The Unglamorous Side of Intuition

Intuition is only as useful as your willingness to take the leap and listen to it. Even when it is uncomfortable and most certainly when it is inconvenient.

The stories of not getting on the plane that crashed because someone “had a feeling” are incredible because most of us WOULD have brushed or buried whatever feeling aside and have still gotten on the plane. The ticket was purchased, good money was paid, there was somewhere to be — why not get on the plane?!

If you’re serious about honing your intuition, be willing to be uncomfortable. Following it might lead to:

  • Telling your riding instructor that you’re going to be late to your lesson because your horse needs to be lunged more before you get on
  • Telling your instructor that you’d rather pass on your riding lesson today because you neither like nor trust your horse’s behavior
  • Buy the horse anyways
  • Call the vet/farrier/body worker out anyways, even when there is no logical or seen reason to do so

If I am being honest with myself, the times I have gotten hurt from a horse, I knew I shouldn’t have gotten on the horse to begin with. Every. Single. Time.

Developing your intuition doesn’t begin with the “big” decisions like to ride or not to ride or to call the vet out or buy the horse anyways. It starts with following through on the little nudges.

Nudges like–

  • Reaching out to the person on your mind
  • Having the uncomfortable conversation you’ve been dreading for weeks
  • Doing the chores around the house that you have been putting off

If you don’t honor the nudges (which come from your intuition) in these little ways, it will be a lot harder to follow your intuition in larger ways.

Take Action:

  • What are the conversations you are avoiding? With whom? List them out and take steps to have those conversations. Don’t put them off any longer.
  • Who are 5 people that you have been meaning to reach out to be haven’t yet? Reach out to them.
  • Where else in your life do you feel unease? Why? the question out until something comes to you.



Everything Success Requires

All that is required, is all that is ever required.

One of my mentors was fond of telling me that whenever I inquired about how she reached her success– and how I might do the same. It drove me nuts whenever she responded with that. I wanted benchmarks. Juicy stories from the trenches. Something. Anything but some platitude.

As I stake out my goals for 2019, those words have never been more lucid. I take the next step and do whatever is required. Then, I get to take THAT next step.

I want to like photos of myself in the saddle. I want to be proud of my seat, position, and effectiveness of the aids — my long-time achilles’ heel. I want to be a confident rider and to ride from the right side of my brain. The icing on the cake would be going down centerline at PSG at Global next winter.

No special saddle (even custom made) or amount of time in the saddle will bring me closer to my goals right now. With two pinched back nerves and a TON of fear in the saddle, it has got to be an inside-out, ground-up type of thing.

So I do the work: daily bodywork sessions (chiropractics, deep tissue massage, and starting Rolfing this week), daily Pilates reformer classes, additional stretching, and 2+ hours spent on ice packs. That is all for my pinched nerves and to help me bring my body in to better physical shape.

I also do the mental work– I meet with a therapist and a performance coach on a weekly basis. I listen to meditation tapes and journal daily.

Some of you reading this might think it’s overkill. For some readers implementing the same regime would be too much. Too many appointments, too much focus out of the saddle, not enough time IN the saddle.

Yet, it is EXACTLY what is required right now to take the next step to meet my goals.

All that is required is all that is EVER required. 😉

For most of the process, there are no benchmarks. Success is like an iceberg– most people only see the tip of it. The benchmarks can help you get to the tippy top of the iceberg, but first you have to scale the part that is underneath the water. There is no map for navigating that!

What is required for me to reach those goals is [most likely] quite a bit different than what would be required for you to meet those goals. We are all different so the requirements are different, even if the end is the same.

What is required for you to take the next step?

The Re-build

I shattered recently.

And by shattered, I mean that my self-confidence and belief in my own riding abilities shattered. For as much as I have spoken here (and elsewhere) about overcoming fear in the saddle and pushing back fear thresholds — I am presently living it.

As with anything else in life, be it a relationship or a skill set in the corporate world, there is an account that is either being put into or drawn from.

In my case, my riding account become overdrawn within a period of 24 hours.

I had one ride where I didn’t feel fully emotionally (or physically) secure, followed the next day on a different horse I didn’t feel confident on.

That was it. That was all it took to shut the party down for me. With fear of getting hurt being greater than my love of riding, I dismounted and haven’t mounted since.

