Barrel Racer. Taking Action

Taking Action – The Simple Guide

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Ok, here it goes, I am saying the ‘P’ word… Procrastination!

How often do we know we have to do something but we don’t do it? Or on the contrary, how often do we know that we SHOULDN’T do something but we still do it? One is procrastinating and the other is getting stuck in old habits. One is as evil as the other.

Let’s talk about them and the action we can take to avoid or overcome both. Life is busy and we all get ‘stuck in a rut’ sometimes. We run around in circles without really achieving anything other then increasing our stress levels and missing out on the beauty life has to offer. One of the most common self-sabotages is procrastination and the other is holding on to old habits.


When we procrastinate we don’t get anything done. Like riding your horse for example. How often do we catch ourselves doing everything else first? From folding the clothes, doing the dishes, answering e-mails and checking up on Facebook before we actually get out and ride our horse?

Often, we find that, by the time we get out there, it is too dark, too cold, too late and there goes another day!

When we procrastinate there is often an underlying reason. Either we don’t fully trust our horse and are a bit worried to get on, we don’t really want to go to that competition on the weekend, or that lesson we have booked three weeks ago and so, by not riding we kind of create a way out.

  • “The horse is not in work”
  • “There is no point going if I haven’t ridden”
  • “He is not fit enough and, therefore, I can’t expect anything”

It is easy to create excuses when we procrastinate but it also builds up stress when we know we have to get something done and we are trying to avoid it.

Stress is a state of mind and can only be solved by addressing the mind.

To deal with stress coming from procrastination requires action.

“Get on your bloody horse…” some may say. But sometimes, it is not as simple as that. We need to look at what is behind it.
If there is a fear of getting hurt, then ‘just getting on’ is not going to solve anything. It is important to address the issues first.
Taking action and organising help from someone who can bring the horse back into work and advance their training to make them safer, is a good start.

Assessing if the horse is the right riding horse for us is also important. I don’t believe in young horse/inexperienced rider combinations and I also struggle with bringing a horse back into work that has been in the paddock for years (unless you are experienced and allow time for the horse to come back into work).

Sit down and ask yourself the question WHY are you procrastinating?

Be honest in your answer and then find a solution that makes you feel excited not more scared.

Old habits

Now, let’s see what happens when we get stuck in old habits and why we do it.

Some people like to be busy and others love to be REALLY busy. They constantly find something to do and if there is nothing to do, they find something to do.

Habits can easily develop where we do something without even realizing that we are doing it.

Often, people get so fixated on doing the same things over and over again that they don’t realize the pattern they get themselves into. Albert Einstein famously called insanity the act of doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

Too often we complain about having no time to do what we love doing (riding our horse) without realizing that we fill up our day with stuff that doesn’t need to be done when we do it.

Facebook is a classic time-waster and so is watching TV. How much time do we spend scrolling aimlessly though Facebook, looking at nothing only to suddenly find we have run out of time?

How many hours do we sit watching TV in the evenings when we could be doing something productive that would free up time during the day?


The key to making changes is to become aware of your habits. It’s about discovering the things we do that really serve us and the ones that don’t.

Self-awareness will help us implement change and make it long-lasting:

  • Honesty to ourselves is the first step.
  • The second step is discipline in taking the action.
  • The third step is being consistent in taking the action!

It takes around 28 days to change a behaviour. This means that if we want to make a change and make it a long-lasting change, we need to be consistent and practice our new behaviour for at least 28 days before it becomes easy. Change is easy when we follow these steps.

Happy riding everyone!

Tanja Mitton’s article “Taking Action” was published in Horses and People July-August 2019 magazine.

We recommend:

It Takes Two to Tango: Discover How to Unlock Your Horse’s Potential by Tanja Mitton available from Amazon in print and on Kindle.

Based on her personal experiences as an equestrian success and mindset coach, Tanja offers a valuable self-development tool in It Takes Two to Tango. This book empowers riders to take control and ownership of their riding and will assist in creating a solid training foundation on which to build.

Tanja Mitton

Tanja Mitton is a riding coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) master coach with over 25 years of coaching and competition experience. She has been working with the Australian high performance squad as a mindset coach and, in 2012, was invited to the Australian Institute of Sport to present a workshop on how to improve the Mindset of Australian Coaches. Author of the book ‘Seven Steps to the Mindset of an Equestrian Champion’, Tanja conducts clinics all around Australia and her seminars have been approved by Equestrian Australia for NCAS coach accreditation points.

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