Will BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION make me a better rider? I’M TRYING IT!

All of you who get EQUUS magazine monthly or online, please flip to the last page of your June, 2015 issue.

There you will see an article called, THE EXPERIMENT by Susan Sughrue.

Read this article.

That’s it.


Basically, the gist behind the article is this:

The author’s daughter was a college psychology major and used one of her classes to work on her mother’s horsemanship.

The daughter challenged her mother to be her subject in a Behavior Modification experiment.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“She would achieve this goal by providing rewards and by having me keep a journal in which I wrote excuses for why I did not ride on any given day.  Oh boy, where do I start?  it’s too hot, too cold, too wet, too windy.  I’m too tired, too nervous, too busy.  Sound familiar?  Still, what parent who is shelling out for college tuition would refuse to help her child get an A?  And so it began…”

Genius.  What a brilliant, simple idea.

The article goes on to say, “I’m not sure exactly when, but somewhere in between ‘let’s try this experiment’ and the final grade, I decided I was doing this for me…”


Yes, I am a very busy person and yes I have responsibilities that preclude riding… I bet you do, too…

But we’ve always been busy and either we make time to ride, or we don’t.

For me, to be brutally honest with myself (and you all), It has come to my attention that I’ve been hiding behind my great excuses:

1)  Lyme disease has sapped my strength and coordination

2)  I fear that I won’t be as good of a rider as I once was

And really… so what?   So what if I am not as good of a rider as I was before…

Time is passing me by.  My horses are getting older.  I’ve spent 3 years getting better from the Lyme Disease, it is now time to get back in the saddle, literally.


So, after reading the article (Thank you, Susan, for writing it), I got a spiral notebook and wrote the 4 important things I wanted to accomplish each day – with a space to write whether I did it or the excuse I told myself if I didn’t do it.

My reward will be a Starbucks or a Haagen Dazs Rocky Road.

I like this idea, a lot.

Thank you, Susan Sughrue, for writing this article in Equus.

Thank you, Susan Sughrue, for writing this article in Equus.


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2 comments have been posted...

  1. Linda

    Brilliant!!! I just began working as a gardener for an elderly couple who have impressed me with their dedication to riding-she daily, and sometimes again later! I see my horse daily, but haven’t ridden in a LONG time. I may have to give this “experiment” a try.

  2. Nancy

    Awesome idea. I too am a spectator and horse mom. I will begin to journal why I am not riding. My life is passing me by too and I am not getting any younger. Time to start riding again is now!

    Thanks for a great article Dawn.


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