Giving Yourself Credit

Giving Yourself Credit

I’m dealing with a lot of mental shenanigans with my riding lately.  The good news is, I feel like I’m winning the war.  The bad news… well, there are lots of battles in a war!

Due to a scheduling snafu (if you call someone changing show dates after they publish the ‘official’ list on their FB page a snafu… grrr), I’m showing much earlier than I planned to in May. I’m also going to have to show straight in the 2’6″ – 2’9″ instead of doing my beloved slow, step up classes.


If I can’t handle this mentally, the plan is to go show anyway and just do the 2’6″ hunters in the indoor ring.  At some point, I’ve got to get out there and start breaking down these mental barriers.

Anyway, what I wanted to post about today was giving yourself credit.  Eventing in Color recommended a diet book to me, The Beck Diet Solution, months ago and I’m just starting to read it.  You may think, “But what does this have to do with riding?”


Well that’s a part early on in the book where the author tells you to start giving yourself credit for things in order to not become defeated by changing your habits.  I realized I a) need to do this, b) never do this and c) this can apply to riding as well as dieting.

Here’s an example:

A course starts off okay, but I’m too slow so I add really badly into the second jump and it’s fugly.  Instead of saying the entire thing is horrible and feeling defeated, I need to give myself credit for something.  I can say “Well I was too slow coming into that oxer, but at least we were going very straight over it.”

Positive: At least I wasn't leaning!
Positive: At least I wasn’t leaning!

That way your brain is focusing more on the positive, instead of being ‘defeated’ by the negative.

In life, I feel defeated a lot.

Much better
Much better

Though sometimes I ride like a total ass hat and put my horse into bad spots, I am able to do a lot of things right. Not saying it’s more right than wrong, but sometimes you just have to focus on the right a little bit more!


What do you think – could you stand to give yourself more ‘credit’ in your riding?

40 thoughts on “Giving Yourself Credit

  1. Not going to lie – I’m pretty good at this. Ever since I started trying to drag the good from the bad, I’ve been able to feel much better about my riding and about life in general. This is super good advice!

  2. I think this happens at every level and you are definitely not alone! I still feel like a total asshat jumping 2′ courses with Chloe on a semi-regular basis and I used to compete in the 3’6″ jumpers. Now, that was a good 15-16 years ago, but you’d think I could figure out a 2′ fence!

    I definitely tend to pick out the bad and focus on that, so I want to try your exercise! Good luck at your show, Chloe and I are sending {{{{{{good and satin-earning vibes}}}}}}!

  3. SO true! I read a book that said to point out 3 positives about your course before you start pointing out what went wrong. It really helps to put things in a positive light.

  4. This post is more true than you know. Think about how elite riders deal with things going wrong or about how high achieving people deal with setbacks. They always see the negative and work to fix it BUT they can also see all the positives, so improvement seems very possible. Funny how sometimes you find something through riding, or in your case a diet book, that has global implications for life.

  5. I like this. I think I’m positive but my spouse points out (lovingly) where I’m negative and a lil positive might help. I think there are people themselves way too much credit, but maybe it’s not so earth shatteringly bad to do that. You’re winning or learning right? Ill keep you mind that’s for sure. Good luck!

  6. This is HUGE, not only in riding, but in life. ESPECIALLY in our internet age where we are constantly bombarded by others’ successes, it’s so so easy to get down on ourselves and beat ourselves up for our mistakes. Really happy for you that you are beginning to wrap your brain around this concept! 🙂

  7. I am like this is in my entire life. Tend to dwell on the bad… So when I get really low, I force myself to write down three good things that happened to me that day, or three positives. It really helps flip flop my mind about the whole day – not just my ride. You might give it a try!

    1. That’s a really good idea. I’m currently reading a list of reasons I want to accomplish each day (hey… nothing I have tried worked so far so might as well drink the Koolaid), so this would be a nice exercise to add to that.

  8. I’m pretty hard on myself and I’m sorta a perfectionist. I don’t like doing things wrong. However, I found that focusing on a few things that went well at the end of each ride, even terrible rides when it seems like nothing went, really helps. There are always a few things, no matter how bad the ride seemed.

  9. I can use this! The bad stuff in my riding is usually what I think of first rather than all the things that went right. Clinician last weekend called me out on being the reverse mentality for my horse though, lol – I’m in denial of her evil ways and only see the good 🙂

    1. Hahaha, my horse isn’t evil by a long shot but my trainer has said the same thing to me before. Sometimes I’m doing things right and he’s not… but let’s admit – that’s rare!

  10. I never thought to apply that concept to riding, but its so true! We can really beat ourselves up over mistakes and let a whole round/ride/lesson feel like a failure when really it didn’t have to be. And giving credit helps me to mentally “reset” faster and get back on track quicker. Positive attitude makes me feel more empowered and less defeated.

