All horse riding disciplines require one thing more than any other; focus. From the moment your step into the arena, you’ll be thrown into an intense period of high focus.
So what can you do to make sure you maintain that focus and don’t get distracted?
Here are 10 great tips:
1. Meditate beforehand.
If you find yourself getting increasingly nervous before a test, slow down. Close your eyes. Take some times to let your thoughts settle down. Try to make sure that your thoughts patterns are simple. That way, you can avoid cluttering yourself and stumbling when you are out on the arena.
2. Start with routine.
It’s nice to have a small set of simple tasks you complete before going out to compete. It can be as simple as filling a bottle of water or packing a few things up. It needs to be simple and small.
It can take your mind of the stressors and get you into a more neutral space.
3. Listen to music.
Music can put you into all sorts of moods and you can use that to your advantage.
It all depends on what works for you: music that relaxes you, inspires you, or pumps you up.
4. Don’t be negative.
Whatever is happening before a test, bring a positive interpretation. If something goes wrong during a test, remember the value of learning & growing that comes with error.
Negative thinking leads to more negative thinking, and can throw you into a hole that it hard to climb out of.
5. Body scan.
This is a neat little trick. Close your eyes and begin by focusing on the top of your head. Focus on what you are feeling – allow sensations to come and go.
Then, slowly move your focus down your body, to your neck, your shoulders, your chest etc. All the way down to your feet. Doing a body scan will help you release any tension that has been building up.
6. Enjoy your nervousness.
If you can do this trick, it will work excellently for you. Instead of being afraid of your nervousness, embrace it. Sport and competition is all about the intensity of the experience, including your nerves. Feel the fire in your belly and use that energy to propel yourself onwards.
7. It’s not about complete control.
A common mistake it to aim for total control while riding or competing. This never works; mistakes are always made. It’s unavoidable.
Instead, focus on stacking the odds in your favour. There will always be a certain chance something will go wrong.
Focus on making that chance as small as possible. If it does go wrong, don’t worry. You’re still in control, because you’re controlling the chance things will go well and not the absolute certainty that they will. It’s a small change in psychology, but will help you overcome your emotional response to small errors.
8. Maintain pressure.
You should always be alert. To avoid having your focus slip, aim for a constant level of pressure you apply to the competition. Never pull back or relax mid-ride, but don’t overdo the focus either. Consistency is key here.
9. Practise mindfulness.
Mindfulness is all about being aware of your thoughts without being judgemental of them. Take some time before a test to step aside, relax and listen to your brain. Be aware of all the thoughts you’re having. Try to clear your mind, but don’t fight the thoughts that come up. Let them come and then go.
If you’re thoughts are negative, that’s okay. Don’t try to change them, just allow them to move on and be aware of how your brain is working. This can do wonders for your mind when you do go out and ride; you’ll be clearer and more focused.
10. Use your training.
All those hours spent preparing for the moment of competition are still there with you. You don’t have to prove yourself every time you ride; you’ve already done that with the countless hours you’ve spent training.
Make sure that you trust your training and make use of it. If you practised a certain movement hundreds of times, allow your training to take control. Don’t overthink things.
Read more over at the blog.
The Eleven Biggest Mistakes When Buying Your First Horse
1. Buying a rescue horse.
Although rescuing a horse is excellent, this is usually more appropriate for an experienced rider. Rescue horses can be anxious and difficult – many of them have come from abusive or uncomfortable situations. This makes them difficult to rider, especially for new riders.
2. Not getting a vet check.
This is super important. All horses will have certain issues, but you need to be aware of what they are and whether they will affect your intended riding goals.
3. Not cantering the horse.
A good tip for buying a new horse is to ask the current owner to get it to canter it. Cantering isn’t as natural as trotting or walking, so you can see how well the horse has been trained and how tolerant it is.
4. Not considering your riding goals.
You might meet a beautiful horse, but if it hasn’t had experience in your riding discipline, there isn’t much point buying it.
Make sure your horse is a match with how you intend to ride it.
5. Purchasing a wild horse.
Some people like the idea of breaking and taming their own horse. For obvious reasons, this is enormously challenging and should be done by a professional.
6. Rushing into a purchase decision.
It might be work considering leasing a horse for a while. That way, you can get a sense for what horse ownership is like. Most sellers will be happy to make an arrangement along these lines.
7. Buying a young horse.
Young horses (under the age of 2) are generally cheaper, but aren’t always suitable for people with little riding experience. They require more training, and this shouldn’t be part of your first-time horse experience.
8. Not considering your riding style.
By ‘riding style’ I mean the energy of your horse and the energy of the rider. If you’re a calm, collected rider, you may fit well with a horse with a bit more energy. But if you’re an energetic, excitable rider, you should be looking for a calmer horse.
9. Underestimating the importance of a good nature.
If it’s your first horse, you definitely need one that won’t react against your mistakes. Some horses can be very touchy, so they get frustrated by mistakes made by novice riders.
10. Buying a horse without visiting it first.
Some people get very excited by online horse sales and make a purchase without visiting the horse first. This is a huge mistake. You should aim to maximise the time you spend with a horse before you make the decision to buy it.
11. Buying a very advanced horse.
A highly trained horse can appeal to people that think the skill of the horse will make them ride better. But highly trained horses need highly skilled riders. If you’re a new rider, a highly skilled horses will likely end up in frustration for you and your horse.
READ MORE: How much it costs to build an indoor arena.