Can changing the way you think change the way you ride?
In a word, YES.
When you train mentally, you are engaging the newest part of your brain, the frontal cortex. This part is responsible for higher order functions like problem solving and managing your thoughts and actions in accordance with your goals.
Navy seals use sport psychology research to instruct their training. Recruits are routinely placed in fear activating situations and trained to override that primitive response with quick assessment from the thinking part of their brain. These guys need to be able to think under pressure, because it’s life or death.
You, on the other hand, need to think under pressure to control your performance. Different stakes, but same effect. You’re training the same part of your brain as the toughest men on earth.
If that doesn’t motivate you to improve your mental game, consider this: you’re taking it to the barn.
Your brain accompanies you each and every time. And each day you are training your physical skill and mental responses to different situations. So if every time you make a mistake you beat yourself up, realize you are training a response. And especially realize you are training a response that will be extremely ineffective for your performance.
And let’s not forget someone else is getting trained through the pattern of your responses: your horse. Your teammate continually responds to your mindset. It’s a big responsibility you have as the “team lead.”
So why leave your brain training up to chance? Instead, be deliberate about how you are training your mind so you can maximize your riding pleasure and performance.
Don’t let your mind ride unsupervised!
About the Author
April Clay is a rider and sports psychologist in Calgary, Alberta. Want to learn more about show preparation and mental toughness? Check out the Resilient Rider Online Course, Confidence Factor and other courses at www.outofyourmindcourses.com.