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For many years I have taught riders of all levels and there is one issue that often stops progress: excuses. In riding, they generally appear when a rider is faced with a difficult exercise. It is of course preferable to avoid dangerous situations, but excuses are usually once again manoeuvres to avoid confronting oneself.
Have you noticed the number of things one finds to do to delay all action whenever one is faced with a difficult task? For example, circling in front of a jump. Some people are experts at this. A first circle: «not quite ready yet», a second: «My horse is over-excited», a third: «My stride was wrong»... etc. At times, a circle is a good idea, but it is usually pointless. It’s just an excuse for not jumping. Personally, I tend to simply go and jump the fence.
We all know the typical excuses. If your horse stops in front of a jump: «It’s because the sun is shining on the jump… My horse slipped...
The blacksmith… The course designer… My instructor is hopeless…»
Horses are generally the main reason used in excuses. «He is too young, too hot, not enough…» Or even: «I am too old, I haven’t the time,
I can’t afford to.»
Always be aware of your inner dialogue and ask yourself: «are my actions or my words perhaps an excuse or excuses to avoid something difficult?»
Never forget that the horse acts as a catalyst for emotions. The horse reflects your frame of mind at that time. “Yes but he’s nervous today!” Look at yourself in the mirror… what about you? How are you today?...
Many people cheat themselves. Excuses are part of the negative process that blocks progress. When a pupil starts to cheat you will soon notice,
it usually starts with: «Yes, but…» Personally I prefer a «Yes, of course.»
Once again, it is all a question of confidence: self-confidence and confidence in one’s instructor. If one of my pupils starts to find excuses, I urge him to become aware of this. It is of course true that if frightened
or worried, riders tend to lose their mental control: «I’m not up to it,
my horse doesn’t know how to… I am too tired today…» So,
I concentrate on creating a positive atmosphere, a sort of contract between my pupil and myself. I ask the question: «Do you wish to make progress?» The answer is generally yes. «Do you agree to see things from another point of view?... Can you consider the possibility that your problems are the result of the way you think?»
Never «Yes but…» To be replaced with «Yes of course»
Extract of the book : "Secrets and méthod of a great champion"