Psychology

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Adventures in Brain Power - Adaptability is an essential quality we think of in many contexts, and one synonymous with flexibility, learning, and growth. Yet, do we always overlay this quality on our horses and our training, or even more importantly, on the very thing that allows us to be adaptable in the first place — our nervous system? Have you ever met a horse or human who had a hard time learning or retaining a new skill, exhibited “bad” behaviour when under pressure, was challenged by changes such as moving, new environments, or with their schedule, companion, or training routine? I know I have, and I have also been that human, and had that horse. Often, we get labelled as overly sensitive, flighty, or even slow or challenged learners, but the reality is that each horse and human has a unique nervous system that functions, thrives, and learns in different ways and under different conditions.

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In my work as an equestrian sport psychology coach, I spend a lot of time talking with riders about guilt. It seems that we riders experience a lot of guilt in response to an amazing variety of circumstances.

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Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Your Students - If you enjoy a leadership role in the horse industry, such as riding instructor, stable manager, or mentor, your role places you in a unique leadership position to demonstrate emotional intelligence and maintenance of a balanced life. You and those around you may face difficulty accepting a lack of control over your lives right now, but you have the power to become a role model. You can be the vehicle for positive change in today’s uncertain world by helping your students, boarders, and employees overcome challenges. Now is the time to take a moment to ask yourself what you want your legacy to be. Who do you want to be? How do you want to handle the curve balls in life? Do you want to live within the fear zone, the learning zone, the growth zone, or the action zone?

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Is it effective or abusive? I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. I’m about 15 years old, and I’m riding a lesson horse in a ring. We’re jumping, or we’re trying to. It’s not going well. My instructor is screaming at me. Screaming. In hindsight, my horse is terrified. He has refused a jump, more than likely because he’s scared of it. My instructor is screaming at me over and over: “Get it done!” and “Don’t let him get away with it.” Eventually, with much kicking and whipping, my horse carries his terrified self and me over the jump. Our hearts are racing. We are both scared, bordering on traumatized, in a place where we are unable to think or be effective in any way.

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Midway through 2020 was the first giveaway that something was off when I noticed that my days seemed to be ending sooner than they should have, with evening chores, dinner, and bedtime rolling around before I felt I even got started. That was odd because it was summer and our daylight hours here in southern Spain are long. It also seemed that very little progress was being made on my “To Do” list: day after day it was sneering at me, growing longer. Not only was there the feeling of getting little accomplished, I was also forgetful, frequently walking into rooms without remembering why; my cell phone even had a brief stay in the fridge.

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The Neuroscience of Horsemanship by Janet Jones, PhD. If there was ever a book whose time has come, it has to be HORSE BRAIN HUMAN BRAIN by Janet Jones, PhD. Jones is a cognitive scientist who applies brain research to the training of horses and riders by using the principles of working with horses at the neurological level, that internal space where the brains of two different species interact.

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Daily Choices That Lead to Success in Any Equestrian Sport - If you want great advice on how to succeed as a rider or trainer, read HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD by Denny Emerson, revised edition 2019.

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Equine Connection — it's not just a course...it's a career!