Angry at Your Horse? Or maybe just frustrated or annoyed?
Red Flag! Did you see the video of the “heiress” that fell off in the show ring during the Hampton Classic and then kicked her horse in the stomach with anger? Well, it was hard to tell from the angle of the video, but it looked like that’s what she did. People were outraged.
Why did this woman react like that? What inside of her was driving that negative behavior and what would my prescription be to help this rider?
1. What needs were being fulfilled when she got angry with her horse?
I don’t know this woman, so I can’t say, but this article is not about her. It’s about the stereotypical heiress and also about why any equestrian may have reacted with so much anger.
Here’s the main reason. She was being driven by her need for feeling powerful, important, and significant. Why did she suddenly feel a need for power? Well, there are few things more disempowering (and embarrassing) than the feeling you have from having fallen onto the ground from the back of a horse. Especially if it is in front of the upscale crowd watching and videotaping one of the most prestigious horse shows in the country.
The feeling of anger fuels our brains and bodies with an incredible amount of power. This is why many people get addicted to expressing their anger. It makes them feel powerful and important. Going into rages is like a heroin addict shooting themselves up with drugs!
She was also being driven by her need for certainty or the comfort of being in control. This is the natural “go to” for fixing our feelings of uncertainty in the show ring or when things don’t go as they are planned. Trying to add certainty to the situation is an attempt to gain back control over our lives.
The need for certainty is why a lot of riders are always fussing, fixing, grabbing at the reins, and overriding.
My RX for a Solution: To break this habitual, angry reaction when showing, my prescription would be to create for her what we call a “pattern interrupt.” This is similar to doing a half-halt on a horse when you are transitioning from one lead into the other. The pattern interrupt could be something as simple as her thinking of something humorous or coming up with self-talk to break her emotional pattern.
Next, I would teach this rider how to break bad habits. I would have her focus on and really feel the massive pain associated with this behavior as leverage to move away from it. Then I would have her focus on the massive pleasure she would receive if she trained more, had better skills, and fell off less often! This is the process I use to teach riders to break bad habits.
She needs to FEEL the significance and certainty from something positive, rather than getting those two needs met in a negative way. Consistently winning ribbons at horse shows would give her significance AND certainty. It would also help to match her blueprint for her life. (See below)
Another solution for a rider that is experiencing uncertainty during competitions is for them to practice one of the most important keys to success in riding, your career, and your relationships; learning to feel comfortable when being uncomfortable.
Yup, what is simply a moment of uncertainty, riders tend to panic because they are just not used to dealing with uncertainty. My solution is for all my clients is to go out and add as much uncertainty to their world as possible. Learn to become comfortable and calm and to “wait for it’ whenever you feel uncertainty.
2. Everyone has an emotional home. This is the place that we automatically default to when we are under stress or when we don’t consciously choose different reactions. People whose emotional home is anger, as I suspect may be the case for this heiress, usually feel an uncontrollable need for significance and certainty and are at risk for becoming rigid control freaks.
My RX for a Solution: There are only two things you can do when your blueprint for your life (how you dreamed it would be) doesn’t match your present circumstances. You can either change your blueprint (in this case, deserving to jump everything perfectly and win all the ribbons) or you can change your present circumstances to match that old blueprint (spend more time training to acquire better skills.) Either one of those solutions would reduce her anger.
3. Her identity of being an heiress. Tony Robbins has a saying; “We don’t get our goals, we get our identity.” We can see how true this is with this heiress. Her goal may have been to get a blue ribbon at that event, but what she got was the whole world seeing her identity (who she really was) play out on video.
Her current identity is formed from her history of events, beliefs, self-talk, values, rules and her personality. It continues to drive the same behavior patterns for her over and over because she has adopted all that as her story. What’s her story?
We don’t know the whole story, but an identity of being an entitled heiress speaks volumes of cliché attitudes and ways of going through the world, right? The same is true for the identities of all of us riders. (What’s yours?)
Because her identity is an heiress, and because that is her “story,” watch out when her blueprint doesn’t match her current situation. That’s always a set-up for anger, right? And that is the fault of her entitlement identity; she feels she deserves to jump a course perfectly no matter what and that is her blueprint for how she believes her whole life should go.
