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Tonya Johnston, Mental Skills Coach speaks with top up-and-coming showjumping rider and trainer Kaitlin Campbell. Tonya also talks about how being vulnerable impacts us as riders and how your mental strength plays a key role in approaching the uncertainty that goes with competition. Brought to you by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services. Listen in!
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Tonya Johnston [00:00:34] This is episode 333 of the plaidcast. I’m Tonya Johnston, mental skills coach, and this is Inside Your Ride. Today’s podcast is brought to you by the Taylor Harris Insurance Services and the Plaid Horse Magazine. On today’s show, I speak with top up and coming showjumping rider and trainer Kaitlin Campbell. I also talk about how being vulnerable impacts us as riders and how your mental strength plays a key role in approaching the uncertainty that goes with competition.
Tonya Johnston [00:03:16] Thank you for joining me today. I hope your riding and shows have been going amazing. Cosmo and I went to a show last week after we had a bit of time off once the winter Circuit finished here and out here in California at Thermal, we took a few weeks off, which is was much needed and much much appreciated. It’s just the best to feel your horse happy and excited to be back in work and doing things and spring in his step. So, knock on wood, Cosmo has been feeling terrific as we prepare to head to Devon at the end of the month, which is a such a thrill for me. I’ve never been there or showed there, and it is for sure a bucket list trip. So I pinch myself often and I’m taking nothing for granted, though, you know, until we actually walk into the ring. I know there’s a lot of things that can still happen between now and then. You know, I’m not going to quite believe it until we’re actually there. But the preparation and the journey is just so fun and exciting. Honestly, sometimes I think a horse show just to do the preparation part. Yes, our part is is really so rewarding and the teamwork involved is something that is so motivating. So, you know, preparation for a long term goal is so fun for me. You know, when your rides are feeling great and you feel like you’re on track. As part of this preparation, I was getting ready for a derby at a show last week. Well, technically, I was on my way to visualize in the porta potty, truth be told. But so there I am, like on my bike and going around anyway. And I felt myself having a few minutes of resistance. And it’s normal, you know, it’s happened to me before and it’s usually short lived. It’s something I hear from clients a lot too. It’s a moment where. I think you know those thoughts that sometimes we have, you know, why am I doing this? You know, this feels hard. This feels scary. And it’s not because I’m afraid of doing it or riding the track or being in the ring or the winning part of the losing part or failure. It’s really not it’s not even so much about any of those particular pieces. It’s more. It’s more of a resistance to what the experience might mean. You know, this thought of what if something happens that I don’t like? And it’s a little bit around our relationship to the unknown, right? There’s a definite sense of. Trepidation that can. Occur in those kind of moments. Right. And I think a lot of what’s going on and I think what those questions, when I ask myself those questions, what they are for me and perhaps for a lot of us is. My relationship to being vulnerable. Right. So we all have a slightly different take on what it is and how it feels. But. Any way you slice it, there are ways that being vulnerable is really hard. And the thing is, when you care deeply about something and you put in a lot of work and you then put yourself into a competitive or performance situation where you don’t know what the outcome will be, you’re vulnerable. That’s what’s happening. You know, like it or not. But sometimes I just want to ride my horse and I don’t want to have to feel things, you know? I don’t know if any of you can relate to that. So so those that that resistance moment feels so real. But that’s where mental strength and doing the work on mental skills is so important. So first, to have a strong, stable and resilient mindset from which to work, that will allow you to be aware of how you feel and acknowledge it. And I think this is key, that there’s no self judgment part of that, so that you’re not looking down on yourself or being negative, like, Oh, you shouldn’t be feeling that, or why are you scared or, you know, that kind of thing. It’s just you’re just accepting it like, yeah, that’s how I’m feeling right here in this moment. And with that acceptance then. That next moment of being able to then consciously shift your focus to a state of gratitude for the opportunity to consciously say, Hey, wait a minute, you know, my relationship with my horse and with our team is so valuable to me and that to appreciate the potential for learning and growth that is in this moment, you know, those are the things that will boost you when it feels hard. I will say vulnerability doesn’t necessarily get easier. But with grace and compassion for yourself and your experience, acceptance of being vulnerable, and also all the tools in your mental skills toolbox, Right? You do get even more courageous in those moments. Brene Brown is an expert on vulnerability. And I know so many of us have read and listened to her for years. And in her book Daring Greatly, she says vulnerability is not weakness. And the uncertainty, risk and exposure we feel every day is not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose. So it’s my hope that as you all go through your preparation for your rides, if you bump into any resistance or hard feelings about your own vulnerability, you remind yourself that you are courageous and all of the reasons why you love what you’re doing and the simple fact that you wouldn’t rather be anywhere else in the world. So that is my wish for all of us as we go forward into our summer shows and summer fun that we’re having with with our horses. So right after these messages, we’ll get to my conversation with Kaitlin Campbell. Thanks for tuning in.
