The Rider’s Mind Podcast Episode 121: Horsemanship is an Inside Job


In this episode, I’m making the case for why horsemanship is an inside job. I’ll give you some ideas for what you can work on to increase your ability to connect with horses and develop your skills as a horseman. I feel like when we focus on this, there is a beautiful ripple effect for our horsemanship and the lines of communication with your horse become clearer. 

You’ll have better horsemanship if you improve yourself from the inside out. 

Horseman = horse person to me. I use the same term no matter your gender or how you identify. defines horsemanship as “the art, ability, skill, or manner of a horseman” and equitation is defined as “the skill of riding horses”. 

Merriam Webster defines a horseman as “a rider or driver of horses, especially one whose skill is exceptional.” This suggests that you may not be a horseman until you have skills that are exceptional.  

I believe that our skills with horses will become more exceptional when we become better horsemen from the inside out. I also believe we are all enough as we are in our pure essence. If you actually saw how great you are, you would probably realize you have little need to improve.

The work is seeing how your life’s experiences and conditioning have kept you from the true essence of who you are. There are a lot of layers and traumas and stories and history and beliefs that aren’t true that create the identity of who you believe you are.

The tendencies you have aren’t necessarily who you are.  They may be who you’ve been told you are, or who you’ve become in order to survive or even thrive in your environment. You may have had to draw on different aspects of yourself for your situation.

For example, the person you need to be on the floor at the New York stock exchange might serve you well there, but it’s probably not the identity that will serve you best in the round pen with an unstarted 2 year old.

You need an ability to move in and out of different aspects of yourself to serve you in different aspects of your life. 

Horsemanship really could be defined as the practice of bringing your best self forward. When we look at horsemanship as an “inside job”, it can feel like a daunting task, especially if you have a lot of baggage. 

Horses will encourage you to learn about yourself and heal your rough edges. 

You might get a horse that makes you feel like a hero.  She can help you learn that you really are capable. You might also get a horse that makes you feel like a zero, that requires you to push yourself a little more. This horse will push you to grow and learn in order to bring the best out of the horse. 

Horses can be our mirror and that can be a tough pill to swallow. You might not like looking in that mirror, but horses will help you get to know yourself if you’ll let them. 

Horses can reveal your beliefs, fears, insecurities and weaknesses. They can also show you your strengths too. They can show you all aspects of yourself.  

Horses and their response to you are like your own personal growth tool. 

They’ll let you know how you’re doing. They’ll show how you’re growing or how you’re doing with peeling back the layers. Things might end up going well, but when things become more challenging, you’ll know it’s time to level up again. 

Some areas of growth that will improve your horsemanship and your ability to connect with horses include:

  • improving your ability to maintain your energy and thoughts in the present moment
  • increasing your self trust
  • increasing trust and faith in a higher power
  • increasing your nervous system agility
  • increasing your awareness of the horse’s needs 
  • staying out of meaning and staying in feel
  • increasing your intuition and ability to feel your heart, your gut, your spidey senses and it’s knowing
  • building and getting back in touch with your ability to see and move energy
  • staying in your body energetically through grounding, rather than getting taken away by your thoughts

None of this work needs to happen in the saddle or with horses at all for that matter. 

It’s very cool how horses will push us to be our best selves, to encourage us to grow and to learn and to be the best version of our true nature.

I don’t want to minimize the importance of time in the saddle, but I know from personal experience that the more I work on my own mindset and healing, the easier my horses are to connect with and the quicker we progress. It’s as if the interference between us dissipates and the line of communication clears itself. It can feel really easy. 

There might be tears as healing happens, but there’s no blood sweat and tears in the saddle to make huge leaps in your horsemanship journey when you do the work from the inside out

It’s a journey and a practice to recognize what you bring to the partnership with your horses.

If you’d like to download my free 3 part audio course Next Level Mindset you can do that

If you’d like to be on my Stride coaching group wait list you can join at, I will open that again for a few days in March so get on the waitlist so you don’t miss that announcement. 

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

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.


Subscribe:   Apple Podcasts  or  Spotify

Get 6 Mental Toughness Tips

As a thank you for signing up, receive a report and audio recording that includes 6 important energy tools that, when put into practice, will increase your mental toughness!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Join Michelle's FREE Next Level Mindset Mini-Course

Over the course of 3 days, learn how the stories you might be telling yourself and the things you believe may be holding you back from the exact things you're working towards!

Take your mindset to the next level by gaining an understanding of where you might be stopping yourself succeeding without knowing it!

Watch your email for the first lesson!