Add this to her intense and overriding need for significance and certainty, and you can see where she started to boil over with feelings of anger that she couldn’t control.
My RX for a Solution: She has to change her identity. First, we would design the rider and human being that she would like to be, not the one that she was born into or the one she dreamed up for her blueprint.
What identity would serve her better? If she wants to ride better, we could have her adopt the identity of an equestrian rockstar. Or more specifically, a humble and skilled equestrian rockstar who is a great leader for her horse because her horse can feel that she genuinely cares about him and about the quality of their partnership.
4.The Blame Game: The new identity of being an equestrian rockstar would replace “the blame game” attached to the heiress’ identity with some new leadership skills.
The problem with blaming others is that we automatically volunteer to become victims. And victim identities are angry people who will never change. Why won’t they change? Because they don’t see that they have a problem; only the other person (or horse) is wrong. How do you shift this bad habit?
My RX for a Solution: I use the military model for this problem. It’s called Extreme Ownership. This is a key component of being a leader and we will never become good riders until we learn how to become effective leaders for our horses. What makes a good leader that others will trust and want to follow?
1. Being a good listener.
2. Genuinely caring about others.
3. Being willing to adapt and to give and take, according to the feedback from the team member.
4. Being clear communicator; say what you mean and mean what you say; integrity
5. Being willing to give others the credit when things go right (humility instead of significance) and taking all the responsibility for when things go wrong.
6. Being a dependable wingman; trustworthy.
For this to all come together, I suggest to my clients that they spend more time bonding with their horses instead of showing up at the last minute and hopping on a groomed horse and then jumping off and handing over the reins before leaving the barn.
This, in my opinion, is what is creating the distance and disconnect with our horses for the riders training at the top show barns. They are not investing the time to create love and connection with their mounts. This simple prescription fixes a lot of issues in the show ring.
Here’s the shift. Instead of fulfilling her need for significance in a negative way by angrily kicking her horse, the heiress can now fulfill her need for significance by being a leader! How great does that make anyone feel?
In addition, by taking the time to bond with her horse, she is also fulfilling her human need for contributing to others because the horse needs the bonding, trust, and leadership for him to feel certainty. Horses are very sensitive to uncertainty, so the more we can be trustworthy leaders, the more relaxed they become.
A relaxed horse that feels calmed with certainty is better able to focus on the job at hand. They become better partners and teammates.
5. Beliefs and values are part of our identity. What values are being displayed with the attempt to kick her horse after falling? Well, clearly she places a low value on respecting the boundaries of others and a low value on the feelings of the horse. She also places a low value on our social norms that look down upon animal abuse and behaving poorly at horse shows.
My RX for a Solution: I would work with her to raise the value that she places on those things and at the same to lower the value she places on “doing whatever she wants to do whenever she wants to do it.” Transforming your life and shifting deep down inside is about redesigning your identity, your story, your beliefs, your values, and your rules. And then we redesign the self-talk and success rituals to match that new transformed identity.
6. Rules: Although it may be unconscious, we all create rules for operating within our own unique values and beliefs. As an example, it seems that the “heiress” has a rule for herself that says, “I am allowed to do whatever I want, whenever I want. Even if the rest of the world does not agree with that.” Is that rule serving her well? Well, not in this situation!
Tony Robbins is famous for saying that any upset in our relationships is a rules upset. So a great next question would be, what are the horse’s rules? Maybe his rules are that it is OK to cause a rider to fall off if the rider is an angry, selfish, entitled, and lazy rider that doesn’t train enough to acquire better skills!
We all know horses with rules, right? Some are flexible with rules and some have very rigid rules. Some will stop if you ride them too close to the base of the jump or if you try to take off too far away.
The only solution for rules issues with horses is this; either you work to change your horse’s rules with persuasive finesse and training or you have to let go and become more flexible and willing to change your own rules. You will have to raise your standards and step up your own skills to match his rules!!
My RX for a Solution: I would have this heiress do a deep dive into her soul to “fish out” all her rules that are driving all her behaviors in a negative way. Then together we would design new rules that would work better for her life. This would include rules about respecting the boundaries of others and not being abusive to animals as well as rules about controlling her anger and how to behave at horse shows.