Tonya Johnston [00:11:53] Kaitlin Campbell is an up and coming professional who rides for SWS Training and Sales. Kaitlin gained experience with hunters and jumpers on the East Coast from trainers including Tim Goguen, Shane Sweetnam, Rachel Kennedy and Debbie Stephens. After graduating from American University in 2013, Kaitlin learned how to develop young horses at Spy Coast Farm as well as taught and trained top show and sail horses under Leslie Emerson at Marigot Bay Farm before moving to California in 2016. Kaitlin has several Grand Prix wins at venues such as Thermal, Upperville and Temecula and was leading Jumper Rider during the 2023 Desert Winter Circuit. Thank you so much for joining me today, Kaitlin. Really happy to have you.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:12:38] Thank you.
Tonya Johnston [00:12:39] Yeah, this is going to be fun. I love talking to people that I don’t know about mindset, people that I’ve admired. I definitely watched you at Thermal and think you’re just amazing in the tack and was really fun to to watch you be successful. I know this was quite a nice winter circuit for you.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:12:59] Yeah, it was a lot of fun. We did all the weeks of thermal and we had a lot of success with a lot of horses, so.
Tonya Johnston [00:13:07] And you got that. You got the tack box for leading jumper rider. So that’s always fun right.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:13:11] I got the tack box for the leading jumper rider and I got the 50,000 bonus.
Tonya Johnston [00:13:15] Yes. For the Meter 40.
Tonya Johnston [00:13:18] Congrats. So fun.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:13:19] Kyle. Kyle nipped us all in the $100,000 bonus.
Tonya Johnston [00:13:24] Oh, right. Got it. Yeah, but these things will happen. Yeah. So. So tell me about, you know, your relationship to mindset and how you approach sort of. Your mental preparedness, I would say, you know what I mean. Like, is there anything you’re doing on a regular basis that helps you kind of focus or. Stay confident.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:13:52] I would for sure. I’d start out by saying that I’ve never had any mental skills coaching. So what I’m doing, or if I’m doing anything, it’s probably on the subconscious level at this point. Right. Just because I’m not really like I’m not really thinking about my mental skills. Yeah. Probably just kind of like happening. Mhm. But for sure, I ride a lot of different horses now. I probably had ten or 15 different horses at Thermal that I was riding, and they’re all extremely different. I have fast ones, slow ones, big ones, small ones, I have the whole array of horses. So I think for me, like right when I get on, like in the warm up area, I think the most conscious thing I do is I just like when I’m walking around, I have to like almost remind myself like, okay, what am I sitting on? What horse am I sitting on? How do I need to ride this horse? Like very detailed thinking about what horse I’m actually sitting on and how I need to ride that specific horse just because I’m kind of jumping all over the place.
Tonya Johnston [00:15:04] Right. Which is so useful, I think, for your focus. I mean, I think that’s where sometimes people that have one horse and know it well can almost go on autopilot there. That I think does them a disservice. So sometimes not knowing is maybe I think in some respects you tell me if I’m wrong, but it could be a way that it actually keeps you a little sharper, too.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:15:25] Yeah, for sure. It has its own has its pros and cons. Yeah.
Tonya Johnston [00:15:29] Yeah.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:15:30] I spend a lot of time with only riding one horse. So I think I think it’s definitely easier if you only have one horse to ride for riding that specific horse. Right. But for sure it does put you a bit on autopilot. But I don’t know necessarily if autopilot is a bad thing. Mm hmm.
