Do you get nervous about showing your horse? Do you obsess about things like your draw, herd help, who the judge is, or losing a cow? Have you ever walked into the cutting pen and felt like your brain did not engage with your feet? Do you get frustrated because sometimes it feels like everything you and your trainer have been working so hard on at home seems to go right out the window when that 2:30 minute clock starts? YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! My name is Megan Dobson. I am a Non Pro and the wife of a cutting horse trainer. I began this blog to explore the mental game of showing our horses.
Showing cutting horses is absolutely a “mental game”. The physicality of the sport is definitely there…fitness, muscle memory, timing….not to mention your horse’s athleticism. I am going to take the liberty of declaring that showing a cutter is probably 30% physical and 70% MENTAL. As riders, we spend countless hours and plenty of money taking lessons and going to clinics to improve our showmanship. That is very important! In addition to that, I want to ask you to follow this blog and prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to lay down the kind of run you dream about!
When I was a little girl, growing up in Oklahoma, my dad brought home a VHS produced by Western Horseman Magazine. It was a promotional cutting horse video featuring Joe Heim and Docs Okie Quixote. I must have watched that video a thousand times! Since then, all that I have ever wanted to do is show cutting horses. My opportunity came in 2010. I used the NCHA Trainers Directory to look up trainers within 100 miles and I chose the trainer who had won the most money. I began taking lessons with Todd Bimat. I was hooked!
In 2012 I began dating a horse trainer and started cutting with his barn. I happily turned in my Amateur card and married Brandon on April 30, 2015. Together we have grown a successful business that focuses on developing Non Pro, Amateur, and Youth riders. Brandon’s incredible talent as a trainer and coach, combined with my public relations and marketing background has created an environment for clients to continuously improve their horsemanship and evolve into focused competitors.
Brandon and I have been blessed with an amazing group of clients. Everyone supports and encourages each other. I usually have the vantage point from the turn back horse while Brandon gives lessons. I have met the most wonderful people competing in this sport. I’ve noticed how most of us struggle with our “mind game” when we show. I’ve learned how our everyday lives can overflow into our riding and showmanship. I personally struggle with the emotional pressure that I place on myself when I ride to the herd. We sometimes forget that we feed all of that directly into our horse, our partner. This can most certainly compound the problem, causing things to feel fast and out of control, adding to our already existing anxiety. Some cutters literally get sick with nerves before they show. It breaks my heart to hear people say “I’ll never get through a run” or “just watch me screw this cut up”. I hate to use this cliche, but it is literally all in our heads.
The purpose of Mindful Cutting is to share different strategies, theories, and exercises to improve our performance, while making us more competitive. Every week I will discuss widely accepted concepts in sports psychology and mindfulness, adapting them to our unique form of competition. I encourage you to subscribe to the Mindful Cutting blog and follow it on Facebook. I can testify that being mindful, conscientious of my thoughts and emotions, as well as implementing the power of positivity has helped me grow as a showman. I know that it can help you too! Mindful Cutting will help “get your head in the game”….or the pen!