Saddle Up With a Growth Mindset

When we head to the barn with goals in mind, it can be easy to get discouraged if we feel we’re not attaining them as quickly as we’d like. However, achieving a growth mindset will help keep you focused even when the going gets tough.

Brown horse walking in snow, covered with a blanket coat to keep warm during winter, wooden ranch fence and trees in background.

What is a Growth Mindset?

Having a growth mindset means that you don’t believe you are stuck where you’re at.
You believe that with continued practice and perseverance that you can grow your skills and continue to develop your abilities in and out of the arena.

So, how does a growth mindset transfer over to your riding? Simple. Believe that with resilience, perseverance, and the right mindset, you will be able to accomplish your goals and improve your riding and bond with your horse.

Go into every ride with the mindset that you have the opportunity to learn and grow, regardless of whether the ride goes as planned or not. Having the right mindset will develop your riding and deepen the connection with your horse.

Build Resilience, Build a Growth Mindset

Do you ever have a bad ride, step off your horse, and just want to sit in your trailer and cry? It’s important to address your emotions and let yourself feel them, but it’s also important to build resilience and correct your thinking.

One bad ride does not make for a bad year. One bad day in the arena does not negate all the good rides and positive progress you have made.

Develop resilience by trying to learn from your mistakes and use them as opportunities to grow. It is important in these instances to practice compassion towards yourself and your horse. Understand that you will both have bad days. By becoming more resilient, you will be able to take these bad days and turn them into lessons that will help you grow.

Seeing challenges as opportunities to grow, allows us to assess our strengths and weaknesses and become purposeful about each ride or training session.

Having a growth mindset doesn’t mean you won’t have tough days, lackluster rides, and frustrating training sessions. It does mean however, that you will use days those to grow and continue learning along the way.

Never Stop Learning, Never Stop Growing

Some of the best horsemen and horsewomen will be the first to tell you that they never stop learning. In a world where a wealth of knowledge is at our fingertips, make it a goal to continue learning.

Listen to knowledgeable people within your specific discipline, and then listen to knowledgeable people outside of your disciplines. You can pull valuable information from people that might not ride in the same circles as yourself.

Read books, watch videos, listen to the experts, and don’t turn down opportunities to learn. We owe it to our horse to be the best version of ourselves we can be. Continuing to learn and soak up knowledge is key in developing a growth mindset.

If you’re training your horse and find yourself stuck or lost, Horse&Rider OnDemand would be a beneficial tool. There, you can find a treasure trove of training content from a variety of trainers. There’s something for everyone, content ranges from perfecting the sliding stop, to how to properly adjust your curb strap.

Celebrate Small Victories

A win is a win, and sometimes we get so caught up in striving for bigger and better, that we miss the opportunity to celebrate the small successes.

Understanding where you are at in your abilities, and where your horse is in theirs will give you perspective.

If your goal is to compete at the World Show, and right now you’re working on mastering lead changes, make sure that you acknowledge the little victories.

Just as we must take responsibility for our mistakes to build resiliency, we must also take responsibility for our achievements! Anything you accomplish in the arena that aligns with your goals, is a victory.

 Holding a balanced lope for a few strides is a victory. Noticing your leg strength is improving and you can hold correct position for a few minutes longer, is a victory. When it all clicks, and you find your horse and you moving in unison and communicating clearly is a victory. Being able to recognize that you or your horse need a break, and just enjoying a relaxing trail ride is a victory.

When your horse understands what you’ve asked, take a break, and enjoy the moment. Taking a few moments to relax and enjoy the moment can be a great way to savor your victory.

After a tough day where you haven’t progressed as much as you’d like, take time to reflect on how far you’ve come.

Keep Going!

Use these tips to keep your goals in focus, and your mindset from becoming negative and fixed. Most importantly, remember why you started. Working with your horse, riding, showing, and competing is supposed to be fun! You’re creating a bond with an incredible animal. Even on the tough days, that is a wonderful gift in and of itself.

[READ ABOUT MATT MILLS’ TIPS TO HAVE THE RIGHT MINDSET]

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