Psychology

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Vibrant Life Beyond 20 - Recently, I spent time with a horse named Sparky who is estimated to be over 40 years old. Understandably, you may be visualizing a tottering shell of a being, held together by medication and hay cubes, but this could not be further from the truth. Sparky is a sound, vital, cheeky, engaged fellow and the leader of the pack, although his teeth no longer work well for chewing hay. Out of curiosity, I studied his lifestyle, diet, way of being, and exercise routine with hopes of gleaning some insight to help me support my more “mature” equine clients as well as my own mare Diva, who turned 22 years old this past May.

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For generations, riders and horse lovers have been enthralled by the mystique of horsemen (and women), but many struggle to define what a “horseman” actually is. Is a horseman someone with a laundry list of skills such as starting young horses, nailing on shoes, being knowledgeable about horse care, and having the ability to train horses to the highest levels? Or is a horseman someone who lives in the moment, has mastered their emotions, and understands a horse’s mind? Perhaps a horseman embraces all of these attributes; perhaps none.

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How Teamwork Makes the Dream Work - High performance riders often attribute their success to a team of committed supporters and professionals who help them achieve their best while keeping their horse’s best interest at heart. But successful teams aren’t simply a collection of farriers, grooms, owners, saddle fitters, sponsors, sports psychologists, and veterinarians. According to three top-level Canadian riders — amateur jumper rider Stephanie Valdes, 2020 Paralympian dressage rider Winona Hartvikson, and veteran three-day eventing Olympian Kyle Carter — there’s a lot more to it.

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Analysis does have a dark side: it can lead to the “thinking too much” syndrome. Most riders have experienced this trap. Why does this happen? What can be done about it?

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In this wide ranging conversation, Lockie Phillips of Emotional Horsemanship shares about his unique path to horses by way of a life of movement, as a dancer, how he believes sensitivity is a superpower, and the role of emotion as a helper in our horsemanship.

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Rider fear can be all-consuming, and riding is as risky as it is fun and rewarding. In this episode, Jec Ballou, Amy Skinner, and Maddy Butcher share their thoughts and experiences on rider fear.

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The mammalian nervous system is an incredible thing, with its complex functionality, and all the ways it regulates our systems, adapts to change, restores itself, and even mirrors the nervous systems of those around us. If any year was going to introduce us to the limits and resourcefulness of our unique nervous system, 2020 would be it. In this one year, every one of us has found out exactly how we cope with global uncertainty, massive change, potential scarcity of resources, and possible threats to the health of ourselves and our family and friends. Our nervous system is an integral part of how we cope with stress and change, working behind the scenes to recalibrate, reorganize and bring us into new ways of being in a healthy or not-so-healthy state.

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