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Tonya Johnston, Mental Skills Coach answers your listener questions about mental skills for riders. Brought to you by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services. Listen in!
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This transcript was generated automatically. Its accuracy may vary.
Tonya Johnston [00:00:36] This is episode 342 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, we are doing a listener Q&A. I’m so fortunate that so many of you saw my call out on social media for your mental skills questions. Thank you so much. I love the engagement and I hope you find this episode interesting and relevant. I invited a few folks on to ask me their questions live so that we can have quick chats about how to address their issues. I will also be answering a few other questions that were posted.
Tonya Johnston [00:03:33] Thank you for joining me today. We’re going to tackle some listener questions about gossip, balancing technicalities with just getting the job done. Being brave while trying horses to buy or lease. Relaxing and refocusing on course when you realize you are tense. As well as tips to memorize a course quickly. My apologies, you guys, for not getting to all the questions. I received so many that rest assured, I’m keeping a list and please know that I will keep everything you submitted and I’ll try to answer them on future shows like so. I was so thrilled to see so many people writing in messaging me. I really, really appreciate it. Thank you for submitting and thank you for listening. So I want to take this opportunity here at the top of the show to thank you for the wonderful support of my new audiobook version of Inside Your Ride. I’ve had so many messages and reviews on Audible and iBooks and Amazon. Honestly, it thrills me to hear that it’s having a positive impact out there in the world after taking me so long to get it done. I’m so glad that you all are listening and and getting some benefit out of it and enjoying it. I really appreciate it really means the world to me. But also it helps get the word out when you do rate and review and share the book. So thank you. And on that note, I wanted to share a little excerpt from the new Bonus Section ten Mindset Mottos to Remember. So I wrote this. I wrote this new section specifically for the audiobook. So I just wanted to share a little a little piece of it here. Freedom as an athlete as being comfortable with any outcome. Freedom from fear is required to be your best. But let’s be clear. Comfortable doesn’t mean you would like to make a mistake or you enjoy losing. You just don’t fear it. There’s a big difference between the two. Fear is limiting. Freedom is expansive. It allows you to grow and explore and try new things without worrying about a negative outcome. The freedom you give yourself to be brilliant is the same freedom you need to accept that things may not work out every single time or every single ride. Freedom is the ultimate goal. Everything else that happens as a result is gravy. Okay. So thank you so much again for listening, getting the audio book, reading, reviewing, sharing. You can find it wherever you buy your audiobooks. And I’m really hoping that you guys I’ve had messages of people listening on their way to your show, so I hope you’re all out there having fantastic summers with your horses and enjoying your time, enjoying whatever horse shows you might be attending or, you know, rides at home or hacks out all of it. So now please stay tuned for our listener Q&A.
Tonya Johnston [00:08:49] Hi, Savannah. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Savannah [00:08:53] Thank you for having me.
Tonya Johnston [00:08:54] That’s so great. So I put out this sort of all points bulletin on all my social channels to request listener questions, listener mental skills questions. And you were so kind to first post a question, but then also volunteer when I invited folks to come on the show. So thank you. So maybe you could share your question. Your your discipline, what you ride in what level and maybe what sort of prompted the question.
Savannah [00:09:25] Yes, of course. So my name is Savannah. I am based out of North Carolina Davidson area, just north of Charlotte. I am an event rider. I grew up in the event world. A little bit of dressage and showjumping also comes along with that. So. And I teach junior riders adult amateurs. I have gone through training level myself and just looking to keep going through the levels as horses and life allows. But so for my question, you know, how do we. Balance, riding all the technicalities that go into horses and just kind of getting the job done.
Tonya Johnston [00:10:12] Right.
Savannah [00:10:13] Where does that balance come from, I guess, or into the mindset that makes sense.
Tonya Johnston [00:10:19] That idea of as we get closer and closer to walking through an ingate of any kind, whether it’s, you know, the dressage court, whether it’s the showjumping, whether it’s, you know, the start box, like we said, we want to the concept I want you to think about as to to make sure and you can do this from teaching and and, you know, modeling and talking to students about this, but also just in general as riders to think about giving yourself enough time to digest the technicalities before you get on. So having a quality to your preparation routine, I think is part of this equation and part of best practices here so that you’re not feeling like. You’re getting on with the specifics of a certain course or the specifics of a certain ride, sort of knocking around really loudly in your brain, like we want to do all of that learning and memorizing ahead of time. And you want to think about there being a funnel of information. So it’s there’s a lot of information as you are, you know, the technicalities of a specific course, let’s say like the the like how the lines ride. Right? And that is something. So as you walk a course, you’re learning all of that. There’s a lot of technical information you’re doing that, you know, you’re still up maybe a good 45 minutes away from from your actual ride time. That’s appropriate. So that’s a that’s having the big you know what I mean? Like the funnel is big at the top. So we’re taking a lot of information. We’re walking around the ring. We’re looking at like, wow, this ring really has a slope from, you know, low side to high side that’s going to impact how this line rides, you know, those kinds of things. As we get closer to going through the gate, the funnel gets smaller. So you want to think about your preparation routine as a way to gather the information, understand it, and as it gets closer to the right time, you’re thinking almost less and less. So that becomes a habit. So we make sure that we’re giving ourselves the time to assimilate the information. Properly before we get on, because I think something that can happen when we don’t have a good preparation routine is there’s sometimes we’re getting on, we’re still processing, we’re still considering, we’ll still may be memorizing like that is going to lead to a lot of what you’re talking about of of feeling a little overwhelmed and like, there’s so much technical going on. And I think that also leads to you as a trainer, you know, just thinking about how your students process and how much information each person is going to be able to handle might vary. So there’s some individual differences there, too, as far as how much you get to point out in a warm up ring situation, Does that make sense?
