Say ‘No’ to Negativity

When negativity enters your mind or naysayers darken your perspective, don’t let them keep you from achieving your riding goals.
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Bob Avila sitting on a buckskin horse who is looking to the right.

Negativity in your riding will always stand in the way of your goals.

Negativity and naysayers can wreck your perspective—but only if you let them. No matter what people say or what doubts you have, they only matter if you believe them. Here are three stories to help you keep your thoughts positive and avoid negativity in your riding—and in life.

Be Strong in Your Beliefs

I bought Brother White (aka “Preacher,” you’ve seen him in Horse&Rider many times) as a 2-year-old for a customer. I believed in that horse from the time he entered my barn and had high expectations for him.

When I took him to his first pre-futurity as a 3-year-old, he lost a cow. At the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity, he fell down working a cow. He stopped so hard and was so gritty, he couldn’t handle it when he was young. I took him to the Arizona Sun Circuit as a 5-year-old where he blew everyone out of the water in the reining until I went off course and lost the circuit title. The owner thought he was a bad-luck horse and told me to sell him. Knowing Preacher’s potential, I traded her a 2-year-old of mine she really liked for him.

The first thing I did was geld him. He was well-bred, so people asked why I did that. I knew I’d own a great gelding once he came into his own. And I was right: Preacher had won $500 by the time he was 5 years old. He retired with $150,000 in lifetime earnings.

I had faith in him that no one else had. I saw his potential, and I never let anyone else’s negativity or naysaying convince me any different.

Let It Go

The first thing I teach my nonpros is to let it go. “It” refers to your last performance, your last ride, your last anything. There’s nothing you can do about it. Learn and move on. If you hold onto that time you dragged a lead or missed a marker, your negative thinking will allow it to happen again. Learn from your mistakes, then shake them off. I believe 100 percent that if you go into the arena with a negative attitude, you’ll have a negative run.

Riding is trial and error, and you will make errors. The key is to not make the same errors twice.

Surround Yourself With Positivity

Do you think Tom Brady hangs out with a bunch of people who believe all the negative things people say about him? Do you think he’s letting the negative conversations about him influence how he’ll perform in the Super Bowl? Absolutely not. He believes in himself and he surrounds himself with people who also believe in him.

I’m a very positive person; you can’t tell me I can’t do something. I’ve lived my entire life that way. I refuse to live in defeat—I suck it up and get it done. If I’d surrounded myself with people who didn’t believe in me or let negative thoughts get to me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

The Bottom Line

You’ll make mistakes. You’ll have rides you’re not proud of. You’ll make an acquaintance who wants to bring you down. That’s OK. The key is to learn from it. Winners don’t win all the time. They win most of the time. And when they don’t, they learn from it, shake it off, and try again with a can-do, will-do attitude.

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