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Tonya Johnston, Mental Skills Coach speaks with barn manager extraordinaire Colleen Reed. Tonya also shares a technique that helps you focus on your successes from 2023 and teaches how to bring those successes with you into the new year. Brought to you by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services. Listen in!
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Tonya Johnston [00:00:34] This is episode 358 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 barn manager extraordinaire Colleen Reed. I’m also going to share a technique that helps you focus on your successes in 2023 and bring them with you into the new Year.
Tonya Johnston [00:02:15] Thank you so much for joining me today. I know you’ve all been busy as I have been lately as well. But I hope you’ve still made time to be with your horses and enjoy your friendship with them. So often this time of year the barn can be such a nice respite from all of the added things, even though they’re fun, life gets awfully busy, so slowing down at the barn is really a gift. So I’m super excited to announce that Mindset Boost Winter 2024 Session dates are up for both the original mindset boost. So that’s the introductory group mental Skills coaching for equestrians that I offer over Zoom. You’ve probably heard me talk about that before. So we have one of those original mindset boost groups starting in January and as well for the very first time and by popular demand, I am offering the Advanced Mindset Boost Alumni Group. So this boost is for riders who have taken at least one session. Of mindset boost before. And the response has just been so amazing and I’m so grateful and so excited to see so many familiar faces again. So thanks to all of you who have already signed up. You can find details on my website at Tonya johnston.com. Inside your Ride the mindset boost. So please let me know if you have any questions on that. I’ve just this will be, so, 2024 will start the fourth year of offering these groups. And I’m just thrilled that people continue to come and share. And we just have created such a great community. I’m so grateful to all of you for valuing it and and continuing to take advantage of what it means to be in a community that supports. Growth around mindset and mental skills and our psychological approach to our writing and to being with our horses. So recently I’ve also been traveling a lot doing mental skills workshops, so I was invited by the USHJA to go to Ohio to be a part of the Emerging Athlete program, National Finals. And you’ll hear me talk about that with Colleen Reed, who is my guest today. And what a terrific program that is. It was so great to see it up close. Those riders and horsemanship quiz participants were in my mental skills groups and so I got to know them and they’re so awesome and their enthusiasm for learning was really inspiring. And I was also the mental skills coach for the Colorado Hunter Jumper Association Member Benefits Event weekend. That was also super fun. So lots of travel recently. It was also sad that one was so well organized and run. They had a riding clinic with Julie Winkel and a groundwork portion with Jodi Marken as well as a lot of other demonstrations and programs. Just like such a cool blend of people that are really passionate about riding. And one thing I wanted to mention, however, which happened after that awesome event, was that that community suffered the terrible tragedy of a barn fire where horses lost their lives and just super tragic and every horse person’s worst nightmare. So I just wanted to make a mention of that and to please to to donate, if you can, you can find more information on that on their website at chja.org. And just know that anything helps. I know the horse community is so amazing about supporting one another. So I did want to mention that since I was just there and sending them lots of positive energy and you know, like I said, donate if you can. So one tip I wanted to share today is about a skill we all possess our potential to decide how we feel and make smart choices about how we talk about how we feel. And this idea is sometimes we think feelings just come at us, right? Or just are just we suddenly feel a certain way. And I want to share with you that you have way more power to decide. Then you probably realize. So I don’t know about you, but I grew up watching the Olympics. Winter. Summer didn’t matter, etc.. Right? Just Olympics were always on whenever they were on in our household. And, you know, you think about seeing the coverage of the Olympics and it’s amazing. But so often and, you know, reporters are always sort of asking for like, you know, oh, what can we have them talk about that’s, you know, new or, you know, that kind of thing. And asking questions like, were you nervous or were you scared? You know, trying to get a little bit of the Tea for that athlete, you know, what did you worry about doing? Well, so those questions always crop up whether the athlete is about to compete or after they competed. And it’s remarkable. But if you’ve ever noticed this, almost all of them say no in those kinds of situations. So what you need to realize is that what you’re seeing during these interviews and it really doesn’t matter the sport. Is that these athletes, whether they’re bobsledders or hockey players or swimmers or sprinters. They’ve learned how to interpret how they feel as excited instead of nervous. As prepared instead of nervous. They’ve they’ve learned to take those symptoms that many people experience as nerves and they’ve shaped them into something that is going to help them instead of hinder them. So, like, listen to this quote from an Olympic platform diver. She said, When I was young, I trained myself to turn feelings of fear into courage time. So whenever I experience symptoms of fear or anxiety, like faster heartbeat, butterflies, sweaty palms, I told my body that those were signs it was time to be courageous. After a while, it became automatic. Right. So that’s just a thought for you to take forward here, especially as we’re riding in winter. And, you know, a lot of times that can be a challenging time of year given that we ride, you know, animals, that that reacts to temperature and and weather and we all do when it’s darker earlier and all of that. Right. Winter can be a challenge. So I want you to train yourself to understand the feeling of adrenaline as excitement instead of nerves. I’m excited for this lesson today. I’m going to be really grounded, right? I’m excited to help my horse understand this flat work exercise. We can then talk about your feelings with your team and those around you in a positive way, saying, I am excited. Even thinking about like moving up to a new division next year. Be mindful of how you talk about it. I’m excited to move up to X, Y, Z, whatever you might be doing. Decide to be excited about the challenges you’re choosing and the goals you’re setting. And it will make a huge difference on how you show up. Now let’s get to my conversation with barn manager extraordinaire Colleen Reed right after these messages.
