A New Approach

If you want to make changes in your life, it depends on one thing. Your willingness and openness to doing something different. If you keep repeating the same patterns over and over, you will keep getting the same results. If you want change, it’s time to find a new approach.

Shira was riding Dallas today for her riding lesson. Shira is in high school, and has been riding with me for about a year. She loves horses, and riding is her highlight of the week. Dallas is a big golden dun with a pretty champaign colored body. He has a slightly dark dorsal stripe that travels down his back toward his tail. Dallas also has a silly personality – he loves to put everything in his mouth! If he was a baby I would give him a pacifier. And then when he looks at you with huge golden brown eyes you just want to give him a big hug and take him home.

During the riding lesson, I lined up some brightly colored poles on the ground and asked Shira to ride over them in a specific pattern. “Here is your pattern of poles to go over” I began to explain to Shira. “Pick up a posting trot and trot over the blue pole, then turn left and continue over the red pole. After the red pole, ask Dallas to halt” (which means walk in riding lingo). “OK” said Shira and she began to ride the pattern. Shira and Dallas began trotting and made it over the first pole. But when they got to the red pole, instead of going over the pole, Dallas went around it. Shira stopped and looked at me. “OK good try” I said, “Let’s try it again.” So Shira picked up her reins and tried to do the pattern again. But guess what? When she got to the red pole, Dallas did the exact thing again. Her went around the pole instead of over it.

“Come to the center of the arena and let’s discuss what is happening here.” I said to Shira. So Shira steered Dallas to where I was standing and loosened her reins. “What’s going on?” I asked Shira. She answered “Every time I asked Dallas to go over the red pole, he goes around it! I feel so frustrated.” “So let’s figure this out together.” I sympathized. “If you want Dallas to do something different, you have to change something that your doing. Animals are creatures of habit. If you want a different outcome, you need a different approach. So this time when you go over the red pole, just turn a little earlier. See if that makes a difference.” Shira nodded her head and picked up her reins.

She asked Dallas to start trotting and began her pattern. They trotted over the first pole nicely. Now as she began her approach to the red pole, she turned toward the pole about ten feet earlier as we had planned. Dallas trotted right over the pole. No problem. “Wow! That was so easy!” Shira was glowing, her confidence was rising, and she learned and important lesson.

If you have been doing the same thing over and over, you’re going to always get the same results. Just like Shira learned while riding Dallas, in order to have a different outcome, you need a different approach.

If you don’t have peace in your life and you really want it, if you feel sad but are ready to embrace happiness, if you feel empty inside but want to feel love and spiritual fulfillment, if you want changes to occur in your life, it depends on one thing. Your willingness and openness to simply doing something different.

by Dana Mase

Dana Mase is the founder and executive director of Ride Kind Therapeutic Riding, and equestrian director for The Ranch at Bethel, a therapeutic boarding school for girls. Dana’s column, called “Horse Time,” teaches inspirational life lessons learned from working with horses and people.“ Horse Time” is featured in numerous worldwide publications. Dana can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 845-356-1464.