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    What I know for sure

    - January 3rd, 2020 - Trainer Tips

    By Sheryl Lynde | Horsetrader columnist

    There are a couple of things I know for sure.

    Whenever I work with a horse, I am looking for some improvement. Some days, the progress may be undeniable and obvious. Other days, it is just a lightness in their body that I can feel. What I know for sure is that I cannot expect the horse to make a change if I don’t change how I ride. It starts with me.

    If I am getting an unwanted response, I check myself. I know that I have stated this before, but it bears repeating: I hear riders go into great detail about all that their horse is doing “wrong.” Here are some questions you can ask yourself. Are your hands too high? Are you pulling too hard? Are your shoulders tight? Are you using your legs properly, if at all? Is the pressure too much or not enough?

    If all checks out with you and the horse is still having trouble, are you breaking down the exercise to the level he needs in order to be successful? Have you ruled out pain? I’ve witnessed how ulcers, arthritis, teeth and sore hocks have impacted training. Some horses are more stoic and have a high threshold for pain. Others react to the slightest discomfort.

    In order for the horse to improve, the rider needs to improve. You can’t expect the horse to change if there is no change coming from you. Every day I sit in the saddle, I’m looking to be lighter with my hands, more precise with my legs, and develop a more independent seat. I want to increase my awareness in order to read the horse’s thoughts. There have been plenty of times where I questioned my ability — I never thought I was good enough. But that self-doubt has always been my biggest motivator to work harder. Practice takes endless hours of repetition, trial and error and a willingness to get better, do better, and be better. There are no shortcuts, and this, I know for sure. This is an endeavor that takes time, so please don’t get discouraged.

    If you truly know who you are, you will be successful at reaching your goals. This, I know for sure. Chasing someone else’s dreams is a recipe for failure. I’ve seen riders purchase a youngster because they like the idea of starting a colt. It takes years to develop a young horse. If you are lacking the necessary knowledge, a considerable amount of funds should be put aside for training. A youngster takes a minimum of 90 days to walk, trot and canter under saddle. Depending on the demeanor of the colt, maybe a little trail time as well. But that is just a start. If you have the time and financial resources to invest, it is a worthy goal. You will feel an incredible sense of accomplishment and build a wonderful companion.

    However, if it was never one of your personal dreams, the necessary time or funds needed to properly bring a colt along will feel like a weight around your neck. You have set up both you and your new colt for failure and a possible wreck along the way. Be authentic. Take time to explore your true desires and motivation. Know what you want to do and who you were created to be. Following your own path develops integrity and character. By doing so, you will build a strong foundation to stand firmly upon. You will crave new experiences and set new goals. Conversely, chasing someone else’s dream drains you of enthusiasm and you can feel a “quit” looming in your future. Even though the issue is not with you personally, you still take it personally. You fall back into a comfort zone and settle for being average. It just wasn’t your dream to chase.

    The thing about a comfort zone is that you will never progress by living in it. What I know for sure is that the magic happens outside your comfort zone. We aren’t here to live a comfortable life, we are here to learn. I think the term “comfort zone” is deceiving. It should be renamed the “timeout zone”. While in the “timeout zone,” life happens all around you until finally it just passes you by. You have rendered yourself powerless to the very emotion you are protecting yourself from — fear. Your friends and colleagues move forward, taking risks and putting themselves out there. Is it comfortable? Nope. Is everything you try going to be a success? Nope. Will you be humbled? I hope so.

    “There is nothing noble about feeling superior to your fellow man. True humility is being superior to your former self,” quoted Ernest Hemingway. Get out of the “timeout zone” and you’ll find your dream. This I know for sure.

    Sheryl

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