Tonya Johnston [00:15:52] Yeah, I guess. I mean, if you are specifically wanting to pick for a certain event or class or you know what I mean? Like, there’s I think there’s sometimes the downside of it is that you’re make you’re riding with assumptions instead of awareness in the moment of actually what’s happening underneath you.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:16:13] Yeah, that’s for sure. Because I mean horses that you know better. Mm hmm. Like, at least for me, like when I’m sitting on a horse, I’ll be like, okay, you know, this horse, if this horse is going to knock down a jump, it’s probably going to knock down this jump. Or, you know, you put so much time into an effort into protecting that certain area that you kind of let your guard down. And then all of a sudden it’s, you know, it’s like, all right, going to be the easy part. That turned out to be the part that got knocked out.
Tonya Johnston [00:16:42] Right, right, right, right.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:16:44] So whereas on the horses, I you don’t know as well. And you know, you’re kind of paying attention more the entire time.
Tonya Johnston [00:16:52] Mm hmm. Mm hmm. And the paying attention is really the goal, right? I mean, that’s sort of that’s what we’re trying to do, is ride every step and be aware. I mean, our horses are aware every step. Like it’s important for us to be engaged with them, you know, all the way around.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:17:08] For sure. We do a lot of, like, training clients. And I always tell them, I’m like, You’re in the ring for 90 seconds, like you, it’s only 90 seconds. Like, you have got to pay attention every single second of that 90 seconds. Like, it’s really not that difficult to pay attention for that sort of time. Mm hmm. Like, you have to put every single second. And then when you come out of the ring like, it’s fine, you can take a breath. But that 90 seconds, you’re in the ring. You have to be paying attention the entire time.
Tonya Johnston [00:17:36] Right, Right. No, for sure. And not allowing yourself to think behind you are too far ahead, that kind of thing. Can you see in your clients when when they’ve gone, when you’re like, oh, they didn’t let that mistake go? Or like, do you know what I mean? I think that, yeah.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:17:53] 100%.
Tonya Johnston [00:17:54] What do you see when that happens?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:18:00] Like when a client makes a mistake, you mean?
Tonya Johnston [00:18:02] Yeah. Yeah, that or like, you know that they’re anticipating something later on the course and maybe they’re just not quite clicked in to, like, what’s happening in the moment.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:18:12] I think I actually see it the worst when a client has a mistake, but they actually get away – okay We mainly do the jumper ring, so. Right. A client makes a mistake, but the jump doesn’t fall down. Everything is still good.
Tonya Johnston [00:18:26] Oh yeah.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:18:27] You got away with it, like. You know, today is your lucky day, you made a mistake, but you didn’t knock it down. But then they’ll still be thinking about that mistake three or four later, and then an actual mistake will happen because they’re still caught up on that mistake four jumps to go. But they actually got away with it.
Tonya Johnston [00:18:46] But it still rattled their cage enough that. Yeah, exactly.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:18:49] Yeah. So I think when you have a mistake, which mistakes are going to happen all the time it’s you know especially if you don’t hear that rail fall, you just got to keep focusing on what’s coming up. You can’t keep thinking about Oh God, 4 jumps ago this happened.
Tonya Johnston [00:19:04] Right and so I know it’s probably very automatic for you at this point, but was there a time when you were a junior where you might have felt similar, or do you remember working through that of like how to stay engaged and really active in the plan and fighting for it?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:19:23] I mean, for sure, just getting in the ring and doing it is really the best way to kind of get over being hung up on your mistakes. For me, I think doing a lot of speed classes have helped because if you’re if you’re going fast, you’re going for it. You know, at the speed, I’m usually going to win. I’m not really doing too many schooling rounds. Like, you don’t have time to be thinking about what happened. You just have to focus on. What’s in front of you.
Tonya Johnston [00:19:57] Right. Gotcha. Yeah, totally.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:20:03] Especially when you’re pushing the speed of it bit, You know, you need to. There’s not enough time to be thinking about anything else.