  11. Love this post! I’ve tried to incorporate this kind of thinking into everyday life. I think that I’m happier for it. On the other hand while riding I haven’t been so successful. My coach yells at me all the time for being negative or not giving myself enough credit. It can be so hard to turn the way you think around.

  12. I have definitely struggled with focusing on the bad and forgetting the good in my riding. A few things, particularly from horse shows, stand out in my mind VIVIDLY, but then I just remind myself to remember all the times that went well and what I was able to accomplish. But if you think for one second I’ve forgotten that rail at a black & white skinny in the AA jumpers at the Christmas show in 2002 …. yeah, it’s a battle.

  13. As riders, most of us are also perfectionists, so it’s very easy to get bogged down by what’s not right. Giving yourself credit for the things you’re GOOD at is definitely important!

  14. I literally had one of my best rides ever two weeks ago and then convinced myself it was abfluke and have been working myself through like 5 more crappy feeling lessons to get my head back in the game.. all cause I did well! I think the mental part of riding is what keeps most riders from succeeding, we can all acheive enough fitness physically, but convincing yourself that it’s sane and fun to jump a 1000lb animal over wooden poles floating in the air takes some mental conditioning too.

  15. This is such a great habit to develope! I have gotten better about this, but still let the negatives get me down more than they should. I hope that this helps you out because you really are awesome and do a good job with your horse 🙂

  16. I force myself to find the positives, but generally I have a very low opinion of myself, if we’re being honest. My boyfriend actually has an amazing outlook on life and I’m learning from him, which is a really good thing. I try to use my blog as a way to put positive energy out there – like when I made myself write a post about every good thing the judge said about us in our last show. But in my head, it’s so much easier to focus on the negative than pat yourself on the back. Great post, you’re absolutely right about all this.

  17. Not only is it easy to focus on the bad, but dwell on it too… and WHY oh WHY do we ALWAYS jump to the absolute worst case scenario? WHY? And then beat ourselves up about it???

    Yeah, we do need to give ourselves credit for the good stuff. And back the hell off the bad stuff. At least we trust our horses enough to get on them. It can’t be all bad or we wouldn’t throw a leg over.

  18. i think this is such an important topic – and being able to see ‘own’ your skills and abilities (as another blogger recently put it) is so critical for continuing to progress. i pretty much try to find a silver lining in everything… regardless of how contorted or convoluted it is. you guys are gonna be great at the show!!

  19. Absolutely! It’s so easy to get caught up in the negative but positive thinking really does make a difference. I’m glad you are “winning the war!”

  20. Wow! good timing, I just got back on my mare after a 2 yr hiatus, and while it went OK I was having a hard time “getting out of my head” and relaxing, but at the end of the day got on and rode so yay me. Thanks to Cut-N-Jump for sending me here!

  21. This is so absolutely true! If you are looking for a good follow-up book, I highly, highly, highly recommend The Happiness Advantage!!! It is definitely a life changer :).

  22. Oh, absolutely! That’s one of my greatest strengths in dressage. When I am showing, I very easily move on from a bad movement. If we goof on one movement, I put it in the past immediately and move on to the next movement. A lot of riders will adopt the mentality that since they ruined that movement, the whole test is shot, and they defeat themselves.

    When I look at riding photos, which is not as often as I’d like, I can cringe at certain things, but I always find at least something that was good about it. It’s nearly always my position that sucks, but Speedy will look great, so I remind myself that I am the one that put him there.

    This goes a long with my philosophy about NOT polishing crap. :0)

  23. I do this all the time. I look at photos or videos of me riding and over all they are not the best but you know what *this* part is good! *That* is a huge improvement. It really helps with the mental game. I mean, there’s a reason we’re not showing at the top level of our sport and it’s not just money, right? I like the attitude. Good luck!

  24. This is a great point for all riders to make! It’s so easy to be hard on yourselves, but really there are always good moments to note as well. 🙂

  25. Thanks for this blog post. It was a great reminder that there is something good in every ride. I tend to focus on the bad parts of the ride and I need to focus more on the good. Thanks for the reminder. Just getting to ride every day is a privilege and I need to focus on that and not the negative things that may or may not happen.

  26. I think it’s easier for the humble riders who are always striving for improvement to focus on the bad. We all know the riders who think they are god’s gift to horses but only ride well because they paid a pretty penny for the horse. We want to be good but we don’t want to be that annoying person so we put ourselves down. Maybe we think that mindset will both make us better and keep us from getting a big head. It ends up biting us in the butt though. The more we focus on the negatives the more we do those bad things. Good for you for remembering what you do well. Blogs are a great way to keep things in perspective. We can just look back at where we used to be. As long as the overall trajectory is upwards then it’s all good.

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