“How to Overcome a Mental Block After a Tragic Event”

Recently I revisited my Insights Interview with Dr. Jim Loehr, “How to Find True Success in Riding.” During the Q&A portion of the program, the question was asked, “How do I overcome a mental block after a tragic event?”

Because this is a question many of us can relate to, I decided to share Dr. Loehr’s powerful answer. Here is the transcript of the Q&A.

I think it’s worthy to note that Sylvia’s tragic event was a horse injury. However, the advice given may be applied to any event that is deemed as tragic … physical, mental or emotional.


“How do we overcome a mental block after a tragic event?”

For an example, a year ago my really good barrel horse broke his leg in our final run and after the finish line during our championship event. He finished 4th out of 330.

After a long ordeal by the grace of God, his life has been spared. He will not ever be ridden again but he is alive and with me. I just want to say that before he broke his leg we had really started to excel and get to the top in our competitions running on the heels of some of the top barrel racers.

This was made possible by listening to your mental toughness CDs for barrel racing and reading the gift and putting the toughness training to work. Now I must say that I’m having a super tough time finding the motivation,” and she has that in caps again. “I do love riding the horses and being in the game. However, I’m not sure if I’m willing to potentially sacrifice the animals to do it.

I still have the butterflies and my heart pounds when I think of running barrels again. However, I have not competed since. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you for doing the webcast.


Well, Sylvia, that’s a very moving and very real kind of issue that you raise. You’re obviously someone who cares deeply about the impact you have on your horses. And you know the trauma to the horse created a great trauma in you and you kind of felt somehow responsible.

I wonder if you had broken you leg if you’d have the same hesitation? My guess is you wouldn’t because you kind of – I guess you feel more responsible for taking the horse through that. But I can understand that until you work this through, you know, you will not feel right about it.

And I guess you have to kind of get to a point where you feel like this is not just a joy for you but it’s also a joy for the horse, that barrel racing is something the horse gets a lot out of and really enjoys doing. And as in almost anything in life, there are risks.

And your horse survived but you kind of have to come to peace with this notion that just as this has brought you great joy, it also brings great joy and not pain normally to the horses that you’re riding and training and the interactions you have with them and all the time you’re spending with them.

And there is a great sense of connection between you that you wouldn’t have if it were not for all the training and sacrificing and stuff that you make to make this possible.

So you know, I would say that the most important thing you can do is to sit down and write all your feelings out about it and then try to create kind of a new story. If you want to make this happen, you’re going to have to create a new story that actually changes the meaning of that accident for you and the horse.

And if you’re able to see this in a light that for you is very real, that it really isn’t putting your horse at a great risk, there’s a risk in everything. And that in fact the relationship that you have and the time you spend in training them and so forth and the joy that you get will be transferred to the horse. And this is just kind of the way that you develop an incredible relationship with this animal.

That it’s – now, if it was animal after animal getting hurt, you might have a different take on it. But I don’t know the incidence of injury, I don’t know what that is but I know for instance in gymnastics and in other sports, the injury is like incredible, you know, that there’s all kinds of risks involved.

But you know it’s another kind of area to deal with when you’re dealing with something different. But it’s not unlike a parent saying I want my kid to be involved in gymnastics and they end up getting hurt all the time.

Well, there has to be a story that makes it all worthwhile. And so I would start there and you can change your thinking. You can change your story and work it hard enough, but you’ve got to get the purpose right and understand why this is important for you.

And why this is now something that you believe again is – it’s actually not just a nice thing or it’s okay to do but it’s something that you really feel will add a lot of great things to your life and to the horses that you’re training. And if you can get there you’ll be back and if you don’t, you won’t.

But if you really want to make that happen, that’s how I would start with you until you got a story that actually – we live our life through stories and if you get a story that works for you, you know, maybe the story you currently have you can’t get there.

But there will be a story that will allow you to compete again if you want to do that and be great and really be at peace about it. And so that story is there but you have to work to find it.

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6 Comments on “How to Overcome a Mental Block After a Tragic Event”

  1. LISA PETER on Tue, 3rd May 2016 3:04 pm
  2. Thank you for posting the article. It’s time to write my new story. Also, thank you for the inspiring, educational and motivating clinic in Nebraska. =)

  3. Barbra Schulte on Tue, 3rd May 2016 3:35 pm
  4. Lisa, Thank you for coming and being so awesome. I LOVED the clinic! Take care, Barb

  5. Pam Bishop on Tue, 3rd May 2016 3:55 pm
  6. My best riding horse severed her extensor tendon of her right rear leg 15 days ago. This article is exactly what I needed to read right now.
    Thank you, Barb . . . for everything you do.

  7. Barbra Schulte on Tue, 3rd May 2016 4:46 pm
  8. You’re welcome, Pam. All the best to you and your horse. Barb

  9. Lura Wight on Tue, 3rd May 2016 5:16 pm
  10. I am once again blown away at the timing of this article. One week ago today we were working cows, my friend was warming her horse up by very fast loping around the arena. She was in the wrong lead, tried to correct and the horse fell on his left side. My friend hit the ground at the equivalent of ejection from moving vehicle going 25 mph. She just lay there not moving and I thought she was gone. Air med evacuated her, she has bleeding in her brain, a fracture of her 2nd cervical vertebra (neck) and a fractured ankle. If her foot had not slipped out of the stirrup when the horse got up she would be a quadriplegic. It was a horrific accident to witness and has left me and everyone else who saw with a great uneasiness even though we are still working cows it is no longer a worry free exercise. Thank you for this article. It couldn’t have come at a better time!

  11. Barbra Schulte on Tue, 3rd May 2016 5:38 pm
  12. You’re welcome, Lura. Blessings to you and your friend. Barb

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