As we wind down to the end of 2018, we start looking forward to what might be possible for us in 2019.

Will it be my best year ever with exciting highlights?

Will it be just the same old thing with similar results?

The sport of equestrian is literally defined by moments. It all comes down to one moment in the ring.

With this reality, I might suggest that if you “own the moment” in 2019—own it a little more than you did in 2018 and you can create a performance reality that exceeds your expectations—and bring a different level of joy to your riding.

Here’s how…

Ride in the Moment

There are three potential places your mind could be when you ride. The past, the present or the future.

Of these three places, there is only one place where you can absolutely control performance—that is the current moment. And this is exactly where noted psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his best-selling book Flow made his mark as a researcher. His research demonstrates that people are happiest and most productive when in a state of flow—when they are totally absorbed in the task at hand, and the challenge of the situation is equal to (or just above) their skill level.

This is where you must strive to be in your riding. The past and future are distractions to performance in the here and now. The past has happened, so dwelling on it is not productive. The future has not happened, so being fearful about what might happen is not productive. In 2019, adopt a practice that focuses you in the moment (a simple mindfulness practice is a good start) to help you own the moment in the ring.

Fall in love with the process and results will follow

To help you further with “riding in the moment,” a focus on your riding process can be a key for you. The key to every plan is not necessarily the ultimate goal or target, but the small steps needed to take you there.

These small steps, often focused on a technique or strategy that you have worked on and tested in training, keep your mind on your execution of your riding and not on outcomes (like winning) that you have no control over. In order for you to “own the moment” and stay in the moment, put all of your attention on what’s important to ride your best in the moment—a great rhythm early in the trip, the right feel in the hands, nailing your distances, being precise with your lines or whatever “your” focuses in training might be. Fall in love with your process and let the outcomes fall where they may.

This is my time, no one else’s

It all comes down to you. You are the pilot on your partner and create the direction for the team. You accept feedback and instructions from coaches, but ultimately it’s you who decides how you will use it. You are responsible for your own enjoyment in the sport and you determine who impacts that joy.

Will you allow the many distractions in the sport to dampen the reasons you ride in the first place? Owning the moment is about taking responsibility for your riding experience and your performances. Each moment in the ring, whether training or showing, is yours—no one else’s. In 2019, make a commitment that you are in control and solely responsible for your performance—there will be no excuses or blame.

These are three simple keys to help you own your riding in 2019. The opportunity exists for you to create your reality and embrace the beauty of it in the coming year. Each “moment” for you in the ring is an opportunity to shine and express your potential, so embrace each opportunity and own it!

Wishing you many wonderful moments in the ring in the coming year.

About the Author

John Haime is President of New Edge Performance. A world-class Human Performance Coach, former professional athlete and current bestselling author of You are a Contender! Build Emotional Muscles to Perform Better and Achieve More, John understands how athletes think and feel. He’s been there—under the most intense pressures of amateur and professional sports. John coaches leading professional equestrians and up-and-comers with a proven system and is trusted by some of the world’s leading athletes—professional and elite amateur. See to learn more.