So it’s just riding a horse, right? The mental aspect of this sport – Sponsored by Back On Track

2017 Millbrook stadium. Photo credit by my friend, Debra Levasseuer with her iPhone.

 

Great for muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. Products for horses, dogs and people.
Visit www.backontrackproducts.com

 
OK so if you read my first article, “Dreams have no age limit – It’s never too late for Equestrians” then you know I’m a crazy HORSE NUT that can’t get enough of this sport!  But here’s a little more about me…I started riding as an adult…I’m no expert horse trainer but full of lots of trial and error experiences…just a horse nut that was given the high determination gene and I use it to seek out the best for my horse and I. I kind of a flip flop between a “half full/half empty glass” kind of person but at the end of the day, I dust myself off and try again and can’t believe I have this amazing and beautiful horse!

So it’s just riding a horse, right? – The mental aspect of this sport from Back On Track

Spring is finally here…. and we in the cold north rejoice for the first signs of green grass and the tractors replacing the cross-country jumps in the fields. Stagnated by the confines of the indoor all winter…it’s time to get out and gallop those ponies and gear up for show season!

So we worked hard on the flatwork all winter, built up some muscle and strength by the countless mind numbing transitions. A lot of no stirrup work to improve rider position and if you were lucky enough to have an instructor that was unfortunate enough to not go south, then maybe you had some jump sets thru the winter just to keep you and your horse from going stir crazy. And maybe even a few lucky days where the weather and footing were mild enough for a trail ride to clear the head.

Not such a bad riding program for the few months of down time. But to be able to pick up where you left off from the season before, don’t count on it to be a sure thing! In some cases, it could be six months since you and your horse have been in a show atmosphere. That’s half the year! The mental confidence in riding is such a big part of this sport, your non-horsey friends wouldn’t believe you. It’s just riding a horse, right?

lynn travers 2

Now let’s talk about the mental piece of this sport. You can practice your rhythm and adjustability, your distances and strides to the jumps and trot and gallop sets for the physical piece. But how much do we practice the mental part? We have to remember courses – three of them – two jumping and one intricate pattern in that sandbox! With all the physical things going on when you’re on the horse, it’s a miracle we stay on at all. It’s kind of like reciting the alphabet backwards and patting your head and rubbing your belly ALL at the same time… YIKES!

Some people are just better focused at sports events. My head, on the other hand, goes haywire, reactive to everything, it’s a real struggle to stay calm and focus on just riding the horse. But oh god, now I have to ride a test! TEST did you say test, that brings on a whole new level of haywire! In the pursuit of executing perfection, I unknowingly sabotage my riding every time! But I can ride. I do it every day, practice each phase leading up to the competition. seemed like I would finally be able to enter this show because I was now at the Entry level that it starts at. But falling behind the 8 ball from a rough spring, on off on off weather pattern has just added to the angst. Only three months to get ready. So now on top of all the physical riding practice, I’ve got to find some psycho help to get my head back in the game or it’s not going to happen! Crazy but the pressure is real and I do it to myself! Despite my accomplishments of the prior year, I have slipped off that ever so fragile slope of self-confidence again.

 

 

Trying to get my groove back, I entered a few schooling shows which were a disaster. Oh, my nerves, suddenly I couldn’t ride to save my life. We both had a meltdown. Why? We did this last season. I had a great year. Moving up a level and really connecting with my horse after all these years of hard work. I had to re-read my own articles to believe in the success of my journey again.

Believe in how good you are. We train and condition our horse for this sport. They are bred to do what we do with them. Somehow we have to sift through all the negativity that flows through our head to believe we can do it too. Affirmations like a symbol on your horse’s tack or a favourite color, a lucky pair of socks etc. All to create the constant reminder in the belief that you can do it! Watch an all inspiring movie like “Seabiscuit” the night before your competition while cleaning your tack. Keep the image in your head of that “aha” moment you had in that great lesson schooling cross-country or that calm execution of a dressage test. Believing in your own ability is almost as BIG as the physical part of this sport. But hard since negative experiences seem to outweigh the positive. Surround yourself with positive people and experiences.

2017 Townhill Novice Hedge jump. Photo credit by my friend, Jill Truitt-Langon with her iPhone.

2017 Townhill Novice Hedge jump. Photo credit by my friend, Jill Truitt-Langon with her iPhone.

I believe professionals are those unique individuals that have the mental focus to do the higher levels. I’m sure they struggle with their own mental demons but deal with it better. Lots of experience on lots of different kinds of horses. Young riders have less baggage and sometimes they have the confidence, therefore mental focus to have positive rides. As an amateur rider that started riding as an adult… you have to be aware of our challenges in this sport and come to terms with the challenges we are up against. Just to finish the three phases should be enough of an accomplishment. How can we compete with full-time professionals or punky youngsters and not feel like a failure? Enter the appropriate class at the shows when you can. Choose a small achievable accomplishment as you set out for the event, like maybe just having a square halt or a clear jump round. With a positive goal in mind, you will be amazed at what will follow… BONUS!

