Put your hand up if you are prone to overthinking. Which hand though? How high should I place my hand? What does prone mean? Remember that time I put my hand up and bashed the ceiling? Although that other time I put my hand up and …. Do I actually overthink or do I think just enough? No, I definitely overthink. Sorry, was I meant to put my hand somewhere. Welcome to overthink land.
I definitely didn’t used to be like this, at times I am still not, but sometimes the demons take over and the brain goes into overdrive. New Year, as I said in my previous blog, is a favorite of mine, but, I think this year, I built everything up so much that my brain is overthinking. 2019 will be the year I am jumping confidently and consistently again, the year I get my first book published, the year my blog takes off, the year I become an influencer in the horse community….. see even just writing that sets me off. To the point that I haven’t written a blog since my New Year blog!
But then, as so often does, a horse helped me out! This one to be exact.
We are starting the year with some arena eventing and show jumping; different challenges to get some rounds jumped and hopefully get Jack and I a bit more ‘together’. But, after jumping a few good rounds, I started to overthink it. Seriously, overthink.
We then went to Wellington Equestrian Centre and what I can only describe as a car crash of a round. We went in, climbed over the first fence, hit the second, climbed over the third, a few ‘Thelwell-style’ kicks occurred and we crawled through a double…… basically it just wasn’t happening. It is the first time I have experienced Jack dropping the bridle and I definitely didn’t like it!
I started to overthink. What did I do wrong? Was his feed right? Did I do too much the day before? Didn’t I do enough? Was I was so focused on Jack being settled at the show that he was just half asleep? Is there a physical problem? Was he sore? I heard he was playing in the field the day before so maybe he was just tired? I think every good horse rider has to do that a bit after a bad day.
But what I have learnt it that you have to analyse and then move forward, not continue the overthinking. We checked his feed, had a lesson, had the physio out and then needed to step forward to the next challenge afresh.
We next went to Aston Le Walls (which as a side note, you should not go to naively, it is seriously tough like the arena eventing version of Badminton). There was an arena of showjumps with a couple of cross country fences in, lovely I thought, but then I soon realised you had to jump into a water, over corner fences, up steps, down drops, over ditches… Not good for an overthinker with confidence issues. I think I went visably paler as I walked around the course.
The brain went into overload with not only the normal stuff but with the added “Will he drop the bridle like he did at Wellington” on top. I went in (which I felt was achievement enough) while saying outloud “One fence at a time”. Rode with every inch of my 5ft2 ability and then we got to the water jump. I have never jumped into water before. It’s a weird paranoid phobia of mine that the horse will stop and I will fall in and get knocked unconscious under the water and drown. (Did I tell you that my overthinking mind can get a bit dramatic sometimes?)
I came back to trot (as I thought with less speed I may stay on if Jack stopped) and I sat in total frozen fear as he trotted up to the edge and then he just kind of stepped/fell/flopped in with a big splash. No hesitation, no worries, no dramatic drowning scenario, not particularly elegantly or skillfully done but done nevertheless.
Then something weird happened over the next few fences, I stopped thinking and started actually enjoying it. Continuing to take one fence at a time, taking each challenge as it came, but it felt like Jack and I were just in this together, doing the best we could that day.
Afterwards, I realised something – overthinking achieves nothing, having an overthinker on board has got to effect a horse and actually, when I am in the ring, it is just Jack and I together doing the best we can. And truthfully, he is such a blinking lovely horse that it is actually quite fun!
Less overthinking and more fun I think is the key.