’ve watched you and read about you for four years and I’m just so thrilled to be able to talk to you about sort of your mental approach to your writing and training. And congrats on all of your success. And it seems like in the last few years you’ve really just been all at it and doing amazing, which is super exciting. And I wonder if there was any, if you were going to point at any particular mental strengths that you have, you know, how how, what would they be and how do you think they’ve helped you over the years Be successful? 
    • Kyle King [00:09:45] Yeah. You know, I’m I’m probably a good one to pick my brain because I’ve kind of been through every scenario and situation that you can. I’m sure there’s more that I’ll face. So but I’ve been through a lot of different things. You know, I spent a lot of my life being a catch rider. You know, a lot of those years of my career was not doing all that great. You know, I would typically show up at a horse show and have six or eight horses to ride by the end of the week and throw them in the bigger classes than they probably should have been in and ridden, you know. But my you know, I have kind of been through every every confidence busting thing you can can do. And, you know, I’ve I’ve seen lots of stuff. I would say my strength is I’m very stubborn and very competitive. And that’s that’s helped me, you know, overcome, you know, I’ve had some embarrassing trips in the ring. And, you know, it was probably five years ago I didn’t really have the best now the the strongest string of horses. My wife and I were starting our our business together. Maybe maybe I will be six years go by maybe seven years ago. And I remember sitting watching a parade I wasn’t in and and, you know, I watched a couple of guys that always sort of are just fillers, you know, And I and I remember telling her I was like, you know, I really don’t want to be that, you know, this is not what I want to you know, I get older, you know, I’m start going a little older, you know, and and, you know, I’ve we’ve got to find a way to to tighten this game up a little bit and and yeah that’s just that’s my biggest fear is to be a fill you know I want to be in every class to be a competitor and be in it, to be competitive, but not be, you know. So that’s always that’s a big driving force of mine to continue to get better. And one thing that I try to stay away from is is superstition these days. I used to always think I had a lucky pair of this and a lucky pair of that. And and I think that really gets my brain going the wrong way. You know, my my biggest my biggest thing that that helps me if I do feel unstable and I do feel that weird weakness feeling that you can get sometimes this is I have a little a little thing that came up. People have said it to me before, You know, you’re Kyle King, you know, and there’s some bad words in there, too. But that’s always I say it every time I go on a jump off or in a ring,if I’m feeling unstable is I. And and I’ll just say to my own head, you’re Kyle King, right? Yeah, that is definitely that is one thing that gives me strength. You know, you know, when I when I am feeling weak and and it just happened to me last weekend. I have I had three horses in the night class and I have some new stock right now and they’re, they’re pretty green. And I went on my most experienced horse and and I had two unfortunate jump rails down at the very end of the course. Then I went on my next horse, which is brand new to me, which but he’s got some experience and I had one down at the end of the course and then with the third horse I was doing. It was it was it was a big, big turn for him, a big step for him anyways. And I wasn’t feeling the most confident just the way the course was going. There was 40 in it and there was only two clear at the end of the night. And the Guerillmo Abogado, who trained the horse before I went up to him and I was like, Is this a good idea? And he kind of gave me a look. He’s like, he’s like, you know what? It’s a lot of course. Just make sure you’re solid, he says. But you’re Kyle King, as I said. You know what, I said that’s what I needed to hear, Buddy. And I went, and that horse jumped his heart out. I unfortunately, that line got me and I had the very last jump, you know, coming out of that line. But the horse jumped. Amazing. And now I have this all this confidence of that horse. And I almost thought about scratching, you know, I’m so glad I didn’t because we really grew. But know, he he said the magic word, you know, that is the word that kind of fuels me just and I know it’s kind of stupid, but it is in my own head and it does work for me. Yeah. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:13:59] That’s amazing. I love that it actually ties into. A tool that we talk about in sports psychology, which is shifting self-talk sometimes from from I statements like, you know, I can get this done to to talking with you like you’re prepared, like you can do this you’re Kyle King like. When you shift to that you it’s it’s a how does a distancing effect which separates you from that negative emotion or that worry and it allows you to be purely in a mode of support and like pumping yourself up and giving yourself like that encouragement that you really need. So shifting from I like using I, which we talk about in self-talk, a lot of, you know, like I said, you know, I keep my hands up or whatever for someone that’s learning to you. That’s a really, really powerful tool. And so that’s awesome that you that you use that. And it’s a great example of, of using distancing like to maximum effect, it sounds like and it sounds like such a good routine. So is that something you only do then when if you’re feeling a little bit on the, you know, shaky side or is that just a routine like. 
