Sally Cousins’ Weekly Training Tip: Dealing With Disappointment

We are delighted to host Sally Cousins as our 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

Photo by Kasey Mueller

All of us at some point during the year have an event where we get eliminated, do poorly or find a hole in our training we didn’t know was there. This can be hugely depressing and discouraging, but over the years I’ve developed some ways to mentally handle these disappointments.

The first thing I ask myself is, how big of a deal is this, really? If you or your horse are injured, clearly that’s a much bigger problem than if the horse was tense in the dressage, had two rails down in the show jumping or stopped at the water.  A technical elimination is hugely frustrating but obviously not a big training issue.

One of the things I do to keep myself from getting too depressed over a bad performance is to have the poor person driving home with me in the rig type into my phone all of the things that I learned at the event (even if it’s what didn’t work!). The next thing I do is write down all of the things I can think of to do to improve the performance or prevent the problem from happening again. This might include additional dressage lessons, planning a cross country school or setting up an appointment with the vet.

If it was a technical elimination, I consider the possibility that I was too tired, not focused enough or that I needed to walk the course an additional time. I refer to the list of solutions in the next week, and that helps me stay positive.

It works well for me to come up with a solution pretty quickly rather then dwell on the problem. This is part of the mental strength that is so important to develop as a rider. Lastly, I always remind myself that I am privileged to have the opportunity to ride at all and that this is still only a sport.

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