Sometimes it Isn’t the Horse or the Saddle, It’s the Rider | Rice Psychology
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Sometimes it Isn’t the Horse or the Saddle, It’s the Rider

How often do you overlook the role you might be playing in a problem and assume that, if you tweak something caused by someone or something else, poof, no more problem?

The Situation

In the past when I rode my horse, I was often lopsided. I literally leaned off to one side. It isn’t an ideal way to ride. And even though I’m an experienced rider, sometimes steering and getting my horse to go (walk, trot, canter) was met with major resistance. So, what did I do to fix the problem? Well, I started by getting a new saddle, but even with a custom-designed saddle, I felt unbalanced.

My horse got a clean bill of health from his vet and the blacksmith. I had a bodyworker (like a chiropractor) adjust my horse. We did “carrot stretches” to keep him supple. And, while many aspects of my horse improved, my lopsided feeling remained. And to add insult to injury, when I really thought about it, I realized that I’d felt this way on other horses before. I asked my riding instructors for help with this over the years but never got to the root of the problem, so it continued.

Change Can Feel Like Starting from Scratch

Then, in walked a different type of instructor, someone who taught riding from a “biomechanics” perspective. She adjusted the way I sat on the saddle, had me lift one leg in a way I’d never done before, and taught me to give signals to my horse differently. At first, I felt awkward and terribly uncoordinated in this new position and even more lopsided than before. My horse’s responses showed me very clearly that I was finally sitting balanced on his back.

So, when I thought it was the saddle or maybe the horse, it turned out that I was a lopsided rider! YIKES!

After weeks of practicing this new way of riding, the lopsidedness vanished. I’m on my way to being a balanced rider and I’ve apologized to my horse over and over again for making him try to compensate for my problem. We recently competed in a horse show that required some speed and lots of twists and turns. My horse was a star and I was securely balanced on his back the whole time! After the show, I also learned that some of the problems my horse was experiencing that were the direct result of his lopsided mother were finally gone!

The Big Takeaway

So, why did I share this story that shows a vulnerable and imperfect me? Well, I see it as a metaphor for life. It’s easy to assume that the cause of your problem is another person, a crappy situation, the weather, or even glitchy technology. And when we think a problem is caused exclusively by “others,” we logically assume that changing one or more things or people will solve our problem.

It’s critical that, when we have a problem in need of a solution, we look at the big picture and YOU (or I) are a vital piece of that big picture. At the end of the day, we could be overlooking the missing link when we neglect to look inward and wonder how we might be contributing to the problem.

No doubt, sometimes problems can be solved by changing something outside of yourself, but it’s so important to examine all of the things that could be contributing to them, even if that thing is you. And, like me, once you’ve identified that you’re part of the problem, you might consider asking for help to reach a solution. In sports, it’s common to have a coach, an extra set of eyes to help you spot problems, areas of weakness, and to help you improve your game. Life is at least as challenging as sports – finding the right coach (or therapist) can streamline the problem-solving process if you aren’t able to do it on your own.

In this story, it took me years to get to the source of my lopsidedness, but once I did, so many aspects of the problem “magically” disappeared. So, the next time you have a problem if your tendency is to assume that other people or outside factors need to change, try looking at yourself and the role you play.  You may be surprised to discover that the solution lies within you – although you may need some help to make it work.

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About Rice Psychology

Rice Psychology Group is home to a team of psychologists who work tirelessly to help adults, adolescents and children deal with their issues. Whether you’re currently dealing with depression, going through a divorce or fighting an issue you just can’t understand, know that our Tampa psychologists are here to help.

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