There is no question that I love fitness, and I live for horses. When the two worlds unexpectedly collide, I am literally over the moon. You would think I would no longer be surprised by the overlap since it happens more often than not. But no, I still find myself pleasantly caught off guard when a lesson learned in one area solves a problem in the other. This overlap and problem resolution is exactly what happened recently when I sat down to sort through a training issue that I was having with my 5yo Warmblood cross, Logan.
I have owned Logan since he was weaned. When he was still very young, he developed a severe case of foal pneumonia and almost died. Only a few months later, my dad suffered a stroke. Eighteen months later I lost my dad to a severe and life-ending stroke. By the time I sorted through grief, emotional repair and restoration, I woke up to a 5 yo horse that had been lacking attention and direction for a very long time. I originally chose Logan to prepare for the final retirement of my best equine friend, Polo.
Needless to say, I placed high expectations on Logan from the start. Even though I was unable to invest the time and effort needed to support my expectations for him, it never occurred to me that I was contributing to our challenges by maintaining expectations that were unrealistic for our current circumstances. I don’t think either of us were prepared for the impact that these expectations would have not only on journey together but on my own personal development.
Expectations are a funny things. When the experience exceeds the expectation, the resulting emotion is nothing less than pure joy. The first date that develops into a deep relationship. The high grade or test score awarded when you know you have prepared for the exam.
When expectations are met with an experience that falls short, we often find ourselves holding on to disappointment and frustration. I sometimes see this happen in the first 2-3 weeks of the Boot Camps that I host. After a rider makes the decision to join Boot Camp, you can almost hear the volume increase in her energy and enthusiasm. Many of the riders who join Boot Camp are new or returning to fitness. Some of the riders wake up to a body and level of fitness that has been lacking attention and direction for a very long time.
Needless to say, some of these riders place high expectations on themselves from the start. Even though a rider have been unable to invest the time and effort needed to support her expectations, it never occurs to her that she may be contributing to her challenges by maintaining expectations that are unrealistic for her current circumstances. What she usually isn’t prepared for is the impact that these expectation will have not only on her fitness journey but her own personal development.
When I see a rider stuck in this unhealthy and sometime viscous cycle (the cycle of unrealistic expectations resulting frustration), I ask her to turn her frustration into fascination. Rather than be frustrated that she can not presently do a pushup, I ask her to focus on one aspect of the exercise to create fascination. Is one side of her body stronger than the other? If she adjusts her hand position or foot placement, does it require more or less effort? I am basically trying to turn her thoughts away from the negative emotion of frustration toward a positive one of fascination. Frustration is the offspring of judgment. Fascination is the child of acceptance. When a rider turns her frustration into fascination, it is incredible to see just how far she goes.
I look forward to focusing on one aspect of my time with Logan to create fascination. Is one side of his body stronger than the other? If I adjust my hand position or foot placement, does it require more or less effort on his part? I look forward to turning my thoughts away from the negative emotion of frustration toward a positive one of fascination. I have no question it will be incredible just to see how far we go.
So to all of my formerly frustrated and now fascinated Boot Campers? Logan thanks you for your investment in rider fitness. Would you like to be a part of the next group that helps Logan? Check our The Athletic Rider Fitness Boot Camp! Plus, your horse will thank you for your investment in Rider Fitness!