Hard but worth it

I had a sports psychologist session with the great Dave Freeze yesterday, right before my riding lesson and it was really insightful. Weirdly I cried on and off the entire time, but I didn’t feel sad- I felt pretty good. And my face didn’t get all red and hot like real tears, I felt fine, no puffy swollen eyes, nothing. It was just emotion, coming out like how it wanted to!


Whee! Jump jump. From a lesson a few weeks ago.

(As a non-crier, it felt weird).

Anyways, it was a lot to go through and I felt kind of wrung out by the end, but I have some valuable tools to work with and the best part- I was able to head straight over to my lesson after and put it into practice!

Basically to sum it up all I have to do for riding:

  1. Show up
  2. Give it my best
  3. Manage my mistakes
  4. Learn
  5. Look for high powered FUN!

Easy right? Ha! But yes some good things to work on.


Go Oats go!

I went into my lesson feeling pretty good! Almost immediately I had some ‘external bubble’ things to deal with- it was freezing, so I was shivering and had to grab my gross old barn jacket to wear. No problem, addressed.

Then, Oats was really draggy and non-interested in my warmup. High headed, kind of frustrating, slow off the leg, reins not there, spooky and generally not paying attention. Spooks? Over and done with. Letting it go.


Funny thing, this was a very awkward jump. Looks fine in a still eh?

Lazy? Deal, don’t dwell.

I was actually pretty good at managing my emotions well in the warm-up, whereas I know I wanted to get frustrated. But you know what? Regardless of how he warms up, I can manage MY emotions- I can’t manage his. So, I will do that!

Anyways, the warm up for the course was good for the first half, and then the second half I got left behind a few times, Oats was hesitant and backed off. No problem. I will go around and try it again! See how that goes. (better).

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Jumping the coop. It is so pretty!

Course time- I was a bit nervous- see the backed-off part…But I thought, hey let’s just see how this goes? I make a mistake, I manage it. No biggie. And you know what? It rode really nicely! Not perfect (HAH) but pretty darn good.

We did the course once, and I had some fleeting thoughts of doing it again, but decided against it. I have to minds of this. Sarah A and Sarah B.

Sarah A: You are a chicken! Why didn’t you ride it again? It went so well, what are you afraid of, screwing it up??

Sarah B: The course went well and you managed all your minor errors. Nice work. Why don’t we take that good feeling home and know that you can be kinder to yourself on a day that you already did a lot of personal work? There is always a next time to ride a good course.

See where I am going with this? It’s tough. I want to be Sarah B all the time 🙂 And if I was, I probably wouldn’t even be writing this! Moving on…ha.

Dave Freeze clinic #2: Be willing to be a bozo occasionally.

Went to my second Dave Freeze talk this weekend, curiously the day before my Foxstone show- auspicious timing eh?

Last time I attended his talk, I came away with some good information, but also felt like I didn’t go deep enough, and I was struggling with anxiety. Now that I have been doing a lot of hard work on managing my physical stress and trying to take that next step to actually putting it into practice, like at the horse show. So, the talk that Dave hosted, combined with the work that I have been doing weekly with Vicki, put me in a good mindset for the show.

Dave went through the steps with us on how anxiety/fear presents itself, and how to get an optimal performance. We ‘borrow’ from the stupid list (fear, jealousy, anger, sad, worry, frustration, nerves, stress) when our performance outcome does not match our perception of ourselves, our image.

So, our image has to change a bit, to allow for mistakes and mistake management (this was a big one). That way, we won’t have to ‘borrow’ from the stupid list when we make mistakes and screw up–that’s just part of life, and a part of YOUR life. Most of the time, you are ideal. Occasionally, you are amazing. And sometimes, you are a bozo.

You have to be willing to tell yourself the truth about who you really are.

Accept that occasionally screwing up exists as a part of yourself. Don’t always protect your image, change your image. If you are on a spectrum of performance, being too careful will limit your performance–thinking about the ‘wrong things’ will do it too, ie- caring too much, thinking too much about distances, other riders, mistakes, prize money, etc.

