Easily Distracted and Tough to Catch? The Wild Pony Syndrome.

Easily Distracted and Tough to Catch? The Wild Pony Syndrome.


Are you an easily distracted athlete or professional that suffers from running around all over the place? Do you find it difficult to schedule and discipline yourself? Do you find it tough to stay focused on a task for any length of time? Are you disorganized and always late? Do you feel like you are not performing at your absolute best?

I coined the term, “Wild Pony Syndrome”, to describe a debilitating issue that some of my successful clients feel trapped in. Getting the edge on beating your competition and receiving the blue ribbon, instead of always coming in second or third (or not at all), is sometimes just about learning how to rewire your brain to tweak a few bad habits that you recognize are sabotaging your best performance in all areas of your life. So, what is Wild Pony Syndrome?

This is frequently a problem for high-energy people who are always on the move. Outgoing and adventurous, they usually have lots of friends or they enjoy adventures and meeting new people in “their herd”. Fun to be around, it’s hard to get them to sit down and focus for long periods of time … and that’s AFTER they always arrive late. In fact, it is hard for them to focus on the task at hand, period. They are too easily distracted.

The Wild Ponies complain about being ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and they hate being so disorganized. They would fix the organization issue, but they have difficulty disciplining themselves enough to stay focused on completing a boring project such as cleaning their house. Instead, they are “not very successfully” multi-tasking their way through a hectic, stressful, and borderline out-of-control life.

What would happen if they were organized and focused every day on applying my “game changing” equestrian success rituals and my emotional strength techniques and strategies that I customized just for them; showing up relaxed, empowered, and totally prepared and confident for both their training and their competition?

The real problem with Wild Pony Syndrome sufferers is that by the time they come to me for a complete transformation in their riding and their lifestyle, they have already defined themselves with these challenges deep down in their fundamental core. This has become their identity and their “story”. And they keep building up the story … stacking issues on top of issues. 

For example, displaying varying degrees of being “a hoarder”, they have a hard time letting go of “stuff.” And by that I mean not only all the stored items in their home, garages, basements and attics (tack trunks, trucks and horse trailers), but also letting go of their past, their “issues,” and their identity.

To add insult to injury, these ponies constantly beat themselves up with a whip, calling themselves bad names such as a “mess” and a “f..k-up.” And as they continue to identify with the symptoms of Wild Ponies, they unconsciously act it out even more, because remember, we will always remain consistent with who we truly believe ourselves to be.

Why is that? Because it is our core belief about ourselves and because, heck, at least we know how to be that person! At least we can do THAT perfectly! There IS comfort and certainty in that, right?

Eventually, the disorganized patterns have convinced everyone else that it’s “always something” with the Wild Pony; forgetting things, losing stuff (the other riding glove hiding somewhere), always late, not keeping their word with calls and appointments, etc. Friends and co-workers, after trying to help them get over this chronic disability, finally throw up their hands and end up actually making it worse by accepting their “quirkiness,” covering for them, or picking up the slack. This is called enabling and out of desperation for help in this area, Wild Ponies unconsciously surround themselves with people that will help them stay on track.

They will fall in love with inappropriate spouses that may not be a perfect fit, because of this all-consuming need for help!

As the Wild Pony is enabled and freed up from the time needed and their responsibility to “get their act together”, they overcommit and run around from one thing to another even more; always terrified that they are about to drop one of the balls they are juggling. If these people are not working, they will have a hard time finding a job. If they are working, they will not perform at their best, and it’s a competitive world out there! The most “together” and professional person wins. (Your innate talent, charming personality, and sense of humor will only take you so far.) 

Yes, it’s true. People in your circle will eventually get exasperated. Not only is it stressful for the Wild Pony to think and behave like this, it is also disruptive for everyone around them. Not to mention disrespectful and rude. How many times can you break your promises for calling, showing up or keeping your commitments?

It has the subtle ripple effect of a giant Tsunami after the earthquake out at sea. It doesn’t just disturb everyone’s peace, focus, and rhythm – it completely destroys trust.

What is the answer to this syndrome? Well, suggest to a Wild Pony that they may have to deploy some discipline and to schedule themselves and then just sit back and watch what happens! Talk about being spooked! “Oh no, you mean you’re going to rein me in?” They ask this question with a total panic in their voice; you can see it in their eyes. You can just feel them dying to gallop away!

These are clients who do not want to stop “having fun.” They see being harnessed or “reined in” as a negative. They feel it as a fear of being locked up in a tiny prison cell. They even have trouble keeping to their commitment for coaching calls! You have to deploy a pack of hounds, track them down, and corral them back in; and all the while they are bucking and rearing up … desperately trying to run away from you! In actuality, they are running away from themselves. (They are paying to play all these games, mind you!)

