grabbing the saddle? Johnston believes
that doing some reflection after your
rides will help you build awareness.
Also, if you’re able to, have your ride
videoed so you can walk yourself
through it later.
If you’re looking to improve on
your performance in the show ring,
Johnston recommends starting a pre-ride routine and keeping it consistent. Not only does this include getting yourself dressed and your horse
tacked up, but also walking down to
the ring, visualizing your ride and
practicing some breathing work.
New routines like this can be
practiced at home with dress
rehearsals—all the way to wearing
pared for just about anything that can happen on the
trail, in the show pen or even on the farm.
“Mental toughness, to me, has to do with being pre-
/ Building Piece by Piece /
pared,” explains Tonya Johnston, a hunter/jumper rider and mental skills coach
who has been working with equestrians for more than 20 years. “[That way] when
you’re competing, you stay completely in the moment and trust yourself to ride
on instinct and feel.”
As with any sport, being mentally fit is important because it allows you to
push yourself, push boundaries and become a better rider. What we allow our-
selves to think and speak creates the world around us: if you think negatively
about a course or a pattern, you will perform it poorly. You horse can also sense
your mood, which can set up either a good or bad ride.
When it comes to establishing mental strength, Johnston points out that
self-awareness is the biggest building block for mental toughness. Understanding
the circumstances that led to how your ride went that day is vital.
“One of the best ways to focus on self-awareness and beginning to build it is
by keeping a journal or log of your rides,” says Johnston.
Write down details of what you did before you rode. Did you sit down and
eat an apple before tacking up? Or did you give yourself some quiet time before
Tips for keeping your mind fit to ride.
BY MEGAN ARSZMAN