Of Horse

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Say It Isn’t So
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Say It Isn’t So

“Horses are a confidence barometer. In general, they relax when a strong, sure being is present. Confidence is contagious with them...” – Tom Moates, Author and Equestrian

I love watching riding instructor Natasha Aalthoff on YouTube and last week her video entitled “Affirmations” challenged me.

The title first brought to mind that smarmy Saturday Night Live character from the nineties who got Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan to smile at himself in the mirror and say “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” There’s nothing smarmy about Natasha though, and in her strong, determined manner, she defined affirmations as “...a positive ‘I am’ statement that may or may not be true for you right now.” She went on to say, “When I ask my clients to do this, amazing things shift in their world.”

It’s true that a lot of us girls need a shift in the way we talk to ourselves. That same day a fellow blogger said to me, “I am my own worst critic. I work so hard at my writing but sometimes when I look it over I’ll say, ‘You suck and should give up.’”

“That’s crazy, you’re a great writer,” I assured her. “Stop talking to yourself like that. If anyone else told you that, you would never listen to them again, but I hear that same mean voice and keep listening too.”

It made all the sense in the world to try to rewire my brain with positive talk. Even when I said out loud on my drive to the barn: “I have been riding and taking riding lessons for years and I’m a good rider,” my inner bully immediately said “No you’re not. You’re not as good as...” and I stopped the negative voice right there.

Then I said, “My horse is comfortable with me,” and the bully started to say, “Not as comfortable as Mary’s horse is with her...” I interrupted that thought by saying “We love to canter,” and right away heard “No, you can’t pick up the right lead all the time...” So I repeated my affirmations and realized by saying them aloud as if they were true, they have more authority than the bully whispering in my head. My brain was both speaking the words and hearing the words, so maybe I could believe the words.

I got to the stables with a stronger feeling of confidence. Call it a coincidence, but I did ride well, Tara was comfortable, and we had fun cantering. The power of positivity.

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