Hagen, Germany - July 9, 2015: Jessica von Bredow-Werndl of Germany and her stallion Unee during the CDIO5* - FEI Grand Prix competition at the CDIO on July 9, 2015 in Hagen, Germany. Here in extended trot. Reached 3rd place.
Hagen, Germany – July 9, 2015: Jessica von Bredow-Werndl of Germany and her stallion Unee during the CDIO5* – FEI Grand Prix competition at the CDIO on July 9, 2015 in Hagen, Germany. Here in extended trot. Reached 3rd place.

But is being “reined in” really so bad? What happens when we harness all that energy with discipline and focus? While the Wild Pony perceives that as being trapped, bored and suffocated, the reality is actually something more positive and on a much higher level. Think about it. Does “reining it in” prevent them from moving or does it produce a more directed and purposeful action? Every athlete that harnesses their energy and focus creates a magnificent masterpiece that eventually, with enough practice, becomes a work of art … and possibly one with an Olympic gold medal around its neck.

Discipline is freedom!

Think about the Olympic gymnast. Think about the ballet dancer. And if you’re an equestrian? Think about the Dressage horse or Olympic show jumper. Channeled energy. Focused and disciplined. If you perceive it in a different way, being “reined in” is actually just “collecting” the horse; bringing together the magic of the muscles, energy, and talent to produce absolute grace, beauty, and perfection. It is combining all of your “ingredients” and then planning and completing the goals for the direction in which you want the horse to move.

Compare it to the process of baking a magnificent cake. What good are all the ingredients like the sugar, flour, salt, flavoring, butter etc. individually on their own; some stored in the cabinet, some on the spice rack, and some in the refrigerator? The ingredients are all over the place, right? But what is created when you combine them, set the oven at a specific temperature, and then remove the cake at the right time? The magnificent cake that you visualized and set a goal to create, right?

But you have to change the phrase “reined in” in order to transform the meaning, and therefore, the feelings and emotions tied to that meaning. A dressage horse is just energy collected and focused; dancing in perfect timing with the music. Is there anything more beautiful? The jumper has a set course, the perfect place to turn in order to get over all those obstacles with just the right impulsion and the most effective number and length of strides. All of this is perfectly planned and practiced.

It takes repetition over and over program the brain. It doesn’t just happen on a whim.

The Wild Pony seems free, powerful, and able to overcome obstacles, but just ask my clients suffering from that issue and they will tell you a painful story of being trapped spinning around in an unproductive hell of self-hate and self-sabotage. Every obstacle, even small ones, seems like a huge wall to jump over, and the entire course feels overwhelming; not to mention their forgetfulness or aversion to the boring task of practicing or “staying on course”.

In addition, they hate the identity and image of a “screw up going nowhere” or “potential talent” that will never really make it to the top. Imagine an unbridled, Wild Pony trying to perform in the jumper ring or the Dressage competition. Not a pretty picture, right? But this is who my Wild Pony clients want to be. They are frequently perfectionists with high standards. This is the dream for their life. They come to me with talent, skills, the best trainers, and amazing horses. They KNOW they are better than their current performance in life. They are frustrated with not being able to be the best that they can be.

Equestrians of all ages come to me to change their stories and therefore their destinies. They come to me to peel away the trappings of their ineffective, disempowering identities and the resulting patterns of  those thoughts and behaviors. They come to me to transform their lives and to feel proud about themselves. Why choose to make excuses for always showing up as an unproductive Wild Pony when you can display the royalty, mastery, and the beautiful, elegant art form of a Dressage horse? Why not be the best that you can be and show off the dance and enjoy the ride around the course?

Do you think running around without a goal or purpose … disheveled, spooked, directionless, and “wild and free” is fun? Wait till you feel the exhilaration of mastering your talents and orchestrating them to all work together; flying over the jumps in the Olympic Grand Prix like Nick Skelton or dancing to music in New York’s Central Park like Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro! Wait till you hear all that applause and feel the significance and empowerment of all your happiness and pride inside!

And all you have to do is change your identity, shift your mindset, collect that energy, and learn the strategies for finding your leverage and staying focused. Caution: I may also insist that you start every day by getting up a little earlier, practicing your equestrian success rituals, and deleting all the foods (chemicals) that contribute to producing the Wild Pony syndrome! (Such as cake.) Not that I’m trying you rein you in … but it works if you work it!



Nancy Dye is an equestrian breakthrough mindset coach and resilience trainer helping people to transform the quality of their lifestyles.

Nancy is a strategic interventionist trained by the official coach training school 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. After transforming the rider’s mental state for peak performance in the ring, she shows the rider how to use the same techniques to transform all areas of a their lifestyle to include relationships, career, physical fitness, and transitioning through life stages.

With a past career in corporate sales and as a luxury lifestyle Realtor, Nancy has been coached by some the top 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, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and elite military and veterans.

Nancy is married to Jack Miles, a former gymnast who is inducted into four athletic Hall of Fames. For one-on-one coaching or information on her workshops or riding clinics, click the link below to go the calendar and book a free call. Nancy can also be reached at NancyDyeResults@gmail.com.

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