    • Kyle King [00:15:13] It’s kind of a routine now. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And, and I also and that’s just funny enough, I guess, since we’re talking about this, you know, I’m thinking about it a little bit right now. You know, I for, for a few years there and for a while, you know, once my dad passed, I always had my dad watching me. You know, it just kind of gave me like a kind of a a fight or something. And he passed and and then now a good friend of mine named Stuart Belkin, who’s a friend of mine and a sponsor of mine and a partner of mine on some horses and stuff at the top businessman. And he kind of took that role. So I always felt like I could do better when Stuart’s there, you know, it makes you rise to the occasion and do a little better and focus and not because sometimes I was I was finding myself going out in the ring and, you know, being a big grand Prix and, you know, and all of a sudden, like the whistle blows and I’m thinking about the weirdest stuff, like, weirdest, weirdest, like attention has gone like. The weird things like unrelated or about my dog or about. And when Stewart was there because Stewart was watching or when my dad was there because he was watching and being part of it, you know, it make me have to focus that a little bit more. So nowadays I really try to and when I’m when I’m warming up, I won’t I will fight to not make eye contact with anybody other than my team, other than my team around, you know, like any kind of stands or people watching on the rail or, you know, that kind of stuff, because it can make me start to wander. So. And I’ve been I’ve been really perfecting it here lately because this particular ring here at the horse part, the audience stands between you, the warm up ring and the ring. So as you’re trying to watch somebody’s round, you know, somebody will be standing there and try to wave to you or give you a thumbs up or do that. And I started it just like I really just I’ll I’ll look through them and I will not look and make eye contact to make my brain come away from what I’m going on. And it’s been working for me to to just click into that zone where I or I don’t start to get my mind, just start to bounce around, you know, like, I really got to get in this little zone, like a bomb could go off and I won’t even look at it, you know, or, you know, And it just helped me get in this little space where I can stay focused because my mind will start to wander. You know, I’m finding these little tricks and it’s always been I’ve always been able to do it. And it’s a big, big class because you’re so focused, you know? But, you know, when I’m showing you three grand prix every week here, you know, and you know, your mind starts to wander and it’s been takes away from me a little bit, you know. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:17:56] Right, right, right. I mean, sometimes I mean, part of that, you know, if you were probably well, I mean, you tell me if you were at a different location every single week, right. Like literally like there’s more there’s more novelty to engage you in some ways. Like during I’m saying I think I think sometimes it’s yeah, the the routine ness. Right. And but I love that strategy and I definitely talk about that with clients of you know your eyes are such a that’s the quickest link to your focus that you have. And so you really, really do want to be careful. And what you’re talking about is such a great model and such a great example of that discipline that’s that’s really required to keep to keep on track. And so I love that you are so aware of that, too, and realizing and, you know, when we when we come on something, whether we’re taught and we figure it out ourselves, when you have success, it just like motivates you to do it more. Would you agree with that? 