Savannah [00:13:11] That is a very good point.
Tonya Johnston [00:13:12] Yeah. Yeah. And and really and asking right so having conversation about that with your students of like hey you know this is something I want us to be working on is getting you to be more and more in the moment and simply writing when you walk in the show ring, how can we facilitate that? Like, how can I help you in the moment? Bring what’s helpful for me to be reminding you of? How can we start short handing things, having smaller cues, You know, can we pick out two or three things together? Like that kind of conversation will really facilitate your rider being able to get more in that headspace of like, All right, now I’m just I’m going to go. I’m just going to go get this done.
Savannah [00:13:58] Gotcha. I like the funnel analogy. That is a very helpful tool. Yeah. Yeah.
Tonya Johnston [00:14:06] And, and and for sure, for everyone to sort of assess like, okay, how does my funnel work? Like, what kinds of things, What kinds of tools do I use? What kinds of mental skills do I use in the 2 hours, hour, 30 minutes, you know, before I’m getting on. That’s going to help me make sure I feel like I’m standing on a really solid foundation of understanding that will allow me to have that more. All right, now let’s just go get the job done. I’m going to trust it. I’m going to ride. I’m just going to do my best and be with my horse like that. That I think I really think that that’s not really a switch. We flipped without that more thorough preparation, which also will include your visualization, right? Like making sure that you use visualization as a way to rehearse the technicalities and create a feel for the plan. Do you know what I mean? So that’s how. So we’re building the feel. That’s where we’re going to build the trust, because it’s going to feel like when we visualize, you know, a dressage test once or twice at the specific venue for that specific arena or ring, we’re going to feel like, wow, okay, I’ve ridden these demands and these technicalities in this environment, I’m now able to trust more and leave more behind. I don’t feel like I have to narrate as much for myself in my head. I feel like I can go in and just ride, right? Is that something? Do you have your students visualize? Is that something that’s part of your. Yeah.
Savannah [00:15:39] I do, I do. And usually when we go to a competition, you know, I do talk on the way to the competition with them because typically they’re in that truck riding with me about two or three things that they want to see themselves doing at the competition. But I like the idea of taking in a lot of information and doing it very specific. That’s something I think I could do more of with my students, which I love that idea.
Tonya Johnston [00:16:11] Yeah, yeah, yeah. And also, you know, frankly, it’s something that you, the way to, you know, not have to overwhelm yourself is to build good habits. So are defaults, right? So our visualization practice can really come in to our training at home that we, we’ve created more good solid writing for whatever our level is so that when we are at a competition, we’re then leaning into good habits. So our visualization will facilitate the building of those habits at home. So whether it’s visualization for a lesson or preparatory visualization, like, you know, you’re going to, you know, Woodside and you’ve been there before or you’ve gone to, you know, somewhere I mean, not to California example, but you, right, you’ve run that, you’ve run that course before, so you kind of know what to expect. You can give yourself like a good chunk of the course, like a sample will, you know what I mean? Or, or a showjumping, a sample showjumping course in that ring that you know, you’re going to be in that weekend. You can be doing that before you go. Just working on. The performance goals that you guys have been doing, just sort of like you were saying you’re talking about, okay, what’s going to be success for you guys? Like you can have that conversation, you know, a good week ahead and have them start visualizing like nailing those aspects and feeling themselves. Execute for the venue that you’re going to next weekend.
Savannah [00:17:55] No, I love that. Yeah. No, that’s great.
Tonya Johnston [00:17:59] The last thing I’ll say about this, this transition I think that can be really helpful is having a cue or a couple of cues that are that are very specifically chosen to help you transition from, you know, quote unquote, thinking to doing. Right. And that’s sort of that’s that’s something I’ve talked about before where, you know, we come out of a warm upbringing and then where we often stand and go over the course, like in a showjumping situation, and then kids and riders and amateur all people will start, you know, thinking that they’re thinking brain again. And that’s that’s a challenge because we were just in the warm up and we found a groove and now we’re back up in our head. So it’s very useful to have a couple of cues that you use after the review right before you walk in that can be, you know, a really good circle breath.
Savannah [00:19:00] That’s right. Yeah.
Tonya Johnston [00:19:02] And do you guys use that?
Savannah [00:19:05] Not necessarily in that particular moment. You know, I think that’s a moment that we all for, like riders and coaches can forget to recognize. That’s a moment where a parent goes, okay, kid, have fun. Big smile. But in terms of like getting you back into the moment where you can go in and actually get the job done like that, it’s it’s the fantastic right way. And that’s and to your point from earlier, that’s going to be different from student to student and even horse to horse, depending on the types of quirks they may or may not have. Right? Oh, yeah.
