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Mental Skills Part 1 – How To Keep On Keeping On, from Confidentrider.online

This is the first in a new series of articles for us from Jane Pike, who is an Equestrian Mental Skills Coach, at www.confidentrider.online. Her super power is giving riders the skills they need to ride with confidence and joy, and the mental fitness to be focused, on form and in the zone for competition.

We hope you enjoy this series. If you have any particular questions, or topics you would like to see covered, please let us know and we will pass on the request.

How to Stage Your Comeback When Things Have Gone… Pear Shaped

We’ve all been there before. We start off feeling hot to trot, and then things start to go a little… wonky. Sometimes it’s short lived. It’s just one of those days. But what do you do when that one ‘average ride’ becomes a series of average rides and then… an average season? How do you change the dial from Mission: Get Me Out Of Here to Mission: Awesome for that upcoming competition or new season ahead?


Let’s look at some ways you can press reset and get back to firing on full mojo the next time you step into the arena.

  • Focus on what you want, not what you want to avoid

One of the key ingredients to managing your emotional state, and consequently your mindset, is to learn to control your focus. Choosing to focus on what it is that you want to create sets up a chain reaction of events, beginning with the thought and ending with a tangible, practical consequence of what it is that we have directed our attention towards.

Let’s look at a real life example of how our focus can affect our outcomes. Say for instance your horse has a tendency to spook and run out. This particular scenario gives us two options: we can focus on the fact that he or she may spook, or we can focus on what we want to happen, a focused lead up to the fence and a clear and clean jump.

Choosing to focus on the former puts us in a reactive state. The mental projection that we create in our minds is one of ducking out before the jump, and if we focus on this with enough intensity, our subconscious mind signals our body to respond accordingly; the level of cortisol in our system naturally increases and we no longer become riders effectively managing the situation at hand, but defensive riders riding for a projected scenario that has yet to come to life – and not one that we are wanting.

Conversely, focusing on what it is you are looking to create allows us to be responsive and process oriented. This time, our mental projection supports what it is that we are wanting to create, leaving us free to focus on not only what is required in the moment, but also to ensure a smooth transition into the next phase.

  • Give yourself simple, clear directives

Now that you focused on what it is you want to create, you want to give yourself some practical, clear directives that will optimize your chances on creating a successful outcome. Think back to your time in training – what is it that you primarily need to pay attention to in order to ensure things go the way that you want them to?

Continuing on with the previous example, let’s say that in order to ensure that my horse is focused coming into the fence, I need to make sure that I have him in front of my leg, that our rhythm is good and that I keep myself relaxed. Being clear on what I need to do gives me something practical, simple and achievable to focus on so that I can continue to ride proactively, and manage my focus in the direction of what is required as I am out there and doing it in the ring.

  • Visualisation is your new BFF

The best way to create a future experience that is divorced from what you have experienced in the past is to develop a regular visualisation practice.

Why is it such a super power? Primarily because of the direct effect it has on the subconscious mind. Whilst on a conscious level, we are able to discern between that of our physical experience and that which we have only imagined, our subconscious mind sees things differently. As far as it’s concerned, there is no distinction between what has happened in real life and that which we have vividly imagined.

If you imagine or visualize something often enough and with enough sensory detail your subconscious mind comes to accept it as a given – it becomes so familiar to you both psychologically and physiologically that it creates a new baseline, even if your experiences in the “real world” are far removed from that which you have been visualizing up until that point.

Consequently, the decisions that you make, the actions that you take all work together to set you in alignment with this subconscious target, with this image that you have imprinted on your brain. Visualisation really is your BFF when it comes to pressing reset and uploading some new and wanted files to our mental hard drives.

So, let’s break it down.

Focus on what it is you want.
Give yourself clear and practical directives.
Visualise your desired outcome for 2 minutes a day.

Every new day is the chance to start again.


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