What is the Mindfulness Journey?

The Mindfulness Journey
Want to make 2015 the year you become more mindful?
Heard about mindfulness and wonder if it’s for you?
Tried mindfulness but not been able to keep it up?
The Mindfulness Journey is an approach I have put together based on my personal and professional experience.
All you have to do is read the Mindfulness Journey posts on the Effective Horsemanship fb page as they are posted  ( , or you can catch up right here on this new  blog

and think about them.
Every day.
That’s all
The posts will offer thoughts, insights, some things to try.
You decide what you do and when you do it.
At the end of the year, I guarantee you will have made progress in your mindfulness
It may not be the progress you planned, but it will be progress nevertheless
Confucius said “the longest journey begins with a single
Take your first step on your mindfulness journey and read the first post today
And think about it – for five minutes.
Set a timer and think about it for five minutes.
Doesn’t matter what or how you think about it….no right or wrong. Just think about it for five minutes

Here’s an idea: for your mindfulness journey
Find a notebook, a journal.
Each day, record something that occurs to you about mindfulness
If it helps, just write down your personal reflection on the thoughts and exercises I will be sharing here each day.
Then at the end of the year you will have your own personal book of mindfulness with 365 pages of yourself and your journey.
And so what if some of the pages simply copy the day’s quote? Maybe for those days, that is enough…..

Someone asked me — what if I am late starting The Mindfulness Journey? What if I miss a day?
So what? start when you can — and do the days when you can. My day 2 doesn’t have to be the same as your day 2 — some weeks you may manage 7 days that week — other times you may only manage one or two — just go through the days in sequence, however you can — and you will make progress.
Obviously if you can do something every day, progress may be faster — but progress once or twice a week is still more than if you do nothing at all…

Make 2015 your best year yet!

Beach pic

This is part one of a three part series being published in Horsemanship magazine ( December 2014,  February 2015  and April 2015.  the series is written with my good friend Ruth Drake Chapman, a fellow horse woman and enthusiast.

I thought you would appreciate me sharing it here too:

Make 2015 your best year yet….

New Year is the time for resolutions and resolve.  How many times have we all made plans for a great year – and how many times have you reached Easter and realised your resolutions are far behind you and nothing has really changed?Well, 2015 is the year that’s all going to change.  2015 is the year you and your horse are going to have your best year yet, and this is how:

January 2015:
 “To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June.” -  Jean-Paul Sartre

The post-Christmas lull can be a depressing time, but this is the month of crisp winter mornings which are a joy to get out in.  So when the weather is good get out and about, enjoy the sunshine.  And when the weather is bad, don’t get depressed, but look at it as an opportunity to do some of the things you never really have time for in the summer….

  • Get that book out you’ve always meant to read
  • Check out clinician’s calendars for 2015 ready to book in as rider or spectator and plan your year
  • Start a DVD club with friends and have warm winter evenings watching horsemanship and having fun – share ideas for some fun activities to do this year
  • Look out for some clinicians who do horseless workshops – some of the ones on horse behaviour will really make a difference to you and your horse
  • Spend time with your horse in the stable or shelter, just grooming and connecting

January can be a great month to lay the foundation of your year

“The word February is believed to have derived from the name ‘Februa’ taken from the Roman ‘Festival of Purification’.
February is a short month, the shortest of the year – and most of us can do something for 28 days.  So how about making February your “purification” month?    Can you think of something “purifying” to do each day in February?

How about:

  • Decluttering your horse stuff?
  • Clean up your tack room and tack?
  • Do a tack swop with friends, which can also make a fun February evening
  • Think about cleaning up inside as well as outside: how can we get ourselves mentally ready for the year?  From Mark Rashid to Philippe Karl, your mental state is said to have a great impact on your riding.
  • Find a mediation or mindfulness course or class
  • Find yourself a confidence coach
  • Identify the negative things to let go of, and the positive to hold onto into this new year

“March is a month of considerable frustration – it is so near spring and yet across a great deal of the country the weather is still so violent and changeable that outdoor activity in our yards seems light years away.”   -  Thalassa Cruso 

Ah the month of frustration;  tempting days of spring, mixed with the snow and ice of a winter hangover.  But, if we can do something for our fitness each day for this month, we will be ready for Spring when it comes…

This could include simple things like walks in the winter sun, taking the stairs when you can – but let’s take a closer look at being fit for riding.  How about:

