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6 Ways to Divert a Bad session.

We have all had a bad session, and probably all over thought it, beaten ourselves up over it, and felt totally helpless. But what is it that can save a bad session getting worse? Here are 6 ways to help you make the best of a spiralling situation.

1) Hit the pause button. Take a moment whenever you find that you've got a session that is spiralling out of control, and everything you do is going wrong, Stop. Take a few breaths, get yourself coherent again. If you are hyperventilating. You will be a panic decision maker, a rash decision maker, and the horse will follow suit. Unfortunately, someone has to lead by example, and 90% of the time it's not going to be the horse. It's got to be you!

2)Know your triggers. For example, if you're practising something and the horse starts leaning on the left rein and every time you do it, they lean on the left rein, and that makes you really cross, STOP! Have a little walk. Then start to think outside the box. Is there something that you could do differently? Something that you might change, something that you do that might make a bit of a different? For example, it might be as simple as rising on the wrong diagonal. Don't be afraid to experiment in this situation because if it doesn't work, it doesn't matter!

3)The answers often lie within, the only way you can access them is by keeping emotion out of the situation, and seeing the facts, this can only happen by staying coherent, which is why your breaths are super important. The moment that you start to blame the horse, or get frustrated - take a minute. That's when you have got to hit that pause button, because actually, it is a partnership and the horse 90% of the time will be acting on something else. You start acting on emotion, because you care, because you care about the situation. But actually at that point, you're acting irrationally. And that's what we've got to bring it back.

4) Decide what you might need to adjust today - bring it back to basics. You might be working on something really specific and really complicated, and then actually you might have to just go back and work on the rhythm and that's fine, because the bottom line is even if that is all you are working on, it is still part of the bigger picture because it's still part of the scales of training.

5) Form a Check list for Success -Pick a few things that would form a checklist for success for you. . Before your ride, for five minutes create a pre ride routine that suits you. And that will be different for everybody - it's totally personal! Visualise what you see happening and what you would like to happen and be adjustable on the goal.

What would be your good, your better and your best today?

What will be the good thing?

What's the minimum thing?

What's the better version and what's the max?

So you've got a few options that during the session if things escalating, stop and take a breath, ask yourself what is it that you are communicating?

Can you do it differently?

6) When you have a problem - make sure when you start working on something that you don't just go straight back in where you left off. But you start afresh like it's the first time you've ridden that exercise on that horse today. Look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. Often I say to people, if you're struggling with that, imagine this is someone else's horse you just got on. Now think about what it feels like from what that looks like. Often we are so emotionally involved when it's our own horse that we forget to look at it through a different lens.

Most of all remember that on a dressage score scale a 6 is 'satisfactory', which means even through it might not have gone to plan you can still adjust your plan to make it ok, rather than chasing the your best performance when it may not be realistic on that day. Remember to keep everything in perspective, you are doing this for fun, if nobody got injured, and you completed the session there will still be a positive there - you just have to look for it!!

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Thank you, this is really helpful. We all have a bad moment and it’s so easy to allow emotions to take over.


So easy - I think its important to talk about it too, as we tend to hide but it's a reality of sport and if we are armed either the tools to deal with it, it actually can become a non event!

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