    • Kyle King [00:18:57] Oh, absolutely. You know, I mean that a lot of my wins, you know, I’ve won many grand prix on many different horses and many different decades now and scenarios. So some of my most successful trips have been when there’s a lot of chaos, you know, and I don’t really have time, too much time to get in my own head, you know. So it’s also my my newer routine is I have very good staff that warm my horses up because I carry out almost a 40 horse operation now. So I, I have designated riders that that that flat my horses a lot and prepare them completely for me. And in fact they even warm them up in the Warmup rings so that when I get on they’re already warm and ready to go to work. And I’ve started getting on a lot later than I used to like, so that I won’t have that time to think like I like to get on with like six in front. Not I used to get on with ten. Some horses take a little different, obviously, but but I like to, I like to I like to kind of get on last minute so that I don’t have that time to get my brain wandering in weird directions. You know, I got to and I’ve always been better, you know, when I’ve got three and one ring and two and another and three over in that ring and I can learn a course in 30 seconds, you know, I’ve walked them before, but kind of go over. I’ve just found that I perform better that way. And same is like not watching too many rounds. You know, if I if I go 28th in a class, I’ll try to pick a horse that I think is similar to my horses step or something like that, I’ll make sure I watch that one and then I’ll go set my golf cart. And sit with my wife or, you know, just try to try to not get my brain wandering, you know, that’s that’s the thing I’m trying to focus on these days is and I’m getting better at it. Right. And also and I also tell this to my clients all the time and I definitely think it is is I try to think slow. Think slow, ride fast. The faster you jump off, it always feels the slowest to me. You know, in your head, you know, And then when my brain’s going too fast or if I’m moving in and, you know, I’m better. I’m better if I. If I walk slow, even if they’re saying, Oh, there’s only four in front, you know, I don’t rush myself. I get on, I’ll make sure everything’s just right. I just, you know, and that’s when I’m in the zone, when I know I’m right, when I’m starting to adjust my stirrups and that doesn’t feel right. You know, I always try to just get myself just think slow. And it helps my riding and helps me communicate with horses better. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:21:36] Right, right, right. And do you have it sounds like your awareness really works for you, that you’re, like, so aware of how you’re feeling and where your mind is? 
    • Kyle King [00:21:47] Yeah. I mean, I do this all day, every day, and then I’ve. I’ve made so many, you know, I’ve made more mistakes than most people, obviously. And I’m just learning as I get a little older how to how to try to get my brain in the right spot, you know, so that I can be the winner, you know, and. Right. And not give away, not give away stupid things for stupid reasons, I guess. You know, you do it, you do it wrong a few times and you start to learn the right way, you know? 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:22:17] Right. I’m interested in that. Your competitiveness. And and you see that as such an asset. And a lot of times that competitiveness with most riders can turn into a distraction because that are going in. Thinking about comparison, thinking about winning, which, you know, a lot of there’s a lot of aspects to that that are out of our control. So I’m curious, I it might seem to almost translate in just a positive energy that you’re bringing, like how do you think it translates so that it’s not a distraction and then being competitive is instead something that enhances how you ride. 
    • Kyle King [00:22:54] Well, I mean, it has it it might not always enhance me. You know, I am always wanting to be. I can’t ride for second place. I’ve tried. I just can’t. Yeah. And and I’ve heard from other very successful riders, like somebody once told me that had pants and told them who was a legend in our sport and won so many grand prix in his day and was just a complete genius, but that he won more Grand Prix trying to be second than than he did trying to win. And there’s probably something to that. But it’s a little bit the way you’re wired, you know, And I’m wired to try to win every time. And I’ve probably lost more classes, you know, lost more money. Any, you know, in the show ring with being, you know, the fastest, fastest jump off with eight faults, you know, But I had the fastest time, you know. But right as I get a little more mature and you know, it’s not like I’m living from dollar to dollar anymore, you know, necessarily I think I can be a little more smart. And and, you know, again, Stuart’s somebody I really rely on because he’s he’s always is so he’s so smart but he’s always trying to get, you know, he yells at me if ‘you know you’re a 4 seconds faster and with with the rail down’. You know, You think youcould have taken a second, you know, and it makes you think a little bit. That’s where I think my competitiveness might get in my way. And it has gotten my way in my career. But when push comes to shove, I can tell myself and tell myself that I’m going to be patient here and patient there. But once that whistle blows and I cross those timers, I’m always trying to find the fastest track, you know, even in the first rounds, you know, I hate time faults, I hate them. I mean, it is very rare to see me have a time fault in the class. And, you know, again, sometimes I’m 5 seconds under the time allowed and I’ve had a rail down where I could have for sure heard them right there. And it’s and it’s something that I fight because of the way that I’m wired, you know, like it’s right. It is something I need to get better at. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:25:06] Mm hmm. Yeah. No, I hear you. 