  • Working on your balance: practice walking along jump poles, kneeling on an exercise ball, using wobble boards….
  • Working on your flexibility: try yoga, Tai Chi, stretches – any of these make a big difference when you ride
  • Working on your core stability:  core exercises with a ball, pilates classes, “fit to ride” classes
  • If you want to get your horse involved too, find a place to get some lunging lessons, or some in hand/groundwork lessons and you can help your start getting fit too

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” -  William Shakespeare

Well we are already well on our way to a great year:  we have built a foundation of  planning, and mental and physical fitness.  Now’s the time to set our goals for the year.  If we set goals in January, they seem very far away, and we are often too ambitious and unrealistic in our expectations.  In the comfort of the pub, I can achieve anything….

So instead, let’s wait until April to sit down and set our goals for the year.  By now we have done some reading, talked with our friends, had some coaching and worked on our own and our horse’s fitness – and we have an insight into what is actually achievable this year.

How do we set goals?

The first thing I say is don’t do it alone.  Goal setting is much easier if a group of you who know each other and your horses well get together and work on this.  You can support each other in answering the following questions:

What are you going to START doing this year:

  • That will be FUN for you and your horse eg try horse agility, le trec; plan a beach trip!
  • That will be GOOD for you and your horse clinics, workshops, courses
  • That will MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the  longer term for you and your horse eg finally get some coaching on that trailer loading issue!

What are you going to STOP doing this year:

  • That will lead to more FUN:  eg stop letting people talk me out of spending time with horses; stop worrying about mistakes or things that didn’t work as well as I hoped
  • That will be GOOD for you and your horse:  eg stop getting angry with my horse when things don’t work out, stop getting angry at myself…
  • That will MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the longer term for you and your horse:  stop procrastinating and book that trailer driving course

What are you going to CONTINUE doing this year:

  • For FUN: eg keep going out on fun hacks with my friends; just hang out and groom my horse for as long as I like
  • For the GOOD of you and your horse: keep doing the hard work on keeping your horse fit and healthy, keep buying Horsemanship Magazine (LOL)
  • To MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the longer term for you and your horse:  keep going with this “best year yet” programme….

More to come in the February issue when we look at what you can do from May – August to keep 2015 the best year yet for you and your horse!

I will post that article after it has been published — so watch this space!

Bouncing back: ten tips for Emotional Resilience

Gracie asleep

One of the things I find most interesting when looking at the issue of confidence, especially around horses, is the concept of “emotional resilience”.  You know how sometimes something happens to you and you can just acknowledge it and move on – and yet other times something happens and it rocks your whole world?  And causes you to question everything?

That is all about emotional resilience,

So what exactly is “emotional resilience”  and where has it come from? The American psychologist Emmy Werner was one of the first to use the term “resilience” in the Seventies, in a study of children from Kauai, an impoverished region of Hawaii. Werner found that of the children who grew up in difficult circumstances, two thirds exhibited destructive behaviours in adulthood, whereas one third behaved normally. She called this latter group “resilient”, saying they had genetic traits that were different to the others.

Similar studies followed, including an influential one in America in the Eighties, based on the children of schizophrenic parents, which found some thrived despite a lack of parental attention. Academics built up a body of research in the US and Australia, where it is called “psychosocial resilience”, and as the concept garnered attention in Europe, its therapeutic effects began to emerge.

Resilience, explains Prof Richard Williams, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the University of South Wales, comes from the Latin resilio, which means to jump (or bounce) back. Now, emotional resilience measures our ability to cope with or adapt to stressful situations or crises – be this a hurricane in Kathmandu or an A-level exam in Kingston. Indeed, says Prof Williams, the two situations aren’t so different – rather, they’re on a “spectrum of adversity”.

So emotional resilience is about coping with the things life throws at you…and it is a topic that is even being introduced into the school curriculum…

And this is the key point: emotional resilience can be taught. It’s not just those who have been exposed to natural disasters who develop it; nor is it only children who can surround themselves with its protective armour. Experts say adults are just as adept at learning the skills needed to be emotionally strong, proactive and decisive, no matter how late in life they start.

Just as with Mindfulness work, the effects of emotional resilience training are well-documented. Unlike other therapeutic techniques, many of them rooted in management speak, this has its origins in science. Schools and offices in which the practice is taught have improved so much – increased motivation, innovation and better relationships – that the Department for Health now sponsors a free, downloadable “emotional resilience toolkit” for employers, with tips on how to “survive and thrive” at work.