Tonya Johnston [00:19:41] Yeah, you bet. Picking right. Picking a cue or two that’s appropriate for that person. I mean, the breathing is really a default because everyone really it’s it’s one of the most powerful ways to get connected mind and body and to bring yourself into the present moment. Right. So that that, I would say, is sort of a default call for most everyone having a mantra or something that you say like, you know, I’m now now I trust the ride or I trust my plan or trust and feel, you know, having maybe a cue that’s more mantra based more of a. Forward with leg, let’s say, if that’s something they’ve been working on. So a mantra can be based on a goal that can be helpful, but something that allows that’s sort of when we’re talking about the funnel idea that it literally comes down to one teeny tiny piece that’s like, okay, this is my anchor, I’m back to my trust, all the technical parts. I believe in my preparation. I visualized, we talked it through. Now I’m going to allow myself to walk in and do my best and trust myself to adjust and flex as needed based on whatever’s going on underneath me. So I’m not going to get stuck thinking or analyzing. If something goes to plan B from plan A, I’m just going to fluidly switch between, Oh, okay. I guess we’re saying out here this is plan B that I’m going to go back to plan A, Do you know what I mean? Like that. Not that you’re saying that to yourself, but that’s basically, you know, what’s happening when we have a good understanding of the demands.
Savannah [00:21:30] Right, right, right. Yeah. You’re just out getting the job done and the feel that you have. Yeah, right, right.
Tonya Johnston [00:21:37] Yeah. And I think this is such a good. Way to talk about. I love the question because. I think. A lot of times. People who want to do well give themselves a lot of. You know what I mean? It’s almost like sometimes the more ambitious the kids are or the amateurs are, the more they’re thinking. And so we got to have that conversation of like, okay, when and where is that appropriate? How are we going to use it to your advantage and not get you stuck with it? Make sure we’ve done the preparation so that we can kind of use that funnel and get closer and closer to walking in and using your breath and really being partnered with your horse and communicating as clearly and calmly as you can with your horse. You know, that being the ultimate goal.
Savannah [00:22:30] Right, right, right. Yeah. So.
Tonya Johnston [00:22:33] So does that feel useful?
Savannah [00:22:36] That is fantastic. Yeah. No, that’s okay. Yeah, That’s the little tiny moments that you’ve got to. Keep doing the job and fill in and. I love that. Yeah. Yeah. And in the funnel and the anchor and that little bit of a moment in between that standstill and walking into the ring. Right. Little pieces really pulled together, getting the job done. And I love that.
Tonya Johnston [00:23:00] Great. Well, thank you so much.
Savannah [00:23:02] Thank you for having me on. This is fantastic.
Tonya Johnston [00:23:06] That was a great conversation. Now, let’s move on to our next question. This question was asked by two people, Lauren and Tiffany. Thank you both so much. They wondered about ways to quickly relax and refocus on course after something goes poorly or you realize you’re tense. And the first thing I want to applaud is your awareness. Right. We can’t do anything positive or solution oriented if we don’t even know that we’re tense or that we stopped breathing. Right. Or that we’re distracted. So the awareness is so great. I really want to commend all of you that are working on your mindset. You’re starting to realize like, Oh, wait a second, something has changed here. What can I do about it? So that’s fantastic. The awareness is key. Right. And one of the things you always want to note about distractions is that they’re much easier to recover from. If you’ve had a solid plan. To begin with. If you go into something and you’re just like, Whoa, okay, this is kind of where I’m going. I jump the weight and then the yellow and you know, it’s a lot more difficult. To find that relaxation or find that focus again when we’re starting on a kind of willy nilly level. When we take the time. To learn the course. And then figure out the plan of how we want to do it well. Right. Giving ourself a few sort of goals within and as ways to organize our focus, like, okay, I’m going to land there and make sure. I make sure my rains are short or whatever it might be. Right. That’s going to give you. A more structured target for your focus to begin with, you become less distractible. When you’ve started with a good quality plan. So even in a less than setting, be asking yourself how you can give yourself a moment to not just memorize what you’re supposed to do, but also add in some seasoning around the how. That’s going to be super helpful and I’ll give you something to get back to. So you notice the distraction, Boom, I’m going to get back on the plan. If that makes sense. The next piece is always really important is using an exhale. So that’s a momentary way. So you’re on course. You realize, Oh my gosh, I just all I’m thinking about is how deep I was to that jump. I just counted three strides into the corner. Exhale. We we use the exhale as a clearinghouse, as a just. Okay. That’s gone. That moment is over. And now I’m back. Present. So the exhale is a cue to get back in the present. Relax any tension. And come come back to plan and plan A hopefully. Right. So the exhale needs to be strong enough through your mouth. That if there was a candle flame in front of you, you would bend it almost in half. So really. Right. So we’re not saying, you know, it’s not so long that it becomes its own distraction, Right. Like saying, oh, take a box breath or a circle breath. We never would do that while on course. But a simple exhale through the mouth. Fantastic way to let go and refocus. Another tool that’s very helpful. In. When you’re aware that something just took your mind away is to have a home base. Often that’s going to be a physical cue. Part of your position perhaps, or part of the where you’re looking that gets you back on your best, you know, strong, solid, centered position posture on your horse. So that might be for someone that they know that a trainer is always telling them to sit and connect. So that becomes a home base, right? So you find comfort there. It might be for someone else that they open their chests because they tend to, when they start thinking behind themselves. Right. Or analyzing through a corner, their shoulders get very round and they start looking down so they know their home base of confidence and being in the moment is sitting up, stretching tall, like opening their chest. So the simple act of pulling their shoulders back is like, Oh, wait a minute, I’m getting present, I’m ready, let’s continue. So a home base is a cue that gets you back in your comfort zone and back engaged. With your best practices. So we want to start with a really good plan. We want to be integrating exhales as needed. Or maybe that’s part of your plan. And then having an established home base can get you right back on track. Thank you so much, Lauren and Tiffany, for the question. Now let’s move on to our next caller. Hi, Rachel. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Rachel [00:28:41] Oh, thrilled to be here. What a great opportunity.
