Would you like to be a more confident, competent horsewoman?
There's a good chance that you do! After all, feeling anxious is one of the most - if not THE most - common equestrian problem that I hear about.
That's why in this episode, you'll learn 5 steps that'll help you become a more confident, skillful equestrian. You'll feel better - and so will your horse.
And it all starts with unlocking the power of your unconscious thoughts.
For the complete show notes, please visit https://www.marydebono.com/H9 .
More FREE resources:
Feldenkrais® for Riders videos: https://www.marydebono.com/rider.
PDF cheat sheet on How to Create Your Confidence Anchor: https://www.marydebono.com/anchorconfidence.
Join our free FB group, "Happy, Healthy Horsewomen."
Important safety reminder: Riding and handling horses are potentially dangerous activities. If you feel anxiety or fear, it may be warranted! Please don't do anything that can put you in danger. Educate yourself and seek the guidance of a qualified, positive trainer. The information in this podcast is for general education/entertainment purposes only and is never intended as professional advice.
Hello, and welcome to episode number nine of Easier Movement, Happier Horses. My name is Mary Debono, and I'm so glad you're here today. I'm going to help you with five simple steps so you can feel more competent and confident with your horse. Because after all, if you change the way you think you'll change the way you feel. And we want to feel really good when we're with our horses and actually all the time.
And we want our horses to feel good as well. And we know how you know, there's so connected with us and when we don't feel real good, if we are feeling stressed or anxious, our horses tend to pick up on that very readily. Okay. And it can create a downward spiral. So what do I really want to talk about is how your brain works to create the experience of the world that you uniquely have.
Because after all, you don't see the world as it is, you see it as you are. So the way you perceive and interact with your environment depends on what's going on with you at any given time. For example, let's say you're home alone at night. Suddenly you're hear a strange creaking noise right now. How do you react to that?
Well, it depends. It depends. If you've been watching a scary movie or if you're watching a comedy, Hey, the horror movie would prime you to react probably in a fearful way. Where if you had been watching a comedy, you may have not jumped to the conclusion that something bad was about to happen. And our horses do this too.
You've probably experienced where your horse has. Like maybe several things in the environment that are each a little bit scary. And then finally a horse blows up because a leaf is out of place. You know, we call that "Trigger Stacking". And so, you know, we do the same thing. So our emotional state, our physiology all can influence how we perceive the world and how we react to it.
For example, if you're feeling really good, maybe you've just worked out or had a great ride, well, the whole world looks good, but if you're a stressed, you're tired or you're under the weather, things probably don't look so good. So maybe you've seen someone riding like a pretty frisky horse and the horse is both energetic and like a bit of a looky-loo at the same time.
And the rider is just fine with that. And in fact, she's laughing, but now a different rider gets on the horse and she immediately gets tense. Soon. The whole ride goes to pot because the horse is picking up on the rider's fear. The horse is wondering why the rider is so worried. It becomes a vicious cycle. So you can see how your unique,
emotional and physical states influence your experience with your horse. And you can't rationalize or talk your way out of this. Logic didn't get you into the state and it's not going to get you out of it. And here's why. You have both a conscious and an unconscious mind. It's been widely said that only about 10% of who we are is because of our conscious mind.
Oh, that's my cat, Higgyby the way, that's decided to start screaming right now. He's not being tortured. He's perfectly fine. He just likes to scream when I'm either on a zoom call or making a podcast. Hi, Higgy. Okay. Let's get back to this. You have both a conscious and an unconscious mind and about 10% of who you are is because of your conscious mind and the other 90% or so is due to your unconscious mind.
Okay? So it stands to reason that if you want to be more competent and confident with your horse, you have to learn how to influence your unconscious mind, because it's going to create about 90% of your experiences. So it's really important that you pay attention to it. After all, if you're an average person, you have about 60 to 70,000 thoughts a day,
and most of those thoughts are unconscious and habitual and they're continually giving instructions to your brain. So you'd be well-advised to get a handle on that, right? Because think of all the self-talk that you do, I bet a lot of it is negative, right? And that's not conducive to feeling confident. In fact, it's extremely unhelpful.