No doubt riding is hard, it’s not just riding, the whole thing is hard. But if you live and breath every aspect of this equestrian sport the rewards although small, will be huge in your heart of accomplishment, if you can recognize the moments, no matter how small. Too much confidence can be just as devastating…taking for granite that easy coop on cross-country will almost always result in a refusal. Horses can be so humbling! Prepare for everything and keep your head in the game every step of the way. Take the criticism from your coach and do something constructive with it.

I’ve recently had some major “aha” moments… I like to poke fun at myself about my shortcomings in my riding… But maybe I am just getting better. My horse is as fit as can be and her muscling looks great and she is actually using her body better and more effectively. Like a true athletic team, we work on things together.

Sometimes, when I think about all the effort and money I’ve sunk into this sport and it certainly can wear you down. I could have bought a Caribbean home on the beach somewhere and be sipping pina coladas but ironically if I think about it, there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be but at the farm with my horse. Getting excited about my next lesson and inevitably my next competition. So, with a positive frame of mind… here it is… more than seven years in the making…all rolled up in one envelope…
my June entry to Groton House HT.

Scroll for more top stories on Eventing Connect

MD Barnmaster-Ad 1-770x170

Can you identify the horse without its rider? – Take the quiz for a chance to win FLAIR® Equine Nasal Strips | Eventing Connect   Can you identify the horse without its rider? – Take the quiz for a chance to win FLAIR® Equine Nasal Strips How well do you know the horses? It’s easy to recognize a pair together but do you ever look at the faces of these fabulous athletes? Here is a chance to test your ability and at the end of the qu…

Horses that are severely allergic to wood: Part 8 | Eventing Connect   Horses that are severely allergic to wood: Part 8 Some horses are more careful jumpers than others. But there are overachieving mounts that seemingly defy the laws of gravity while jumping. Maybe it is because they are allergic to wood or perhaps, they are trying to avoid getting eaten a monster that could be …

A mare can be your best friend or worst nightmare – You decide | Eventing Connect   WARNING: Uncensored language. But all in fun.   A mare can be your best friend or worst nightmare – You decide I LOVE mares. This is not how it always was, right enough – but these days I mostly only deal with mares. I used to hate them. Hormonal bags of unpredictable insanity that were nothin…

When your horse escapes but you are low-key more concerned about your tack- VIDEO Break | Eventing Connect   When your horse escapes but you are low-key more concerned about your tack- VIDEO Break Most riders have had a horse escape at some point while they were handling it. But have you ever had one escape with tack on and worried about it busting your tack during its naughty rampage? This rider was fairly concern…

Sunday’s SCOOP from Eastern Hay | Eventing Connect   Sunday’s SCOOP from Eastern Hay Today’s SCOOP sponsor: Eastern Hay is the premier source of hay bales in Eastern USA.   Events in North America this weekend: Canada: Bronte Creek H.T. (ON) [Omnibus] [Website] United States: Twin Rivers Fall H.T. (CA) [Omnibus] [Website] [Times/Results] E…

Seven little equestrians who’s talent will make you insanely jealous | Eventing Connect   Seven little equestrians who’s talent will make you insanely jealous Sometimes you just see little riders and know if they stick with this sport they will be destined for great things. No matter how much money people spend on training and horses, it is hard to beat natural talent. Many equestrians have been …

offbeatsafaris-4-770x170

Fashion Alert – Hottest breeches under $50 | Eventing Connect   This series features fashion “must have” items for riders and their horses. Tune in every Friday with your (or your parents’ or your significant other’s) credit card in hand, for some excellent fashion finds. Let’s bring style to the Eventing world! I have not personally tested all of the featured pro…

The votes are in and the new Perri’s halter goes to… | Eventing Connect   The votes are in and the new Perri’s halter goes to… With over 15,000 votes cast, our readers chose Whiskey as the coolest name containing the letter “Y”. Congratulations to Ashley from Canada; Whiskey, will be getting a fine ‘Amish made’ Perri’s leather halter with an engraved plate. Whiskey…

You can barely jump one horse meanwhile this guy can jump six – VIDEO Break | Eventing Connect   You can barely jump one horse meanwhile this guy can jump six – VIDEO Break Jumping a single horse can be a real challenge. Sometimes they stop, sometimes they hit rails and sometimes they jump so big they send you flying through the air. Now imagine trying to control six horses at once and jump them over a …

