Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Book Review: Build Complete Confidence with Horses

The subtitle of Build Complete Confidence with Horses by Kelly Marks says, "Beat Fear and Excuses & Attain Your Riding Goals". Having written an entire series of posts on the topic of fear and riding horses myself, I was interested in finding out what Kelly had to say.

Kelly Marks is a former jockey and show jumper, so we know she embraced two of the most dangerous events in horsemanship. She is the originator of the Monty Roberts Educational Courses and she founded "Intelligent Horsemanship." In this book, she coaches us on overcoming our fears and recognizing our goals in horsemanship.

This is a book that you can't just read, then put up on the shelf and forget about. You are encouraged to get involved by participating in written exercises, and then continue to consult what you have written long after you've finished reading the book. I must admit that with my busy schedule, I wasn't wild about having to do homework, yet I could see why it was important for me to do it. Sometimes you just have to stop, take inventory on your life, and acknowledge that you took the wrong path. You then need to explore which path you want to be on and plan out how you are going to get there.

Kelly stresses the power of positive thinking, because you attract what you put your energy into. If you are always looking forward to good things, then good things will find you. If you are always dwelling on mishaps of the past, mishaps will frequent your doorstop. My husband taught me about Buddhism when we were in college. Any time that I am discouraged, he supports me by asking me what would make me happy. If I say something like, "A house on 40 acres with no neighbors, but we can't afford it...," he says, "Why not? Anything is possible."

He encourages me to think big, way bigger than I normally do, and he calls it "planting seeds." He says that if I concentrate on what I want, I will eventually attain it. There is definitely a truth to it. Kelly Marks uses the term "planting bulbs," and I instantly knew what she was talking about. We get what occupies our thoughts.

Getting back to the topic of horses, if you constantly fret over falling, you are probably going to fall. Therefore, it is important to visualize a flawless ride. Expect your horse to be relaxed and well behaved. Expect an enjoyable, safe ride. See it how you want it to be. Even if your ride doesn't turn out to be as perfect as you would like, keep imagining what you want, and eventually you will get that ride. If you make a habit out of concentrating on what you want, those great rides will become a habit.

I've been employing positive thinking when assessing my horses' moods. It used to be that if I was preparing to ride a horse, and the horse seemed too excited despite plenty of ground work and lunging, I'd back down and make excuses for why I couldn't ride. Now I look at my hyper, nervous horse and think, "Oh, he'll be fine once I get on him." I admit that he's not always fine after I get on him, but at least the positive thinking got me to the next step, which is riding. It may have been a rough ride, but that's better than no ride at all and a horse that only gets worse because he's not getting enough exercise and training.

I have recently opted out of riding due to high winds, but I think that's more a result of knowing that in reality my neighbor's garbage is blowing around and crashing, and we will get hit with whirlwinds and big gusts, as opposed to negative thinking or fear. I think that's more of a decision coming from my common sense.

There is a lot of good advice in this book. My only complaint is the way in which the publisher chose to fill up the book with side stories, case studies, and quotes. In my job, I can never seem to complete anything, because people keep interrupting me and pulling me off one task to put me onto another. This book left me with that feeling of frustration, because I would be in the middle of reading one topic, and then turn the page and find a different colored section that is on a completely different topic. My choices were to drop what I was in the middle of reading and start reading about something else, or turn the page again to complete what I was reading and hope that I remember to go back and read the pages that I skipped. It all felt a little disorganized. It was designed a bit like a textbook, but I felt that the placement of text could have flowed better.

Overall, the book was inspiring. I wish it came out in a small paperback version, so that I could carry it around in my purse and consult it to remind me to think positive and be courageous.

Some of the fun assignments included in this book include:
  • The Lottery Dream
  • Your Perfect Day
  • Understanding Your Adversaries
  • Diaphragmatic Breathing
  • Self-Hypnosis
  • Keeping a Success Journal
  • Choosing Your Music
  • Identifying your Role Models
  • Listing Helpful & Unhelpful Beliefs
  • Letting Go
  • Your Dream Book
This is a unique book on horsemanship, because it is not so much a how-to book, but a self-help book for riders. It addresses the psychological aspects of riding horses. It's easy to find books on horse care, riding handbooks that teach equitation, and horse training manuals. It's easiest to find books that detail information on horse breeds, but how often do you come across a book that addresses fear and procrastination? Build Complete Confidence with Horses by Kelly Marks is one of a kind.


fernvalley01 said...

Great review .Sounds like a book worth reading.

Once Upon an Equine said...

Thanks for the review. I've not seen that book before and it looks like one I need to read. I was just thinking today about how I was fearless in my younger riding days, so why is there fear now. My mare spooked today while I was riding her and I'm sure it is because I was afraid she was going to spook at a truck and trailer passing by the arena. I don't think she would have spooked if I hadn't been thinking "Oh, oh, that's noisy I hope she doesn't spook."

Paint Girl said...

Sounds like a book that I need to read, with my confidence issues with my Paint Fritzy. I have gotten a lot better, but I still have that fear.
Sometimes I wonder if it will ever go away.

Breathe said...

I love the lottery dream. It really forces you to examine who you REALLY are.

I used to say do what you love and the money will come.

But that was before I couldn't get healthcare for my daughter (she's an automatic decline).

Maybe someday that hurdle will be cleared and I can get back to living what I love.

Here's to that 40 acres!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Thanks for the review, NM. I don't usually go for self-help type books. They typically frustrate me for some reason. But I sure could use a boost to my self confidance and I totally agree with 'The Secret', that you attract the same energy that you send out.