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Barbra Schulte

Be a WORD Designer by Barbra Schulte



Barbra Schulte

Barbra Schulte

Several years ago I did an Insights Interview with my mentor, Dr. Jim Loehr from the Human Performance Institute. Dr. Loehr is a world leader in research-based training principles to help people consistently perform and live at their highest level.

During that interview I asked Dr. Loehr specifically if he could point to the single most important thing that separates people who consistently perform at a high level from those who don’t … what would that be? Without hesitation he said, “What they say to themselves.”

The words we say to ourselves are powerful whether we are aware of those words and their power … or not. The awesome thing is that we can take charge of what we say … and how we talk to ourselves.

I often use the word “scripting” to describe how you can purposefully design the words you say to yourself. Similar to being an actress or an actor on a stage with a script, you can script your riding time.

There are three main kinds of scripts for riding:

Technical Words

These are more mechanical kinds of words that remind you, for example, of where, when and how to put your hands, your feet, your seat, etc. They might be phrases strung together to help you stay on target in sequences of movement.

Technical words help you master the mechanics of horsemanship. They are very important when you are working to master a new skill, or when you want to break old, bad habits.

Feeling Words

Now the fun begins! Once you know and understand the how and why of a mechanical move, you can add feeling words to your script. These words are POWER PACKED in achieving that elusive sense of feel we all yearn to experience with our horses.

For example, instead of not clenching the reins, “soften your hand”. Instead of “sitting” for a stop, “collapse” into the stop.

Feeling words are magical. Whatever mechanical move you are working on, try inserting a feeling verb into your script.

Energy Words

Energy words are the calmness, or pizzazz, or the confidence you bring to the situation.

Let’s say you are very nervous. Injecting phrases into your script like, “Stay cool,” or “Breathe,” or “Easy. Be easy. Focus right here, right now,” can help your mind, body and emotions maintain an energized, yet calm and level state of focus.

Let’s say you are tired … or discouraged. You can actively coach yourself to “C’mon, rally. Let’s go!” In this case you are bringing your energy up to a state of just the right energy and focus when it’s time for you to ride.

Play with mechanical, feeling and energy words. Be a word designer and enjoy the magical effects words can have on your riding.


Barbra is a personal performance coach for all riders, a cutting horse trainer, author, speaker, clinician and 2012 National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Inductee. Visit her Blog and signup to receive her FREE monthly email newsletter, “News From Barbra”.

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