A New Thinking Cap

inspired riding Aug 19, 2021

It’s pretty common for riders to overthink their ride and create unwanted tension. I’d like to present a very simple solution when you find yourself stuck or frustrated. I want you to imagine you’re putting on a new thinking cap.

Take the word CAP and think of these three words:

C for Curiosity

A for Appreciation

P for Playfulness

When you think about being curious, it puts you in a more powerful state of mind. You start looking for solutions and seek out assistance. Instead of feeling helpless, you can start to get curious on how to make things better.

Let’s say you feel like your balance is way off lately. Instead of just saying, “Oh, I feel like I’m just flopping around and not feeling strong enough in the saddle…” Decide to say, “I’m curious about how I can improve my balance.”

Then you can start seeking out solutions. You might decide to cross train with yoga, pilates, or even sit on a balance ball in your office. You might start thinking about riding in a bareback pad.

Being curious adds a sense of empowerment to your life. Think of that as your first step when problems arise.

The second part of your new thinking cap is one of my favorites. Appreciation is one of the most wonderful states to be in. When you start to feel down on yourself, remind yourself that you have a horse that allows you to interact with them. It’s incredible what they offer us every day.

Decide to make note of at least ten things you appreciate as soon as you wake up and as well as when you’re about to drift to sleep. Getting into appreciation mode will help remind you how blessed you are to be alive.

I have to tell you an interesting story about how we perceive the world, that always makes me shake my head in amazement. I once had a job in California helping to exercise some very expensive and fancy dressage horses for a wonderful trainer.

The owner of these horses came out about once per week to ride. I remember riding around her beautiful property with her, thinking about how amazing it was to be able to play with these horses who absolutely loved to show off their passage and flying changes. And do you know what this owner pointed out as we rode along?

All of the poop piles that she noticed along our path. Seriously.

So here we are, on a multi-million dollar property, on top of some incredibly talented and kind horses, and all she could focus on was manure.

It certainly reminded me that no matter where you are in life, you can look for things to appreciate… or look for poop piles. I hope you go for the former.

Getting back to our thinking cap idea. The third part is all about playfulness. If you were to take things just a little less seriously in life, would that be challenging?

So many horse owners I know are type A personalities, that want to get everything right all the time. I’ve been there myself, believe me. But what if you just let yourself off the hook once in awhile.

Perhaps you can ask your inner child what she would like to do with your horse time. I would be most curious to hear what she has to say. When you allow yourself to be more playful, your horse can feel a sense of relief. There will be less tension between the two of you and you might be surprised by how your relationship develops!

So the next time you feel frustrated with anything when it comes to your riding. Put on your new thinking cap on top of your helmet. Maybe it has sparkles? Perhaps it’s a tiara or a unicorn horn? Make it something fun in your mind. Then think about curiosity, appreciation, and playfulness.

I think your horse will be really proud of you for trying this out.

May the horse be with you. Always.

-Beth Lauren Parrish



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