If only people could know the REAL stories behind many of my riders.
I had several riders competing at pony finals in Kentucky this summer. One of those pony riders, almost year ago to the day, have a bad fall and broke her arm when jumping. She is a very young rider.
She got back on to hack her pony after that, but she dug her heels down when it came time to going back to showing. This went on for months. That's when I was called in.
When I first met the girl and watched her hack, I turned to the mother and said, "Hey, she's a great little rider! What are her goals?"
And her mother said, "Eventually, the Olympics." But short term ... her dream is to do the pony finals next year.
"OK, well start booking that those fights and that hotel! We got this!"
I worked with her for a few weeks teaching her the basic concepts for how to change your mental state at the snap of a finger, and she was making great progress. But then the shows started again and avoidance behavior started.
She even dragged her parents to the hospital complaining of a bad stomach ache two nights before the first show. Supposedly she even threw up the whole night before. (We were one day away from the show.)
She showed up for her lesson the next morning, and I was there with her mother. We watched the little girl ride out to the ring for a lesson with her trainer and then we saw them stop and chat.
"Uh, oh," I said to the mother. This isn't good."
The mother replied, "No, she's fine."
"No, she is on a mission. She is going to convince her trainer that she is too ill to ride."
And sure enough, they come walking back to barn, and by the time I got there, the little girl was in her stall with the pony taking off the leg wraps. She had already removed the saddle, pad, and the bridle.
I went to the trainer and called over the assistant trainers and said, "OK, we need to have a pow-wow. So, we need to get her back up on that pony and tell her she IS showing tomorrow."
Immediately the trainer starts telling me how sick to her stomach the girl was, and that she totally understands that the girl is not feeling well and is tired from being up most of the night." She agreed that the girl should just go home and rest.
To which I replied, "I understand it too. But this is about her fear of showing. First of all, I already taught her the tools to not feel like that, so it is her choice to use them or not. But this is a choice. If her mind is strong enough to actually make her physically sick, then she is proving to everyone that it is also strong enough to do the opposite and make her empowered and excited about showing."
I continued, "Trust me. If you put her up on her pony and make her do something challenging, she will HAVE to change her focus to the details of executing the ride and therefore, she will be focusing on that instead of her fears."
The trainer finally walked over to the little girl and asked her if she would like to ride her pony bareback; something the little girl had been begging to do ever since she bought the pony.
Guess what happened? Yup! It was a miracle! You never saw such a happy kid! She was flying around the ring and even jumping bareback! Huge smile!
We think it is great to ribbon and win, and we applaud others that do, but when you know the circumstances and challenges behind someone's life ... it becomes even more amazing what they have accomplished.
This little girl, exactly one year later, met her goal and competed at the Pony Finals. She could have chosen to runaway from showing forever.
Sidebar: I did have to step back in 6 months after that bareback ride and do another intervention when she didn't even want to walk by that ring where she had broken her arm; she was supposed to show in it the next day!
I met her at thw "scary" ring that was triggering her one rainy day in the early evening. I had told her to bring her favorite toy which was a Breyer's replica of her pony. We ran around and played in the mud. (We both ruined our boots with that play day!) We were taking photos, acting silly, and jumping over jumps and just pretending it was a play ground. Desensitizing you might say.
And that fixed that problem! I even had her come up with a name for her new friend ... which was the ring. She named it "Fun Ring!" She now had a "go to" pattern interrupt (half-halt in her mind) to think about when her nervous system automatically kicked in with the memories of the trauma.
She now she had a new neuro-association in her brain for the ring; rewiring for the short circuiting that was tripping her up.
(I've learned how to become a master electrician!)
Challenges are put in our life to make us better. And one or two things are going to happen. Either a person will face their truth and breakthrough to overcome their challenge and step up or they will choose avoidance patterns or to just flat runaway.
Which keeps them imprisoned.
Some riders spend their time and energy focusing on coming up with excuses and creating drama in their life in order to avoid growth and stepping up.
The right focus? It is a choice. And a decision.
And then there are the the riders that have plenty of "reasons" and REAL excuses that they USED to use to NOT step up in their riding ...
(Completely understandable if they couldn't perform under those conditions. My jumper rider who broke her back and almost became paralyzed comes to mind.)
But I love to see the transformation of both these groups of riders when they have showed up, worked hard, and have now learned how to turn that around to do the exact opposite.
They learned how to become unflappable and how to not only NOT become distracted or weakened by these events, but they channel the emotions and energies so that these "realities" better serve them in their riding and their lives.
That little girl perceived that particular show ring as the "bogey man", but I showed her how to embrace the scary or negative things in her life and how to elevate the perception and feelings that she has for events or memories.
A lot of competitors did NOT have the challenges that they did this past year, and yet these riders who previously believed they were "forever" traumatized (or just plain not good enough) ... out-performed them.
Don't run away. Change your beliefs. And step up!
Enjoy your Labor Day!
Breakthrough Equestrian Mental Skills Coach
Emotional Strength & Resiliency
Elite Lifestyle Transformations, LLC
11924 Forest Hill Blvd., Ste 10A-211
Wellington, Florida 33414
United States of America