At a horse show, keep in mind The Big Eight

  • calm mind
  • relaxed body
  • grounded
  • centred- the ability to change your mind if you need to
  • positive
  • patient- time isn’t rushing by, it slows down
  • effort- put out the appropriate amount
  • focus

When you have these things, you will be in a zen state. This is ‘carefree’ but carefree still means focused. Riding carefree is great but you’ll always have to manage mistakes.

Keep in mind that attributes (mistake management, the Big Eight, bravery) + Process (rhythm, pace, distance, balance, position, connection) = Outcome (a great ride, fun, smooth, enjoyable, connected, proud). Let the outcomes go.

Focus on the attributes and process. Then the outcome will take care of itself.


Final word from Dave Freeze: High Performance

Final word from Dave Freeze: High Performance


In your pursuit of performance, how do you react to any mistakes? How does this affect your performance?

Use your lifelines:
1. Don’t react
2. Breathe
3. Chunking- break the course down in groups of 3’s. Memorize in groups of 3’s. Focus in groups of 3’s.
4. Made a mistake? Move on. Don’t dwell. It’s over! Next thing!

An ‘A’ athlete: likes themselves, is interested in the pursuit of excellence but doesn’t let perfectionism paralyze them.

Inner dialogue:
• Who do you listen to? The bad angel or the good angel? The more energy you give to bad thoughts, the more they will come up. Replace the bad habit with a good habit (positive thoughts).
• Tell yourself you’re going to be ok. ‘We’ll be fine’
• Tell yourself technical words: Need more leg at base
• Keep energy words: Keep it alive! Looking good! Keep it flowing
• Be confident.

More sports psych with Dave Freeze: A Good Warm-Up

Dave likes to complain that equestrians are terrible at warming themselves up. Physically, mentally, whatever. We just don’t do it.

He’s right. It’s true! 

Here is his prescription for success:

A Good Warm-Up

  1. Arrive early
  2. Turn outside world off
  3. Turn horse world on
  4. Positive visualization of your ride
  5. Get ready- warm yourself up by walking around & do cross-overs with your legs and arms
  6. Develop your bubble- concentration/regroup/focus
  7. Task at hand- what is happening now? NOT what is happening in the future or what happened in past
  8. High Performance Fun!

Simple exercises like leg-crossovers keep your mind connected and help you get your own attention.

Connect your mind-body before connecting to horse.

Get a sense of where your horse is, and meet them there. If it’s good > you’re prepared. If it’s bad> you’re prepared.

When you visualize, it’s common to visualize bad things happening. That’s ok. Keep doing them!


Sports Psychology with Dave Freeze

Sports Psychology with Dave Freeze

Took in a very interesting workshop last night at Greenhawk. Sports psychology with Dave Freeze!

Without further ado…I learned a great deal from him. Now to put it into practice! I have toyed with doing sports psychology on and off, mainly because I have a paralyzing fear of screwing up jumping and at horse shows. UGH.

There are two options to maintain that perfect ‘self’ we see when we think of ourselves:
Our image of ourselves=results. But what happens when the results don’t match up to our perfect image of us?
• Can you behave differently?
• How do you change your image?
• Don’t borrow from the list: disappointment/frustration/anger/doubt/fear/jealousy
• Things happen that will always happen: These are predictable results.
• Develop the skills to better your self-image, make you more confident as a person, OR you can broaden your self-image of ‘me’ as a person. I am a person who occasionally makes mistakes, but doesn’t let them ruin my day, or ruin my self-image.
• I am all-encompassing; I manage my mistakes well & am calm, grounded and centered. I handle myself.
• Don’t sell yourself out by over-promising or under-promising.
• Set yourself up to succeed.
Don’t focus on outcomes. If you use your indicators (transitions, impulsion, rhythm, fitness) and focus on your process attributes (calm, relaxed, focused, breathe, low tension, positive) the outcome will take care of itself.

ie- you didn’t blow your chance at first place if you get a refusal. Accept it, and move on. It’s in the past. You don’t need the past anymore.