Tonya Johnston [00:12:18] Colleen Reed successfully convinced her parents of her need for riding lessons at age nine. Colleen was a proud member of the Hambletonian U.S. Pony Club. From age ten through 18. And it was the education from Pony Club that ignited Colleen’s passion for horse care and stable management. In 1984, while attending Centenary College, where she majored in equine studies and management, Colleen was given an internship at famed Beacon Hill Show Stables, working as a groom for top show hunters and equitation mounts. Before long, she went from interning to full time member of the Beacon Hill team, eventually moving into a traveling management position that found Colleen accompanying upwards of 25 horses to events nationwide. Colleen’s expert barn skills soon caught the attention of the great Emerson Burr and in 1991, Colleen became the manager for Fairfield County Hunt Club and Groom for Leslie Burr Howard’s elite Jumpers, Gem Twist, Pressurized and Charisma. Colleen’s time at Fairfield provided a wide range of competition care from winning World Cups to pony finals silver cups. Colleen remains active in the equestrian community as a stable manager clinician for the USHJA, EAP, and Gold Star Clinics, as well as the USEF horse master ship session. Colleen is an active FEI steward, a USEF steward and a certified schooling area supervisor. Colleen’s love and passion for the care of horses and their environment remains as devout today as when this former pony clubber began. HI Colleen, thank you so much for joining me today.
Colleen Reed [00:13:57] Hi Tonya, thank you for having me.
Tonya Johnston [00:13:58] It was great seeing you a couple of weeks ago in Ohio at the EAP Nationals. That was such a great- I was so glad to be able to be there and get to see it. I’ve read about it for so long and it was so nice to to see the program and you’re such an integral part of it. It was it was amazing.
Colleen Reed [00:14:16] Well, thank you. I’m very fond of that program. I really do believe that it is an incredible doorway for so many that may not necessarily have the chance to be showing on the circuit all the time. And there’s so much talent and there’s so much will by those that make it all the way to the emerging athletes nationals. And they really there’s a lot of passion and I absolutely love doing that. And it was a great week this year in particular. I mean, they’re all great weeks, but this this year was a great week.
Tonya Johnston [00:14:47] Yeah, awesome. And you and I first met some years ago in Florida, I think at the Horse Mastership training program, which I know you’ve also been involved with for a long time.
Colleen Reed [00:14:58] Yes. Yes, I do. I do the same role as the stable manager clinician. Right. And, you know, the horse mastership, it’s it’s very much a management side job for the week. And then but I’ve found that as many of the clinics that I do do is that that’s become a great tool asset for me and doing all of the different various levels of clinics with the various riders and levels that we’ll see through emerging athletes. Gold Star and the Horse Mastership Clinic.
Tonya Johnston [00:15:32] Right. So that’s that’s been it’s been you’re on the road a lot for that I would assume.
Colleen Reed [00:15:37] I can be. Yeah. Yeah. I can be.
Tonya Johnston [00:15:40] Which is great!
Colleen Reed [00:15:41] I love it. Yeah.
Tonya Johnston [00:15:42] You have such a long and and and varied such experiences and jobs that you’ve had and different barns you’ve worked for. And I wonder if we could just, I wanted to ask and this maybe is selfish, but there are a few things because I mean, at EAP, I was like, I want I just want to like, watch and learn. I just want to be here as a rider. And I’m a little bit aged out, but.
Colleen Reed [00:16:10] But oh, you got you can do it.
Tonya Johnston [00:16:13] Yeah, yeah, yeah. But what So what are a few things like in like maybe you speak generally what are a few things you wish riders today knew about horses that they just may not think about, you know in the rider like day to day where, you know, maybe they’re not the one wrapping their own horse’s legs or feeding their own horse or just, you know what I’m saying? Like, is there anything that you wish riders knew or or maybe made sure to take the time for a little bit more?
Colleen Reed [00:16:42] Yeah. I think that, you know, a lot of the the young riders in particular are busy with school and and all the other things life has at them. So they may not have the time that they would appreciate the time in the barn that they could have. So I do think that that is the one thing that I would say is make time to be in the barn, spend that time with your horse and doing the daily basics, because the daily basics really matter in the end, especially as you’re walking into the ring. Have you checked off all those boxes? And then of course, the barn that they create with their horse? I think that that’s really important. I think that the more time they can actually spend with the horse on the ground, a lot of it will make sense in the saddle.
Tonya Johnston [00:17:28] Mm hmm.