    • Kyle King [00:25:09] And I think I am. I think I am. Until that whistle blows, you know? Right? Right. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:25:17] Right? No. And I think being a lifelong learner is something that defines people at the top of any sport. You know that you’re always working and you’re always thinking about ways to improve your system and improve the way you prepare and get yourself to the start line of whatever it might be. 
    • Kyle King [00:25:36] And I’m really big on motivational speeches, you know, because they’re on your phone all the time. But I record I’ve got hundreds of recordings of motivational speeches, and I’ll drive my staff crazy. I’ll come in the mornings and put them on and, you know, turn the volume up super loud and. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:25:53] That’s awesome.
    • Kyle King [00:25:54] About winning and being a champion and, you know, all that kind of stuff. But it definitely it definitely fuels my fire, you know, like it. And I love the feeling. It gives me some I’m hooked on. I wake up at 4:00 every morning and and I just scroll through the phone. I listen to every motivational speech. I’ve heard most of it. Yeah. I love, I love I mean, it’s it’s I get a buzz off it, you know? So it’s. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:26:17] That’s awesome. So you have a good collection? 
    • Kyle King [00:26:20] I’ve got a great collection. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:26:22] So that’s an awesome example of a part of your preparation. Is there anything else that stands out? I like that. You know, you’re talking about like you watch just a certain horse or two. You’re not watching too much. You’re really thinking about where your eyes are, especially in the warm up racing. Is there anything else you’re doing, like before you get on or before you even get out to the ring or ways as you walk the course or visualize or anything like that? 
    • Kyle King [00:26:48] Yeah. I mean, I’ve always and I teach this to my students, too. You know, I mean, I’m. I can almost remember any almost any course I’ve ever done and I can’t remember. I mean, you’re talking to a guy who barely past school, but I can. I can, you know, the way that I walk the course, you know, that’s so important. You know, it’s so important to remember. But but by the time, you know, when I go out in the ring. I. You know, as I approach one, you know, the first jump, I’ll stop and I’ll take a look and I’ll I’ll plan my my little routine of how I’m going to what jumps. I’ll look and all immediately see what I think looks spookier as the course goes on. Maybe I’ll pick other places, but I’ll go in and I’ll set my approach. And what lead? I want to come to my first jump and then I’ll walk first. Jump to my second jump. And then I turn around again and I go over quickly, my head and swimmer come in. I’m going to come off this lead and go on to in seven strides or whatever, and then I’ll walk to the third jump and then I’ll go over it. So by the time I’ve got to the 13th jump the course, I’ve gone over it 26 times or however many times. Right, right. You know, 86 times or however many times that is and then. Right. And then I’ll I’ll sometimes, you know, I’ll go to the bathroom, you know, on the porta potty or whatever. And just while I’m in there, it’s not even that I’m going to the bathroom, but I’ll go in there to have a little space and I’ll then I’ll visualize my course and my track and the numbers and how, you know, depending on the type of horse I’m on and some horse that will direct the stride or some horse, I got to bend it out or you know, where I want to be with my body. You know, I kind of and I can do it all really fast in my head when you’ve done it over a million times, so that when I go in there, I’ve already seen that line 86 times already. Right. And and it does it’s it’s a good tool to have because things can happen, you know, and you got to be able to, you know, a horse can stumble or something can happen weird and you have to be able to click back into, you know, not worrying about focusing on the next. But it really is funny how your brain is strong. And I’ve never like, I could never study in school and like, I have a hard time reading things and comprehend and putting him in my memory, but I can visualize things pretty well. So that’s always kind of the way I’ve worked it for, for like going over my course preparation. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:29:08] Right? I love that in the walk that you go over like that, you add a piece and then you go back from the beginning and go back through it. I think that’s that’s really interesting. I’ve not heard that. That’s that’s great. It cements it. 