Choose the winning Central Park Arena Eventing team this weekend and win cool prizes! | Eventing Connect   Time to choose your Fantasy Central Park Arena Eventing teams. DEADLINE: Enter before September 23rd at 8:00 PM (tomorrow night!). Join the fun and see how well you know the Eventing talent!!! In the simplest terms, you choose a Fantasy Team of three of the Rider and Horse teams (listed below). If yo…

Eastern Hay 770x170-March

Horses that couldn’t have put in less effort if they tried: Part 2 | Eventing Connect   Horses that couldn’t have put in less effort if they tried: Part 2 Like humans, some horses are more motivated than others. Having an overly energetic horse can be problematic but these horses take laziness to an entirely different level. When a horse isn’t in the mood to work sometimes you cannot help but l…

Friday’s Five – Equestrian novels to keep you from going mad during the off-season | Eventing Connect   Friday’s Five – Equestrian novels to keep you from going mad during the off-season Today, fall is officially here, which means the end of competition season is rapidly approaching. Before you know it there will be snow on the ground it will be impossible to even enjoy a cross-country school or outdoor school…

Nine crazy important lessons your horse will teach you | Eventing Connect   OK so if you read my first article, “Dreams have no age limit – It’s never too late for Equestrians” then you know I’m a crazy HORSE NUT that can’t get enough of this sport!  But here’s a little more about me…I started riding as an adult…I’m no expert horse trainer but full of lots of trial and error…

Why you should always steer clear of other horses – VIDEO Break | Eventing Connect   Why you should always steer clear of other horses – VIDEO Break You should always avoid other horses as much as possible when you are riding in a shared area. This is especially true in warm-up rings when you are not familiar with the horses surrounding you. I know many different riders have different standa…

bitofbritain-Week1

Eventing Legends that have made us Jump 4 Joy: Badminton record holder Lucinda Green | Eventing Connect   We are pleased to partner with Jump 4 Joy for this new series that will bring you insight and wisdom from Eventing Legends all over the world. Since the 1990s, Jump 4 Joy has been designing and manufacturing the highest quality polymer equestrian jumps on the market. From the outset, their objective has…

How to ‘College’ and keep riding | Eventing Connect   How to ‘College’ and keep riding It seems our generation is one of neologisms: I’ll tweet something, you’ll Google it, she’ll take a selfie with it—you get the idea. A newly coined verb I learned last week is “college.” Yes, the noun “college” is obvious, but the new fad of the word as a verb…

SeminoleWellness2017_770x170

FEI awards 2017 shortlist announced – Start voting for the eventers! | Eventing Connect   FEI awards 2017 shortlist announced – Start voting for the eventers! The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) has today opened the public voting for all the shortlisted nominees of the FEI awards 2017. Top eventer, Ingrid Klimke (GER) is in the running for the ‘Best Athlete’ award after winning the 20…

Discovering your horse has insane scope – VIDEO Break | Eventing Connect   Discovering your horse has insane scope – VIDEO Break Free jumping is an excellent way to find out what a young or unbroke horse jumps like. Sometimes horses can be a little awkward their first-time free jumping but some are star athletes from the get-go. This particular horse seems to be destined for show j…

Seven expert tips to keep the barn tidier – Sponsored by Back on Track | Eventing Connect   Great for muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. Products for horses, dogs and people. Visit www.backontrackproducts.com   Seven expert tips to keep the barn tidier – Sponsored by MD Barnmaster There is nothing nicer than walking into a stable that looks tidy and organized. If you are running a ba…

18 more of the most underrated moments in an equestrian’s life | Eventing Connect   18 more of the most underrated moments in an equestrian’s life There are many moments in our horsey lives that give us a great deal of satisfaction but for some reason, we never fully appreciate how much these moments mean to us. In November, I shared what I thought were the ’25 of the most underrated moment…

Equestrians cannot be afraid of taking chances: Without risk, there’s no possibility – Sponsored by MD Barnmaster | Eventing Connect   MD Barnmaster is the leader in custom designed barns, horse housing, professional equestrian facilities, horse stalls, modular buildings and barn accessories. Build A Better Barn. Contact MD Barnmaster today. Equestrians cannot be afraid of taking chances: Without risk, there’s no possibility – Sponsored…

Eventing wear with ATTITUDE. | Eventing Connect   Eventing wear with ATTITUDE. You love Eventing and this line of fun clothing is for you to make some noise about our sport. Other sports have tons of swag that allow their athletes to be walking billboards, giving plenty of airtime to the general public. With this collection of Eventing wear, you can share you…