Colleen Reed [00:17:29] And I think that is is just as I, if I could give any advice, is just to take that time to spend the day in the barn with your horse, going through the daily basics and realize how each and every one of them are so important from the time you feed them, from where you put the hay in the stall, all those little things really do add up and matter.
Tonya Johnston [00:17:50] Mm hmm. Right. And I think I think it’s I think that often it becomes in people’s minds the sort of all or nothing kind of situation. And instead, I think there’s a lot of room for just making the most of what you can do rather than like throwing it out the window. Like, Oh, I just don’t have time. Or some, some barns, you know, they are not allowed to like the grooms have control or you know what I mean? Like it just depends like what kind of program you’re in. But you know, there’s always. Ways to sort of be creative and find some find moments and find. Find the time.
Colleen Reed [00:18:30] And I do. I think that that that is very, very attainable. You know, between balancing school and a work schedule and then your barn schedule. You know, find out where you could fit in if you’re riding after hours, maybe volunteer to tack your own horse up and and put your own horse away. Maybe that those three hours in the evening or volunteer to do a night check. I mean, that’s a easy way to see how your horse is feeling at nine, 10:00 at night and blanketing and giving them more hay and water and those things that you you’re kind of watching their their health in that aspect. I do think it’s doable, but it’s it you have to be creative. Yeah.
Tonya Johnston [00:19:11] Yeah. Yeah. And and realizing how much of a difference it can make does maybe give you the extra motivation to to make it work.
Colleen Reed [00:19:21] Yeah. And I do understand Big barns because that’s where I come from and I understand the big barn trying to just keep everything system the system going. And, you know, sometimes if you change hours of the barn, it’s disruptive to the staff and it’s disruptive to the horses. So I understand why they will have their routine, right? But just speak with them and find a way to fit in.
Tonya Johnston [00:19:48] Right. Absolutely. And even like sitting outside your horse’s stall or in your, you know, I mean. Yeah, for sure.
Colleen Reed [00:19:56] Yeah standing there in front of your horses’ stall cleaning your own bridle, it all has to be done. So and I’m quite certain that most grooms will give up cleaning tack if they have to.
Tonya Johnston [00:20:05] You know.
Colleen Reed [00:20:06] They have other jobs to do, if you offer. And yeah, I think more people do need to understand that it’s not because they don’t want to. The riders really do. It’s just I think time is the issue.
Tonya Johnston [00:20:20] Mm hmm. Right, right, right, right.
Colleen Reed [00:20:22] And I really do.
Tonya Johnston [00:20:23] And and I think that it’s true of of amateurs as well, you know? Oh, yeah. Working folks, working parents, you know, kids with school, like you said, you know, there’s all different kinds of reasons for this, you know, working so hard to even fit the ride in that. But again, I think, you know, okay, so maybe it’s not every day, but maybe it’s like two days a week. You, you know, get there a little early or, you know, that kind of thing, you know, just doing what you can and staying committed to it, I think, is what you’re saying?
Colleen Reed [00:20:56] Exactly. I agree. And then be flexible. I mean, if you find yourself at a horse show and you know, they’re very busy, maybe it’s not your time to go ride, but be back at the barn doing things that are helpful to prepare for your ride. So you’re the staff is doing some other things, right? You don’t necessarily have to have a hard schedule either. You just have to be standing there and willing to say, Hey, I could do that. I’ll help, you know? And again, you’re part of the barn and you’re part of the part of your horses daily going ons. And I believe that. And then I think the other suggestion is, is to step out and do what you can like these clinics at all levels are an amazing time for you and your horse to bond. And I think that I’ve heard that a hundred times, at least by all levels of riders. Currently, riders that are professionals now have said that to me that that week was sort of a step back and that they got to bond with their horse and realize the workload that goes into just getting your horse ready to go jump one round or do a lesson. And it I always found that fascinating because I thought, you know, sometimes some of the riders are are so talented and they’re riding ten horses plus a day. But they yet they all said that that week was one of the best takeaways for them was to just set sit still for a little bit and and take take your time with your horse and really think about all the ins and outs of how the day goes with that particular horse. And they appreciated that. Right. So if you have the opportunity. I see. It’s a great opportunity.
Tonya Johnston [00:22:50] Right? Right. Yeah, absolutely. So when you are preparing a horse for the ring, what what kinds of things are you taking into account as far as checking in with like what they’re what they’re what your horses, mood or mindset is that day? What kind of things are you noticing? What kind of things do you think are helpful for people as they’re as they’re just getting that being while they’re still on the ground and they’re not on the road yet, but what kinds of things should they be taking into account?
