I was reading Confessions of an AA Event Rider and Convicted Over Thinker the other day, which is a blog I enjoy a lot because she is a very honest writer and she writes freely about her struggles. I’ll give you a (not so much) secret, this horse showing thing isn’t easy and I enjoy blogs that are honest about the trials and tribulations.

Anyway, Suzanne recently went to an Andrea Waldo clinic (read her entire post, it’s worth it) and a new concept was introduced to me – stories. In her words…

A story is something that hasn’t happened yet. It holds no truth because it is not in the moment.

This is when I realized that I am a really good storyteller, even if I’m just telling them to myself.

tumblr_mnyauf1VvA1rb1vi7o1_500What am I talking about? Here are some examples.

  • Simon has soundness issues, and he’s going to break down if he ever jumps higher than 2’0″.
  • I’m overweight, and I’ll never do well in the hunters because of my size.
  • Simon got a late start with his training, and he’s miles beyond all the other show horses his age.
  • Because we don’t have clean changes yet, we’ll never win a ribbon at the shows we go to.

By themselves, none of those statements seem that bad.  They’re all kinda true, but the problem is that I hold onto the story part of each statement instead of the truth.  I repeat them to myself over and over to the point that all of a sudden the story is just as true as the fact to me.  Let’s face it – you can’t be successful in anything if you don’t believe in yourself.  Killing the negativity in these stories is a part of me actually believing.


Let’s look at the stories again, and leave only the truth.

  • Simon has soundness issues.
  • I’m overweight.
  • Simon didn’t really start work until he was 5.
  • We don’t have clean changes.

Without my own fiction put in, everything that I listed above seems pretty reasonable to me.  So what he didn’t start non-race training until 5?  Not every seven year old is marching around the 3′.  I’m overweight, yeah okay – but I can get more fit.  I can work on that.  Really, doesn’t every horse have some kind of soundness issue at the end of the day?


This way of thinking is really good for me in a stop and smell the roses kind of way.  There is so much to be thankful for.  There is so much good here.  Can’t let my brain get weighed down by negativity and stories that I love to tell myself.

What kind of “stories” do you tell in your horse life or non-horsey life?

24 thoughts on “Storytelling

  1. Great point of view. I also read that AA Event Rider post but sometimes I kind of skim that blog since it can get sort of rambly…I am a person who likes lists and bullets so the way you interpreted her message really clicked for me. I think I’ll do some thinking and write on my blog about what negative stories I need to eliminate.

  2. I have a similar quote written down from another trainer:

    Commitment + action = results
    Commitment + story = no results
    no results + a good story =kinda like results
    no results + story = no results

  3. I also read the same blog yesterday, and it really opened my eyes. I am just like Suzanne — I tell little stories and small lies to myself constantly, especially about my riding. And you are 100 percent correct; how can I be successful when I don’t believe that I can win in the first place?

    I too wrote out the stories I tell and eliminated the lies. And then I took it one step further, and wrote what I could change about each story to make it better — so that it wouldn’t even be a story that is on my bookshelf.

  4. I loved that blog post by Suzanne. It’s funny, when I read your truth statements I thought to myself those have suddenly become very actionable goals. But when you read the story version, they’re pretty depressing. Great post Lauren! I have no doubt you’ll not only achieve the above goals, you’ll surpass them. Looking forward to reading about it!

  5. I used to do this all the time – I still do to a certain extent – but I hit a good patch with my training and my riding and realized that all those stories hadn’t mattered a bit. I now consciously avoid them. My stories included my own extremely tight budget; Tristan’s soundness issues; the fact that he hadn’t been touched at all by anyone until he was 11, and he’d been neglected before that; my own lack of qualification and sensitivity as a rider; so on and so forth.

    I also found that a different version of these stories came into play when I was struggling with his soundness issues. For a long time, the story that we’d decided on about his RF – that the abscess had just blown away the hoof wall, and he would be fine once that grew out – obscured the possibility of real diagnosis. I try to be careful and precise about the way I talk about his issues now because I want to present an accurate picture.

  6. I LOVE this. Love it. Absolutely truly love it. So much to think about. I love introspection like this and teasing apart my self-induced illogical thoughts from reality. I pride myself on being very logical – at least in my actions. But damn, I go crazy within my own head getting to that point though.

  7. This is so true — I loved that post too, and I examined my own story. Mine actually matches half of yours exactly. I don’t worry about Apollo’s soundness, and I’m not concerned about changes (yay eventing 😉 ), but I’m overweight and Apollo is greener than other horses his age. I’ve had some wrecks in the past, like Suzanne has, so I’m taking inspiration from that, for sure.

  8. I have to tell myself my horse will stop hurting herself and will get sound, as its my only escape from the real world. On most days I believe it. I also have to keep myself from setting myself up as inferior in ability just because I don’t have the monetary assets to have fancy equipment, trailer etc. This one can be hard though.

    I really do think that continued soundness issues are a real test test for us to deal with. They can hit hard after a while and be quite discouraging, but they won’t get us!

  9. Not sure about the storytelling, but your story sounds very close to mine:
    -Sam has mod/sev changes between short pastern & coffin bones, both fronts, but is sound.
    -I’m overweight.
    -Sam is 15 yo, I started jumping 2 years ago, I’m almost 40.
    -We don’t have clean changes.

  10. Great post, Lauren. I also read Confession’s post and found it very interesting. I guess we all do it, don’t we? I call it “Outlining.” When I find myself “outlining” a scenario it almost ends in some type of disastrous death, either mine or one of my horses’. I’ve learned to recognize when I am doing it. and I now stop. I remind myself that none of that has happened, and I try to replace it with the outcome I would prefer, like earning a 70% or something! I think it comes down to living in the moment. One of my favorite ways to quit “outlining” is to tell myself to quit borrowing trouble; I don’t need it! :0)

  11. This is very insightful, and made me think about my own riding and the stories I tell myself. Now I’m going to go read Suzanne’s post.

  12. I think some of our stories come from comparing ourselves to others. For example I also feel like Loki is getting a “late” start because he is 6 and not already going training level, at least. When I stop and think about it the truth is he is ONLY 6! There is plenty of time, barring any unforseen circumstances, to do the things we want to do.

  13. Oh this is so true! I am so bad at getting myself down about all things equestrian-related. I’m also really good at taking the story and spiralling it out of control. So I can easily (and irrationally) go from saying “my horse will never do x” to “my horse will never do x so my life is meaningless and all my hard work is for nothing”. I also agree with Amanda. Comparing ourselves to other people is usually the stem of these insecurities, and its an unnecessary one.

  14. Focus on the positive and use that for motivation. I bought a WB mare who wasn’t broke until age 5. When I bought her at 6 she was extremely green and barely jumping cross rails. She stands barely at 15.3 h. I was told not to buy her and many talked behind my back. It motivated me to work hard, I saw something in her. 2 years later I compete with her in the 1.15m jumpers. It took A YEAR for me to get her to do lead changes! Believe in yourself, and instead of comparing yourself to others, use your strengths to be even better.

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