Do you bend or break? Flexing our COVID-19 resilience muscles.

Recently the world has thrown us a large curve ball in the shape of COVID-19 and so many of us have had to really flex our resilience muscles.

The mums and dads at home, working, home schooling unsure of the next pay cheque – it can seem very overwhelming.

More so the kids at home wondering if they will ever see their friends again or participate in the activities they love so much. There is one thing I know for certain, these many many years of riding have taught me the ability to flex my resilience muscle.

Today my beautiful Skyfall is a dream pony, but I can assure you it wasn’t always the case and these recent times have taken me back to the time I wrote about our 5 year old campaign at the amazing annual Australian young horse championships. I thought you might all enjoy it so here it is – the year is 2018.  Wow, how my boy has matured in two short years!


So do you bend or break? Let’s flex that resilience muscle.

Oh no, it had all started to unravel. Ripples of thoughts were crashing around my mind and I was sure all my fears were going to become reality.
I felt like I was getting further and further away from my desired outcome and very much closer to my fears. 😬
My super cool horse that had approached each challenge this past week with a new found maturity was unravelling underneath me.
My head was not helping, certainly a lack of sleep and the energy already expended was all catching up. In that moment it felt like everything was crumbling I just needed to STOP 🛑 & Think 🤔.
In that training session things could have gone from bad to worse or we could pull them back on track, I needed them to go from bad to better quickly.

In these moments it’s your resilience muscle that becomes your best friend! Resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to successfully cope with adversity. Mine had been repeatedly challenged that week but not by James yet 😃. Now James was testing it – let’s face it adversity and stress in horse riding comes in so many forms.
Ultimately, as an equestrian we learn to flex our resilience muscle all the time and in turn we also develop our leadership skills. Good leaders understand how their ability to demonstrate resilience can ultimately affect the partnership and the team.

I went into that final familiarisation because my gut told me he needed to have another look. The day before, he’d told me he felt scared at the top end of the arena and I felt tension in him. Now he was definitely confirming this by doing the only thing he could, displaying his natural flight and fight instinct.
It was my job to take a leadership role, flex my resilience once again, reduce his stress, use greater skills to get back to a positive outcome.
Fortunately the team could see my mind racing and rather than sitting out disengaged, entered the arena and talked it through, helped build my confidence to help us bounce back.
This is a clear example of me having to use resilience for a much needed positive outcome. But resilience is hard – it requires courage, and the tenacity to carry on despite the feeling the situation feels hopeless. 
I haven’t always had the ride on such a magnificent horse like James and along the way I’ve lost horses that were also magnificent (that still bring tears to my eyes).

I’ve bounced back. It’s not about always being positive either. In fact a large part of what I believe resilience actually is, is more about having a growth mindset, always wanting to learn to be better – “how can I change that, make it better”? This constantly drives you, moves you further away from your emotions and that swirling feeling of sinking down the drain.

So this is your challenge, first assume your abilities are always subject to change and growth.
When we face setbacks, like James and I did that morning, it’s natural to fall into a fixed way of proceeding, I needed to look for other ideas.
Ultimately by surrounding myself with the right sources of support. By being open in my mind we were able to positively push through and deliver a test I was proud of, without exhausting my horse, and with no fear shown.

So during your next set back ask yourself first ‘could I do this differently’? So have you decided will you bend or break?

So do you allow obstacles to teach you, to find the growth in them? This is a big deal, if you want to stick with horse riding it will be demanded of you – not by me your coach, although at times I will ask it from you – but mostly it will be your horse, asking you to be the best partner you can be on this challenging amazing journey.

If you can’t be on a horse it doesn’t stop you reading, or getting fit, learning or wanting to improve your off the horse knowledge.  Order a good book their are so many great Equestrian reads – some of my favourites are:

Jane Savoie – ‘That winning feeling’ – ‘Its not all about the ribbons’

Gillian Rolton – ‘Free Rein’   Or if you want to get technical

David Collins – ‘Dressage Masters: Techniques and Philosophies of Four Legendary Trainers’

Check out our fitness tips TeamGP Online – Building strength with Shannon 

In summary – don’t let this time get you down, be sad, wonder if you’ll ever see your favourite horse again – flex your resilience muscles keep fronting up to being better, even from your own bedroom.   We are really looking forward to the day we can re-open to full operation and seeing you all again soon.  Danielle xx