Colleen Reed [00:23:21] You know, I think that this goes back to knowing your horse and kind of opening your eyes to all the horses in the barn, knowing their individual personalities the best that you could possibly do. And, you know, it starts off when you walk in in the barn in the morning and you look at your horses. I is your horse’s eye bright, eager. Are they hungry? Do they want to see you? You know, are they annoyed with you and are they hiding in the corner? I mean, all those things tell me, are they ready for their day? You know, feeling good? Are they ready for their day? And then when you’re, you know, doing barn chores again, have the opportunity to to look at their legs, you know, get the horses out for a hand, walk in the morning before they do anything is everything. You know, I think it’s important to know their normal is everything is normal, as you know. Have you taken their temperatures or temperature normal or did they eat their breakfast or the eating their hay correctly or well, and did they drink enough water and all those things to prep them to feel really good, to go do what they’ve got to do for that day. Right. And then take them out for the hand walk. Are they walking well, are they sound? Are they do they have any new bumps and lumps on their legs or, you know, nasal discharge? All those little things that are sometimes can be very, very subtle signs way before they limp or way before they are ill. And so I think that if you’re attuned to that every day as part of your morning routine, you catch things and you know, whether or not your horses is is well enough to go continue on its day and compete or have lessons and and do the things that they need to do for the day.
Tonya Johnston [00:25:05] Right. Right. And and all all that to say we’re looking to help that if there’s if it’s not, let’s say a physical thing. But you notice like the mood isn’t quite on point or like, you know, with my horse, I know I’m so well he can just look at me and I can tell what kind of mood he’s in. You know what I mean? Just by the way, his eye, like you said, his eye. What’s hard about that, though, I think and I think this is maybe where some folks get stuck is you can start telling yourself a story about what that look means. And then you get on worried like, oh, like he’s not in the mood today. Or, you know, and instead of, okay, here are some things I’m going to do, sort of help help him come to the party. Do you think I’m saying? so is there any do you have any any suggestions on that? One of that’s when it’s not something super clearly physical like, oh, hey, wait, we got to slow this whole bus down like something we got to check out when it’s more just like that little feeling.
Colleen Reed [00:26:06] I like to, you know, I think every day the horses, regardless of their routine, I would prefer to even hand walk, walk before he goes out in the paddock. I want to know, are they walking forward? Are they comfortable? Are they a little stiff? Are they tired? I mean, sometimes it’s just they’re tired and, you know, things like that. Just get them out and see. Are they taking you a little bit? Do they want to go forward? Do they want to go to that grass patch? And I and I do I think little things like that could kind of give you some again, subtle signals, you know, to let you know how they’re feeling, but also to, you know, if you start to think, oh, maybe they’re in a bad mood, you know, find out why are they in a bad. Right? You know, maybe they didn’t sleep well last night. Maybe, you know, there was a party on the back side of the aisle way and the play and a lot of music, maybe they were, you know, had to do a lot more extra or the travel the trip was maybe, you know, you had a lot of traffic coming in to that particular horse show. So the horses were on the trailer for an hour or two more. Right. You know, sort of kind of try to dig into it and find out why they’re in a bad mood. And again, little things like going down your checklist. Okay. You look at their eye, their eyes kind of like, okay, not nothing dull, nothing shiny, you know, nothing bright and like mediocre and and then, you know, how much manure do they have in their stall? How much do they drink water and how much of their hay did they eat or did they leave something behind in their feet up, whether it be a supplement or medication, for that matter? I you know, things like that. And then sort of just again, checklist, take them out for the walk. Are they eager? Do they want to walk? Do they just not really want to go to the grass or are they not really comfortable behind? Are they walking up underneath themselves or are they favoring anything at all, even if it’s a little bit you know, I, I think I like to that’s my big thing in the barns. And that I like to teach at the clinics is, is that if you kind of have your own little checklist in your mind and you go through all the possibilities of a good mood or a bad mood. And I believe that the the I think that the horses try to tell you things before it’s real bad or maybe they’re just tired and that’s okay. So maybe, you know, you don’t have to do the. 20 minute lunge. You don’t have to have the extra hack. Maybe that’s when you say, okay, I’m going to get on him a little earlier. You know, and prepare a little extra time because they’re not really lame or they’re not too uncomfortable to show, but maybe they’re just a little sore because they stood on the trailer all day, you know, or things like that.
Tonya Johnston [00:29:02] Yeah. And I think that’s the important transition is that you take stock a little bit of okay, how how first and I teach that to clients to riders of like take stock of your own day first before we mix in the horse. But when you understand like what their day is, be about helping them feel better and be more comfortable and be more willing with you to have a good day instead of just going in your head and telling yourself stories. And that’s that that aren’t really helping either of you at the end of the day, right? So then you end up getting negative and then you’re you’ve sort of created a negative, self-fulfilling prophecy where, Oh, this day isn’t going to go well and you haven’t really done anything for your horse that was helpful either, except observe them, you know? So like what you’re saying is have the checklist of like, okay, what are the things also that help get this horse in their comfort zone.
Colleen Reed [00:29:56] Right.
Tonya Johnston [00:29:57] And making sure that they, you know, that they’re in a good place. And and that really makes sense. And I think. Yeah, go ahead.