    • Kyle King [00:29:22] And I hate it. One thing that really messed me up, but I’m very careful, as you know, some of these course designers will naturally turn you the opposite way, you know? So if I’m walking my course and I walk to the wrong jump. That can really stick in my head. Then my instinct will make me turn that way. So I’m very careful if that happens. I talk to myself and I say, okay, now we got to rewind this. You got to rewire your brain here and make sure you know. You know. You know, because every especially when you’re doing these FEI classes, you know, this time lives are so short. I mean, if you’re if you’re one foot off track, you know, you’re yeah, you’re, you know, and I’ve got some slower moving horses that you really have to be efficient on, you know, But you know that we can’t you can’t blow your you’re training thought can’t go the wrong direction. Even if the people wouldn’t even notice from the outside. If I’m four feet wide in a corner, I’m, I’m behind it, you know, so. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:30:18] Right. 
    • Kyle King [00:30:18] Right. I, I really have I’m careful when I do it and it does happen once in a while. When you naturally start walking from one jump to another one and you go into the wrong one, it can it can get in your head the wrong. I’ve had it backfire on me before, you know. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:30:31] Right, Right. You got to be careful. Yeah, No, I know what you mean. Sometimes you naturally think you look, you turn left. And then, of course, designers asking a very different question. And it’s. It’s not instinctual sometimes. 
    • Kyle King [00:30:45] Yeah, but if I walk. Okay, first place, I’m really fine. But if I started to walk around the corner and hit my brain, it’s, you know, I’ve made mistakes there before, so I’m very careful. If that happens. Just to rewind, reset and refocus. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:31:01] Yeah, absolutely. And so tell me about the the teaching that you do and or giving clinics or what have you. You know, how do you talk with what are some of the most important pieces of how you talk with students about mental strength and focus? Are there parts of that that come in? 
    • Kyle King [00:31:22] Yeah, Yeah, of course. I mean, you get some kids that are super focused and some that are all over the place and, you know, you have to, you know, for safety reasons most of all, you know that, you know, some of these kids can be all over the place. And where are you thinking about? You know, you got to have a focus and you’ve got to be, you know, a role. And what’s something that I teach a lot is trying to, you know, good riders fix problems before their problems, like don’t go into a corner, let yours lean in and then try to fix it, you know? Fix that’ll fix the shoulder before the corner and then, you know, it’s not a problem. You know, it’s not like you have to fix problem. You fix problem for it’s problems, you know, So that’s where you need focused. You know, it’s not going you know, it’s you know, when you land after a jump, you want to be riding forward into that corner with the shoulder lifted so that you have options coming out of the next corner. Don’t just ride through the corner and look for your jump. Then shoulders all dropped in, you know? So it was about planning before, you know, thinking about what’s coming up next, thinking five or ten steps ahead of yourself at all times. Not, you know, a lot of people, you know, you know, they’ll leave long at a jump. The horse will be strong on the backside. And then they’re just worried about slowing him down and then they’re slowing down. Then they downshifted. And the you know, some the distances are coming up and, you know, he’s out of rhythm. And, you know, just ahead a little bit, you fix those problems before they’re a problem, you know. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:32:53] Mhm. 
    • Kyle King [00:32:54] And that’s and I always think that’s what the that’s what the top riders do is, is you know, they’re fixing the issues before they become issue I pretty much know not always but you pretty much know when a horse is going to spook at before it spooks you know so you’re prepped and ready with your balance and and and you know you know I think that’s just comes with experience. I mean, I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of horses I’ve sat on in my 30 year experience being a professional. You know, it’s I’ve been that’s my favorite new saying now to yeah, I’ve been doing that as a professional for 30 years. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:33:35] Yeah. 
    • Kyle King [00:33:35] Yeah. It’s it’s funny, all these years have gone by, but it’s true. I mean, as a professional, I mean, I’ve been pretty much riding professionally since I was 12 or 13. You know, I always catch riding other people’s horses when I was a kid. So I’ve got quite a few miles racked up these days. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:33:54] Right. And you lean into that. You want to lean into that as a strength and as something that’s given you extra confidence for sure. 