Let’s take a look at the main things that building emotional resilience focuses on – and see how these might apply to our confidence:

  1. See crises as challenges to overcome; not insurmountable problems

Perspective is key.  In many situations simply “reframing”  the situation can help.  To reframe from “I will never be any good with horses”  to “ I haven’t learned how to cope with this particular situation yet” makes a huge difference to how we feel.  Confindence Mapping is a useful tool for gaining this perspective, as is journaling – both focus on keeping track of what IS working and progressing as well as the challenges

  1. Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and family

Bear in mind that supportive doesn’t always mean  agreeing with you – but it DOES mean working with you to achieve your goals and helping you find your way.   It DOES mean removing the people who every time you make a tiny step in the right direction (for example you safely led your horse in from the field) point out how far you have still to go (“it will be years before you are hacking out”).

  1. Accept that change is part of life, not a disaster

I think my last blog focused on this – Life is life and we have to deal with it – and that’s just part of the journey

  1. Take control and be decisive in difficult situations

Now of course with my rather Zen approach to many things I would say “control is an illusion”  LOL – but there is a valid point here.  Identify what you CAN control, and work on that.  If you identify things you CAN’T control, then either change the situation or stop trying to control those things.  One example of this is a friend who has her horse at a livery yard that is not perfect.  The owner often brings her horse in to her stable far too early for my friend’s liking and nothing she has said has convinced the owner to change.  However, everything else at the yard is great, so she has instead researched stable toys, made sure her stable is next to her horse’s fieldmate’s stable, rearranged things so the two horses can still touch and groom over the wall – and has settled for that.

A good example of “change what you cannot accept, accept what you cannot change – but always look for improvements” LOL

  1. Nurture a positive view of yourself – don’t talk yourself down or focus on flaws

This is a big one – our whole life we are assessed, evaluated and have it pointed out to us where we are failing.  What if we focused on strengths instead?  What if instead of focusing on our “flaws”  we just realised that no one is perfect, we have strengths and we can build other strengths….  Every one of us has a right to be here, to be happy to be sad, to be who we are – and the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can get on with enjoying things.

It sounds simple, but this one is not easy… it takes a big change in mindset and mindfulness and meditation can be really useful here – as can good friends

  1. Look for opportunities to improve yourself: a new challenge, social situation or interest outside work. Set goals and plan ways to reach them

It seems odd having just said to not focus on flaws that we now say “improve” – but this is about making small achievements and wins.  When I play a tune on a piano and it actually sounds familiar – especially when in the early days it sounded like a cat in pain – I feel good about myself,  So this is about looking for opportunities to feel “justifiably good”  about yourself – building genuine, positive self esteem based on reality.

  1. Keep things in perspective: learn from your mistakes and think long-term

The easiest way to keep things in perspective is two fold:  one, keep track of your progress, so you can see how far you have come – and two: realise that for most of us, our confidence with our horses is what many would call “ a first world problem” – and we are really lucky that we have the time and support to work on this…

Thinking long term helps me cope with the whole life thing – I heard a story once about a woman who went to a counsellor for some advice.  She said “I have always wanted to be a doctor, but. It will take five years so by the time I qualify I will be 45”.  The counsellor simply replied “in five years you will be 45 anyway, whether you become a doctor or not…”

  1. Practise optimism and actively seek the good side of a bad situation

Those of you who know me know this is something I do a lot.  I may not be able to control or change a situation, but I CAN control or change what I focus on and how I choose to FEEL about the situation.  Recently I was told that due to bureaucracy my entry to a long awaited Masters course was being delayed by a year.  I COULD have got upset about that – and for a few minutes I did.  BUT there was nothing I could do to control it – and I realised that it does actually free up my time for this blog, my new job, my own riding and time with my partner – all things that have been a bit lacking lately and so I chose to focus on that positive.  It helps if you have friends to support you in this way of thinking.  It helps a LOT.

  1. Practise emotional awareness: can you identify what you are feeling and why?

I often say “ self-awareness is a pre-requisite for self management” .  If we practice being AWARE of how we feel, then we have more options for CHOOSING how we feel… and we become thinking, reasoning human beings rather than reactive bundles of emotions…

  1. Look after yourself, through healthy eating, exercise, sleep and relaxation.

This is actually bigger than it looks.  Because to look after yourself, you first have to accept and truly believe that you are WORTHY OF CARE.