Tonya Johnston [00:20:09] Right. And did you So as a junior, were you doing mostly did you did both the hunter ring and the jumper ring or was it always mostly the jumpers?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:20:19] I grew up riding in Pennsylvania with Patty Miller, she was my first trainer, and I’m very small and five feet tall. And so I was on ponies for a long time.
Tonya Johnston [00:20:30] I was going to say, oh that must have meant a certain thing. We all know what that means.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:20:32] Yeah, I had to claw myself off of the ponies.
Tonya Johnston [00:20:36] Right, Right.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:20:37] So I did a lot of pony hunters. And the. And I. I was homeschooled during high school, so I was riding kind of more as like almost like a junior professional for my junior years. So I was riding mostly hunters. I never did the equitation, I never did an equitation class.
Tonya Johnston [00:21:02] Really? Was that by design, like you had no interest?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:21:04] No, I just. I wasn’t. You don’t really get catch rides in the equitation ring so much on the East Coast. It’s mostly the kind of riders that own their horses. And I had my one hunter and my one jumper, and that was kind of the top of what we could afford, right?
Tonya Johnston [00:21:25] Sure.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:21:26] I focused on that and then I got a lot of like hunter catch rides. So I did that. And then I went to. College at American University, and I wasn’t really planning on riding so much during college. So I was an amateur, but I had one horse that we had leased out before I went to college and he came back with an injury. So it’s not like he could have really been leased or sold at that point because he had just had 18 months off for two suspensory injuries.
Tonya Johnston [00:21:55] Oh, wow.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:21:55] Yeah. I don’t want to say I was stuck with him, but like, in the sense I was kind of stuck with him. Right. But he turned out to be amazing. Obviously, that was Rocky W and he won so many classes after he came back from his injury. He just won Grand Prix after Grand Prix. So I had him during college and then after college, that’s when I became a professional.
Tonya Johnston [00:22:21] Mm hmm. And what would you say? Sometimes success becomes its own distraction. So when you were so successful with him, did you ever feel like how did you cope with that? Sometimes people feel an added pressure, right, to just sustain. How was that? Tell me about that experience.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:22:41] Yeah, for sure. I mean, I always get more nervous for classes that I think that I should do well in. You know. When I go jump a five star Grand Prix. I’m very nervous because I’m pretty much just happy to survive or raise the right level there. Like I’m happy with pretty much any result. But you know, if there’s a smaller Grand Prix and I have like a course that could or should win the class, I’m definitely more nervous for that to try to get that win that I know that I can get.
Tonya Johnston [00:23:14] Mm hmm. And so what do you do? Is there anything you do? Is it can you can you put your finger on anything that that helps or are ways that you cope?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:23:26] I think it’s just kind of second nature at this point. I mean, I’m definitely if I’m nervous, like in the warm up area or like before the class. Like, I know when I go in the ring, that’s not going to be what I’m thinking about.
Tonya Johnston [00:23:38] Mm hmm.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:23:39] So when I go in the ring, it kind of just takes over, you know?
Tonya Johnston [00:23:44] Right. So it’s a little bit I think I think there’s a lot of people who feel that way and they know, like, gosh, as soon as I pick up the camera in the ring, it’s okay. So there’s a certain amount that it’s that it’s tolerance. Like you just have to tolerate like, Oh, yeah, I see. I feel that. Okay. And I’m going to keep warming up and I’m going to I’m going to keep trusting that it’s going to take care of itself. Is that like any kind of self-talk you might use?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:24:07] For sure? And that kind of goes with any sort of anxiety, not even related to riding.
Tonya Johnston [00:24:15] You mean just in the in life?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:24:17] Yeah, exactly. Mm hmm. I’ve gotten through it before. I know. I’ll get through it again, and it’ll.
Tonya Johnston [00:24:25] And that reminder, I mean, that that self-talk and that conversation we have in our head like is is really, really powerful and it’s important. Sometimes that voice starts to not become an ally and it’s important to keep it like a cheerleader or a supporter. A reminder like, Yeah, this, this will work. You have done this. You know that positivity is not something I think we can ever take for granted.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:24:53] No, for sure not. I mean, like any sport or athlete. Everyone has their ups and downs. So even if you if you have that positivity and you still don’t get a great result, that’s where it gets a little bit hard mentally. But again, there’s so many horse shows out there. You can always go again next weekend or the week after or the week after. So it’s it’s hard to lump when that happens. But right in the nature of really any sports.
