I found Jane Savoie's book "It's Not Just About the Ribbons: It's About Enriching Riding and Life with Innovative Tools and Winning Strategies"
a few years ago when looking for resources to help me deal
with a problem that I felt was holding me back in my riding.
That problem was "frustration". Having grown up in Pony Club,
I hold fast to the premise that problems are never the horse's fault, always
the rider's, so I don't get frustrated or angry with my horse. But I did
get extremely frustrated with myself when I was unable to meet
my self-imposed standards for the level of performance I wanted to
achieve in my riding.
I knew this was not productive, because
when I would get frustrated with my riding, the resulting tension
make me ride worse. Clearly I was in a negative feedback loop,
but, how to get out?
To make matters worse,
I began to think that I was the only rider who ever experienced this problem.
What a relief to find this super
book by Jane Savoie, with a chapter devoted to dealing with frustration,
which she starts off by saying,
"Frustration is often seen in riders. We all have a lot invested in our
horses in terms of effort, energy, emotion, and money, and, we tend to be
perfectionists. When we don't measure up to our own often unrealistice
standards, we get frustrated with ourselves."
(Hallelujah! I'm not the only one.)
Savoie goes on to lay out a number of useful tools for
letting go of the destructive emotion of frustration,
in addition to help for conquering
a whole host of other mental monsters including fear, insecurity,
impatience, tension, doubt, arrogance, distraction, and pessimism.
I found more than I bargained for in this book however because the actually
"life-changing" part for me was the introduction to
the power of the subconscious mind. While Savoie is quick to say
that none of these concepts are new to her, "It's Not Just About the Ribbons" was my
first formal introduction to the idea that you can dramatically improve your reality
(in all areas of your life)
by tapping into the power of your subconscious mind -- as opposed
to relying on your conscious willpower.
My desire to improve my riding provided the force needed to
get me motivated to learn more, and more importantly, to begin to
put these concepts into action!
Since this is a book review and not a book :-) I won't go into the
theory of how or why this all works, but my experience is that it does!
Some of the methods used to begin to tap into the power of your subconscious
visualization, affirmations, changing your self-talk, and giving yourself
an attitude adjustment. One of the most powerful adjustments you can
give yourself is an "attitude of gratitude". By expressing gratitude for
the things in your life that you value, you will begin to attract more of the
This passage from "It's Not Just About the Ribbons" makes tears well up in my eyes every
time I read it. What a wonderful way to put things into perspective and to
remind ourselves that it is the journey that matters, and not just the
Just before I enter the ring itself, I let a feeling of gratitude wash
over me. "I'm so lucky to be healthy enough to be here doing what I enjoy
with this animal that I love." I believe that taking a moment to feel grateful
is an important part of having "That Winning Feeling." It seems silly to
complain that it's too hot, too cold, too windy, the footing is lousy,
you hate the stabling, or the judges hate your horse. Keep competition
in perspective. It's just a horse show. You could be confined to a
wheelchair or heading off to the hospital for chemotherapy. Yet, here
you are, spending the day with your horse. How lucky you are, indeed.
I feel lucky indeed to have found this book by Jane Savoie to help me
along on the
journey of improving my riding AND my life!