And this is one of the biggest things around emotional resilience and confidence:  you are worthy of being confident, resilient – simply by being human and on this planet, you are worthy.

Remember that.

This is a long article, but I think it is a topic deserving of the length – I will probably write more on this but for now, how do you think your emotional resilience is today?

And what can you do to strengthen it?

Yours, in Confidence


What’s Life got to do with it?

Tory 2

Hi everyone,

I am delighted that the Confidence Wheel I posted here back in March is getting some replay on other sites this week — always good to know when thinking is appreciated and helpful.  Many people have commented and messaged me to say they are finding the wheel useful not just with their horses, but in the rest of their life too.  Others have been in touch asking “when are you going to start posting again?”

And I realised over six months have passed since I wrote that Confidence Wheel post….

So what has happened?

Have I run out of things to say? (some of you are laughing at that thought!)

Has everything about confidence been said?

Am I not interested any more?

The answer is – none of the above.  In fact what has happened – is just plain old everyday LIFE.

LIFE has happened.

Some of you may already know this, but I started doing the confidence coaching back in 2008, after the credit crunch when my professional consulting and training work dropped off – and my mum was diagnosed with dementia.  I stopped doing the consulting work, spent more time with mum and dad – and started doing the confidence coaching.

I really enjoyed the change.  Working with people who wanted to make a difference to themselves and their horses was and is very rewarding (in emotional terms, if not financial!). And for 4 years that was my focus.

I started the blog in March 2012 when I realised that people were often asking me similar questions and I thought I could share more widely and reach more people to help them by having the blog.

Life was flying along, with lots of horses and helping people – a wonderful combination.  Financially it was tough, but in all other ways it was a great time, I was helping people grow, helping horses be happy – and growing myself in many ways too.

Then in summer 2012 I met G – amazing, I now had a partner as well – life couldn’t get much better (although a lottery win would have been appreciated).

All through this time my own horses were getting attention and time, because I was self employed and managing my own calendar, and this was how life was working.

Then, in October of 2012 my dad fell ill.  Oh we had had some challenges before when he had 6 weeks of radiotherapy and we had to work out how to have sitters with mum, while ferrying dad to and from the hospital on a regular basis.  We were lucky – we had local people who volunteered to drive dad, and I, being self employed, could take the time to sit with mum.  But this was “proper ill”.  He was 89, and had a fall.  We found respite care for mum, and it was all hands on deck to support the situation.

We were very lucky – we had supportive Macmillan nurses who coordinated services – and we ended up being able to get mum and dad together again, in the same care home, for a few weeks before dad passed away in June 2013.

Of course, in this time, I had been able to do very little work – so life was getting challenging.  My partner was being bullied at work and it was obvious they were trying to “move him out”, so things were changing….

Through all this I was in pretty good shape thanks to friends and family.  And I will never forget that it was friends and family who made all this “life” easier to handle, and happier to be in.  I will always treasure that time I had with mum and dad helping them stay at their home as long as they could.

With mum in care, and a partner whose job was in jeopardy, I took a good long look at where I was and what I wanted.  And I decided that “life” had changed.  Whilst I enjoyed what I did, I also loved my partner and now had an opportunity to change things to support him, and us in a different way.

The confidence coaching would never be enough to support us without his income: not at the rates I charged anyway (gosh darn my belief in making things accessible!!) and I wanted to think about having time with friends and family again without worrying about missing work opportunities (which usually came up at weekends, just when friends and family were around to spend time with)

So I looked at life, and thought about what I really wanted.

And went looking for a “real job”.  I applied for lots – and then got head hunted for one.  And you know, it is an amazing job.  I am valued for my thinking, my perspective and myself. I am in a great team.  Sure the company isn’t perfect, but then I know from my consulting experience that no company is.  And I get paid.  Every month.

And this job is enabling may things in life:  we can buy a house in the country, instead of being on the edge of a town; we can plan for G leaving his job as we can manage on my income alone for a while; I can go and do an intensive classical riding course; I can plan and spend weekends with friends and family without worrying about the impact on income; I can buy Christmas presents without stress!

So many amazing things now possible thanks to this change in life.