Colleen Reed [00:30:05] Yeah. And then I and I also think like a lot of times you’ll see some horses are just reactive to you rushing. Mhm. You know, and maybe they’re not necessarily in a bad mood but they’re just reacting to you rushing. Yes. You have to just sort of dial it back and slow down a little bit. Become and then the horse sort of becomes a piece of what’s going on and where they’re going to go or what they’re going to do. And back to like I always say, like the mornings in particular, and then the hand walk, even if it’s before turned out or before they go out and lunge. Pay attention to how they’re walking. So you can maybe add a couple extra minutes of walking on the lunge line and trotting right low or low with them and things like that. If you’re if you start to learn your horses, normals and personality, then you can add to the things to get them back into feeling.
Tonya Johnston [00:30:59] Right. Right.
Colleen Reed [00:31:00] Feeling like you got the mojo again to keep going.
Tonya Johnston [00:31:03] Oh yeah. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Colleen Reed [00:31:05] Much like ourselves, you know? Yeah. And I think routine is huge. I think routine is so important. I mean, especially I think that if you’re around children, you know, they thrive on routine. And the minute things get out of whack for the horses and you’re moving fast and or you’ve changed up their feeding schedule, I think the best you could do is is try to get back to the routine the best you can as quick as you can to get the horses more relaxed.
Tonya Johnston [00:31:38] Right. Right. 100%.
Colleen Reed [00:31:41] And that’s not always easy to do when you’re traveling. Mhm.
Tonya Johnston [00:31:45] Yeah. So yeah, but again like you’re, you’re doing the best you can you know.
Colleen Reed [00:31:49] Right. But if you start off with a routine and a good barn system, it’s almost easier to do that anywhere you are in the world if you have that routine that you don’t disrupt too much at home so that when you’re on the road, the most disruption is the travel part.
Tonya Johnston [00:32:07] Right. Right. What are some examples of how you have seen horses react to a rider’s mindset? I’m sure you can feel energy too, as far as. Oh, right.
Colleen Reed [00:32:20] Yeah.
Tonya Johnston [00:32:21] What are some examples that you might have of either professionals you’ve worked with or, you know, riders that you remember in particular who did a good job or maybe had some challenges around handling pressure or big environments or that kind of thing.
Colleen Reed [00:32:40] Yeah, I think for the big professionals, I notice a lot because I’m in the schooling area as a schooling area supervisor as well.
Tonya Johnston [00:32:50] Mm hmm.
Colleen Reed [00:32:51] It’s- all have routines and it might vary a little bit, tweaking it here and there, the horse their riding. But they all have their routines on. Some like to get on and ride a little bit and then some want to go stand off to the side and not watch any and some want to watch a lot of rounds. Some are asking a lot of questions. I feel like you have to find your routine there. And I’m very, very respectful of their routines because I almost can tell that they’re going to jump a vertical. Then they’re going to go to an oxer, then they’re going to do a skinny or they’re going to just do a tall vertical. And it’s pretty interesting. But I think that routine really helps riders school regardless of what class you’re schooling for. Mm hmm. Not stop. Not second guessing. But that also helps everybody on the ground that’s working with them. Mm hmm. Because they know what’s coming next, for the most part. You know, it doesn’t always work out perfectly, but that also keeps the crew and the team calm, which in turn keeps the horse calm because the horse actually figures out. I mean, they have so much muscle memory and they they figure out, oh, I got this routine. We’re doing a big class today. And and some of these horses go in. They’re all business, you know, They know the minute they walk through the ring that what their job is that day. And so I think that, again, the routine is huge where I see some things that are so truly inspiring to me is when the I do the clinics and as a stable manager, I see for the EAP Nationals in particular where these riders show up with their saddle and their tall boots and their helmets and they’re handed a horse and they may or may not get along with that horse right away. They might have to adapt a little bit. Some horses are a little bit fresher than others and others need a little bit more leg or, you know, the care that some of the horses need on the back side to get these horses feeling the best they can to continue on for 4 or 5 days. Thanks. And things go wrong. Riders fall off, horses stop horses, spook and spin. And I think that it’s what’s important is, is okay, that happened. Let’s step back. What do we got to do to fix it? What do we got to do to make this scenario better? And the riders that are most willing to do what ever it takes to keep going forward are inspiring to me.
Tonya Johnston [00:35:28] Mm hmm.
Colleen Reed [00:35:29] They don’t just go, Oh, this horse is bad, and he’s a stopper. And it spun, and. And I just want a different horse. Right. I am inspired by those that want to dig in a little bit and say, okay, what do we got to do? And, you know, a couple of times it’s just like, well, maybe you better get on early or maybe you should get on early or would you like to get on early? However you phrase it, I would want to phrase it as, you know. What do you think? You think getting on early for the next round will get you into you two together a little bit more in tune, a little less rush And and you know, you’re like, oh, I want to try that. Or maybe it’s, you know, just taking a deep breath and walking around a little bit and not necessarily standing and watching everybody else ride also. But with something I’m like, Well, it’s okay. Why don’t you go to the wash rack and, you know, poultice your horse and and or do something because your horse is done and and then come back to the group and be part of the group as a team members and then tend to be the at that point they come back and they’re the biggest cheerleaders for their team. So that’s a lot of fun and I find that inspiring.
