Psychology

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Another beautiful conversation with Kerri Lake, as we get right into some incredibly rich territory around re-framing our learning process (and supporting our horses through this shift), what surrender really means, learning to love the boring and mundane, and the gifts in taking things slow and easy for ourselves and our horses. As always, so many potent nuggets of wisdom come through Kerri in this chat.

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The 21st Century Rider - Many Canadian riders are throwing their leg over horses well beyond the age when others are pursuing more sedentary activities. For example, about 19 percent of Alberta Equestrian Federation members were over the age of 56 from 2015 to 2018. In British Columbia, approximately 19 percent of active Horse Council BC members were over age 60 in 2018. Meanwhile, in Quebec last year, about 12 percent of Cheval Quebec members were age 60 and over. Nationally, approximately 22 percent of Equestrian Canada sport licence holders were older than 50 in 2018, and 10 percent were older than 60.

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What does it mean to “ride in the zone”? Most riders will say they have experienced it. Some would even say it’s the very reason they ride. It’s an effortless feeling when everything is going your way. If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting that famous zone, or want to know how to get there more often, read on.

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Facing Fear - Real and Imagined - The Mediterranean waters glistened below me. As I stood on the edge of the rockface, contemplating the 25-foot drop into the clear blue sea, it felt like my body was screaming at me to not jump. My knees were shaking, making my legs feel unsteady. My mind felt fuzzy and slightly disconnected from reality. I was more acutely scared than I had been in quite some time. But here’s the thing: I really wanted to jump. I was in Croatia and the sea was warm and inviting. I had watched about 10 people make the same leap quite safely and I knew, rationally, that it really wasn’t that high. I was determined to push through my nerves and do it, but in that moment I wasn’t entirely sure my body would let me.

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If you could choose the way you feel every time you sit on horse, what emotions would you choose? When I ask this question of my clients, their responses usually include the words calm, present, happy, relaxed, and confident. If you agree, it begs the question: Why don’t we feel this way more often in the saddle?

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According to folks out there who do risk assessment, riding is risky -- about as risky as riding is fun, safe, rewarding, and something we feel deeply passionate about. Rider fear for many of us might be one element that’s part of a greater calculus. We hope it’s down there with the paper clips, you know, tiny bits in the big cluttered drawer that is how we feel about horses. For some folks, though, we know it can be all-consuming.

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Start Rewiring Early - Habits are mental shortcuts created by our brain to reduce the need to make conscious decisions every moment of the day, which would require far too much time and processing power. By associating certain events and experiences with specific actions and responses, our brain can respond quickly and efficiently without our conscious “input.” For example, when a horse pins its ears and shifts its weight, we typically have moved out of harm’s way before we have had time to think about what we are doing.

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Horse business owners everywhere know how difficult it is to make money in the horse world. Every equine industry entrepreneur strives to figure out how to build a better and more resilient enterprise that will generate a reliable revenue stream and provide an enjoyable equestrian lifestyle.

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Being a popular and appreciative boarder at your barn ultimately benefits both you and your horse — your word will be better regarded, your disgruntlements better addressed, and you and your horse will be valued members of the barn community.

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Keys to an effective horse training session. I’ve trained a lot of horses. After nailing up my sign as a “professional horse trainer” several decades ago, I learned quickly that overhead is high in the horse business so you’d better make some hay if you’re going to pay your bills. Consequently, I rode many horses each day, breaking young ones and tuning up show horses.

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