A couple weeks ago I entered a jackpot on my 5-year-old mare. We are in the building up speed and confidence stage so it was a bit of a blow when she caught a leg fell right down at the third barrel.

We were making a really nice run too. She went down, got up and we loped back to the gate while I help her up. I instantly clenched my jaw and I was angry. Like Fbomb angry. I was talking to some girls afterward how angry it makes me when my horse falls. Interestingly I couldn't identify who I was angry at. I wasn't blaming my horse (or myself) and my anger was not directed at the gracious hosts who were already working very hard for safe ground.

On the drive home and the next day, I thought a bit about these feelings I had. Why was I so angry? What I realized that I had misidentified or misnamed the emotion I was feeling. I was actually just strongly disappointed. Can you think of a time you were strongly disappointed and you confused it with anger? I can think of other situations too.

What happens is that at the physiological level these emotions are very similar and the body can't tell them apart.

The same thing happens when we confuse preperformance excitement (because we want to do well) with nervousness. Or the opposite, how we can tell ourselves we're excited and use those feels for positive energy rather than getting caught up in the nervousness emotion. The body can't tell the difference so we can tell our minds how to receive the vibes we're feeling. This is an important key to mental toughness as you are able to change how your mind is interpreting what you're feeling in a flash and get yourself in a better headspace.

Gaining this awareness was big for me because it bothered me that I got so angry. Here I wasn't angry at all, just strongly disappointed.


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