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?

You Are Not Creating The Results You want In Life Because Your Self-Worth Is Still Tied Up In Them.

You want something? You better not get your identity tangled up in having it. The things you want in your life– the relationships, the sponsors, the money, the horses, the car, the accolades– all of those are accessories. Can you image walking around with your favorite helmet (or top hat, if you still wear them) and earrings sutured onto you? How awkward and cumbersome! How stifling of your personal expression!

Yet, you do it all the time with titles, accolades, sponsors, fame.

The results you create in your life do not define you. You are not a better person, a more special person, a more worthy person, a more notable person because you reached a certain benchmark. Your results are separate from you– just like your earrings and helmet.

The faster you embrace this, the faster the things you DO want in your life come into it. Express who you are with those things, but don’t attach them onto you. They are only… “things.”

Instead, focus on the things that matter– who you BE and how you touch those around you. Those are the only things worth having. You can’t adorn yourself with them because they come from within. As you allow them to come forth, the other things you wanted will come to you– not because you sought them out and made them part of your identity, but because you chose to adorn yourself with them– like a great pair of opal and diamond teardrop earrings.

What are you waiting for?

But what if you WERE worthy?

A talented up-and-coming rider shared with me his fears this morning about being taken apart in front of 2,000 spectators by a highly decorated rider giving a clinic. As he explained, another capable rider he looked up to had been dismantled by this clinician some time before.

After the conversation, it struck me how interesting it was that I was having nearly the exact same conversation with this person as I had with a software founder I coached about getting into an accelerator– and that I had with a friend about being invited to be in the same room as a bunch of self-made millionaires!

Different scenarios yet one common thread: all were invited to participate in these invite-only experiences, and yet all of us felt unworthy. That there was some mistake made and that would would all be found out a fraud, after all.

There is only one question to clip the talons of this fear: But what if you WERE worthy? What if there was no mistake, and you are EXACTLY the right person. What then?

Most of us find we have nowhere to hide.

We are left with no other excuse, except to step up and swing the bat as hard as we can.

Marianne Williamson has right — we are more afraid of our success than our failures. Or to put it a differently, we are more afraid of our light than our darkness.

Being in the room with a group of successful entrepreneurs propelled my professional life to new heights.

What are you shrinking back from in your life because you feel unworthy?

Maybe you have also been invited to participate in some event you feel unworthy to take part in. Maybe it’s a new relationship or a professional opportunity opened up.

Play with me here: Suspend your beliefs about your situation. [I know it’s difficult and seems impossible. Try anyways.] What if you WERE worthy, and that it was exactly what you needed to take your career or life to new heights? What would be possible then? What would you be doing?

Feel free to drop a note — I’d love to hear what comes up for you on this one.

Mindset, Strategy and Exercises for Dressage Riders

An open letter to those seeking a different way

An open letter to those seeking a different way,

I am beyond grateful for you and encouraged by you.  I see your desire to walk a different path than the one offered by mainstream dressage.

I SO admire your passion and bravery—both for the sport, for the horses and for yourself. Your desire to be the best you can be, to be the rider you KNOW you can be—is what brings me back to my writing chair day after day.

You are the one seeking something different.

You are not content to force the arrival of a destination. You are the one who wants to honor the horse AND the journey.

And yet—you are not content sitting there, watching progress come inching in.

You want to be a great rider and you want to become a great rider NOW. You EXPECT improvement. You EXPECT to be in a better place today than you were last week. You EXPECT to progress through the levels. You are not content to top out as a “6” rider barely making it through a 2-1 test. Yeah, you know who I am talking about. That person is not you and you know it.

Most of all, you long to know that it is POSSIBLE. Possible to become the incredible rider that you dream of being without the millions of dollars or riding 10 horses a day. Possible to reach Grand Prix without a fancy 6-figure horse. Possible to progress through the levels with a happy horse and a genuinely harmonious partnership. You look around and see ineffective riders who don’t use force barely make it into the mid-levels of dressage and those who do make it to the upper reaches use brute force…but is there another way?

Dressage is a choice. You could choose to jump or play polo or trail ride, but you chose dressage. In dressage, you choose the struggle, you choose to make it difficult or complicated. You chose that it requires brute physical strength and tight muscles to progress—or you choose to let it be easy. You can choose the path of least resistance and flow or you can choose struggle and discord.

Dressage is easy. There is nothing that the masters haven’t already commented on or instructed us about. There is nothing new in training. There is nothing we need to create or come up with. It’s all there. The principles, the exercises, the mistakes and corresponding remedies– everything is laid out for us.

Dressage is a process. If you are serious about reaching Grand Prix or the upper levels of training, you must submit to the process. There are no shortcuts in the process if you want to end with quality. Quality begets quality. Habits must slowly, carefully, intentionally be cultivated and put in place. Progress is achieved step by step, day by day in our hearts, minds and the strength of the horse’s loins.

The question remains: do you willingly submit to the process?

The choice is  yours.

I SO honor your personal equestrian journey and your choice to join me here.

We’re in this together.

Much love and happy riding,


PS- Did you hear? The Mindful Rider is opening Sunday. Will you join me for 14 days of mindset work that helped me create my success in the saddle? Details coming soon. Begins August 1st!