Tonya Johnston [00:28:44] Yay. So so maybe you could say sort of your riding discipline level and maybe your question.
Rachel [00:28:52] Sure. So I have I’m 61. I’ve been riding, you know, kind of late in life. So maybe maybe 20 years. I do hunters mostly 2’6″. I aspire to higher levels. And my question was that looking for advice and inspiration of trying horses and specifically jumping? Right. So I just find it, you know, it’s intimidating. You get on a horse you just met, say, Oh, we’re going to go jump some jumps and it’s and often it’s in a crowded show ring, warm up ring because that’s where the horses are at. You go to show you try a horse. So specifically that situation, I’d like some tips on that. Right?
Tonya Johnston [00:29:39] Right. Okay, great. So are you looking for a horse right now?
Rachel [00:29:43] Yes.
Tonya Johnston [00:29:44] Oh, exciting. Awesome. So have you already done some trials?
Rachel [00:29:49] Yeah, I’ve done a bunch. And my observation is like, I’m doing well, riding them on the flat. So that’s. Yeah.
Tonya Johnston [00:29:56] Okay. Yes.
Rachel [00:29:57] So five years ago, maybe that would have terrified me. And it did. And so, you know, I can figure out like pretty quickly, like walk, talk or like, I don’t like this one. I like this one. Like, that’s all good. But when it comes to jumping and I’m not that familiar with the horse, and particularly if it’s a crowded area, you know, it’s just it’s an intimidating situation. And so you can always say, no, I’m not comfortable jumping this particular horse. Sure. But, you know, just beyond bailing, right, to just say like, okay, like get it together and give give it a shot. Right.
Tonya Johnston [00:30:26] Right. Right? No, totally. And how to set yourself up to, you know, if you want to to be able to jump without getting in your own way. Like, obviously, there’s there’s it’s it’s okay to do something. Feeling intimidated, but you don’t want to be so consumed with fear or anxiety or worry about how you look that it interrupts sort of the feel you have of the horse and just being in the moment. Right. It can be very distracting for that for you to be thinking about all those other factors.
Rachel [00:31:00] Yeah, absolutely. And you know, my aspiration is to just ride close to how I normally ride. Right. Sure. And go to a fence with confidence and let the horse do its thing. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. And so, you know, I’ve been trying a new horse that that’s been a challenge.
Tonya Johnston [00:31:16] Right. Right. So one of the things that occurs to me off the bat is wondering how much of your preparation routine you’re using for a trial. In my experience, people tend to sort of show up and say, let’s see how this goes. You know, even people that have very good mental skills, routines and, you know, things they’re doing to support themselves. Is that is that something you’ve thought about of making sure that you’re doing your breathing, let’s say, or getting there a little bit early? Like what kinds of things from your normal routine have you pulled in or is that something you could do in the future?
Rachel [00:31:58] Well, be something to like have more of a checklist of like three or four things along those lines to to try to do for for sure? I think I have maybe because it’s not a show, it seems like it should be less pressure or I haven’t been doing maybe as much of that as I as I could.
Tonya Johnston [00:32:17] Mm hmm. I think. Good. Yeah, I guess. Yeah, Because I think that you’re. You’re first. So, Rachel, it was. It was super, super fun. Rachel joined us in one of our mindset booster groups about a year and a half ago. So that was awesome. So I know you have some some tools from that and you and I know that you’re someone who has thought about some things. I think, like I said, I think that this situation often creates this mindset of blank slate, like you’re just going to see what the horse is like. Like, I don’t know, you know, like, I don’t know how that’s going to go, you know what I mean? Like, you often, often people lean into the unknown of like, what’s this? What’s going to happen instead of, oh, okay, well, I’m going to do this preparation. You know, I’m going to make sure I’m eating a really healthy breakfast. I’m going to get there early and get to walk around, get myself acclimated, you know, when possible, of course. But I’m going to use my breathing in that, you know, 15 minute window like before. It’s time for me to get on. I’m really going to check in. Maybe even before you went to the venue, you did something like what would be something in your sort of toolbox that you could do for yourself before you even go. Like, if you’re going to go try a horse at a horse show, there you are waking up in the morning. What’s something you could do at home before you went?
Rachel [00:33:39] Well, I think I could treat it, you know, just as seriously as I do for a horse show, because nobody’s keeping score. But, you know, you’re meeting a potential new partner. Like, it’s important, right? And so, like, all the mental preparation, I do like to, you know, look at different, you know, different parts of the ring and where are you going to turn? And, you know, what are the things that the horse would get distracted and like all the mental preparation that goes into showing, I think that that would you know, if it’s overkill, at least you’re prepared. Right. Right. And and, you know, it’s also like when I go in the show ring, I don’t pay any attention. If people are watching, I’m like, I know it’s a horse show. People are watching like, that’s right. And I don’t I don’t pay any attention to that. And when it’s when it’s a trial, I get a little distracted by that.