I would also have her get outside of herself enough to consider what other people or animals’ rules are. Maybe success is not all about HER rules no matter how hard she tries to steamroll over others.
Rules are how we stay on our new bridle path that matches her new identity, beliefs, and values. They are the installed rails and fencing that keep us in our own lanes! We stop violating and stealing the dignity and the feelings of others. Eventually, if we stay in our own lanes, we reach a much more desirable destiny. With more grace and respect for others.
7. Meanings: It is not the event itself that creates an emotion inside of us such as anger. It is the meaning that we attach to the event. So for example, what was the meaning that she attached to having fallen off? Was it that the horse had made her fall off? Was it that her horse intentionally did that to embarrass her? Was it that her horse was stupid and unworthy of being her mount? Can you see how these meanings would fuel her anger?
My RX for a Solution: The fastest way to change her negative emotions is to reframe the meaning she is giving to have fallen off. What if she attached the meaning that her horse wasn’t feeling well? What if she attached the meaning that it was her fault and she didn’t see the right distance? What if she attached the meaning that she needed more time in the saddle? Or that her horse was “coming along” but the horse needed more training?
See how she can now transition out of focusing on her need for significance just by assuming good intentions from others and by focusing on fulfilling a need for love and connection? Doesn’t that feel better than anger? Doesn’t love make us feel empowered as well?
And here’s another bonus! If she practiced making that need for love and connection her “go to” reaction, how would that change her world? After a while, doing it over and over again, she would then fulfill her need for certainty and the calm, centeredness that comes from rituals rather than from being so controlling.
Here’s what I tell my riders and all my clients about reframing any event that happens in your life. It is a quote from Tony Robbins: “Life is not happening to you, but for you.” Think about that.
Her falling off could have been a positive event if the world DID see her react in anger and if she is now forced to take a look at herself and who she has become. Maybe she WILL try to transform herself. Maybe she will try to become a kinder, more humble being and have a renewed commitment to training her horse and herself harder.
Maybe her “event” also contributed to all the other riders out there who sometimes find themselves feeling frustrated, annoyed, and angry at their horses. Because we are NOT prisoners of our emotions and reactions. We can learn emotional strength. We can shift deep down inside and create lasting change in our riding and our lifestyle.
Cleary, the answer is not just taking a few deep breaths to get rid of the built-up stress. This anger towards her horse is a symptom of a deeper and more complex issue that nonetheless is not that hard to change.
I do this all day long; transforming people very quickly for lasting results. Another quote from Tony Robbins; “We are only 1 millimeter away from total and complete transformation and that change can happen in a moment. At a snap of your finger!”
You just need to want to change and respect others and stay in your own lane. Then you need to make a decision to commit to changing. And finally, you have to be open to receiving the insight about yourself that we need to design customized tools and strategies that will work the best for you!
Don’t be the angry heiress when you fall off your horse. Do a pattern interrupt and use humor to make light of the moment. Then change the meaning of the event and embrace the valuable feedback. That’s the only way we get closer to achieving our personal best performance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nancy Dye is an equestrian breakthrough mindset coach and resilience trainer helping people to transform the quality of their riding and their lifestyles.
Nancy is certified as a strategic interventionist from the official coach training program of Tony Robbins and has over 30 years as a change agent; shifting people into peak performance.
Nancy specializes in solving the puzzle of why people are not performing at their best and customizing the right strategy for “jumping over” adversity. She handles all areas of a rider’s lifestyle to include their riding performance, their relationships, career, health and transitioning through life stages.
With a past career in corporate sales and as a luxury lifestyle Realtor, Nancy has been coached by some of the top high-performance sales trainers in the corporate world, as well as by some of the most elite coaches in the world of sports. Nancy redesigns the inner lives of athletes, executives, entrepreneurs, and elite military and veterans.
Nancy is married to Jack Miles, a former Olympian gymnast who is inducted into four athletic Hall of Fames. For one-on-one coaching or information on her workshops or riding clinics, Nancy can be reached at NancyDyeResults@gmail.com.