Pressure Proof Your Riding

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How Your Mindset Influences Riding Success and Enjoyment

by Daniel Stewart


Karen asks, “I recently moved up a level and the added pressure is making it hard for me to stay positive. Is there anything I do to enjoy myself again?”  


Photo credit NWHS

This is a wonderful question. Our horses mean the world to us so the time we spend with them should be as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible. Regardless of whether you’re competitive or recreational, this should be one of your most important goals because you can really only achieve greatness doing things you love.

  To create this kind of enjoyment it helps to know the various mindsets that lead to it. If you know them – and can adopt them – the positive emotions you create (e.g. self-belief, confidence, enjoyment) will lead to success.

  • Abundance vs Scarcity Mindset. Instead of telling yourself what you don’t have, or what you’re not good at (what’s scarce), tell yourself what you do have and what you are good at (your abundance). Rather than always trying to get what you’d love, remind yourself to love what you’ve already got.
  • Solution vs Problem Mindset. Instead of focusing on problems, teach yourself to find their solutions. Teach yourself to see problems as learning opportunities (not missed opportunities) by focusing on the solutions rather than the problems.
  • Present vs Past/Future Mindset. Instead of allowing your mind to focus on negative past experiences or the pressure of future outcomes (e.g. standings or placings) keep your mind locked in the present. One way to do this is to set performance show goals like “balance my corners and landings.” If you focus on doing these things while showing you’ll increase the chance of succeeding in the present.
  • Belief vs Fear Driven Mindset. Instead of focusing on what you’re afraid of (e.g. losing, pulling a rail), teach yourself to focus on what you believe you can make happen. Rather than being afraid of the kinds of things that might happen, become the kind of rider who goes out there and makes things happen!

Riding, like life, is about making choices. When given the choice to choose who you’ll become as a rider, always choose to focus on the great things you can do in the present, the many skills you have in abundancesolutions rather than problems and the belief that you can make great things happen. In the end, the love of the horse and the enjoyment of riding comes down to always remembering that: 

Emotions Shouldn’t Get The Best Of You…

They Should Get The Best Out Of You!


Published September 2013 Issue


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