Mastering Your Mental Game of Golf with Horses
Now, you are asking, how do these things go together? Horses are big and that little white ball isn’t. Two ends of the spectrum. You know golf is largely a mental game but how does that link to horses. It all has to do with how you show up mentally and how positive you think and feel. Understanding and being with the horses quickly demonstrates this need and this is your key to mastering your mental game of golf.
You see, it is your thinking and feelings that are the common link here. Have you ever taken the time to write down the thoughts that pop up when you are playing a game of golf? Yep, I’m pretty certain they would be more on the negative side than the positive. How do you talk to yourself when you are out there? I know, I can become pretty mean to me and call myself all kinds of not so nice names. Now, collect all these findings and bring them with you as you prepare to go into the ring with one horse. No riding required. You soon discover that thinking or speaking to yourself that way, will not work here either.
Horses Need Leadership and Clarity
Horses live only in the present moment, they need to be aware at all times if they are to survive. To be part of their herd, you need to demonstrate your leadership and have clarity in what you want them to do. Prior to entering the arena, the equine coach shows you how to safely be in the ring with the horse and will demonstrate how you get the horse to move, trot or canter. From your outside vantage point, it looks pretty simple and you’re eager and anxious to try. A little like the golf pro showing you how to make a perfect shot. Both make it look simple until it’s your turn.
Someone in the group agrees to be first and you silently watch as they state their intentions out loud to the coach. When it is your turn, the coach asks how you are feeling and what thoughts may be arising. Are there any fears, or judgments? Perhaps your heart is racing, the equine coach speaks calmly to you and helps you breathe through all the uncomfortable sensations and little by little your heart begins to calm down. With palms a little sweaty, you are handed the leading reign and in you go, you are given a choice to go in alone or with the coach.
Entering the Arena
In you go and slowly approach this beautiful animal and enter its space – it watches you – are you friend or foe it is assessing. Trust between the two begins to build. There is no rushing it, the connection is important. Being totally in there in that moment – it is you and the horse. Slowly all negative thoughts dissipate, judgments fly away. Time stands still and you plan the next move. Sometimes the horse moves (if that is your intention), other times it looks disinterested or walks away. Dismay disappointment may surface but now you’re on a quest. You look to the coach or you have an idea and try it. Wow, it works, the horse is moving, it is going around, now it’s moving faster and the sheer thrill of it feels amazing. You did it - what a moment. You leave the arena area and sit down. Debriefing time. What did you learn, how are you feeling? What happened to all those thoughts you first had. Excitement and joy are clearly evident on your face and on the faces of those who return after their moment out there.
Your Attitude on the Golf Course
This experience is then turned around to your attitude on the golf course. The negative stories that you tell yourself, the name calling, not being prepared, not knowing what your next shot will even look like clearly needs to change. One object only – to get the ball to the green and sink it in the hole. How many times do you have a terrific score but somehow magically sabotage yourself by thinking, “I just need to get my next shot” and then disappointment as it takes you 3 or 4 more shots before the hole is found?
When you relate this to being in the arena with your horse – it is you and the horse, just as it is you and the ball. Nothing will happen if you take your mind into the past and think of the unsuccessful moments or fast forward to the future. If you do and are in the arena, then the connection with the horse is lost. Same thing when you are over your ball – probably a disappointing shot will occur and the downward spiral begins. Clarity and one shot at a time - focus only on that one move.
When you feel successful, don’t you feel bigger more expanded and less contracted? In the arena, you may need your “bigness” (some horses required bigger hand displays and bolder gestures before they’ll move). So, take your big energy – your inner confidence and go be successful on the golf course.
What is required to be successful in both endeavors, is clarity, of seeing what it is you want in that moment. Being totally committed and connected with yourself. Don’t worry about what others are thinking, or your last bad shot. Celebrate and have fun and allow yourself to build on your successes.
You see, being with the horses, teaches you much more than how to improve your mental game of golf. Throughout the day you gain many insights into you and how you react and behave under certain circumstances. You get to witness your thinking and take note of how you are feeling. These all allow for natural transformations to occur. This information is similar to those fears and stories that run through your head when you’re out there on the course. The power of these magnificent animals is that they allow you to become the Master of you, which is really what it is all about! Check it out