    • Kyle King [00:34:02] Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:34:04] And absolutely. 
    • Kyle King [00:34:06] Yeah. Just a kid that I’m helping, I, I just started helping this kid the other day, and she just got a really fancy horse that’s got a ton of miles experience, she came up to me when she came out of the ring. And she’s like, I’m just so worried to make a mistake. I was like, Well, you got to get that out of your head because these horses don’t know that. This horse doesn’t know. It was super expensive. It has no idea, You know, I mean, you cannot be thinking that, well, you have to be up there in charge. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $5,000 or $5 million horse, You know, I mean, the horses don’t know. You know, just because it’s an expensive horse doesn’t mean you ride it any different. You know, you still have to tell it. What’s going on is she was it did help her a lot, you know, And then I think since then, she’s not treating it like it’s this big thing you know, like this. This is going to mess it up. She’s not she’s not 100% dictating what she needs to be doing. I mean, she’s still out there doing it. You know, it was just funny to hear that from a kid like that. That’s a funny way to think. But obviously that’s the way she was thinking. And she expressed that to me and I was like, no, no, get that out of your head. It doesn’t matter, you know? Yeah, what they were paid for, It doesn’t matter. You still got to ride the hair off every horse, you know? So. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:35:23] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And that’s really. That’s really so true in any regard. I mean, in this instance, of course, what you’re saying about, you know, it’s a new horse, it’s a nice horse, that kind of thing. But but even still, just in general, just feeling like, you know, stepping up to a new division will be another example. And people are like, oh, I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s like, no, you have to own everything you do know how to do. That’s what has to come to the ring with you. It’s not to say you’re not going to learn, but you can’t be leaving behind the belief that there’s plenty that you know, because your horse needs you to be the captain of the team at all times. 
    • Kyle King [00:36:02] Absolutely. They feel it. Of course they feel it. And the horse is right, they they know when you’re a little worried. I mean, I’ve always I’ve always been a little bit of an over rider, you know, like, rather than underrider, you know, because I spent most of my life catch riding horses and usually those horses were carrying a little bit of baggage is why I was asked to ride them, you know. But right I, I tend to still like override a little bit. I’ve got a real horse I’m very excited about. It’s my my it’s pretty much my number one horse right now. But when I first got him he had only done the meter forties and I, I kind of rode in the first time in the meter thirties and he felt nice but not like, wow, but jump was great. And then I sort of moved him up and then I moved up again. And then now we’re doing our first three stars here, this circuit and I walk the course and I was like, Wow, I haven’t even jumped him a the single jump that meter, 55, let alone the whole course. Wow. Yeah, Yeah. And he’s just a little pipsqueak of a guy, you know? And so I overrode a little bit, ended up having a third jump down because I overrode and and but then he just flew around the rest of it and then the next class I did him in we had a beautiful clear and in fact he just jumps easier and bigger and better as they’re bigger which is but you know I always grow from confidence, you know like. You know, when I get on a horse, you know, if I jump a meter 40 vertical in a certain gear in a certain rhythm, you know, I stick it in my head. That’s how those horse’s balance works, you know, And then I get confidence from that. So then, you know, so now you know, and then you learn that gear and how that horse jumped well, and I try to always find that gear or similar gear to, you know, I figured he did it once and he likes that he can do that again, you know. So yeah, for a horse, you know, I don’t do catch riding at all anymore. If I do, it’s something that I think has a good potential at the end. But, you know, when I did ride horses that pulled up, you know, and had a reason of pulling up, you know, I was always very I was like, does it go right? Does it give you a question is, you know, and I could set that in my head so that I was kind of prepared before it happened just because you got to keep yourself safe too, you know. But I’ve always been pretty good at that, you know, like finding the instructions on a horse. And usually horses follow that. It’s usually the same problem, you know, in horses that have once been good and have lost confidence and started pulling up, they’re usually one sided or they usually off the left turn, they go right or off left turn. They drop in left or you know, they’ll balk three or four away. You want to be prepared before, like I said, before it happens, you’re prepared. You can fix that. But. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:38:48] Right. 
