Focus to Win With Horses
By Don Blazer
Winning riders and winning trainers know why and how they win, and it’s no secret.
Most of the time, most horsemen - almost everyone for that matter - are looking at negatives. It’s part of our social structure. Nearly everyone and every organization creates some kind of negative to promote their special interest which will supposedly correct the problem. The focus is directed toward the problem, toward the negative.
For example, it’s common to hear horse training methods are based in pain and punishment. That’s the negative. It is usually followed by a pitch for some new “humane” method or gimmick.
The negative is not true, and most of the time the pitch isn’t either.
Historically, horse training has been based in the avoidance of pain and punishment. Confrontation, which is a requirement of learning and is not abuse, comes when any response is not correct. That’s exactly the same principle used by Momma mare -- and has been for 50 million years -- when she is training “Junior”.
Horse training is based in communication with positive reinforcement; has been for nearly 4,000 years, and will continue to be. The great horsemen of the past left a legacy of this kind of training and the horsemen of today have used the knowledge to raise the standards and accomplishments.
It’s a matter of focus.
The best trainers, best riders, best horsemen have learned to block out the negatives and accentuate the positives.
The very first thing winners do is set goals for themselves. They don’t talk or think about what they can’t do; they say exactly what it is they are going to do. The goal may be very simple. It may be just to have a good trail ride or attend a small local show. The goal may be grand, such as winning a championship. But in any case, the goal is the focus.
Successful horsemen see where they want to go and what they want to accomplish. They don’t focus on the bumpy road to their rewards, which would drain their energy. They renew their energy by seeing the final result.
Winning trainers and riders focus on their strengths.
Winners see how strong their horse is in a particular event or movement. If their horse is a smooth, steady jumper, they concentrate on how they can best show off the horse’s talents. If the horse is a good loper, they select competition which requires a lot of loping and little or no jogging.
Capitalize on your unique abilities and those of your horse. Showcase whatever it is you and your horse are best at. Keep your focus on the positives.
Plan on working with your horse instead of against him.
Often riders or trainers determine what they want a horse to do before they know if the horse has the ability to really be good at the predetermined performance. (Of course, a horse bred for a specific event will usually have some talent in that area.) Give the horse a chance to show his stuff. During his basic training, a horse will always tell you what he liked and does easily, and what he dislikes. The key is to be listening.
Winners develop a winning attitude. They expect to win, but aren’t attached to victory. Winning, losing or breaking even are all acceptable to the focused horseman because he knows there is a lesson to be learned from every event.
The correct mental attitude allows the horsemen to choose how he is going to response, a positive. The negative is responding by conditioning instead of by choice. If he wins, he chooses to focus on the positive things which helped bring about the victory. If he loses, he doesn’t focus on the mistakes, but chooses to focus on how to correct the mistakes.
It’s amazing how many horsemen abandon their dreams, give up, quit, or run without a fight because ALL they could see were the problems, the negatives. Every day is filled with little problems which can be called “stumbling blocks”, or “stepping stones”.
Winners choose how they label things. Winners attach positive labels and avoid negatives.
Finally, winners focus on one more positive. They focus on taking action.
It doesn’t matter the level of the horsemanship desired; accomplishment always follows action.
*Learn how to focus on the positive and avoid the negative – both in horse training and life. Read “Nine Secrets of Perfect Horsemanship”, by Don Blazer.
Please visit http://www.donblazer.com/books/ninesecrets.html for more information.