Tonya Johnston [00:34:26] Uh huh. You know, so so when you get distracted and you’re worried, like, Oh jeez, that was awkward. Or, you know something, you know, maybe the horse took a couple of steps before it picked up the cameras or whatever it might have happened, right? That it’s it’s a reminder when you feel that distraction, it that’s a great reminder. Time to use your notice versus focus. Like I noticed myself, just wondering how that looked. And I’m going to focus back on lengthening my leg and making sure my eyes are in front of me. Eyes are up and in front. What? You know what I mean? Like, that’s just a random example. But the idea is that I don’t think we can say to you, Oh, just don’t be distracted. Like, those distractions may happen, right? It’s not a it’s not a sort of sterile environment. There’s a lot of people you don’t know. It’s not it’s not well orchestrated environment. Right. If especially if it’s at a show and there’s a warm up bringing it, you know, who knows who else is in there and what else is going on. So there’s always those things that are out of our control. So I think it’s good for you to use notice versus focus as a way of acknowledging that feeling and then purposefully getting back in your body to something that feels proactive and like a solution to whatever’s going on. Like if you picked up the cancer and the horse feels really slow, then it’s like, All right, what do I do about it? I know how to ride. You know what I mean? Like being like, okay, I’m going to focus on sending this horse forward and I’m going to be talking to myself about and giving myself cues around what I what I want to use to do that.
Rachel [00:36:04] Does that? It does. Yeah. Yeah. Now, sounds good, because also then you’re communicating with the horse. You’re not being passive. You’re kind of, you know, seeing how they respond to, like, I asked you to canter this. Is that your vocabulary? You know?
Tonya Johnston [00:36:18] Yeah. And see. Right, exactly. Exactly. And I also the other note that I have around horse trials is, you know, the best possible trial of a horse is you being you. Right. So it’s not you being perfect. It’s not you becoming like a mini professional. It’s not riding at 100% capacity every single step of your talent. You know, it’s like this is who I am. And that’s sort of being your authentic self is a really important aspect to to that conversation with that horse. Would you agree with that?
Rachel [00:37:00] Yeah, no, totally. Because they have to think that I’m an acceptable partner. Right. And if, you know, if anything about the situation really bothers them, even though it might be uncomfortable, I need to know that. And if. Right. Right. And if they can put up with, you know, like, the wrong distance or whatever. Yeah. Right. Right. To keep it all together and not, you know, but just. Just like, relax. Right. How I. Right. And do your best and see how you get along. Right. You know. Yeah. Right. Right. That’s easier said than done, cause it just feels like a high stakes thing. And you’re, like. Usually I have. Like, if I like it, then we can take the next step before I buy it. Like, I can have some trial period. But you’re still in that moment. Like, don’t want to pass up on something that’s awesome just cause you’re uncomfortable. Right. And you know, so it’s that’s just a challenge. But it’s a good challenge because I’m learning more about, like, what I like, what I get along with. So it’s so good. Yeah, it’s it’s a little scary.
Tonya Johnston [00:38:02] I just I just think sometimes people get in that headspace of I need to look a certain way or I need to be great or I need to, you know, ride perfectly here or what have you. And it’s sort of like that joke. There’s a joke about when you first meet someone that you’re not actually meeting the person. You’re meeting their quote unquote representative. Right. Like, they’re on their best behavior. Their car just was washed. Their apartment is perfectly, meticulously clean. They’re, you know. Like and then. Over a few months, you’re like, oh, wait, the the real you, the real person kind of comes out more. And so when you’re trying a worse, you actually do want to be yourself from the get go. Right. So it’s sort of about adjusting your goals of the trial in a way of like, hey, really what my goal is, is to be present, to keep breathing and to ride the way I ride. Period. And so when you remind yourself that it’s actually a a positive and productive thing for you to be your self and not your representative and not you know, it’s is and it’s isn’t an advertisement for your riding like you want it to be splashy and perfect in Photoshop. This is like, No, actually it’s much better if I am me and I’m I don’t I don’t mean that in the sense of make all the mistakes you make. I want it. I it’s that I mean that’s part of it but it’s more the freedom to to let yourself to remind yourself that you are enough. The way I ride, the way I communicate with a horse, the way that I can be present in the moment. All of that is all I need. For this first ride. Right. So we definitely want to be using. I would definitely encourage you to really focus on your breathing. Right. Keeping that breathing like slow and low. Right. Making sure that you’re addressing any of that stress response, those nerves or any of that tension that may be coming up. Right. Of maybe even in that 5 minutes, Because oftentimes we we watch someone ride the horse for a few minutes. You know, as you stand and watch at the ring, like put one hand on your belly and just be noticing that you’re breathing in and making sure that breath is going all the way down to your center of gravity. So your hand inflates with the inhale, that stomach inflates, your hand rises up. And as you exhale, the stomach flattens, right? So your smell, your smell the roses and blow out the candles, like we say. And the slower you can keep that breathing as you’re watching the horse be ridden, you’re able to be more present and feel more grounded before you get on. That’s going to help as well.
Rachel [00:41:00] Yeah, that sounds that sounds good. Or even like doing some flat work. And then, you know, to just do a little bit more of that intentional breathing. Yeah. Okay. Jumping. Coming in. Don’t don’t change anything. Like if you’re getting along and you feel like it’s going well, you know, just hip hop over some some little jumps, you know? Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Try to keep it in the same vein of, you know, positive. Right. See how we get along.
