A Growth Based Mindset

Evolving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset with your horse in 2024

There are two different approaches to life: one from the basis of a fixed mindset, and one from the basis of growth. The mindset that you choose to engage with while approaching a situation can drastically change the outcome. Whether you lean towards a fixed mindset or a growth based mindset is often derived from your childhood experiences, and the good news is that you can change this to work in your favor. Evolving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset might make your experience with your horse in 2024 the best year yet.

Fixed Mindset

While people can fluctuate between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset depending on the situation, most lean towards one category more than the other. A fixed mindset means that this person views their knowledge, skills, or personalities as unchangeable, they are fixed in what their current experience with them is. This person would be more likely to say, “I will never be as good of a rider as they are because they are more naturally talented.” They can also say things like, “I could never do showmanship that way, I’m not physically gifted enough.” This mindset can lead to lower confidence levels, hopelessness, and a low desire to work hard to be better, because in their mind, more work will not lead to a different outcome.

Growth Mindset

Individuals with a growth mindset will approach life with an “I can improve” type of attitude. This person will look at their intelligence, skills, and personality as something that can be changed and made to meet the level that they need them to be at. When a hardship comes their way, they look at it through a lens of “What can I learn to be able to overcome this challenge.” This person finds joy in the difficulties and generally perseveres through them more easily than the person with a fixed mindset. The growth mindset person thrives off of working hard with improvement as their end goal.

Benefits of a Growth Mindset

The growth mindset forces an individual to confront where they are at a certain point in time, and take a step back to figure out how to improve to become who they ultimately want to be. Those with a growth mindset have greater resilience, which can be extremely helpful in the show pen. If a run doesn’t go their way, a growth mindset will allow them to assess the run, pull out areas that need improvement, and then create a training plan to produce those improvements. Those with a growth mindset are also willing to take more risks. It might mean entering a loping class for the first time, or going down the fence after just boxing. Those with a growth mindset know if they fail in a new endeavor, it only gives them more skills to learn and work on. They are continually seeking ways to challenge themselves. A growth mindset can also increase confidence, which is essential when stepping into the ring. Because they are comfortable assessing themselves and then acquiring knowledge to level up, they have seen that improvements are possible. This develops confidence that they can be good enough when they put the effort in.

How to Make the Shift

While all the benefits of embodying growth may sound amazing, it isn’t always the easiest transition to go from a fixed mindset to one of growth. Those with a fixed mindset are probably already thinking, “There is no way this is possible, I am who I am.” That is the first step to adopting a growth mindset. Recognize those thoughts when they enter the mind, and ask, “What is the worst thing that can happen if I try a different way of thinking this time?” Consciously think, “I can change this skillset and I am going to x,y,z to achieve that.” When a hardship comes, don’t think the world is ending, think of it as an opportunity to change existing thoughts and skills. Get excited to be faced with a challenge. Ask for help from a friend or a professional during these times. Take their criticism not as an insult, but as a road map of where to go to improve. Try to find joy in this process and slowly you will begin to find your mind shifting from fixed to growth.

Take these tips into the barn as you set out your 2024 goals. Approaching the season with a growth mindset can set you up for greater opportunities and chances of success. If a loss occurs, you will be equipped to handle it and not let it keep you down for long. A fantastic book that explores this concept in greater depth is

By Lauren Crivelli
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

by Carol S. Dweck. It is a must read for your new year.