In June this year, my mum passed away.  I was happy that I had been there for her so much, and that as a family we had been together for so long.  And I was happy with my choice to find the job…

Of course we are not there yet – currently I am working away from home during the week, so no horse time or coaching time except the weekends – and then I just want to be “home.  But that will change in the spring when we move house and I will have my evenings at home again.  And my brain is still coping with this “working every day” thing – I wake up on a Thursday and it says “Again? Really?”  LOL

My horses think they are retired, getting fed, brushed and that is about it for now.  I did loan a horse, Paddy, so I could practice my riding – but he turned out to have a sore back so I couldn’t ride him – he is happily in a rehab home getting better.  Many things have not gone as planned!

Next Spring I hope we will be moved, I will have the evenings and weekends for my own horses, and the income to enjoy life.

I also plan to be coaching again – maybe in a slightly different way, in a format that is more “self directed learning”  than me being there all the time – or group working – or video coaching.  All that is to be planned.

Bu the main reason I am writing all this, is to make the point that all that has happened since 2008 – has just been LIFE.  Life happening, and me making choices about that life.  Or just going along with it when choices didn’t seem possible…  even if I can’t choose what happens, I can have some impact on how I choose to feel about what happens…..

Now I could feel guilty and sad about things: I could feel sad about not being with my horses so much, about not keeping up to date with the blog, about life not being exactly the way I planned or wanted it.  I definitely feel sad about my mum and dad not being around anymore.  And that is normal.  That is life…

Or I can just recognise life for what it is and make the best of it at each turn, at each junction, using the mindfulness and meditation I practice most days….

There is a Chinese story I love:

There is a story of a farmer who used an old horse to till his fields.

One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer’s neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

A week later, the horse returned with a herd of horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg, they let him off. Now was that good luck or bad luck?….

How does this apply to confidence – and possibly even horses?

When we are able to hold the perspective that “life IS”  and accept that, and then make our choices based on what IS instead of what we wish were true, then we are in a place where we CAN change things….

Of course this relates to mindfulness – which I plan to write more on later in another post.  Being mindful and accepting your reality is the first step to making a change…

So what has YOUR LIFE got to do with it?

And what would help you make the choices that your life is needing right now?

Yours, in confidence


The Confidence Wheel

Here it is.  THE complete way to examine your confidence

And the basis of the future blog….  each post will be linked to the relevant parts of the wheel (sometimes more than one)  to make it easy for you to find what will make the biggest difference for you


The Confidence Wheel: how to help yourself

One of the biggest challenges in an organisation, especially when looking at capabilities, is the issue of confidence.  Personal confidence, team confidence, organisational confidence.

There are times we know we are full of ability but we don’t have the confidence to act on it…

I also see people full of confidence, but without the capability to do what they want or need to do…


How can you make sure that you have the realistic confidence needed to achieve your goals?


You can use the Confidence Wheel


Here it is, Complete Confidence in one image…..Confidence Wheel


At the heart of this is you.  Then your mental, emotional and physical states and their interactions.  How you are in yourself is a key aspect of confidence.

Then we start looking outside you.  And yes, knowledge and skills are outside you – because they can be learned from others, through others and so can be brought in from the outside to support you in your confidence journey


To feel confident about something, you need KNOWLEDGE.  You need to know What you are doing, Why you are doing it and How to do it.


To be confident you need to have the SKILLS to act on that knowledge.  You need to be able to do it, be able to do it well – and be able to practise so you can get better at doing it


And to be confident your ENVIRONMENT needs to support you.  The places need to be right, the processes need to work with you rather than against you and the people need to be there for you too….


Think about how this applies to your performance, your capabilities – and your confidence at work.

One of the biggest mistakes is mis-identifying the issue.  Using this wheel can help you make sure you are working on the real concerns that have an impact on confidence


Think about how you can use this wheel to achieve your goals…  where are the blocks?  Where are the opportunities?


As yourself, think about how you can use this wheel to accelerate your own development.  When you can accurately identify where an issue lies, you are much more likely to identify a matching appropriate solution that will make a real difference to you.


And each section of the wheel has different solutions….


More on those in other articles….


But here it is — The Confidence Wheel….


What do you think?



yours, in confidence


















Confidence Wheel


The Blog is getting a REVAMP!!!

It’s exciting — and it’s been a long time coming


Up to now this blog has been where I post regular thoughts and isnights into confidence and how to build and sustain it — which is great  BUT — there are over 150 articles on here now, and it is hard for visitors to find articles they want


So, we are REDESIGNING the blog to make it easier to use…


I will be posting an article this week showing that we now have a way of thinking about confidence that will really help you identify where you need support and help which will then be a new way to categorise the articles to make them easy to find and use as a resource…


Even more exciting — if this revamp goes well, it could be the path to another book that will make a real difference to anyone looking for more and better confidence!