Tonya Johnston [00:41:25] Right. And and to your point, using that in-between time to sort of like, okay, what is feeling good today and why? Like, oh, I really like when I’m lifting my eye and really feeling both sides of my body and I that’s horses staying really straight. So I think I’m a use when I go to the jump. Right. So we look like look, maybe look for a couple specifics that you bring from the flat work that help give you confidence for the jumping work. Right. So obviously, you don’t have a lot of a lot of knowledge about the horse yet, but you do have some. No matter even if you just hacked for 10 minutes, there are things, you know. Okay. And so if you call them out to yourself, that can be another way to sort of boost your confidence. The other thing the last thing I’ll say is just also to just bring your typical performance goals on to these new horses. So if you know for yourself, like, gosh, it’s all about my eyes and keeping my eyes up through the turn, then you want to be bringing that on to whatever horse you’re trying. Right. So, hey, this. This. I’m going to go try a horse tomorrow. That’s going to be another opportunity to practice. Keeping my eye up through the turn and keeping, you know, my my inside shoulder tall and, you know, really using my corner like that’s something I’m going to go work on because that’s something that’s in your control and that you have tried and true trust. That it helps you. Okay. So that’s another way to anchor your confidence is to bring some of those small performance goals, even on to a trial. Obviously, ones that are benign, they’re not horse specific. Probably they’re more use specific. They could be more mental or physical in nature, but it’s going to give you like, oh, yes, I’m here. I’m here with purpose. I’m here with positive solutions in mind. And I know that they are going to help me feel confident and able to be more present in this new dance that I’m, you know, basically trying this new horse and seeing how we communicate and how it feels.
Rachel [00:43:34] Yeah, that’s that’s great. That’s that’s really helpful.
Tonya Johnston [00:43:37] Yeah. All right. Thank you, Rachel. That was awesome.
Rachel [00:43:41] Thank you so much.
Tonya Johnston [00:45:05] This question is from Lauren. She asks, besides visualization and verbally saying it out loud. How do you learn a course quickly for either a lesson or a show? When you have to learn it fast. Interesting. Right. And this happens sometimes and sometimes there’s factors that are out of our control that require us to sort of learn more on the fly than what I would normally, you know, hope for you. But I totally understand whether, you know, a ring has sped up or circumstances beyond your control or it’s a lesson situation where you have to go first. Like sometimes it really needs to happen quickly and you need to remember it with the with the right amount of detail. So. Here are a few of my tips for learning a course quickly. I would hope that you could do some ring research before you need to learn anything. Right. So you want to have been acclimated a little bit to your environment. So, for example, you are getting to the barn for a Saturday lesson and you know that the course was moved. Hopefully you can build in some you may not know the exact course you’re going to jump that day, right? So don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about the memorization. This is about acclimating yourself. So that when you are asked to memorize fast, you’ve already got a solid understanding. Okay, So and that would apply to a horse show setting or a home lesson setting so that you use that understanding. That’s going to give you more comfort, that’s going to give you a lot of visual anchors that you already have. When you’re told, you know, okay, jump one, jump to jump three. So that’s something that you’re in control of. Hopefully you can. You can actually. Do that? Both. In a lesson setting and a clinic setting, certainly, and at a show. So walking around the ring and acclimating yourself to fill in sort of the geometry of the jumps and understand, you know, where things are, what things are looking like that day. So a good foundation of understanding is going to help you memorize fast. When you hear the course. My second tip, right, Like, let’s take a lesson, for example, where you realize, Oh, I’m going to have to go first. It can be helpful to be walking your horse and and learning as you move so that your orientation. It’s not fixed to one vantage point, and your course knowledge will then be more thorough. So you’re hearing the course, you’re kind of walking, you’re looking, you’re listening, maybe your trainer repeats it again and now you’re at a different part of the ring. And so you you’re just going to get a more colorful. More robust understanding. As you’re memorizing when you’re in motion. Okay It’s going to give you a a more thorough and. It’s it’s going to help you color in sort of the how. And that’s sort of my next tip is as soon as you can in the learning process, inject inject the how into the what. So the what is. You know jump the red and white oxer inside turn to the black vertical. Let’s say this is a lesson right inside turn to the black vertical turn right to the to stride like. So you want to immediately be thinking. As you say it to yourself, like how you’re going to ride that. So instead of vertical inside too, it becomes, you know, shoulder up, forward to one look in the air, land outside, leg, black land right away. Look for that through the corner, looking getting straight, riding up to the to I up. Does that make sense? So there’s already a quality there. There’s already a solution. And a little bit of rehearsal, just even as you’re saying it to yourself in the order of operations for writing, not only remembering it, right, but writing the course. Well. So when we think about quality, we are providing more information. There’s more for your mind and body to grab on to. That’s really going to help anchor your memory. And make it more solid. Right. So the idea is here. Being as prepared as you can before anyone’s even asking you to memorize a course. Right. So getting that early preparation, that ring research, being in motion as you learn, can be very, very helpful. And if that means even at the show ring. Right. Even if you have a short amount of time, if you can, walking quickly to to a one long side, seeing from the end of the ring, walking quickly to the other long side, that’s really going to help. If you if you can do that and then this idea of right away. Putting the how into the what. So as you memorize, you’re thinking about how you’re going to get it done. That’s going to give you way more robust information if you have a little bit more time than that. If it’s a show situation. I’m a big proponent. Also, if you if you’re someone who really has trouble memorizing courses for you to go ahead and have a pad of paper and actually draw the course. But I know that’s not necessarily something that we’re doing when we only have a short amount of time. So hopefully this is helpful. Hopefully this doesn’t happen to you. Oh, also often because learning something quickly and feeling under the gun pressure wise of time, that adds a challenge for sure. Not a not one that’s unsurmountable. You can definitely do it. I have faith in all of you, but I’m hopeful that your planning and preparation on the on the regular gives you much more time to sort of assimilate all the information and learn it and trust it. I think though, with practice and with some of these tips, you’ll find memorizing your courses quickly to be far more doable and comfortable for you. Now let’s move on to our next caller. Hi Amanda, thank you so much for joining me on the show today.
