All the Wrong Moves – How to Turn Around an Equestrian Slump

All the Wrong Moves – How to Turn Around an Equestrian Slump | SLO Horse News

In contrast to the classic 1983 film starring Tom Cruise, entitled “All the Right Moves”, sometimes, it seems as though, as equestrians, we hit a wall in which we make “All the Wrong Moves” or hit an equestrian slump.  Sometimes this happens when we’ve had outside life influences, other times it’s simply a result of training too hard or losing focus of our goals, and sometimes it’s just a natural part of being a life-long equestrian.

We’ve all experienced the “All the Wrong Moves” phenomenon when it comes to our riding careers.  No matter how hard we try, everything that we do seems to manifest the wrong results.  We know what we want to do, and sometimes we even know exactly how to do it, but it simply doesn’t translate from our minds, through our bodies and into the correct cues to our horses.  When this happens, we feel like one of those people trying to walk up an escalator in the wrong direction – we just can’t seem to get to the top.  So, what can we do in these cases where we want to turn “All the Wrong Moves” into “All the Right Moves”?

Refocus and Rest

As someone who has shown horses and competed all of my life, there have been many times where I have become so focused on one particular thing that everything else seems to fall apart.  I’m worried about my horse’s headset, and so I’m doing things that in turn ruin her cadence or speed control.  It’s a case of not seeing the forest for the trees.  In these cases, I have learned that the best thing to do is to step back, rest and refocus.  This could mean resting for a day or even taking a week off from riding; I know it’s tough in the heart of show, trail or riding season, but sometimes it’s necessary.  During this rest period, refocus on what you want to achieve as a “whole” instead of picking on one particular thing.

Sometimes You Have to See it

Have you ever been riding and you know that things are going wrong, but you just can’t understand why?  Maybe your horse isn’t responding to the cues you are giving him, or maybe you feel as though you are asking all the right questions but getting all the wrong answers.  Often times, the answer is staring you right in the face (if you’re looking in a mirror), but you can’t see it happening.

One of the most helpful things for me as a competitor is to watch myself ride.  This is truly a miracle of modern times, because we all have cell phones, and many of us have video cameras.  I can remember one particular time before a big Regional competition where I simply could not get my rundowns and sliding stops to work.  I had my dad grab the cell phone and take a video of me riding, as soon as I watched it back, I could see the problem – the problem was me and my body position.  A few quick tweaks and I was back to work…the right way.

We All Need Help

One of the most valuable phrases I’ve ever heard is “Even trainers have trainers”.  This has stuck with me throughout the years.  It has taught me that no matter how “good” we believe we are or how much we want to do things on our own – to achieve on our own – we can all benefit from another pair of trained eyes watching us and giving us feedback.  When we hit a wall, sometimes the absolute best thing to do is to call our favorite trainer and take a lesson or two.  It’s amazing to me how easily and quickly certain things can be sorted out when someone with a trained eye watches us ride.

Patience is Paramount, You’ll get out of the Equestrian Slump

Patience…it’s something that we all need to hold on to as though it were a golden egg in the equestrian world.  I have watched countless people go down the route of turning a decent ride into a bad one, or a great horse into a cranky one, all because they simply lacked the patience to follow a problem through.  Too many riders will become impatient and begin snatching at the reins, jabbing with the legs, punishing a horse who really doesn’t know he was doing anything wrong, all because they weren’t patient enough to work a problem or issue through in their own heads and then apply a fix.

Not everything can be fixed overnight, sometimes it takes days, weeks or even months to un-train bad habits and re-train good ones.  When you commit to being an equestrian, you must also commit to being patient…it simply won’t work out otherwise.

In the end, if you feel as though you’re in a position of making “All the Wrong Moves”, don’t despair, because you can and will turn it around if you have the right tools in your “equestrian toolbox”.

Cover Photo: Sharon Jantzen

I have been an equestrian most of my life, having gotten my first pony at the age of 5, and 30 years later, I competitively exhibit my Half Arabian Reining horse on both the Arabian and NRHA circuits. There are three passions in my life, riding, photography and writing. Being able to combine all three of these things is a dream come true.

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