Exciting Times indeed….


off to work on it all…


yours, in confidence





Hello everyone!


Well it’s been rather an extended winter break for me — my horses are all enjoying the holiday!


The good news is that the blog will start up again very soon — with posts every couple of weeks.


If you have missed me or the blog, I apologise — but we are now back in action!





As a thank you to all Blog followers – and because so many of you wanted to take advantage of offers that had run out….


All offers are available until
Midnight dec 31st

Email me letting me know which offer you want and then we will make plans!

Make 2014 the year you become
Confident and/or classical!!!!



The Attitude of Gratitude


The Attitude of Gratitude

Something as simple as saying “Thank You” can radically change your relationships with your horse, your friends – and yourself.

Interesting, isn’t it?   Just saying those two words can lead to totally different dynamics between us, and yet many of us don’t realise this.


This post was brought to mind this month as many of my American friends are posting their “daily thanks” posts on facebook in the build up to their Thanksgiving day at the end of the month.

I know some people find this inspiring, others find the daily posts irritating – how we respond to gratitude varies widely, but one thing is known:  saying “thank you” to someone changes how that person perceives you, and how they feel about you.

There is even an article in the Wall Street Journal citing evidence for how people who have an attitude of gratitude are “better off” in many ways :


Let’s take a look at this, and how it works with our horses, our friends, and ourselves.


With our horses:

Most of us like to be nice to our horses.  When we are with them we often say “good boy” or “good girl” – and pat or stroke them when things go well.

So here’s a question for you:  “What is the difference for you and your horse when you say “Thank you” and when you say “Good boy”?


If you think about that, or even take a moment to go to your horse and try this – you will notice there are some rather large differences.

When we say “Good boy”  (or girl) —  we say it as praise, as a congratulations for doing something well or right – which immediately means some form of judgement is involved.  While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is still a judgement, an assessment – and can be heard as such.

“Good boy” can mean “you did that right”,  “you accomplished the task”,  “I am pleased with you” “you have pleased me”.  It is a more direct line, outcome related upward energy….


When we say “Thank-you”, we say it as a release, a softening.  An acknowledgement that we have received a gift or offering.

Thank you can mean very different things to “good boy” – it is a being-related, downward energy


Try this with your horse:  when he offers you something great, or something you appreciate – say “thank you” .  You will notice your energy is different, your emotional state is different – and you will also notice your HORSE will be different.


With our friends:

Sometimes it’s hard to say “thank you”.  But it makes a huge difference.

How many times have you stopped at a zebra crossing (for those of you not in the UK these are road crossings for pedestrians which are not controlled by lights, so rely on the drivers “agreeing” to follow the road rules and stop to let people cross) – and  watched people cross and they haven’t even acknowledged you?  How did you feel?

And how do you feel when they DO give you a little nod or wave to say “thank you”?

There’s a big difference….


When someone says “thank you” it creates a positive emotional state in BOTH the thanker, and the thankee – and that changes how people view each other.  Research shows that people thanked for their behaviours are more inclined to offer more supportive and altruistic behaviours, and become more positive in how they view others; whereas those who are not thanked tend to reduce their offerings, and also become more negative about the people they interact with.

Two words that can make such massive changes in how people respond to you, and how eager they are to help you.


Interestingly though – there were differences in the people who were DOING the thanking:  people who say thank you more often are generally happier, more relaxed, more positive in their outlook – and the simple act of saying “thank you” triggers a positive emotional state in us.

This can be VERY useful


One of the things about working with confidence is that often, there are loads of people who suddenly know what we should be doing, and how we should be doing it.  In fact, this is true of most of the horsey world!

This can get annoying – and I know it is easy to end up in a very negative state about all this advice.  We often get to the stage where we avoid people, or end up arguing with them – which takes an awful lot of energy and isn’t pleasant for us OR them

So – what if we just said “thank you”….?


I was on a yard where I was the only person using what most would call a natural horsemanship approach with my horse.  EVERYONE had advice on what I should be doing….

So I started listening to their advice, waiting until they finished talking – then simply smiling and saying “thank you”.