During this time, I haven’t quit horses or left the horse world– not by a long shot. Rather, I am playing the long game with my riding, by taking a step back and re-building my mental and physical foundation for being in the saddle by doing the following:

  1. I sought out a therapist. In this case, I specifically sought out one that was NLP-certified to help me work through subconscious fears that are hijacking my riding.
  2. I gave myself permission NOT to ride and to feel into whatever emotions came up rather than repress them.
  3. I allowed myself to dream new dreams. For many of us driven-equestrian types, it can be easy to push through and do whatever needs to be done — for the horse(s) each day and to bring us closer to our goals. Instead of continuing down that path, I spent time journaling around “What am I holding onto that is preventing me from being open and curious about something greater than I could possibly imagine?” and “What am I missing out on because I expect things to be a certain way?”
  4. Staying in shape through yoga, pilates and walking several miles up hills every day. I’m also continuing to see my chiropractor and massage therapist to stay in good physical shape during this time.

How are you playing the long game with your riding? Are there areas you are neglecting where you are playing a short game rather than a long one?

Are You Brave or Are You Confident?

“You don’t have to be a brave rider to be a confident rider. Brave does not equal confident.”

Heather Blitz told me this after helping me onto a squirrel-y horse who then proceeded to dump me. It changed my life.

It took a few days (and lowered adrenaline levels) to unpack what she ways saying to me. For most of my life I have been the brave rider. The kid over-mounted and growing timid, but it’s that horse or no horse. Riding the horse — or else– was what I was accustomed to.

And yet– here was Heather giving me an out to riding my own horse.

Elsewhere (especially if you’re in any personal development circles), boundaries are often discussed, whether they are with a family member, boss or friend. Seldom do we ever discuss boundaries with ourselves.

To move from a brave rider to a confident rider, I realized needed to start by telling myself no more often–

  • No, “things will probably be OK” is not a good enough reason to get on the horse (it never is)
  • No, “but I’m told to (or obligated to, in the case of a lesson)” is not a good enough reason to ride (when I get hurt, it’s almost always in those scenarios)
  • No, “but there is no one else” is not a reason to swing a leg over the saddle. (there are many options to get energy out and further training. Pick a different option.)

And I need to start saying YES to the right things–

  • YES the boundaries I sent with myself are valid
  • YES the expectations I have for my horse are worth upholding
  • YES, doing those things don’t make me less of a rider or horse person

I am still finding my way from brave to confident, but I CAN become a confident rider now, thanks to the distinction Heather drew for me.

Boundaries with ourselves are powerful agents for growing confidence in our own abilities. The more frequently we are able to keep the commitments we make to ourselves (even in the small things, like eating a leaf of lettuce at dinner), the greater our belief in our own abilities.

Our belief in ourselves grows over time from successfully upholding smaller commitments. For example, instead of making the commitment never to eat sugar again for as long as you live, start with something smaller. Say, instead of having your regular white chocolate mocha in the morning, decide to go for a plain ol’ boring latte.

What commitments do you need to make to yourself today?

2 Degrees Off Course is Still Off Course

One of my mentors is fond of pointing out that 2 degrees off is still 2 degrees off from the mark. In other words, you may be close to where you want to be, but you’re not hitting the bullseye yet.

The story is familiar: you start off on something, some grand new adventure or phase. Everything starts off great. You take steps regularly towards the bullseye. Everything is on course, aligned. Then you start to encounter some resistance. Maybe someone close to you makes an off-hand comment that stings. Or an unexpected expense occurs or some setback arises.

As things unravel from how you imagined they would go, doubt creeps in. You start to wonder if you should settle, if your target was off to begin with.

Slowly, you start to substitute your bullseye for the easier path, the path with a bit less resistance.

I started off this winter hitting the bullseye: I was mindful of my riding and professional goals and did things daily that brought me closer to them.

But as the winter progressed, fear crept in, doubt took over and soon the voices of “not enough,” “don’t know what I’m doing” and “need someone more qualified” took over. I was far more than 2 degrees off course.

Getting back on course is a decision and a discipline.

It requires a re-assertion of your goals, your priorities and your values. It takes saying a firm “no” to the things in your life that are not quite on point.

If you find yourself 2 (or more) degrees off course, try these steps:

  1. Go back and get super clear about what you want. Ignore what the present situation is or what you think is “feasible” — if you are being 110% honest with yourself, what is it that you desire to create in your riding or life?
  2. Where are you off course in your life? Typically, it won’t just be in one area, but to varying degrees in several areas. Does your riding (or life) reflect your priorities?
  3. Get clear: what are you willing to give up in order to get back on course? Think hard about this one, because the next step is…
  4. Identify what action(s) you need to take to move your riding (or life) back on target.

Good luck!

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section about what you are doing to get back on course.