Tonya Johnston [00:36:42] Yeah, absolutely. Well, what do you wish people knew about their barn manager?
Colleen Reed [00:36:49] Well, I would hope that they would know that they are a teammate and that they were are there for the best interest of all horses. All riders. All clients. Office, every inch of the facility. All those things, I think are. What makes a good barn manager is somebody who is a team player. Mm hmm. And they tend to have a strong team with them because they’ll get down and do whatever it takes through all of the work. And they’re there for everybody. Yeah. I think that that that’s what, to me makes a good barn manager. I would hope that that’s what they would see in that person. Right. And to understand why they do it is because, like, I could I could speak for myself in the sense that I used to love a lot of horses. I mean, I didn’t bother me to have 50, 75 horses on the road. That actually made it more exciting for me.
Tonya Johnston [00:37:47] Right.
Colleen Reed [00:37:48] And I mean, I wasn’t the only one. We had a huge group of us that were taking care of everything, but we each had our own departments strengths. And I think that that’s what. As long as you know like that. They know that they’re there. The clients in particular know that you know every horse in the barn, from the pony to the Grand Prix horse, is of equal treatment and equal importance, and that they’re there to be there for the whole facility, the whole barn, all the horses, right. And client Right. That’s what I would hope I would want them to know right about a manager.
Tonya Johnston [00:38:30] Right. Yeah.
Colleen Reed [00:38:30] And that there’s a lot of hats to wear. That’s the other thing.
Tonya Johnston [00:38:35] Yeah.
Colleen Reed [00:38:36] Yeah, yeah. You know, you might be grooming. You might be picking out the riding arenas. You know, you might be bandaging and poulticing horses. You might be doing all the paperwork to fly your horses to Europe and contacting the vets and. And just everything. I mean, you could wear a lot of hats as a barn manager.
Tonya Johnston [00:38:58] Right? Absolutely. Well, I think what point you made, what I really like is that also this the concept of we’re all on the same team. And I think sometimes riders think that their job is the most important job. And I just don’t know that that’s the best road to success. I think everyone’s job is equal. Some people ride the horse, some people care for the horse, some people train the horse. It’s to have success. Everyone has to be operating at their best. And it’s not just what happens in the ring ever.
Colleen Reed [00:39:32] And that is so true. And I think that you can see the ones that are successful year after year, horse after horse are the ones with that mindset, right? They have built the team around them and they understand how important every single piece of that puzzle is just for one clean round. And I and I think that as riders are coming through the ranks, they they should put themselves in that position is is become a team player yourself.
Tonya Johnston [00:40:08] Right.
Colleen Reed [00:40:08] And not I mean you might just be coming to and riding and showing one horse but if you pick up the broom, the rake, you’re holding other people’s horses, you’re cleaning tack, you’re doing anything to make that entire barn be successful. I think that that’s where you become a team player and then you in turn will find yourself in that situation where you realize that every single piece of this puzzle is important, from farriers to vets to, you know, we talk about all of the professions that that help us get to the ring. I mean, there’s so many. Yeah, Yeah. You take one puzzle piece out, take the braider out of the component. Oh. who’s going to step up and braid though, right. Are you going to the ring unbraided?
Tonya Johnston [00:40:56] Yeah. They’re all essential.
Colleen Reed [00:40:59] Every. Single. YES! They’re all essential for that. For the final, for the final presentation. For the final piece.
Tonya Johnston [00:41:04] Yeah.
Colleen Reed [00:41:04] Also, you know, to understand what it takes to make your horse feel like a top athlete to go out there and do this week after week.
Tonya Johnston [00:41:14] Yes.
Colleen Reed [00:41:15] That’s vitally important. So you have to get involved with that. So, you know, when how important that team is.
Tonya Johnston [00:41:22] And the communication that is so key. And I think that I think that sharing that, giving feedback to each other on things that work well is a good way to strengthen that. Those good teamwork channels of, Wow, it was really helpful when you X-y-z you know, it really calling out specifics so that they can be like when you talked about routine, we got to call out the things that are working so that they can become that because if you accidentally get on a little early and you found that that was helpful, but you don’t tell anyone and it was just the ring ran a little longer than you thought or whatever like that. No one can help you build that into a routine. So I think that communication becomes so key, too.
Colleen Reed [00:42:05] Exactly. Exactly. Yeah.
Tonya Johnston [00:42:07] Yeah, yeah. All right. So I had okay, so I had this idea to come up with I just came up with a couple of common horse show situations and just was wanting to get your general advice on them. Okay. And I know it’ll be I know that there are individual differences, but just sort of maybe a little bit of your sort of maybe go to ideas. Okay. Okay. All right. So our first one is you’re at the warm up ring and your ring goes on hold. Maybe you just got on and now you’re waiting for what could be a long time, like maybe someone broke a jump or something to that effect. What can you do for your horse in that kind of situation?
