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  • Jill

What’s Holding You Back?

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

My students never seem to lose their enthusiasm for riding. Cold, wind, drizzle, and even snow don’t seem to deter them. I am jealous, because I just can’t seem to get all that excited anymore. I do my daily chores in the barn, I teach all my lessons, and when it comes to my own riding and training progress, I seem to be stalled. There are even days when I think about quitting. But then I think of my students and how sad that would make them, and I know I need to be doing this. I know I can’t be the only one who gets stuck like this, so let’s take a look at some of the reasons why we stop moving forward. Maybe by identifying some of our setbacks we can move on to figure out how to get past them.


Fear is probably one of the biggest things that holds people back. And I think sometimes we aren’t even aware of our fears. I’ve been listening to Ruth Soukup’s podcast, called “Do It Scared,” ever since she first started it. Ruth is amazing and inspiring, and if you ever get a chance you should really check her out on iTunes or Google Play. She talks about the role that fear plays in our lives and she talks about how courage is being scared but taking action anyway. Ruth and the people that she interviews on her podcast have made me realize that fear takes many forms.

Fear can be debilitating, especially if you’ve had a bad experience. I’ve had a few nasty injuries and I have to say I have a healthy sense of caution when it comes to riding. But I am not debilitated by fear. If you are, you need a patient instructor and a super calm, quiet horse.

Fear of failure is much bigger for me, along with a fear of looking bad in front of others. I always fear what people might think, and I know that this has a significant impact on my riding. I am very hesitant to sign up for shows or even clinics because I am so afraid of looking like a fool! This is negative self talk, and I know I need to hear those thoughts and then dismiss them. Easier said than done. We all need to remember that failure is how we learn. Don’t let a failure be the end. Get back up and try again!


Some people say that perfectionism is fear, and I think it goes right along with fear of failure. It’s like my brain says if I can’t do it perfectly then I shouldn’t even try. I get upset and don’t ride when my horse is too muddy, the barn is too messy, or I don’t have plenty of time. If something comes up and I can’t schedule my day perfectly, I let my riding go. Perfectionism operates as an excuse factory for me. I have to see it for what is is, and stop making excuses. Ride first!

The Comparison Trap

Okay, this is a big one for me. Do you ever get really irritated because it seems like someone else has an unfair advantage over you? Someone will always have more money, better equipment, or a better horse than you. The thing is, you don’t know what that person’s life is really like. They probably struggle as much as you do. This can be difficult, but you want to try to see others success as an inspiration instead of a reason to give up.

Time Management

So I suck at time management. First, I am not a morning person. If I could get an earlier start, I would get so much more done. (Oh look, there’s my perfectionism!) It’s super hard to avoid distractions, like Facebook and email and my first grandchild! It’s also hard to say no, so I frequently find myself doing something for someone else. I like to clean the stalls before I get on a horse, but there are often so many interruptions that I never end up getting on that horse. My motivation wanes because I know that I might manage to get on today but then it might be two more weeks before I have another chance. So I don’t bother.

Time management is all about prioritizing. I love the analogy of putting the big rocks in the jar first, and then there’s still room for all the sand and then all the water to fill in around them. Riding should be one of my big rocks but I tend to not prioritize it. I think it’s time to make my own goals be the first things I work on each day.


Now here is the reason that riding is not a big rock. Guilt can be very powerful. It can be a great motivator, but it can also stand in your way. I have a very strong sense of ethics, and it tells me to work first, play later. Riding is playing in my mind. It’s me time. And I feel guilty when I put myself first. I know it’s time to let go of the guilt, an I know all the reasons why. Riding is now my business. I have a responsibility to ride the horses that need to be used for lessons. I also have a responsibility to keep up my own education. That means working on bettering myself as a rider, and that means riding my own horse. Every. Single. Day. I know this, but will I make myself do it?

A Resolution

Yeah I know, it’s past the new year. But any time is a good time to make resolutions. It’s time for me to make one. Is it time for you to make one? I’m going to work on all of the things holding me back and I’m going to make this year a great year! And I’m declaring that here to all my readers, so I’ll be more accountable. What are you going to do this year?

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