Tonya Johnston [00:25:24] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And just making sure to keep that long range vision.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:25:30] Exactly.
Tonya Johnston [00:25:31] Yeah. Which can be hard if you’re new to it or you’re a junior and you may not have the maturity or, you know, sort of the awareness of what you just what you said like this. This isn’t going to define me. I’m going to be able to, you know, go again and have a different experience. You know, the next time I go horse show. This one moment isn’t going to sort of be tattooed on me or what have you.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:25:53] Yeah, which is easier said than done.
Tonya Johnston [00:25:55] Yeah, no, it totally is.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:25:57] No one likes to come out of the ring with a bad result.
Tonya Johnston [00:26:00] Yeah.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:26:01] We wouldn’t do that if we’re happy with something that happened… No, exactly. So, you know, it’s just kind of taking making that into. Okay, how can I do this better the next time? What can I do it without, you know, being hard on yourself, I don’t think is so bad. As long as you use that to make changes and make a better result, or at least do something different the next time to try to get a different result.
Tonya Johnston [00:26:27] Right. If it leads to some action. Right. So. So speaking of like, things that are that are tough, I know that you are. You ride on a major league showjumping team. Can you talk about that and how that is mindset wise?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:26:45] Yeah, for sure. I ride for the Desert Horse Parks Roadrunners Major League showjumping team. It started two years ago and I’ve been on it the last two years.
Tonya Johnston [00:26:56] Awesome.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:26:57] Kind of before that, like really the only, like, team sort of oriented things I’ve done is I did one like developing Riders Nations Cup in Europe like a while ago and then like young riders. But besides that, you don’t really get too many opportunities to be jumping on a team. Unless you’re doing, like global tour.
Tonya Johnston [00:27:20] Right.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:27:23] But, you know, it’s it’s a hard it’s it’s hard mentally knowing that your result has like the direct impact. On two other riders, especially because in the Major League showjumping there’s no drops for like Nations Cup. So every there’s three riders and everyone’s score counts. So. Two of your riders you could jump clear and clear and then the third rider could go in and stop and have 20 faults and you’re out.
Tonya Johnston [00:27:49] Right?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:27:50] It’s not a great feeling being that rider that that happens too. But again, with any kind of team sports and it’s it’s something especially with horses involved that it can happen on any day, but it’s definitely more mentally difficult knowing that other people are relying on you.
Tonya Johnston [00:28:12] Right. Do you think that you’ve had to become more mentally tough as a result of of do doing that team?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:28:20] Yeah, for sure. So there’s there’s ten shows, ten Major League showjumping shows a year. I probably jumped on about five each year, five competitions. So even from now, from the beginning until now, there’s a huge difference on, you know, I know when I go in there, I’m jumping for my clear round. That’s the best I can do. That’s the, you know, the goal. And I focus on jumping that clear around with my horse and all the other riders that’s that’s not my concern. What happens with them. I mean, it is, but mentally, you know, I focus on jumping the best possible round I can.
Tonya Johnston [00:29:04] Mm hmm. And do you think that comes back that does you think that strength enhances your mindset then when you’re back jumping Grand Prix on your own as well? Do you see any kind of resilience that’s built that you bring to your regular day to day showing?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:29:23] I kind of have to think about that. It might be subconsciously again.
Tonya Johnston [00:29:29] Right.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:29:30] But I think any kind of any kind of exposure that you’re getting, that’s. Putting the pressure on you, even more so than normal. Then you’re just going to be able to handle pressure in more situations. Like if I have a jump off and I’m coming back last and you know, it’s mine to win at that point, like for sure. Just having the experience of riding under pressure and no matter where that pressure is coming from, it’s never going to hurt to have that experience. Right. It’s like when you watch McLain and Laura Kraut and Kent Farrington and they’ve jumped so many like championships that Nations Cup that when they come in for those Grand Prix and they go last and you know, it’s theirs to win, you hardly ever see them make a mistake.