Colleen Reed [00:42:48] Don’t stand around. Got to be my first thing. No, actually, it was interesting because it actually it happened at horse show show that I was just at. And the jump took a lot longer. And the rider actually had to, like, stand around and they were ready to school. I mean, they had already schooled everything. And so they asked permission, Is it okay if we go back up and jump a single jump or just canter around one a lap or so? Mm hmm. And so they were like, of course you can. So up they went and they did that. And she jumped just really a single jump. It wasn’t even that anything big but cantered around pat her horse. Took a couple of deep breaths and then went back down the ring and won the class. Mm hmm. Yeah. So I think that, you know, things like depending especially if you’re on hold because somebody fell off.
Tonya Johnston [00:43:44] Mm hmm.
Colleen Reed [00:43:45] Remove yourself from the scenario if you can, go walk with your horse. Go look at, you know, give them a nibble of grass or a peppermint, and you take a deep breath, a drink of water, Anything you can do to get yourself from freezing up on that situation. And that goes on, including your horse. Your horse doesn’t need to see all that. Right. And all that commotion and crew running through the ring as fast as they can hold, it jumps on their head. That’s scary, you know? I mean, they don’t even see it. So I say remove yourself from the situation as best you can and find something pleasant to be around wall that they’ll always, always give you time. That’s another thing is just speak to your ingate person. They’re always willing to work with you if the ring is on hold.
Tonya Johnston [00:44:32] Gotcha. Yup.
Colleen Reed [00:44:33] Always. Yeah. And then they’ll give you – And most of the time they’re going to turn around and say, take what you need. We’ll we’ll give you a we’re ready. We’ll give you the startup time and the, you know, just go for a stroll if you have if you feel better about getting off and getting a drink and having your horse walk and feeling like he’s resting and then starting all over again, find out what works best for you and your horse, but get them out of the scenario.
Tonya Johnston [00:44:57] Right. Excellent. Okay. How about you made a mistake in the ring and you feel terrible for your horse? They weren’t injured or anything, but you just made a mistake. And so many riders beat themselves up and feel guilty about that. Like, what can you do for your horse in that kind of situation?
Colleen Reed [00:45:15] I you know, I mean, I think that it let’s just say you crashed through the jump and maybe the horse’s legs got hit pretty hard. You know, I would always to me, go back up to the ring and up to the schooling area and just jump something small, just something so that everybody leaves on a good note. You know, obviously going to check them first and what have you. But if you feel really bad, just do something small and you’ll feel better about it. You know, you didn’t hurt your horse. Your horse still wants to go to the jump. You know, especially on your big chocolate chippers. You know, sometimes the horse kind of waits, I guess, is a little worried again. But then if you do something small, they feel a little bit better, do a lot of petting and and then, you know, then you feel like you haven’t really hurt your horse. You feel like you could still find a jump. Yeah. And and everybody goes back on a positive note.
Tonya Johnston [00:46:09] Right, right. And I think my answer to that would just would be the same as when you have a beautiful round, which is just love on your horse, right?
Colleen Reed [00:46:18] Yeah.
Tonya Johnston [00:46:19] Yeah. You made a mistake. You or you were brilliant or whatever. It was like, all they really want is the connection and to know you’re there for them. And I think that’s a big part of it, too.
Colleen Reed [00:46:29] Yeah. And I do think that, you know, part of loving on your horse is is giving them something positive to go back to on as well. And and no, you haven’t hurt the horse not you didn’t mentally fry the horse didn’t and you’re not and didn’t fry yourself and so you know maybe it’s just you don’t jump a jump but go out and trot and canter and and pat and loose rein and like I said, love on your horse.
Tonya Johnston [00:46:55] Right, Right. Okay, great. Okay, here’s one. Okay, so you’re at a show for two weeks. What can you do to help your horse have a positive outlook and mindset? Maybe it’s a horse that, you know, routinely is turned out two hours a day or something like that. I just think. I think you might have some good tips of like helping their mindset, helping their outlook. I mean, those box stalls are awfully small. So what kinds of things do you have people do?
Colleen Reed [00:47:22] So back to my routine. You know, every morning we’re still feeding the same time where everything is where it is. We don’t we’re not moving things around their hay is Placed, where you place it all the time and they know exactly what time they’re going to eat and then get them out. Get them out a lot, especially if it’s a horse that’s on turn out, You know, taking them out for grass if it’s available, should be two and three times a day. If you can do it. And it doesn’t have to be for long, if you only have 15 minutes and you and you work working with staff, that is, it has time to do it twice that day. Maybe you can pull the third time, right? And even if you have to, time to do is just walk them over there to the grass patch and walk them back. That’s still that’s time out of their stall. That’s stretching their legs and you’re being your part of making your horse feel better. Right. I do think that, you know, if you have to, you know, put them on a lunge line and just let them walk and trot. Right. You know, if they feel like rolling, I mean, that’s another one. Their horses that love to roll and all they want to do is roll and they roll in the paddock. Well, then maybe you know what? Find a corner in that schooling area and allow them to have a roll and, you know, get that horse gets up and you could just tell how happy they are. They finally got their roll because they’re missing their paddock.
