As riders, we can get pretty hard on ourselves and it is often easier to remember the failures instead of focusing on the wins.
This time of year when the competitions are coming to an end it is a good time to sit down and reflect on the past season before making new plans for the coming one.
The equestrian sport is one of the toughest in terms of maintaining a positive mindset as it can be a rollercoaster of ups and downs due to the fact that there is a partnership with a horse that sometimes has a mind of it’s own and doesn’t always stick to the plans we have made.
In most other sports the performance is able to be traced back to the athletes health and fitness level, competition preparation and mindset on the day.
In the equestrian sport we can be fit and healthy and the horse goes lame the day before the comp and it is all over red rover. Or the rider has had the perfect preparation and is prepared only to find the horse becomes spooky and it all goes pear shaped on the day.
This is tough to deal with. I have heard many people call this ‘character building’ but sometimes it can also be soul destroying.
These are the moments when we need to have tools to pick ourselves up again so we can deal with what ever happened in the most positive way.
Since it can be so easy to focusing on all the negative experiences, I find a really good exercise is to keep a ‘Great Rides Diary’.
This is a journal where you can write down all your 'good rides', the good lessons and great horse experiences to serve as a memory bank of positive rides.
Then when you have a ‘not so good run’ you can sit down and read through your journal and by remembering all the good rides it will help you to bring your focus back to those rather than getting stuck on the ‘it’s not working’ bandwagon.
This is such a great way to empower yourself in an area where you are passionate.
Write some notes after every ride. This is a great way to teach yourself to find something good in every ride. It doesn’t have to be an essay; it can simply be one or two sentences.
When reflecting on the last season, (this can be a season of lessons, club or recreational riding too; it doesn’t have to be competitions) take some time to reflect on all the positive things that happened.
- What went well
- What you have already achieved
- What Goals you have already ticked off
Then reflect on
- What you can do different next season
- Who is there to help you
- What realistic and specific Goals do you want to set for the next season
And finally and most important of all
- Pat yourself on the back and be proud of how far you have come already
- Acknowledge yourself constantly
- And remember that the reason you started riding in the first place was because you loved horses.