    • Kyle King [00:38:50] Yeah. Yeah. What? 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:38:51] I really. What I really like about what you just said about, you know, you jump a jump in the warm up ring in a certain gear a certain way with a certain balance, and. And you feel like it works, that you kind of lock that in. And I think an often a mistake, a mental mistake that a lot of juniors and amatuers make is they they lock in the problem and the mistake into their sense of into their feel instead of really emphasizing that time it was amazing. 
    • Kyle King [00:39:20] Well, exactly. Exactly. You know, and. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:39:22] Then. 
    • Kyle King [00:39:23] That’s exactly what happens. And then also something a lot of riders I will see keep making the same mistake or at least try to make a different one. You know what I mean? Like. Use your imagination. You know, if you keep coming off that turn, the same exact track, same rhythm, you’re going to get to that same distance every time. Change something a little bit. Use your imagination, you know? You know, something that really helps me and and I don’t get to do it all that much because I show so much anymore. But I really when I’m home training, I like to lunge my horses over, jumps a lot, and I really learn a lot about them, you know, where they where they and seeing it, you know, because I’m always on the horse. But when I’m on the ground and I’ve gotten good at it, I had done it for a long time. But I like to lunge my horses and I’ll jump them pretty big. I’ll test them a little bit, you know, but I’ll see where they want to naturally leave from. And you can in once you can you see how their step is from the ground. And then I can kind of picture myself on it. And it’s pretty amazing how how horses don’t miss very much without a rider. It’s pretty fun. Yeah, it can be short. It can be long, but it’s it’s it’s rarely the dead wrong on one way where they just can’t get off the ground or, you know I mean it’s it’s a it’s a good way for me to learn and and then same with, you know these days with this many horses I have got riders that ride for me and they’ll do a lot of my groundwork. I’ll be on another horse or I’ll be on the ground setting. And it does help me a lot for me when I get on them to see, you know, sometimes I see even more than I feel and vice versa. But it’s it is nice to be able to visualize. But you’re right, so many so many amateurs get so stuck. You know, I can’t find the distance. Like not seeing the distance. You need to step back, change your imagination a little bit, change your track, change your rhythm in the jump. The distance will appear, you know? But if you’re pulling on their mouths down to the jump, they’re not going to feel like they can get off the ground usually. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:41:26] Right? Course. Oh, yeah. And also keep replaying, you know, keep replaying the good time rather than keep replaying the mistake to your point, you know, then it just brings it and then you’re just going to make it more and more assured to make it over and over again. The more you do think about it and replay it in your mind, you know, for sure. Yeah. Well, gosh, thank you so, so much. This is all this so much good things here and and great information and such great examples. Thank you so much for for joining me and talking so candidly about your process. I really appreciate it. I think it’ll be very inspiring for folks. 