Tonya Johnston [00:30:17] Right? It’s just the amount. Yeah.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:30:21] For for an inexperienced rider like that feeling of, you know, coming back last and having that pressure definitely takes a lot of practice to not choke.
Tonya Johnston [00:30:31] Mm hmm. Sure. Yeah. And that’s where, you know, when when you’re new to it, you know, that’s where, you know, some of the mental skills like that we teach can come in as far as, you know, mental rehearsal and visualization and, you know, rehearsing, holding your focus and staying poised in those settings and visualizing it before it happens. Like because it’s not the case that everyone can just go show every week. So we gotta supplement, you know, you want to supplement that exposure and sometimes you can supplement that through, you know, rehearsal, through dress rehearsal, through visualization, you know, those kinds of things that can really help boost that as well. But I know what you mean. It’s looking for any opportunity. And I think that’s where in general, people that relish. Pressure situations. Almost for like looking forward to the strength that it will bring more than worrying about the results that may or may not happen. I think that’s a strong way to approach it.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:31:33] Yeah, for sure. And it’s not just at the top. It’s not just at the top level of showjumping. Also even an Ariat Equitation class where they take back the top four. You know, when you’re testing last like there’s that added pressure like, you know you’re winning already like the pressure of like just not screwing it up right now. Keep you’re lead like you don’t need to be brilliant. You just need to really not screw up big time to keep that lead. Even doing classes like that. Right. Then you know, stuff like that that adds a certain level where, you know, the, you know, the standings going in and you maintain kind of those standings.
Tonya Johnston [00:32:09] Mm hmm. Right. Absolutely.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:32:13] You know, young riders, amateur riders can do sort of classes like that. And it’s going to just build upon the skills to be able to do it at a higher level.
Tonya Johnston [00:32:22] Right. Totally. So when you’re coaching someone, how do you help them not get in their head or have too many thoughts or too many priorities? Like what? What are the ways that you facilitate that with your riders?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:32:40] I think a lot of times the like when you’re watching a class, especially at a thermal and some of the bigger shows when there’s, you know, 60 people in your class and you go 60th. Like, I don’t like when riders sit around and watch all 50 rounds before they think. Right. Right. There’s a lot of different horses. There’s a lot of different riders. And kind of the more you watch, the more you know, different things are going to happen. Horses are going to do different strides. People are going to take a different track. And it just kind of it makes you question your original plan when you walk the course or made a plan with your trainer that all these people are doing different things. Should I change? You know, So I try to watch no more than ten, like.
Tonya Johnston [00:33:28] Right.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:33:28] Unless, you know, kind of every single horse and rider in your class and how, you know, your horse compares. Watch a couple, see how the course rides and then go do something else and come back. Like, don’t just sit there for an hour and a half before you get on. Analyze it like every single other person whose horse you don’t know and whose plan you don’t know.
Tonya Johnston [00:33:47] Right. Definitely. Yeah, absolutely. And so you will talk to them about how and when to watch.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:33:54] Yeah. Yeah.
Tonya Johnston [00:33:56] And what about the instruction you give or like, the way you formulate a course plan? Like, do you. Are you keeping it simple? Are you giving a lot like, what’s the like ratio there of, like your input?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:34:10] I mean, it all depends on the horse and the rider in general. I like to try to keep things simple unless I know there’s something that should be done differently for that specific horse. Again, I ride a lot of different types of horses. Like I could walk a class and there’s the first lines. Supposed to be a night for a normal horse. I know if I add one horse, I might do a ten. On the other horse, I might do an eight. And you just have to, you know, know your client, know your client’s horse and kind of make a plan. You know, you can tell and be like, listen, you’re going to see a lot of nines here, but eight is what’s best for you and your horse. And you have to have a trainer that you trust when you go in the ring that they’re telling you, you know, what is best for you and your horse.
Tonya Johnston [00:36:13] So what would you say is something that motivates you because you’re I mean obviously I mean you’re riding a ton of different horses. Your days are super long. Like what’s something that makes you smile or keeps you, you know, going. It’s the most fun you’re having.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:36:31] Oh, my God. I don’t know. Winning.
