The Power Posing Equestrian

I’ve recently been turned on to TED talks, both in video form and in the more accessible and portable audio form in the TED talks adapted by NPR to podcast. I feel myself come alive a little more every time I hear a new and interesting story or idea. I’m inspired by these people that had a crazy idea and went for it, or discovered something new that we never knew existed. Suddenly, science, technology, psychology, and astronomy are all parsed out into lovely bite-size pieces and I begin to feel some hope that all these things in the world that I thought could never comprehend are there. It’s quite a refreshing experience.

One of the talks that has influenced me the most so far is Amy Cuddy’s talk on “Power Posing.” It’s one of the most popular talks so far, so it’s message has become widespread. Simply put, power posing means using your own body language to counteract all the anxiety and low self-esteem you feel and convince your body that you are indeed confident and in control. When you are feeling power or pride, you open your body and make your self larger. Think of a puffed out cobra.


The idea is that you have to fake it till you make it. If your mind can change your body, than your body can also change your mind. Powerful poses will make you more open, tall and confident; they include lifting your arms above your head or placing them on your hips, and sitting in a chair with your legs relaxed and open. I’m reminded of teaching summer horsemanship classes and constantly telling my bleary, floppy students to sit up and ride like they are going to war. Be proud! You are a warrior on a fiery steed. You Ride to conquer! On the other side of the spectrum, powerless poses wrap you into a ball, holding your arms to your ribs and protecting vulnerable areas (ie. covering your neck or groin as best as you can).

How many times have you seen a beginner rider start to fold up into a low power pose in the saddle when asked to pick up the trot?

george morris

Take Charlotte Dujardin for example. (She doesn’t need power posing, as she is a space mutant sent to earth to mock mortal equestrians.) Go watch her new Rio freestyle from Hartpury Festival of Dressage in the Superflex CDI Grand Prix Freestyle. They scored 90.625%. Holy bits and bridles.


She’s cool and confident. And she smiles a lot. There are studies that suggest that if you command yourself to smile–even when you don’t feel especially happy or confident–you will eventually teach your mind to be relaxed and content on cue. Watch any number of Charlotte’s rides (a youtube bunny trail that leads into a deep dark chasm of lost time and self-esteem), and you’ll see that the best parts of her rides are the ends when she throws the reins back to the horse, beaming and raising her arms in the air. It’s obvious that riding is a joy for her.

I feel so small when I watch her ride! Just like listening to the TED talks, I feel that her talent is something enormous and powerful that I could never dream of touching myself. However monumental and impossible it feels, the old adage rings true:

You’ll become what you think about the most.

If all goes as planned, thinking begets action, action begets productivity, and productivity begets success. I want to become Charlotte Dujardin, so I made the decision to begin everyday watching her freestyle.

As I ride, I attempt to channel my inner Charlotte, riding tall with a big smile on my face (because riding is FUN..even if the fun wants to buck you off).

I was off in my own little world yesterday, staging my own Olympic freestyle in the back pasture and drilling serpentines and bending exercises with Shiloh. My neighbor called me over to drop off some fresh vegetables from her garden. She’s a rider herself, though she doesn’t ride often. “You guys are looking so good!” she exclaimed, throwing her hands out to her sides.

And that was almost as rewarding as a gold medal. For now.

Happy horsing around!



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