Posted on June 14, 2016
My daughter, Sabrina, has been horseback riding since she was 7; she’s now 20 and a college junior. A couple years ago, she had a spill off a horse at school, and was off the mount for a few months. When home on break, I decided to hang around the barn one day to watch her train. I knew she’d be a little rusty, and I was curious to see how she’d do.
Into the ring. First the warm up flat work: The walk. The trot. Easy enough. But, when it came to the cantor, my daughter’s time off from riding showed a little rustiness. And then I heard her coach, Andrea, say something that stood out for me:
“Sabrina, look to the turn. Where do you want him to go? You know this . . . always look in the direction you want the horse to move.”
“Look to the turn.” Just look, and the horse will go there. Sounds simple enough, right? Not exactly.
From the moment the thought enters a rider’s brain to turn their head to the direction she wants the horse to move in order to prepare for a turn or a jump, there are so many subtle actions a rider takes, barely seen from the untrained onlooker’s eyes:
. . . and more . . . and again, all must be done in the seconds leading up to a successful and safe turn or jump.
“Look to the turn.” And I thought to myself, this is exactly what I tell clients every day. Whether you’re in the weight loss or weight maintenance mode, it’s your thoughts that come first; your planning to fulfill those thoughts second; and then the actionable follow-through. In order to successfully complete a day of good eating, you’ve got to look to the turn.
Want tomorrow to be a great day? Look to the turn = Look to the next day.
Want to land a jump safely? Look to the turn = Plan for a perfect day.
Sabrina (any rider) always wants to have a good, healthy ride both for herself and the horse, which cannot happen without planning for every turn and every jump.
A person who has weight to lose (or maintain) wants to have one great day of eating at a time, which cannot happen without planning for every day.
Sabrina finishes up every ride by giving the horse a nice shower and grooming to thank him for an enjoyable and safe experience; and a kiss on the nose before returning him to his stall.
A person who completes a day of eating as they planned should finish up those days by feeling wonderful; and should pat themselves on the back (or kiss themselves in the mirror!) for having been successful in their efforts.
In the end, horseback riding is all about the relationship between the horse and its rider, yes, but . . . there’s a big difference between being a rider and a driver. Being “just” a rider, letting the horse take you where and how it wants to go, doesn’t allow you to develop the skills necessary to become a good equestrian. If the horse is in control, you’re not . . . a recipe for potential disaster, for both you and your horse. Being a driver means you are in control, and have the skills necessary to tell the horse where you want it to go, how fast and how high. Only when you are in control, do you and your horse have the best chance for a great and safe ride.
In the end, weight loss is all about whether you’re in control of your day, or it’s in control of you; whether you’re the driver or the rider.
So, if you want to be successful in your weight loss or weight maintenance efforts, use a little horse sense. Look to the turn.