    • Kyle King [00:42:01] Well, thanks. 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:43:46] So this is Tonya’s tip of the month. This is an idea around using a challenge mindset. So this month I wanted to talk about how to use a challenge mindset versus a threat mindset. So what mindset do you use to approach a show? So a threat mindset is where you worry about what you will lose if you don’t do well. And this doesn’t necessarily have to just be a horse show. Right. It could be a lesson situation. It could be a training situation. It could be a clinic. But basically. When you’re in sort of a threat, that threat mindset, you’re worried about what other people will think of you. You’re trainers opinion. You worry about the judge or the outcome of the class, right? So these factors are all out of our control. And so they often create this threat perspective about what we’re doing, what we’re doing right when we perceive a threat. Our mind produces an excess of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can create feelings of anxiety and fear. With symptoms like rapid heart rate weakness, like forget you, forgetfulness, you have a poor memory, your focus can get derailed. So with this threat mindset, the focus is on what we’re afraid of instead of what we’re excited for. When you have a challenge mindset. Conversely, you can see any potentially stressful situation or competition as an opportunity to show what you know, right to grow, to learn to get better. Like challenge by choice. Like I’m here for a reason. I’m going to use this experience. We have an outlook then where we can use our adrenaline and our butterflies to make us sharper and stronger, right? So this challenge mindset is, you know, you’re more welcoming of that sort of adrenaline moment of that butterfly moment, because you know that you have places to channel it that are going to help you. So instead of worrying if we feel nervous, we focus on how to use nerves or butterflies as pure energy and channel them positively. We’re choosing to feel excited instead of scared. And that really is a choice. You know, you get to take charge of that association when you have that feeling. You get to make a smart choice about what you’re going to do with it, how you’re going to use it, how you’re going to look at it. So you can say to yourself, All right, cool. I have I have like what I need. I have the energy I need. I have the strength I need. Let’s go do this. Right. So remember, easy. Doesn’t work. It’s challenge that brings out our best. So that’s what I you know, instead of looking for things to be easy to, I want you to be excited and looking with that challenge mindset. You’re looking for things that will will encourage you, that will. Almost ask you to dig deep like that’s something that you’re excited for. Right. So this month, I want you to see your lessons or your rounds at a show as a challenge instead of a threat. This will change the chemical reaction going on in your brain. You’ll welcome some butterflies and trust that they’re bringing you healthy adrenaline to help you ride well, right. So a challenge mindset helps you use those butterflies to your advantage. So here are two ways to shift from a threat. To a challenge mindset. The number one would be focusing on what is in your control, right? Things like the course, the results, your competitors are all things that can cause stress and feelings of threat because they’re out of your control. We don’t know what they’re going to do, what they’re going to be, what’s going to happen. So you want to focus instead on things like your breathing. How you prepare for your lesson or on your course plan so that you can feel more in control and you can shift your mindset to one that is gearing up for a positive challenge and using the things in your control to your advantage. So that’s a really great way to shift gears. If you recognize when you’ve got distracted and feel scared by things that are out of your control, you shift gears. Okay. The second way to change from a threat to a challenge mindset would be to focus on being in the present moment. So often the threat mindset kicks in when we’re focused on the future and wondering how things will go. We need to get present in the moment to align with our strength and step into a challenge mindset where we’re excited for the process of riding. So to help with this, use an adaptation of a technique called grounding. The purpose is to use your senses. In the present moment to bring you back and away from worry. So you’re going back to the present moment. You’re going away from worry or the what ifs or feeling scared or threatened. So to use this version of grounding, so it’s a little bit shorter then than sort of a long form. So in this version of grounding, you would take a moment to name three things you can see, two things you can feel and one thing you can hear. This puts you back into reality, back into the moment, and gives you a break from worry and stress that were causing that feeling of threat. So this is something you would do, you know, waiting your turn if you’re finished, your warm up and you’re waiting to go in the show ring and you start feeling that negative sense of fear or threat or worry, you want to just come back to the present as a way of sort of clearing the deck energetically, clearing your mindset. And then. Whew, Taking a breath. Three things you can see. Two things you can feel. One thing you can hear. And then getting back engaged with things that are in your control that you’re going to use to your advantage as you walk in the ring or start your course or resume a part of your lesson or school. Okay, awesome. So good luck to everyone getting out there and really taking charge of your mindset and choosing positive challenge. . 
    • Tonya Johnston [00:51:23] You can find the links to today’s guests and the show notes at the Follow the plaidcast on all of the social medias just search for the plaid horse. You can follow me on Facebook at Tonya Johnston, mental skills coach and on Instagram at Inside Your Ride. Please rate and review our shows on iTunes. Five Star reviews Help people discover our show. And if you enjoy our conversation, please share it with your friends. If you have a question about your mental skills for riding, please message me on Facebook. Inside Your Ride is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book. You can find out more about my mental skills coaching on my website at W WW dot Tonya Johnston dot com. Remember, focus is a skill. Use it to make every ride great.