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Mastering Your Mindset. The Key to Successful Liberty Horse Training

April 24, 20246 min read

Introduction:

Ever caught yourself wondering what sets successful people apart? Well, spoiler alert—it's often not just luck or talent, but their mindset that's doing the heavy lifting! Yep, you heard that right—our mindset plays a starring role in our journey to success. Think of it as the behind-the-scenes director shaping our beliefs, attitudes, and actions. Whether we're tackling big liberty dreams or navigating the twists and turns of everyday life, our mindset can be our secret weapon or our biggest roadblock. So grab a cuppa, settle in, and let's chat about some mindset hacks that will help with you along your liberty journey.

Mindset

1. Little and Often

I know, I know, life gets busy, and sometimes our training sessions can end up on the back burner. Feeling overwhelmed with how much there is to learn can also put us off from getting started in the first place!

Doing a little bit every day is way more effective than doing long sessions infrequently. So instead of feeling overwhelmed thinking about training ALL the things you want to do, jot down a couple of smaller tasks to focus on. Not only does this make it feel more achievable, it's also a whole lot easier for our equine buddies to understand and succeed when we take it one step at a time.

2. Video Your Training

Reviewing video footage of your training is also a great way to analyse your strengths and weaknesses. You will spot things like bad timing, weird body positioning and crazy cues! Watching your videos back will empower you to become your own coach, solve problems and make a plan for improvement.

However, spotting the ‘sub-optimal’ stuff is one thing but in the video interview below with Liberty Horse UK member, Suzie Johnson, she talks about creating her own highlight reels and watching them over and over again. Unbeknown to her, this is a process called ‘reverse visualisation’. Many moons ago, when I trained with the GB Under 21 dressage squads, the sports psychologist introduced us to the idea of visualisation. The idea being that we were to visualise riding a perfect dressage test. This is undoubtedly a powerful and effective technique used by top performers. However, I was never able to visualise a perfect test! My imagination conjured up mistake after mistake!! 

A few years ago, I was introduced to the idea of reverse visualisation. There is a slight but subtle difference! In reverse visualisation, you mentally extract something that went really well in training or competition and replay it over and over again in your head. I found I was able to do this as it had actually happened!! Watching videos of yourself performing well has a similar effect. Some of the benefits are increased confidence, increased skill acquisition and learning and improved motivation and resilience!

3. Dealing with Frustration

When I started learning liberty, my trainer told me you can always guarantee one thing when working horses at liberty.. They will leave at some point! However, knowing this does not make it any less frustrating! How we deal with the inevitable frustration is what will make or break us as liberty trainers! 

"The problem is not the problem, the problem is your attitude about the problem." Captain Jack Sparrow

Firstly, recognise the frustration as it bubbles it and secondly, recognise that the horse and their performance is not the problem. Your feelings about it are the problem! I try to visualise my frustration as a balloon and encourage myself to let it float away! And when that doesn’t work, as Suzie says in the video, have a tea break and recompose!! 

Finally, always end on a positive note. If you’ve been working on something new or challenging, go back to something easy that you and the horse are confident with. This helps you both go back to the barn feeling relaxed and accomplished.

4. Process Vs Outcome Goals

You might've heard these terms thrown around, especially in sports or personal development circles, but what do they really mean? And more importantly, how do they differ?

Outcome Goals; The Big Picture

First up, we've got outcome goals. These are the big, shiny targets we often focus on—like winning a competition, performing with our horses or working a liberty team! Outcome goals are all about the end result, the destination we're aiming for. They give us a clear vision of what success looks like and can be incredibly motivating. However, the catch is that we often don't have full control over outcome goals. External factors, like competition, luck, the weather, lameness (the list goes on!) can influence whether we achieve them. That's where process goals come into play!

Process Goals; The Journey Matters

Unlike outcome goals, process goals are all about the journey—the steps, actions, and habits we need to adopt to reach our desired outcome. Instead of focusing on the end result, process goals help us zero in on the daily or weekly actions that will get us there. For instance, if your outcome goal is to run a marathon, your process goals might include training a certain number of days per week, gradually increasing your mileage, or improving your nutrition and hydration habits. The beauty of process goals? They're within our control! We can choose to show up, put in the work, and tick off those smaller milestones along the way, regardless of external factors.

Suzie has a repeatable process which leads to results. She is very consistent with her training, usually for at least 10 minutes a day. She has a plan, using the LHUK progress awards, shows and trick titles for structure. She reviews her video footage and then creates another plan!

Why Both Types of Goals Matter

So, do we ditch outcome goals altogether and only focus on process goals? Not so fast! Both types of goals have their place in our goal-setting toolkit. Outcome goals give us a clear direction and motivation, while process goals provide the roadmap and actionable steps to get there. By balancing both, we create a powerful combination that fuels our motivation, builds our confidence, and sets us up for success.

In a nutshell, outcome goals give us the "what" and "why," while process goals give us the "how." So the next time you're setting goals, think about what you want to achieve (outcome) and how you'll get there (process). By striking a balance between the two, you'll be well on your way to crushing those goals and enjoying the journey along the way!

Watch the chat with LHUK member, Suzie Johnson

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