Amanda [00:52:05] Thank you for having me on the show.
Tonya Johnston [00:52:07] Yay. I’m so I was so thrilled that there were so many responses and questions and I felt that your question was super relatable and I wanted to bring you on and be able to talk it through. So maybe you could just share sort of, you know, the discipline that you write and and what level and and then maybe state your question, if you would.
Amanda [00:52:30] Yeah, absolutely. So I so in the hundreds specifically the low adults at mostly the shows, my question is how did the gossip mill kind of out of your mind when you’re showing.
Tonya Johnston [00:52:43] Mm hmm. Right. Which as we know, there’s a lot of relationships that get built in this sport. And, you know, there’s there’s a lot of downtime, which leads to a lot of talking and there’s a lot of friendships and people changing barns. And I totally hear you. And I think that a lot of people struggle with that question of. How to. And it becomes a little bit entwined in like. Other people’s opinions of other folks, whether it’s of your riding or someone in your barn or your trainer, or you move barns like there’s so many related things, right?
Amanda [00:53:26] Yeah, absolutely.
Tonya Johnston [00:53:27] So what? So are you Do you find that when do you find this most distracting? Like, does it come into the show ring with you? Like, how does this how did this question. Kind of. Present most recently for you.
Amanda [00:53:42] Somewhat the showing. I really see it when I’m in the schooling ring. And other people are around and I’m not focused on my horse. I’m focused on worrying about what other people are thinking.
Tonya Johnston [00:53:52] Right. Gotcha. Right. And so. Okay. So one of the first things that comes to mind is. It may feel like it comes to a real head in a show situation, but it’s something we kind of want to be addressing both at home and at shows in the sense of. You can’t be at your home barn and sort of gossiping and talking about others and then and not that you are or worry, I should say, you know, worrying about what other people at the barn are thinking or anticipating problems at the show. You can’t be full of of those thoughts at home and in lessons and then go to a show or be in the warm up ring and expect to turn off the spigot. You know what I’m saying? So that’s what I want you to think of, like how you approach that theme in a in a much more global way than just targeting, you know, a warm up ring situation or, you know, old barn mates or what have you. It’s sort of like, well, wait a second, really, You know, what is my purpose here? Right in my riding, Like, why am I riding? And so really reminding yourself of. Your purpose and talking about it with friends or family of like this is what my riding is to me and getting real anchored with that. Like, when’s the last time you sort of sat yourself down and asked yourself, you know, why do I ride?
Amanda [00:55:35] It’s been a while, probably maybe about two years ago. That’s what I realized. I’m doing this for fun and I shouldn’t be letting other stuff spoil it. I should be doing it to enjoy my horse and. For the love of the sport, not for all these other things.
Tonya Johnston [00:55:51] Right. And so sometimes that that purpose gets a little compromised by being around others or a barn, like if you’ve changed barns or what have you. That purpose can get a little lost in the shuffle when we haven’t done. A deep dive recently. We haven’t really asked ourselves like, what is? Making this fun. Like it’s one thing to say, Oh, it should be fun, but it’s it’s another to say, well, what are the components that most make me smile when I’m driving home from the barn and I’m reflecting on my day what really lit me up today? What was you know what I’m saying? Do you see how that’s different? Yes. And so going to a show with the purpose of aligning with our joy and why we’re there and our core motivation to ride it, it will fill you up more in a way that you’re less. It sort of like being less available to these intruding thoughts of like what are the opinions of others or what’s so-and-so saying to such and such? Or why are those five people on the rail watching? You know what I mean? You’re like, Well, I’m here doing my thing and I’ve already established what that is and I’m busy doing it. I don’t have as much time to worry about gossip because I am living my purpose and it’s with me in a more active way, and that we do that by maybe giving ourselves even a motivation statement or a motto or, you know, simple reminder, like writing it in your trunk, you know what I mean? Like, so before you get on, there’s a, there’s a reminder of purpose and it’s really coming with you in a more active way. Right?
Amanda [00:57:36] Yeah, absolutely. That sounds like a good way to kind of turn my thought process around. I do it for work. I should be able to do it when I’m riding.
Tonya Johnston [00:57:42] Right. Right. Exactly. And just because you’re not doing this for money doesn’t mean you can’t use the same focusing skills and and and drive of purpose. Right. It’s just different. It’s sort of it’s like using some of the same muscles, but for a different activity. Yeah. Right. And and so I think. Being aware of how you talk about your purpose and how much time you engage in talking about other people. Like I was saying, looking at it more globally, not saying you do or you don’t, but just being aware, you know, like how much time am I going to spend? Talking about others or thinking about them or going online. And that’s you know, that’s the other thing that really comes to mind. We talk about gossip. It’s it’s so easy to be involved in other people’s highlight reels and and, you know, the way they want to present to the world and talk about making comments on other you know, on social media. All of that can get us more in that comparison mindset of what are they doing, what are they thinking? So you really want to limit your social media in the week of, you know, I like I like for for clients to have a rule around it. You you want to have boundaries around it, you know, for lesson days at home, for show days, it’s the same like there’s no social media before you ride like period the end so that you’re not getting already triggered and distracted in ways that will then make you even more worried when you get on. Because those it’s like, oh, you’re literally you’re opening those comparison apps and those questions in your mind of like, Wow, how does what I’m doing compared to what they’re doing, you know, all of that kind of thing, does that resonate?
