Horsemanship: Mental Approach

 "I have to..." vs. "I get to..." 

 I recently was listening to a non-horse related lecture and it reminded me of something I "knew" but I wanted to revisit more specifically. 

 For many people, as they experience unwanted scenarios with their horse, they start fixating on the potential unwanted outcomes. It is very easy to fall into the pattern of negative thoughts and then act defensively in the present moment about potential future experiences that may occur with the horse. 

 I believe one of the most important thoughts you can have to begin to influence the equine partnership is to change your words, which will change your "story" which will then change your behavior. 

 Let me give you an example: 

 I have to go turn out the horses. vs 

I get to go turn out the horses.

 Think about those two statements for a moment. Now imagine if something unexpected occurred while you were doing this activity. 

If the preface to the interaction had you in a negative, defensive, "chore like" mindset, how would you "handle" the unforeseen event? Would you be patient, tolerant and supportive or more reactive and critical because of your initial mental starting place? 

 Your thoughts can completely change the potential outcome of an experience, whether horse related or not. This is especially true when interacting with social, herd animals who are looking for guidance and leadership. 

If you're starting the conversation with an underlying tone of duty versus opportunity you will already be contributing to the unwanted outcome you don't want. 

 So the first thing you can do is to become aware of your thoughts, whether in your head or spoken out loud, and every time you hear a negative, duty-like word, challenge yourself to replace it with a pro-active alternative word or thought. 

 It may seem like a very "minor" act to influence how you interact with your horse, but your brain controls your body and emotions. These influence your energy and behaviors. And it is those, that your horse is responding to and often mirroring in his behavior. 

 The act of learning to replace words and thoughts will take acknowledgment, acceptance, and recognition in yourself. By committing to do so- without self-critique- it will become easier to recognize and change unhelpful thoughts and behaviors earlier, and you will learn how to follow through and make changes within yourself based on your self-assessment. 

 Have you noticed any equine-related thought patterns in yourself?

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