The Rider’s Mind Podcast Episode 118: You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

I’m creating a bootcamp for your mind. If you compete with horses and want to create new neural connections that serve you well, Mental Toughness Bootcamp is for you! At any age and stage, you can change your brain and “learn new tricks”.

You really can teach an old dog new tricks. I think it’s unfortunate that some people believe that after a certain age, they can’t learn new things.

Throughout our entire lifetime we can learn and create new neural connections. You can heal and change your brain. 

I’ve noticed that some people believe they are the way they are and that’s all there is to it. That’s a mindset issue, not a fact. You really can continue to change and learn new things. You are never done with learning and adapting. 

According to Healthline, Neuroplasticity “refers to your brain’s ability to restructure or rewire itself when it recognizes the need for adaptation. In other words, the brain can continue developing and changing throughout life.”

Neuroplasticity goes beyond having a growth mindset. There are measurable changes that occur in the brain.

In this Healthline article, they say, “Experts believe the negative thought patterns that occur with depression, for example, could result from interrupted or impaired neuroplasticity processes. Exercises that promote positive neuroplasticity, then, may help “rewrite” these patterns to improve well-being.”

Your brain can always reorganize. 

Neuroplasticity is not limited by age. Your brain can make and break neural connections at any time. 

In our brains, changes occur in 3 ways to support learning:
1. Chemical changes support short term improvement.
2. The brain can alter its structure, develop or break connections between sections and even grow, which results in longer term change.
3. The brain can alter function.

This sounds easy enough, so why does it feel so hard to learn a new skill or to recover from brain injury?

The primary driver for changing your brain is you. You have to do the work. 

It doesn’t work unless you do. It’s being shaped by what you do, but also what you don’t do. 

There is no one-sized approach to learning. It will take more practice for some than others. Brain shaping is unique. 

Your everyday behaviors and learning are changing your brain. For example, continuous stress will change your brain size and structure. Therefore, learning to manage stress and increasing your agility within your nervous system will also change your brain. 

Our brain filters our perceptions and determines our view of the world. We each have unique strengths and weaknesses.

Muscle memory is a motor pathway in the brain that builds the needed connections that were created by a repetitive action. This is why it’s important to create good habits and why it takes time to change a habit. There’s a pathway created for what you’ve been doing. 

So what can we do with this information we know about the brain and how it’s always changing? 

Treat your brain well. Fuel it well. Rest it well. Challenge it. 

Learn new things and encourage the growth of your brain. Create new connections and new pathways. 

Mindset and Mental Toughness are habits and a practice. You build those skills by using them and creating the connections; they’re not there naturally for most of us. 

As much as we love competition, it’s not “natural” for us to feel comfortable with all eyes on us.

You must practice to develop the precision for events that require speed and timing with your horse. Just like you have to practice and develop neural pathways for playing a video game or learning a new language, you also have to develop your brain for competition. 

You’re capable of change.

If you’re ready to develop mindset skills for a healthy brain and presence for competition, I can help you with that. I’ve created a gym for your mind and I’m bringing back Mental Toughness Bootcamp for you. 

Mental Toughness Bootcamp is filled with lessons and practical activities to build and create the neural connections you need to maintain your composure and focus in competition. It runs for 5 weeks with the option of adding extra coaching calls.  Register for Mental Toughness Bootcamp at 

Join the Conversation

Join the discussion in the The Rider’s Mind Community on Facebook. As a member of this community, you’ll also get tips and videos from me. 

Want to connect or ask me a question? Find me on Instagram or Facebook.

Learn with Me

Register for Mental Toughness Bootcamp at 

If you’re looking to make changes to your mindset, be sure to sign up for my free Next-Level Mindset Mini Course.

You can also join Stride, my next-level barrel racing group. This group receives video training and coaching from me and Stride members have access to special guests. We work on becoming mindful barrel racers so we can show up, be present and perform with great partnership.

Sources Consulted


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