In my heart I was thanking them for the time and effort they were putting into their well intentioned efforts to help me do what they thought was best.

And something interesting happened:

The interactions became softer, more positive.  On both sides.  As people saw me listen and heard my thank you – -they relaxed, became less pushy about their points of view – -and the whole dynamic changed.  Monologues became conversations – and my time at the yard became a lot more enjoyable.

This was great for my confidence too – instead of feeling under pressure to do things differently, I was able to continue in my own way without pressure or stress, and without having to argue with anyone.  And because all I had to say was “thank you” – I felt differently about things too.

What a difference.


With ourselves:

I have talked before about how to handle fear, and negotiating with our unconscious to help us find our  true confidence ( and

And here is the first thing to do whenever you notice you are feeling unconfident, worried or anxious about being around or on your horse:

Say “Thank you”




As you are driving down the lane to your stables, and you feel those butterflies starting to flutter around in your stomach:  say “Thank you.  Thank you for wanting to keep me safe, and make sure I pay attention to myself and my safety”

That is all your unconscious is doing when it causes you to feel fear or worry – or to “lose” your confidence:  it’s just trying to keep you safe.

That is a wonderful thing.  To know that a part of you is always looking out for your safety is a wonderful thing.

So let’s thank our unconscious for doing this.

And we find that something interesting happens:  when we say “Thank you”,  our unconscious believes we have heard it, that we are taking it seriously – and it starts to work WITH us instead of against us.

Things change, just like when we say it to other people.  Things change from an argument to a conversation.  From an argument where no one is listening and everyone is shouting, to a conversation where we hear each other, understand each other and work to find outcomes that work for both of us….

Just learning to say “Thank you” to your unconscious can make a huge difference to how you feel.  IT can make a huge difference to your confidence.



So there you are:  just three ways in which saying “Thank you” can make a massive difference to your horsemanship and your life.


An Attitude of Gratitude – worth practicing…..


Yours, in Confidence













Beating the “Blah”s: Emotional Awareness and Confidence


Have you ever had one of those days where you woke up and you just felt “blah….”

You know those times when nothing’s exciting,   you’re not motivated and everything is an effort


If you are lucky a day when you feel like that coincides with a day where it’s miserable and raining anyway  or a day when you have to go to work and get paid and it doesn’t really matter.

If you are self employed and work with horses though then it can be a tad different

Also what if you feel blah in the only hour of the day you have to spend with your horses?  What on earth can you do about that?


So, “blah” describes pretty much how I felt when I woke up this morning


This time of year is always difficult for me:  the change in the weather, change in the light, the prospect of losing the summer and the arrival with the winter where work shifts from being  outdoors with individuals to being indoors doing talks with groups etc

I also have the personal matter that at this time of year I am reminded of the loss of a couple of close relatives.

So ok, I have some reasons for it – but as you know I am a beacon of positive thinking in this negative world – so surely I don’t feel blah?  Surely I don’t feel negative?

Well I’m human, so I do.


So what can you do to stop those blahs from ruining your winter – your hour, your day, your week your month…


Is there anything you CAN do without denying the fact that this is what you are feeling?


Let’s take a look at something:  I read an article recently about Emotional Awareness

“Emotional awareness means knowing what you are feeling and why. It’s the ability to identify and express what you are feeling from moment to moment and to understand the connection between your feelings and your actions. Emotional awareness also allows you to understand what others are feeling and to empathize with them.  It is also about the ability to handle all of your emotions without becoming overwhelmed”

You can find the full article here:  it’s worth taking a look, although if you head over and read it you will notice that I have a slightly different take on a couple of the points they make

Ok, so being emotionally aware, I realise I am not at my most positive – why does this matter, especially when talking of being with horses?

There are a couple of reasons this matters – and it is usually to do with the strategies we choose for dealing with these emotions.

In the article, the author talks of three common reactions to negative emotions, let’s take a look at these and explore how these might help us

1) Distracting:  where we take our mind off the negative emotions be reading, watching TV, fantasising – or doing something completely different.

This can actually be constructive:  going off and letting our mind do something different gives us a distance from whatever is upsetting us, and allows us to get some perspective.  Many of us know that if we can just get out there for ten minutes, or walk the dog, that our “blah” mood will be blown away and we can get on with our day.  Sometimes distracting ourselves helps us find the “RESET” button for the day.

It is worth working out a distraction strategy that works for you – and having that ready to use on your “blah” days….


