Posts in Competition

Positive Thinking

September 13th, 2023 Posted by Competition, Mindset, Training 0 thoughts on “Positive Thinking”

When you compete do you focus on the negative or the positive aspects when you reflect on you and your horse’s performance?

Equestrianism is a tough sport, anyone who has had a horse for a significant amount of time will know that it is easy to get disheartened by horse accidents, human accidents, large bills and difficult competition experiences. So a pattern of negative thinking can creep in and influence your mindset. 

What can you do about it? 

Identify areas where you want to become more positive. For example if you are struggling to be positive about your competition experience then think of what you can do to make the experience less stressful, and more enjoyable. It might be taking a supportive friend with you, getting help from an NLP practitioner or having a plan for the competition. All things that can help you to start in a positive way from the moment you get up to the moment you leave the show ground. 

Check your mind and how you are feeling throughout the day. So every now and then throughout the day, stop and evaluate whether you are feeling positive or mainly negative. Turn the thoughts around and find a way to put a positive spin on things. Why did you start thinking negatively? What changed your mood? How can you stop yourself from going down a ‘doom loop’? 

You are allowed to have fun! Laugh, crack a joke, watch some dogs ‘doing silly things’ videos or tiktoks, it really helps with stress. I can’t remember who said that ‘Laughter keeps the doctor away’ but I definitely feel it!!

Trying to stick to a routine of some sort both food, sleep and exercise wise. This is an aspect that I have learnt really helps me. We all need chocolate and wine in our life but sometimes food can bring feelings of guilt and self loathing if we eat the wrong thing and feel lethargic or have sugar rushes. So  if at all possible being sensible with food and drink habits makes a massive difference to mental and physical health. I really wish we had more healthy food at competitions as opposed to stodgy, carb heavy offerings!!

This next one is something I totally and utterly believe in. Surround yourself with positive people. You want ‘Radiators’ in your life not “Drains”. So radiators are people that exude warmth and positivity, they help and assist you. These people do have down days as they are human but they predominantly are positive mindset people. Drains are the ones that suck the life and emotion out of you! They are always seeing doom and gloom everywhere, they drain you of your positivity and always need propping up emotionally. I am not talking about when a friend is going through a rough patch, these people are always having a worse time than you, worse ride, bigger vets bill etc., I am sure you know the sort!

Finally practice being positive and talking to yourself. So when you are thinking or listening to your inner voice do not say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Try to encourage your inner self with positive affirmations and encouraging thoughts. Evaluate any negative thought rationally and check the positivity aspect. Be thankful of what you have in your life, be grateful of the people and animals in your life and keep working on that positive mindset. 

I look forward to hearing about your positive thoughts and riding experiences. 

Horse Welfare and Sport

August 25th, 2023 Posted by Competition, Welfare 0 thoughts on “Horse Welfare and Sport”

All competitions involving animals are under scrutiny from political groups, whether you show dogs or compete your horse in a riding club event you need to be prepared to have your motives questioned. 

On the one hand it seems dreadfully sad that it has come to this and that we can no longer be carefree when competing our horses but on the other hand I totally get where some of the groups are coming from. No longer do we tolerate a circus with lions or elephants ‘performing’ for crowds and confined to small living conditions. It will not be long before the binoculars are well and truly focussed on all horse sports. 

So what should we do as informed and empathetic riders and horse carers? First step is to educate ourselves and keep up to date with the research and science about good husbandry and the impact of our tack and training methods. 

You may be aware of the five freedoms which are the basis of how we should look at our competitive lifestyles

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour – think socialisation, movement and happy horse
  • Freedom from fear and distress – think about mental and physical health and tailoring the environment to suit the horse you have. 

On a day to day level we can all help our horses to lead a happy life by covering off the basics. To me gone are the days when it is acceptable to keep a horse in a stable 24/7, they need to have exercise, time out to roll and socialise, time to graze, time to be away from humans and just be a horse. Within this generalised care framework there is plenty of room to cater to each horses needs and wants. Some prefer more turnout, some less particularly if they are not fond of rain and wind!! Some like to have a paddock on their own but have a neighbour next to them, others like a herd to play with. At this stage no one is saying you have to follow a certain path, you can manage your horse’s life within the basic five freedoms. 

Where I think this gets complicated is when we add competing into the mix. Some horses drag you up the ramp and adore the competition environment and I wouldn’t dispute that they are happy. For others it might be a more stressful experience or they might take some time to understand the whole concept and this is where horse welfare might be compromised. No one would argue that horses need to go on a horse box or trailer, it might be a necessity due to veterinary issues. But what is a sensible distance to travel on a regular basis? When is it too hot or too windy to travel? How can we prepare our horses for a stay away show so that they remain calm and happy? You need to ask yourself these questions and think about the parameters that you will compete within.

I see plenty of people taking their horses/ponies to shows and they are out every weekend sometimes both days expecting that horse to perform to their best. You can cause a horse to go stale and down tools! They do get fed up of yet another competition and yet another situation where they are on the lorry for the day – remember they do not get much out of competition! To me over competing is not acceptable and puts undue stress on the horse. 

So all I am asking is for you to consider and plan how and when you are taking your horse to a competition, how you make their life as lovely as possible at home and how you can continuously improve yourself and the welfare of your horse. Because if we don’t step up then we may be forced to stop competing in the not too distant future.