By / 4th March, 2014 / Articles /

Tanja Mitton Australia’s No. 1 Equestrian Success and Mindset Coach

Tanja Mitton grew up in Germany with a passion for horses and show jumping. She worked and trained with a number of elite German and Austrian show jumping riders before meeting her husband Richard and moving to Australia in 1995.

While building her riding coaching business, Tanja was fascinated that many riders displayed a lack of confi dence and belief in their own ability. Tanja discovered a solution to this problem in her study of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

Now an NLP Master Coach and Practitioner, Tanja combines her unique riding instruction and NLP techniques to coach riders from Pony Club and Adult Riding to the elite level, helping the individual to identify and achieve goals by building a belief system that can support them.

If you are more interested in the science behind thoughts and feelings, I recommend the book Evolve Your Brain by Dr. Joe Dispenza D.C.(Doctor of Chiropractic).

The time of year has arrived where even hot and sunny Australia is all of a sudden not so hot and sunny anymore.

Depending on where you live it can in fact get rather miserable. It’s the time of year where every southerner is dreaming of the Queensland holiday to escape the cold and wet and Queenslanders are looking to escape to Bali as even they start to feel the cold. It’s the time of year that many of us wish that we could park our horses in the storage room, together with the tennis racquet, the surf board and the swimming gear, just to avoid having to rug, feed and God forbid even to ride during this time. Endless times are spent looking enviously through magazines at all the different indoor arenas that we could have in our backyard, with stables built right beside them, including fl oor heating, thermostat and of course the warm and cosy tack room that comes with its own coffee machine and fire place.

The reality however is very different. Horses don’t generally like it when we ignore them just because it is cold. They are still hungry even when you have to feed in the dark and let’s face it, who wants to wear wet rugs?

You might not have read the fi ne print when buying your fi rst horse, which said that you are now committed for life and joining Pony Club seemed like a great idea during summer, when you could sit in the open and enjoy a social chat with the other parents. Now that the honeymoon period enters its toughest time, we need to look at ways to get through it whilst still enjoying our horses and preferably without killing our husbands, wives or children when they tell us “no way I am going out to feed and pick up poo, it’s your horse.”

So what can we do to make even this testing time fun and productive?

Well believe it or not, it starts fi rstly by the way you think.

What is the fi rst thing you think when you wake up in the morning and hear the rain pelting on the roof and the wind howling?

“What a miserable day.”

“I don’t want to get up, I want to stay in bed.”

” I hate winter.”

How are you going to feel after that? Well I guess anything but happy, joyful and enthusiastic!

The fact is you can’t change the weather so you might as well just accept it and instead change the way you think. Whingeing doesn’t make it sunny. The weather being cold, wet and windy is bad enough, you might as well be happy and get some sort of joy.

Yes, I am actually being serious here. When we start complaining and whingeing we start feeling terrible as well, but when we talkabout great things we start to feel happy straight away.

The weather you can’t control; your mood you can.

When it comes to horses, you don’t have to ride every day, especially when it’s raining and blowing a gale. You can lunge or do groundwork and the odd day off doesn’t hurt either.

Now to keep your enthusiasm, start to set goals of what you want to work on during the winter. This is the best time to change some of your bad habits, when the show season has stopped or slowed down. The pressure is off and you can go back focusing on your position and some of your horse’s weaknesses that you need to address before competing next season.


Start by putting together a list of things you want to work on, like:

 Improving your sitting trot

 Working on your hands to keep them still instead of them having a life of their own

 Focusing on looking ahead rather than down

 Improving the fl ying changes that have been messy all year

 Going back to grid work to improve your horse’s jumping technique

 Working on straightness in between jumps so that ‘skinnys’ are not an issue.

Another thing to do is to plan the competition calendar or outings for the second half of the year. It’s always good to know what you are working towards and remembering that there is a purpose for your horse being in work during winter.

Another good reason to ride in the wind and rain is that by the time you take your horse out again it will be used to bad weather which gives you a distinct advantage over competitors who did not ride during winter!

On the really bad days it might be time to snuggle up in front of the TV with a cup of coffee and watch some old videos and photos of yourself and your horse to remind you of your past achievements and highlights of your riding career. There is no better way to keep yourself motivated than to remember the great times.

The reason that you have horses is because you love them and if it all seems too hard, well you can always pack up and move to Queensland!!!

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