Amanda [00:59:46] Absolutely. And it sounds like an easy thing to add that I could start doing right away.
Tonya Johnston [00:59:50] Right, Right. Totally. So that you’re you’re just not dipping your toes in the pool before you want to go and be so focused and use those good focus muscles to ride your purpose and. Be one with your horse and really, you know, staying sort of centered on process and not on evaluation. Right. So so that is really helpful, I think, as well. I mean, I would lump into that, especially obviously for shows, just that whole trend of how much is available online, looking at class lists and anticipating who’s there and who’s in your division. Are you guilty of that? Occasionally? I am. Right. Right. And so and, you know, understandably, it’s like when information is there, a lot of times like, oh, well, let me just investigate. However, that is not something that will improve how you ride at the horse show. Right. Whether it’s by people in your division, whether there’s 30 people in your division, it’s not going to make one ounce of difference on how you ride to the first jump, for example. Right. Not so. So then we also come up with a rule around that we don’t go online and look at class lists because we’re protecting our calm. We’re protecting our our our bubble of purpose and joy and what the opportunities are at the horse show for you, which is around you being with your horse, you being with your team and working on the things that you’re working on, whatever it is, whatever division it is, everyone’s got their own sort of little tiny bundle of things that they want to go accomplish, right? That are specific to them. So when we’re able to. Really have that quality of focus come in early in the week. Like when we’re talking about a horse show. We don’t want to we don’t want to splinter that with knowledge and worries and predictions and future Think around who else is going to be there. So do you think we could. Do you think you could add that to.
Amanda [01:02:04] Yes. That would make a big difference. Like you said, it’s not make any difference in how I ride my horse or what we do.
Tonya Johnston [01:02:09] Right. Right. And so and and so here and. And the last thing around. The whole concept of, you know, gossip or talking about other people, or whether you’re worried about other people’s opinions of you or you sharing opinions of other people with friends or what have you, is just to be aware. What, how and when you get engaged in those conversations. Right. So you might be really full of good intentions and going to the show with purpose and then somebody could trigger like, Oh, did you see so-and-so’s new person? What do you think about the fact that she’s doing that bigger division? You know what I mean? Like, you know what I’m saying? Like those kinds of conversations, regardless, positive or not, they still trigger this. Talking about others and comparison and evaluation. And I just want you to notice how you can limit your engagement in those kind of conversations. So when we talk about gossip, you have a choice of how much you engage with others around it. So do you see what I’m saying? I don’t know if I’m being clear and I know.
Amanda [01:03:21] You are like it’s just some of those conversations that they’re being had. Just walk away from it or turn it into something else.
Tonya Johnston [01:03:27] Right. And or the other thing I always suggest is just to have a pat response. If someone starts walking you down a story of this or that or the other thing about someone else, it’s it’s nice for you to have a pat response so you don’t even have to engage. And you’re just like, you know what? I’m you know what? I totally hear you. And I’m I’m just stand super focused on my horse and my show this week. Like, I’m so grateful to be here. That’s what I’m focusing on. You know what I mean? In a nice, friendly way so that you literally get out of a conversation by being polite, by reminding yourself of your purpose, and also just sort of sharing like, okay, this is kind of where I’m at. And and you’re giving that message in a positive way that reinforces your purpose. Do you see what I’m saying? So it kind of nicely circles back and gives you a boost. Yeah.
Amanda [01:04:21] Yeah, that sounds, that sounds like again, an easy thing to. Yeah.
Tonya Johnston [01:04:25] Yeah. Good, good, good. Awesome. So I’m hopeful as I totally understand and I know this is exacerbated in certain situations, you know, particularly when we move barns or what have you, but again, where you ride and who you ride with. Is not why you write. Right. Absolutely not. And so we we just want to periodically check back in. So I encourage you to sort of sit yourself down and do a little brainstorm of some of the specific things that bring you joy and purpose for your writing. Just so that those are sort of more at the forefront. I mean, that’s something that in a span of a person’s ridng career. It’s a great thing to do annually. Mm hmm. You know, just because things will ebb and flow and change with time, and it’s really good to check in with yourself because it’s a useful. It’s a useful tool to understand about yourself and also to make sure that everything, every choice you make, all the goals you’re setting. Line up with your purpose, Right? So awesome. All right, good. So does this do that feel helpful?
Amanda [01:05:39] Very much so.
Tonya Johnston [01:05:40] Okay, good. I’m so glad. Yes. Thank you. I know that your your question got a bunch of likes, so I know that there are other people who feel similarly challenged and it sort of goes with the territory and we all just have to navigate it the best we can. But hopefully we stay positive and purpose driven and supportive of one another. So. Absolutely. Thank you so much for joining me today, Amanda.
Amanda [01:06:06] Thank you for having me.
Tonya Johnston [01:06:07] Okay. Yeah. Have a good summer. Bye.
Amanda [01:06:09] Thank you. Bye.
Tonya Johnston [01:07:51] 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 media, 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.