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Aaron Ralston

Fear of Failure – by Aaron Ralston



Aaron Ralston Bridleless Slide

Aaron Ralstonused on website)Making mistakes has become  my priority! I have been practicing  now for a few years and just about  have it down to a science.   However,  this hasn’t always been the case.   I spent my early career protecting  myself, and my horses, from looking  or being bad.   This mentally kept me  from pushing myself out of my comfort  zone.

Many things have been said that  I have internalized to help me maintain  personal growth such as, “If you don’t  leave the house pretty soon, you won’t  leave the room, ” and ” If you’re not  climbing, your sliding,” and ” What  doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,”  or “Use it or lose it.”

My fear of failure transferred into  my training and competing because my  horses did not have the mental tools  to get out of their comfort zones.   This  would be fine if I only rode in my arena  at home and on sunny 80-degree days.   But unfortunately I have to ride when  it’s below freezing and when the wind  is blowing 40 mph.  Our horses, and we, need to be exposed beyond our  perceived level of comfort.   Horses should be shown what is expected of them, then let them try  it for themselves.

My 2 1/2-year-old son, Colter, taught me a good lesson  not long ago.   He had to be told, day in and day out, to stay away from the  electric horse fence.   To demonstrate, I even went to the fence, pointed,  and said, “ouch”!  But one day when no one was looking, he went up and  grabbed it!  Obviously he learned his lesson, right?  Nope, he grabbed it  two more times just to make sure!  Each time it jolted his body away.

The next day we went back out to the pasture and when I said,  “Watch out for the fence,” he pulled his hands to his chest and came right  to my leg!  This story is not endorsing the use of electricity on your horses  or kids, it is simply a way to say, “Show them, tell them, let them, correct  them or praise their progress (repeat as needed.)”

As adults we have the ability to foresee potential danger, therefore  we pull back and avoid these situations or face these fears knowing  “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”  Our horses are naturally born  to be afraid, therefore if we don’t “get them out of the barn, pretty soon  they won’t leave their stalls.”

By slowly increasing the accountability that we place on our  horses, we grow their confidence to “know” what to do.   Knowing what is  expected allows us and our horse to perform with more certainty which  translates into more trust in us, the rider, in the most crucial of times.   If  they have only been helped or made to do their job and never allowed  to make mistakes, they will more than likely not have the mental tools to  handle high pressure situations such as difficult competitions or spooky  situations.

We can’t prevent our horse from spooking as much as we can  prevent the extreme to which they react.   This is done by consistently  showing, telling, letting, then correcting or praising, therefore teaching  them to look for an answer and not just survive.

The more mistakes I make, the more opportunities I have for  personal growth.    Aaron Ralston was born and raised on  his family’s ranch in Western Colorado and was taught the  importance of being a helpful cowhand.  Visit his website for more information on clinics and events and to  find out about “The Ride” at   The people  and ranches that will be featured in “The Ride” will contribute their own  expertise to represent a true general idea of today’s modern Working  Ranch Cowboy.   So stay tuned, sit back, and hold on for “The Ride.”

[published in Aaron Ralston’s book, RIDE UP!]


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