Tonya Johnston [00:36:38] But winning. Right?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:36:39] Having the most fun.
Tonya Johnston [00:36:41] Okay. Okay.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:36:42] We do a lot of. We do a lot of the sales horses also. So it’s always nice to see when we sell a horse, you know, especially if we produce it a little bit to see them doing well with their next rider, you know? Right. The best horse for me, if they go to the next rider and are killing it with them, you know that that definitely makes the days a lot easier.
Tonya Johnston [00:37:05] Right? Definitely. And that’s something that it’s sort of reinforcing, isn’t it? Like, Oh, yeah. You know, like you I’m sure, you know, you do a good job, but that maybe rather than having people tell you about it, like you’re seeing it and you’re seeing it in action.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:37:19] Yeah. And it’s nice to see like your horses, you know, making someone else happy.
Tonya Johnston [00:37:24] Mhm. Yeah, definitely. So what, what’s sort of on the horizon that you’re really working toward.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:37:33] I just got a couple of new horses and we sold we just sold one that I had been competing on the last couple of years. So probably for the next couple of months it’s more of a little bit of like a transition time to kind of get to know the new horses. And then so I’ll go to Thunderbird for the Major League showjumping there, and then we’ll go to the East Coast for a little while so I can get to know the new horses and then the fall circuit will really pick up again being, you know, the bigger classes.
Tonya Johnston [00:38:08] Right.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:38:09] So hopefully in the next couple of months we can kind of a gear more towards the end of the year.
Tonya Johnston [00:38:14] Okay. Gotcha. And is that something that you enjoy this process? Like, do you use video like. How do you go about getting to know a new one? Like, what are some of your I mean, I obviously riding them and schooling them and all of that, but like, are there ways you. Work around them or like I said, use video or like what? What are some of your main tools for that?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:38:39] For me. It’s just it’s easier for me to kind of know what I want to do, like on the horse. And that goes with clients also. Like sometimes if a client is struggling with something and I’m on the ground, I’ll be like, No, let me just get on the horse and see what it feels like. Instead of trying to coach them from the ground, I’ll get on the horse and see what’s happening or what it feels like. And for me, that’s easier to be able to tell someone what to do once I’ve already felt it on the horse. Yeah. So when I get new horses, it’s just, you know, it’s it’s a process. It’s hard. It’s really again because I’m small one horses, bigger riders. It’s an adjustment period for them because they’re like, why are your legs halfway up my side and I ride. Anthony So it’s an adjustment period for the horses too. And you know, you have to try different varietals and different spurs and get to know them. But I’ve ridden so many different types of horses now that I can kind of take bits and pieces of everything that I’ve done or ridden in the past and kind of apply certain pieces of that to the new horses to piece together everything kind of as quickly as possible. And some are a lot easier than other ones for sure. Some horses take a really long time before you figure it out. You could try 20 different things, different bridles, different ways of riding them, different spurs, you know, different preparation for the horse. And finally on, you know, you’ve tried 19 things, and finally on the 20th one, everything comes together and you’re like, Oh my God, that took so long. But here we are, right? The horses. You sit down for one time and you’re like, Oh, you know, this is like, I’ve had this horse in my barn. Yeah, yeah.
Tonya Johnston [00:40:27] When you have that, it’s a good question. Like when you’re letting to No one and it’s rough, like it’s a real challenge. And are you good about this is a thing like I’m curious about with your clients too. Are you good about like picking out a couple of things that they might have done well, or you know what I mean? So that the whole ride isn’t just like you’re just overly critical and negative about it. Like, are you able to, like, separate out pretty well?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:40:54] Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah. I mean, you know, you could knock every jump down, but, you know, you did the triple well, so like, okay, so work on triple is like at least that’s one thing we’ve got down, right? So I mean even in your even in your absolute worst courses. Okay make all of it the first fence there’s nothing but in your courses, if they’re terrible there will still be some sort of positive, you know, something that well or something that was like actually like, oh that was actually really good, you know? Yes. That all nine other jumps were terrible. But that one was that one was actually me. And so you kind of think like, okay, well, why was that one so much better than all the rest of the jumps? Like, why did that work out? How do I replicate what happened at that sense to all nine of the other ones?
