When you train your horses and want to improve your riding, you are very focused on your body and your horse’s body. From suppleness to swing, from forwardness to relaxation, your training is focused on getting your horse’s body working in the best possible way. You adjust your riding, from half halts to your posture, to affect how your horse moves forward. But the one thing that’s often forgotten is your mental training.
Riding horses is a challenging sport because you have at least a half ton animal underneath you with a mind and body of its own. This means things don’t always go to plan. That’s why riding with a positive mindset is so powerful and helps build your resilience. Not only does it help you enjoy your riding more, it also helps you perform better.
As a positive psychology practitioner, I work both with riders and non-riders to help them find their best performance through positivity – be it in riding, in life or at work. All the research is there to support how happiness fuels success hence this is a really opportunity for you to get more out of your riding by adapting a more positive mindset. Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Use challenges as opportunities to learn.
Maybe things didn’t go quite as planned in your schooling session or your latest competition. Think about what you actually learnt from the experience and how you can use that to do better next time. You often learn best through setbacks so really cherish that opportunity.
2. Focus on using your and your horse’s strengths.
By focusing on the good you set yourself into a more positive mindset which helps your body perform at a better level. Also, you can often use the good to fix the not so good. Every horse and rider has strengths and weaknesses, so think about how you can make the most out of the strengths and use them to help improve those weaknesses.
3. Celebrate every little success.
No matter how small. It’s easy to get hung up on fixed goals but it’s actually counting the little successes that make all the difference. Think about what went better today than yesterday, which could be anything from picking up the left canter straightaway on a horse that usually doesn’t, to getting your young horse on the bit for one circle, to being brave enough to pop over a cross-country jump for the first time in your life.
4. Smile while you ride.
Smiling sets a positive chemical reaction in your body which helps you relax as well as perform at a higher level. Even fake smiling sets it off! So if you’re feeling frustrated, tired, or your horse isn’t cooperating, just take a moment to take a deep breath and SMILE 😀
Really think about putting these into practice in your daily riding schedule and make an effort to practice riding with a positive mindset. Trust me, you will see a difference quicker than you think!
Good luck in your riding adventures & until next time!
All posts by Susanna can be found on: https://aspireequestrian.wordpress.com/category/guest-blogger-susanna-halonen/
Susanna Halonen is a Finnish rider based in Southeast England. She’s competed up to 120 cm show jumping internationally and advanced medium level dressage nationally. She offers positive psychology coaching to help you to get the most of your riding, be it enjoyment or performance wise. You can follow her blog and find out more about her here: http://shdressage.co.uk/