So let's step back a moment and explore WHY you act the way you do. Here's what happens. There's a circumstance. In other words, an event happens. There's a stimulus, whatever you want to call it, we'll call it a circumstance. Something happens in the world, right? You have a thought about that. That thought creates a feeling which then creates an action,
which then creates a result. And this happens over and over all day long, okay. Something happens, which is a circumstance. You respond to it, but how you respond, determines your results. The event by the way, can be negative or positive. It's how we view the event that determines our experience of it. Okay.
Which then determines the results we get. So let me give you a little background on HOW your unconscious mind works to create your unique experiences of the world. So you take in about 2 million bits of data per second. Okay. Some people have said, it's 1 million. Some scientists say it's 8 million, but that's per second. That's a lot of data. However,
your brain knows you can't use that much data at any one time, so it filters it, you have something called a reticular activating system or RAS that picks out what you need to pay attention to. So for example, if you start to research getting a new car, right, and just say, there's a particular model or a couple of models of cars that you're interested in,
suddenly you see them on the road, like all over the place. Right. And it's not that they suddenly got more popular. It's that your brain says, Oh, you want to pay attention to this? Well, I'm going to find them for you. It's like, kind of like what you, you know, how, when you do a Google search,
right? What you put in the search bar is what is brought up. It's similar to that. So our RAS reticular activating system helps us filter out all these bits of data that are coming at us and decides what we should pay attention to. And we mostly take in this data through either a visual or auditory or kinesthetic systems. Okay.
We call that the VAK: visual auditory, kinesthetic. Okay. We also take some information in, through our sense of smell, our sense of taste, you know, even your appropriate susceptive senses, of course, in balance, right? Gives you information, but it's mostly your VAK, your visual, your auditory, and your kinesthetic. And now our brain out of all the million bits of data per second,
our brain processes only about 126 bits of data per second. And this is the stuff that we've told our brain, either consciously or unconsciously, we've told our brain to pay attention to right. Our RAS right? Our RAS filters out the stuff that isn't relevant to us, it focuses on information that thinks will keep us safe. Here's an example.
Let's say you're out on a trail ride and you suddenly hear a snake rattling near you. Okay. Your brain is going to filter out everything else and only focus in on that sound of the snake rattling, right? You're no longer going to be aware that there's birds singing in the trees that the breezes rustling through the leaves or anything else. You're only going to hone in on the sound of that snake.
It's, what's relevant to you at that moment. Now, the problem is our unconscious is doing a lot of things that we don't want it to be doing. It, it may have developed these habits of, you know, filtering things out based on bad information. We gave it a long time ago. Okay. But you can learn to take control of what you focus on.
And when you take control for the pictures and the words in your head, you change your emotional state, change your physiology, right. You change what you see, how you experience the world. And this helps you create different behaviors. So you take different actions and you get better results. Okay? So it starts with being mindful of the things you say to yourself,
the images you create in your mind, right. And how aware you are. So like when you're physically sensing your body, your horses, body, right? Your horse's emotional, physical states, that's important. That will help you filter what's, you know, take in what's important to you. Right? So again, we need to take ownership of what's going on inside one's head.
Okay. And in your body. So the step number one for how to improve your competence and confidence with your horse is to choose what to focus on because what you focus on, determines your results. So think about this. What do you currently believe about yourself as a horsewoman? Just take A moment and think about that. Do you focus on that
you sometimes feel anxious with your horse or do you focus on what you want to experience? So now think about what kind of horse woman would you like to be, what would you like to believe about yourself and physically feel what it's like to be that horsewoman? How does she act? How does she dress? What does she think about before she gets on her horse?
What does she think about on her horse? How does she prepare to ride? How does she groom her horse? How does she lead her horse? How does she describe herself? And now be very mindful of the language you use both in describing yourself, like right now, but also in your daily life. Okay. Because after all you get what you focus On And your unconscious mind doesn't process negatives,
like your conscious mind does. So if you say, well, I don't want to feel anxious. It's gonna focus on you wanting to feel anxious. It's going to, you know, get evidence to support that for you. It's going to give you those experiences. That's why, you know, people are focused on not wanting to be broke. For example,
often continue to struggle. Right? So positive language that your unconscious mind can put to good use, you know, frame things in a positive way. And don't say anything that you don't want to be true. I think it was BrianTracy, who said that. And I really liked that. Don't say anything about yourself that you don't want to be true.