Tonya Johnston [00:48:49] Right, right, right, right. Yep, Yep. Awesome. Awesome.
Colleen Reed [00:48:54] Trail Ride at horse shows all the time if you can. Even if it’s just around the property. Yeah. You know, take. Get them out of the ring, out of the schooling areas and trail rides. That’s my always my advice and how we’re when we’re at the shows and again I see the most success when I’m stewarding, I see the most success of those that are doing that with their horses.
Tonya Johnston [00:49:14] Yeah, 100%. And great. All such great ideas. Thank you so much for all of your input and expertise. It was so, so, so I’m so glad you agreed to be on the show and I think this was awesome. Thank you so much.
Colleen Reed [00:49:29] So thank you very much. It’s a pleasure. And I mean, I just truly I truly love the barn.
Tonya Johnston [00:49:35] Oh, yes. Yeah, You’re very inspiring.
Tonya Johnston [00:51:09] Tip of the Month. Build on success by gathering your success. It is harder to learn from success than from failure. What’s true is that you need to be more intentional about it. You have to ask harder questions like, How did we do that? What made the biggest improvement? How did we have such a great day to day? It’s easier in our culture to examine mistakes or failures, right? Our our focus is drawn to those faster. We ask more questions about failures and and that from there we come up with a plan for the future. But I also am suggesting here that you gather your successes from 2023 and bring them into 2024, right? By asking yourself those kinds of questions like how? How did these great things, these moments that I treasure in my memory. How did we accomplish these as a team? How did my horse and I, the team that surrounds us? How did we all come together for these really great moments? And honestly, they can be little moments. It doesn’t mean a great moment, doesn’t have to be a win. It doesn’t have to be something grandiose. It can be very small, but it just means that you felt that joy of process and growth. So, okay, so to help with this process of gathering success, I’m going to lead you through this exercise, right? So it’s actually called Gathering success, this exercise, and it’s a great way to finish the year. So I suggest you do this annually to review. And celebrate your progress and the processes that helped you grow as a rider athlete and horse person. All right. So to do this, I want you to take out two pieces of paper and we’re going to make four categories. One on the front. One on the back of the first page. And then front and back of the second page. So your task is to identify and write down items for these four categories. Okay. So number one, physical skills that you built into habits this year that, you know helped you succeed. Like maybe you finally feel like you’re keeping your reigns short in your corners, like you’re paying attention to that and making sure your hands are stepping forward and up your horse’s neck like that would be a physical skill that you really built a positive habit around. That’s an example. You’re also going to on then on the back side of the page, you’re going to write down mental skills that you learned and used this year that helped your success. So that could be you really zeroed in on a new breathing technique, right? You decided like, hey, I’m really going to when I get to the barn for a lesson, I’m making sure I sit in the car and take five box breaths before I get out because my commute is stressful and after work or whatever it might be. Right? So that became a mental skill that you really lean into that you really trust at this point. Okay. All right. The third category is your preparation skills. So preparation skills you use this year that helped you focus, improve your consistency and boost your confidence for your riding. So what kind of preparation items would you add to that list? How? How did your routine grow and blossom this year? Right. So putting down anything big, little small, like all you know, it can be something basic. It can be something big. And then fourth. Make a list, even if it’s a bullet point list of just memories and experiences that stand out this year that show you times you were successful. You were gritty or adaptable or mentally tough or positive, even though you faced a challenge. Right. So the met the specific days, times, places. Obviously, you don’t need to write dates down, but you know, you know anything you can to remember those kinds of moments and you’re just going to jot them down. We’re just kind of journaling those. But again, it doesn’t have to be we’re not writing like a beautiful essay about this. It can be just really quick just to jog your memory. But I just want you gathering them together. And that’s actually that fourth category I should have put first, because that’s a really good way to start this process. And so I want to suggest this when you do this, that you sit. And close your eyes. Think back over your year. The places you went, the experiences you had with your horse. Allow your favorite memories to rise to the top. Stay curious about the memories and ask yourself how you accomplished these moments. This will help guide you as you come up with specific things to put on your lists. If you do not have, like I said, they don’t have to be enormous revolutionary things, right? You know, building your favorite riding playlist of music to listen to when driving to the barn and coupling that with turning your phone on Do not Disturb. Like maybe you put on Do not Disturb, you have your music downloaded and boom, you know, that could be a terrific item to add to your preparation skills list, for example. Simple. Straightforward. Done right. So I hope you have fun in this process. I hope that it is inspiring to you and encouraging to you to look at all the ways you’ve grown. And so good luck with it. Enjoy the process. Keep it open ended. Right. This is not a fixed there’s no fixed close to this, so you can add things as they come to you. So I’m sending you all best wishes for 2024 and looking forward to all of the Success Foundation items that you will add to your list. Please go ahead and drop me a line. Share with me. Tag me in an Instagram post, anything like that. I’m always here for you to celebrate your progress and growth as writer. So happy New Year and I will talk to you in 2024.
Tonya Johnston [00:58:42] You can find the links to today’s guest 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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