Katie in the arena

I’m headed to West Virginia to ride with a cow horse trainer, and I already know I’ll hear him say, “Look up, look where you want to go,” at least once. Realistically, it is kind of impossible to convince a horse and cow to go where you want them to if you aren’t looking ahead and guiding them in that direction.

Look up. Look where you want to go is a critical piece of advice every rider likely hears in their sleep, regardless of the discipline they ride.

Obviously, it keeps us from running into a tree, fence post, or horse. In a competitive setting, it can mean the difference between earning – ½ point or + ½ point on a maneuver.

But I love this simple guideline for more than the fact that it helps keep my horses and me safe. It is valuable advice that translates into our business and personal lives.

Look up. Look where you want to go.

Too often, we get laser-focused on the in-the-moment details. Our heads are down, concentrating on what’s required right now, and we forget to look at what might come next.

I’ve spent the last 365 days hyper-focused on raising a baby horse and ignored early warnings about 2024 being a difficult year. Right now, business is slower than I’d like because I was looking down rather than ahead to what needed to come next to pivot and stay ahead.

Looking down can also trap us into focusing on what we don’t want or where we don’t want to be.

We tell ourselves things like:

“I don’t want to mess up on…”

“I don’t want to get behind schedule on….”

When we think that, we might as well be riding right into the rump of the horse in front of us, which could land us a literal kick in the face. Sometimes we need a good jolt to remind us to look up and ahead at where we want to go, but minimizing the impact is ideal.

Instead of concentrating on what you don’t want or spending too much time looking down focused on that project or certain area of business, ask yourself:

—What could be possible if you look up?

—What do you want to achieve?

So, as a reminder to myself as I prepare for this clinic and to all of you…

Look up. Look where you want to go.