Okay. So, you know, a lot of times people will say to me, you know, I'm such an anxious rider, I'm so stressed I'm so this or I'm so impatient or, you know, I'm so uncoordinated I'm so unathletic. Don't say that. Okay. You're just going to give your brain more instructions to make that come true. Okay.
So let's get back to the horsewoman you want to be okay. How does she take care of her body and mind? What's her relationship with her horse? Like now please take a moment and create a compelling sensory, rich experience of this new ideal you and infuse it with feelings with physical sensations. That is key. If you just say the words,
it doesn't have any power. It won't change your brain in a positive way. So create a new, empowering story about yourself. What experiences do you want to have as this new, ideal, you an experience, this improved version of yourself as if you're seeing a video of yourself rather than seeing the world through her own eyes.
Because when you look at yourself in this way, your new identity will act like a magnet that you'll be drawn to. You'll be inspired and motivated to be this ideal. You okay? It'll start to create this attraction for your unconscious mind and to, to attain that, okay. So that's important have this, you know, sense. And again, really feel it really feel the sensations.
And, and then visually see yourself as if you're in a video, okay. This ideal you, how you're writing, how you're, you know, working with your horse on the ground, how you're just playing with your horse, all the things you're doing. Okay? Because we want to separate your identity from your current capabilities of behavior, because skills and behavior can improve.
So I'd invite you to really change what you believe about yourself, because your brain will look for evidence to support your identity. So choose this identity wisely, again, be mindful of the language you use, both in self-talk. You know, when we have the conversation in our own head and what you say to others, okay. Instead of saying, Oh,
I'm an anxious rider. What if you said "I'm learning how to enjoy fun, relaxed rides with my horse." Think of how different that is, right? How you experienced that your brain then will say, Oh, we want to experience fun, relaxed rides. I'm going to find evidence of that. I'm going to create those experiences. Now, some people like to actually create,
even like a superhero alter ego for different moments in their life, maybe before showing their horse or different things that they might find challenging. So, you know, certainly have fun with that. If you want to do that, I encourage you to do that. You might even choose a fun name for yourself. You know, anything that can kind of attract you to be this new improved version of yourself in a fun way is really helpful.
Okay. So again, the idea is to create a compelling future that motivates and inspires you. Okay? You want to think about changing your beliefs about what's possible for you and find evidence to support these new beliefs. Now here's where the Feldenkrais Method that I talk about a lot plays a big role. Okay. Stick with me here, because step number two is to improve your physical abilities through the Feldenkrais Method.
Okay? And at the end of the episode, I'll tell you how to get free resources for that, but the Feldenkrais Method, which is a way that you can kind of retrain yourself to move in an easy fluid, coordinated way. It can improve your security and balance in the saddle, which helps your nervous system feel safe. And this can immediately enhance your sense of competency and confidence.
Okay. You'll be also be better equipped to deal with those sudden challenging situations. You know, your body will be more responsive. So if your horse does spook or something else, right, you'll be able to go right with your horse. And it won't be so scary. And also the experience of creating easier, more elegant athletic movement will give you the ability to infuse your new identity with these physical sensations of what it feels like to be confident,
competent, right. To be athletic, right? This is an essential step because remember, like I said before, just thinking that you're more competent, confident without the feeling behind it. Won't give you the results you want. You must add the feeling, the physical sensations to your thoughts. So the Feldenkrais movement, lessons or exercises, if you will,
they're designed to help you create a sense of ease, elegant and athleticism. Okay. Even if you're currently injured, maybe you're arthritic. Maybe you feel like your quote unquote, too old. You can do the movement slowly. And in a small, you know, small movements to get a sense of ease and effortlessness. This is really okay. That's what I love about it.
Even if you do the, the movements in your imagination, if you really imagine them very clearly, and you imagine them being easy and effortlessness effortless, excuse me, that can help change your brain for the positive, right? You want to associate ease and pleasure with movement because your brain will want to expand on that positive feeling. Okay. Very, very important.
Feldenkrais method is foundational to improving one's abilities and confidence with their horse. And along with that, so when you get these physical improvements in how you move, you're also priming your brain to expect improvement, to be easy and pleasurable. This is huge. I hope you, if you're multitasking, please pay attention to this because you're setting the stage for greater and greater improvements in the functioning of your body and mind.