Tonya Johnston [00:41:46] Hmm. Exactly. Exactly. And that’s something that also keeps your confidence less on a roller coaster because you’re able to have that positive sort of, you know, moment of recognition of progress. It’s so important to sort of keep hope and keep optimism in the mix even as you’re working on some really hard problems.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:42:09] Yeah, for sure. And like, I’ve had like one of my most memorable rounds was with Rocky in Wellington, and it was it was a five star Grand Prix. It was massive. I was terrified. Under the lights like I should not have been jumping the class. And I think we jumped clear until the second to last fence and I just missed so bad. And he stopped and it was heartbreaking in the moment. But like, honestly, like, you know, the fact that we jumped at.
Tonya Johnston [00:42:37] The majority of Yes. Yeah.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:42:39] Of that clear like it’s still like, okay, just erase that one jump like the rest of the round was probably like one of my best rounds in like, ever. So, you know, you know, Yeah, that one jump sucked, but, you know, it’s very fixable. Like, you know. So it’s definitely important to especially in rounds that you weren’t expecting to do well when it when it is really good. It might be a really big score on the board, but in reality it was actually a really good round.
Tonya Johnston [00:43:10] Wow, That’s amazing. That’s that’s a great example. Are you are you going like when you take your clients to a situation like that where it’s a really big step up, like how do you help them with like the mental part?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:43:30] Well, I’m a big believer in not stepping up until I feel you and your horse are 100%. Yeah, clearly. And I’m not in the training there. Or people should move up too fast and not be when clients do move up. Like it’s not it’s not a tragic round because they’re very prepared to make that next step and the horse is prepared. So, you know, there’s usually one or two mistakes that are fixable, but it’s never usually because they’re over faced because nothing happens to a horse and rider’s over faced.
Tonya Johnston [00:44:04] Right, right, right, right. Yeah. No, that makes sense. So. So that they’re even so prepared. And I think that’s a good point about, you know, prepared on the physical side. So they’re not over faced with like any of the physical aspects of the track or what have you. But also the what that gives you is like such a stable mental foundation to be working on, because that means they’re will have had enough experience to be able to weather a couple of mistakes. If it’s the new division and it’s a little bit hard and you know, a couple of things happen, they’re just better equipped to absorb that and learn from it and not take it as a major blow.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:44:41] Yeah, exactly. But the minute you step up too fast is when major blows do happen.
Tonya Johnston [00:44:47] Right.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:44:48] It’s important for everyone, your horse, your rider and your trainer to be comfortable moving up to the steps. So it’s successful for everyone. Right. No one wants a big, ridiculous amount. It costs to go to a horse show. I think you know, with that. Yeah. Have a terrible experience. Like, that’s not fun for anybody. It’s not fun for the rider or the horse.
Tonya Johnston [00:45:10] Right. Absolutely.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:45:12] Better to be a 100% confident that you’re ready to make the step up.
Tonya Johnston [00:45:18] Mm hmm. No, for sure. Yeah. Yeah. With with such a big schedule, how do you rest or recharge? Like, how do you is there anything you do on a day off or at night? Like, do you have like a fun way that you’re like, you got to let off steam or just take a break?
Kaitlin Campbell [00:45:37] And no, I, I probably just like napping and like being alone.
Tonya Johnston [00:45:42] Yeah, napping is good. Napping is high quality.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:45:45] I’m people ask me, they’re like, Oh, do you, like, work out? You know, I literally go home and nap yeah.
Tonya Johnston [00:45:53] That’s great. That’s actually a very, very high quality mental skill. The skill of napping. I know that’s no joke.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:46:00] I’m definitely up on that mental skill.
Tonya Johnston [00:46:02] That good. All right, So give yourself full credit there. Awesome. Good. All right, Well, great. Well, thank you so, so much for taking the time to talk to me.
Kaitlin Campbell [00:46:10] Yeah, for sure.
Tonya Johnston [00:47:21] You can find the links to today’s guests and the show notes at theplaidhorse.com/Listen. 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 www.tonyajohnston.com. Remember, focus is a skill. Use it to make every ride great.
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