2) Sticking with a single, habitual response to the discomfort of the negative emotion: you know people who always crack a joke, whatever the situation?  That is a habitual response.  Again, it might not really matter, but it also doesn’t really make any difference to the mood or situation, so it tends to be a real sign that you or that person is genuinely “stuck” – and would benefit from having some other strategies!


3) Blocking the emotions out:  this can be a useful “survival mode” – after all, if I have to do a job, or write an article – and I have no choice, then the ability to block out the negatives and get on with things can be a great skill to have.  However, it has  a downside:  first, it doesn’t change anything, the emotion is still inside me, simmering away and is likely to boil over some where else if I don’t deal with it;  second – blocking myself in any way means I am losing my ability to feel – and that definitely reduces my confidence around horses and people….


I have to say I actually have strategies for a blah day.  I have strategies for a good day, strategies for a blah day, strategies for when I feel good and the horses feel blah, strategies for when the horses feel good and I feel blah!

Because you know what let’s be realistic here we always hope for the best but let’s accept that sometimes things just aren’t perfect  — What do we do then?


To give you an example from today:   Today was definitely a blah day – to make it worse the sun was shining!

So I got to the field and I just KNEW that things could go badly wrong if I ignored my “inner blahness”


One thing horses are superb  at , and it’s why they are so good in horse assisted therapy – and that is reflecting what is really happening inside you


Horses are the same on the inside as they are on the outside – they have a congruence which is natural  to them

I have come across horses who have been blocked form that congruence by various things, and it’s my job to help them work towards rediscovering that, but their natural state is to be congruent – that’s one reason they make such good therapists


It also means they are very good at picking up anything that is not congruent in us.


Think about it:  the horse knows the difference between a lion who has just eaten and is walking through the herd with a full stomach – and a lion who is pretending to be full but is actually hungry and scouting out prey – the horse has evolved to know this difference, to know when things are not congruent ….


How do you think a horse feels when we turn up and we are not congruent?


When we’re going “I feel really bad, I feel miserable, I feel down, I don’t feel confident – but I’m going to fake it”?

If a horse picks up on that incongruence it disturbs their natural state of being, it makes them uneasy

Which, of course, we then pick up on – and the vicious spiral of unconfidence begins


What if, though, we acknowledge the fact we don’t feel very good at this moment, or today?  What if we admit that to ourselves, and accept it?


And build this INTO our plans for the day? And have plans for things we can do where our emotions won’t affect our horses?


Today, my “blah” strategy included mostly inviting each horse into the play area and playing at liberty.  This way I knew my blah – which might lead to frustration – could not lead to me forcing my horses to do anything – also, in playing at liberty, the focus is on positive reinforcement, “can you” games – and fun, so sometimes even if I dot START in a good mood, I can end up in one after playing this way for a while.  Sometimes I don’t – but then I have still had a good session with the horses despite my mood…

Other things I have on my “to do” list on blah days – grooming, tail brushing (it has to be done!), general adoration – and any despooking stuff that I can do away from the horses – eg with Coblet I can walk round the field throwing ropes around, that way I am not directly interacting with him, so he won’t be affected by my emotions – but I AM doing something “useful” (which is one thing that helps me feel better!)

As Sylvie relaxes into knowing me, my Blah strategies will include hacking out on her too….


By staying congruent, I know I am not going to “damage” my horses – or our relationship.


By having things to do whatever my frame of mind, I know I am going to progress while staying confident….


And my horses stay confident too


One last thing:  I was at a conference with a motivational speaker, whose name I can’t remember  or I would link to her, who made a great point.  She said “of course we get stressed, we get upset – the thing is, can we give ourselves twenty minutes a day to be REALLY upset and then just get on with things – that way we allow our emotions, and still have a great day.  And no, you can’t carry the minutes over to the next day if you don’t use them”


So when I feel a blah or down time coming on, I allow it – in fact, I will even wallow in it for a while.  If I deny it, it will just keep trying to come back and then might really get in the way of things I want to do – but if I welcome it, encourage it – and nurture it – for just twenty minutes or, ok, at this time of year it’s sometimes a bit longer (duvet days come to mind)  then I find it loses its power over me and instead of spending time stressing about how negative I am, I just AM negative – and then I move on…

I guess in doing this I am being congruent with myself….


And that feels better



So – what do YOU do on your “blah” days to keep your confidence?


Yours, in Confidence