This is evidence that your brain needs to support your new improved identity. Okay? And by recognizing your improvements, you're experiencing these wins that help your body and mind align with your new identity as a more competent, confident rider. Okay. So really important. So, so please explore the Feldenkrais Method. Again, stick to the end. I'm going to show you how to get free resources for that.
Okay. Step number three, you want to celebrate even small wins, By celebrating even small wins, you're building up a bank of evidence that supports your identity as a skilled horsewoman, who's continually improving. Again, this reinforces your new identity and your brain will pay attention. Remember, we're managing our unconscious mind here. We're feeding it the right information.
And then it'll look for more evidence to support your new identity. You'll get your brain working for you. Okay. Remember the RAS, the RAS, the reticular activating system, right. We're redirecting it. We're helping it focus on what's going well for you. So it gives you more of those good experiences. You're focusing on what you want rather than what you don't want.
Okay. Big, big difference. Okay. Let's go on to step number four, stay present through sensory awareness. Okay. That just means focusing on your physical sensations, because when you focus on what you're physically feeling, your brain doesn't have room for these unhelpful thoughts. Okay. That can spin you into more anxiety intention. Okay. So release the physical sensations,
the, excuse me, the physical tension. Breathe in a relaxed way, mindful way. And then you can create a upward spiral. Okay. So think about what you feel. If you're riding your horse, you can really tune into what you feel in your own body and your horses, body feel that connection between you two.
So really tuning into how you and your horse physically feel can ground you and help you move forward with confidence. And again, the Feldenkrais Method helps you develop this heightened level of awareness. It helps you develop an incredible sense of feel, which is the essence of good horsemanship, right? So tuning into what you feel, you know, helps you just stay grounded and doesn't leave room for fear and anxiety.
Okay. Very, very important. Again, go back to the Feldenkrais Method to help you get even better at this. Okay. But even, you know, at any moment, you can just tune into your breath, your horses, breath, you know, how different parts of you feel, your horse feels, et cetera. Very, very important.
Okay. Let's go onto the last step. Step number five, and this is create a confidence anchor. Okay. Conference anchor is such a great, simple, quick way of really, you know, just improving your confidence just in a flash. And I explain this all in episode, number five of easier movement, happier horses. So I call that episode,
improve your confidence with a simple brain hack. Well, just tell you briefly how it works, but, but please refer back to episode five to get the actual instructions. But if you, you may have heard this saying neurons that fire together, wire together, that means that two things that we together, do over and over again, create strong neural connections in your physiology, in your brain and your whole nervous system. So what we want to do is we want to find a situation where you felt really confident, okay. Could be horse related or not horse related. It doesn't matter. And you want to create a neurological connection. Then with us,
a simple little physical sensation. So I often use a fist pump, a fist pump in which I put my thumb. I do my left hand. I put my left thumb inside the fist and then do a fist pump. And I've created a neurological anchor for confidence with that. Okay. Very simple. So I step you through this in episode number five,
but it's a great way. If, if you're about to go on a challenging situation, maybe go on a trail ride on a windy day or go in a show or give a presentation or do anything, or even just get on your horse. You can do your confidence anchor and it can help you immediately into more confidence state. That's really cool.
How that works again, Episode Number Five, we'll give you all the information for that. Okay. So let's sum up this episode, right? So to improve your results, we learned you have to improve your actions and the way you improve your actions, isn't willpower, isn't logic, but it's gaining an awareness of your habitual thoughts and movements, those unconscious things you, you think and do throughout the day.
And with this new found awareness comes improve strategies for moving and thinking in healthier ways. So you can live the life you want, which means becoming a more competent, confident horsewoman.
So I can't wait for you to go through these five steps to improve your ability, to have fun with your horse. And I love to hear about your experience. So please email me at [email protected] or come join our free FB group, "Happy, Healthy Horsewomen."
And then please remember if you'd like my personalized help. I do have a few one-on-one online zoom sessions that I have available, and we can address your particular movement or mindset issues in an in-depth way. Okay. That's tailored to your unique situation.
Again, you can email me [email protected] if you're interested in that. And if you like the free Feldenkrais lessons that I spoke about, there are three free videos that can help you be more balanced and secure on your horse. Please go to MaryDebono.com/rider.
So thank you so much for being here.
I can't wait to talk to you again. Bye. For now.