We are delighted to host Sally Cousins as our newest guest blogger, as she shares her wealth of knowledge with us in the form of weekly training tips. We hope these nuggets of information can be integrated directly into your program at home and can influence the way you ride and train your horses. Be sure to check out both the Sally Cousins Eventing website and keep up with her on Facebook.
Photo by Kasey Mueller
About 10 years ago, I sat down with Phillip Dutton and asked him what I could do to be more competitive. The first thing he told me was to “never underestimate how long it took me to get mentally strong enough to be this good.” He didn’t say I needed better horses, more lessons or more money. None of those things hurt, but they will not take the place of mental strength. I think other sports focus more on this than eventing, but we need to realize how integral it is to our success.
After that conversation, I have carefully watched what other riders do to work on their mental strength. It is certainly not easy, and it definitely takes practice. Some of the competition performances I am most proud of are the ones where my life was a mess, but I was still able to mentally change gears and ride well.
I have seen riders change all their clothes midday when their day wasn’t going well, and it gave them a new mental start to their day. I know some riders listen to certain music while walking the course. Other riders sit quietly by themselves to go over their ride strategy. Some riders prefer company and have a group of friends that provide support at competitions.
I tend to do best spending some time alone to focus. I also have developed the ability to change my thinking by saying to myself “don’t go there” when I am starting to be distracted by outside influences. I don’t think it matters what you do, as long as it works for you.