You need to work outside of your comfort zone in order to grow – it’s true!
BUT if you go too far out, too often, the opposite can also be true.
It helps to recognise that some people and /or horses have relatively small stretch/not sure zones, so once you are out of the comfort zone, you are very soon entering the area of stress/survival. In this outer zone, confidence is soon lost and the other zones also start to shrink.
Learning to recognise the signs that occur when moving from one area to another helps us to keep stretching towards growth without taking ourselves over the edge. At the first sign of discomfort in EITHER the person or the horse, we have 3 choices – stay where we are, press on, or go back. There is no right or wrong decision, it is experimental and experiential, and experience gives us greater insight into where the edges of each zone lie and what are the signs in ourselves or our horses that we are heading for the red zone. Once we have this knowledge, if we can move between comfort and stretch and aim to keep out of the red zone, both the comfort and stretch zones, along with trust and confidence will expand – this is the growth we are seeking.
Unfortunately there is still a lot of peer pressure and demand from some trainers too; to press on and work through situations that are causing either one or both partners unnecessary stress. Mostly these helpful advisors are making judgements based on their own experiences and not reading the situation in front of them. You know how you feel and you know how your horse feels too. It can take a good deal of courage to tread your own path in this respect and to not feel the need to do what others say you SHOULD do, even if you feel either you or your horse are starting to feel under too much pressure.
Is feeling good about what you do more important than achieving someone else’s goals? Whether you are just starting out with a new horse, or feel like you have lost your way, I am here to support you and your horse in finding your own way forward along whichever path you have chosen.