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  • Writer's pictureLauren Crivelli

The Power of Positivity: Maintaining a Positive Mindset in the Face of Challenges

The journey of owning horses is filled with incomparable highs as well as unfortunate laws. The lows can come in various forms, such as a tough ride at show or an injury to yourself or your horse. How we respond to these circumstances strongly influences how quickly we get back on track to our winning ways. A positive mental attitude will sustain you through the good and the bad. When things are going well, maintaining a positive mindset is easy. Winning begets winning. However, when a setback happens, it is pertinent to prevent the obstacle from leading to more by staying positive. It is easier said than done, but with these helpful tips, you can keep the smile on your face even when things don't go your way.


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A Growth Mindset

Being a positive person means more than just possessing a happy attitude in life. It means looking on the bright side of any situation and maintaining an optimistic outlook, especially when things get tough. Positivity doesn't mean that you ignore the obstacles in front of you, rather it allows you to embrace the bad with a proactive and solution-based mindset. For example, if you are trying to learn how to do flying lead changes, there are going to be many trying days before you reach the effortless expertise of Jason Martin. Rather than telling yourself that you will never be Jason, tell yourself that you need to expand your skillset and increase your knowledge base. Reframe these challenges as opportunities to learn. Taking this approach is considered as having a growth mindset when it comes to problems. A growth minded individual will be able to look at a challenge and know that there is a solution even if they don't have the immediate answer to it. They will seek out the person, book, or video that contains the information that they need, learn from it, and then apply it until they have improved their skills and accomplished the challenge at hand. By knowing that there can be a solution to your problem allows you to stay positive knowing it is only a matter of time before you reach the outcome you were seeking.

Be in the Present Moment

Being present in the moment with your horse can help you maintain a positive attitude and stave off anxiety. This helps to prevent you from worrying too much about the unknown future or worrying about issues that have happened in the past. There are so many unknowns associated with the future, that when you focus solely on that, anxiety will start to build. By staying present, you can focus on the things that you can control and ensure that they are being executed to the best of your ability. Being present also discourages you from thinking about how things have gone in the past. If you had a hard time getting to a spot in a trail course in the past, it can be easy to worry that it will happen again. However if during your class you are focusing only on feeling what your horse is doing in that moment, your brain can't think about your past failures. It will be working to make each stride be the best it can be as it is happening and increase your chances of making the correct stride to the pole. Another way to stay present is implementing a gratitude journal. Write down one thing that you are thankful for each morning, if you have more things to write down, then feel free to. By starting off your day with something that you are thankful for now, it will set your mind towards seeking out positivity in other things as well.



The Right Support Network

Having a support network is arguably the most vital way to maintain a positive mindset when things aren't going to plan. Positivity is contagious, so surrounding yourself with people who are naturally in positive, encouraging, and uplifting. They will be able to hear you out in your times of need, and offer different perspectives on what you are going through. They will be able to see the good that you can bring to the table and highlight your strengths. Your support network includes your trainer, your barn friends, and your family. If you are going through something, don't be afraid to reach out to them and see if they have experienced something similar. More often than not, there is someone out there who has, and by communicating with them you can find your way out quicker. It can be so much easier to stay positive when you realize that you are not alone in your struggles, no matter how seemingly big or small they are. Your barn support network will also be there with you in the good times. There is no better feeling than celebrating a win with your friends who have seen you through both the good and the bad. Don't be afraid to be open and honest with them and let them help you on this horse journey.


Set Realistic Goals

Another way to stay positive through all of life's circumstances is to set realistic goals for yourself. By setting a goal, you are able to minimize the number of choices that are presented to you along your journey. Your goal is your guiding force, so anything that does not align with achieving that goal isn't up for consideration. Knowing that you are doing all you can to make the choice you made become a reality can give you positive energy to move forward with. However, if these goals are too lofty, it can be overwhelming. Sit down with your trainer or family and develop realistic goals that make sense for you and your horse. If your goal is to be able to lope by the end of the summer, then you know that you will need to allot a certain amount of time in the saddle and schedule lessons to keep you on track.


Happy Enough

While we all want every situation to be that of which dreams are made of, unfortunately it won't always be. However, we can control the way we feel about unmet expectations and learn to be happy enough while still knowing we can accomplish more. The key to staying positive when things don't go entirely your way is to know that this is just a part of your journey, it is not the end of it. Winning the class does not determine your value as a human. The amount of kindness and respect that you show to your horse and fellow exhibitors is arguably more important than the color of the ribbon that you step out of the pen with. Look at the class and pick out the instances that you did meet or exceed your expectations and congratulate yourself for that. In the areas that you did not meet your standards, pick up that growth mindset and create a plan so that when you encounter that issue in the future you will have enough tools in your toolbox to overcome it.


Lead A Healthy Life

An often-overlooked area that influences a positive outlook is your physical health. Studies show that when we take care of our bodies, our mind is positively influenced. Regular exercises support an increase in mental clarity and focus, both of which are vital when we are working with a horse. Exercise not only increases your strength and stamina, but it helps increase blood flow to the brain which can improve cognitive function and concentration. These are essential for problem solving and decision making. Exercise doesn't have to involve an intense strength training regimen in order for you to appreciate the benefits. Going for a walk, playing pickleball with your friends, or even dancing can help. Do something that you enjoy so that it will easily become a part of your day. Eating a balanced diet can also help increase your mental health. Whole foods provide the necessary nutrients that help to regulate our hormone functions. Eat a mixture of proteins, fats and carbs based on your needs to get the most fuel to your brain. Last but definitely not least, is to get an adequate amount of sleep. This can be difficult at horse shows, but if you are sleep deprived, staying positive can be more difficult. Sleep not only has a direct impact on mood regulation, but lack of it can impair your cognitive function. When you are at a horse show with long hours, try to sneak in a nap when you can.


The Power of Positivity

Maintaining a positive mindset regardless of what life throws at you can make this messy thing called life much easier to navigate. Positivity allows us to be resilient in the midst of the most challenging circumstances, because we know that we will be able to find a way through it. By practicing gratitude, adopting a growth mindset, surrounding yourself with other positive people and choosing a healthy lifestyle, you will be able to see the bright side of whatever comes your way. Positivity is not just a way to feel good, it is a way to feel empowered in the face of adversity by knowing that you can make it through.

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