Mental Training Tips for Equestrians

Equestrians are one of the most determined, dedicated, and tough people I’ve ever met. We spend hours practicing the physical aspect of horses. Whether we jump through grids, work on our core strength, lift hay bales…or even try and get ALL of our tack from the trailer to the barn in one go. Superwomen. Supermen. Week in and week out we spend 1/2 our lives in the barn and take lessons weekly..sometimes 2-3 times a week!!!

This hard work is what makes good riders.

But we tend to miss one major piece in our training. The part that give us the mental ability to RIDE WELL every day. Do you ever notice that on Monday you have a great ride, Tuesday it’s ok, Thursday was terrible and Friday/Saturday tuned out pretty good?! Nothing really changed in your riding ability day to day, it was your mindset that changed!

A Physically skilled rider + a Mentally skilled rider = Great Rider

In Daniel Stewarts book “Preassure Proof Your Riding” he tells a story about a talented rider who was first after dressage. She started out strong in cross country but after a few fences, a duck flew up and hit her in the chest!!! She was physically fine, and had the skills to keep riding and do well! But this rider ended up retiring shortly after on course because she didn’t have the mental skills to keep herself focused! “Duck to the chest” is now one of Daniel’s metaphor’s for negative self talk, emotions, or anything that takes your focus off your riding!

I’ve had my own experiences with this! I was riding a first level test at a schooling show during a thunderstorm! Because I hadn’t prepared myself – when a very loud thundercrack sounded during my test, I totally forgot where I was! If I had mentally prepared myself well before that ride I could have continued riding and prepared my horse well.

Here are some tips to help you prepare mentally before your next show or high pressure ride!

  • Create a pre ride plan: You have a riding warm up routine, why not have a mental one?! Create a routine that helps get you in the zone! This could include a hype song, a mantra, special stretches, or all of the above!
  • Learn how your brain WORKS. Ever heard of Psychocybernuetics? Look it up!
  • Practice deep breathing: Go in your horses stall before your ride and just hang with them Match their breathing for 60-90 seconds. Then close your eyes and imagine riding your test! And riding it perfectly!!
  • Goal Setting: Be clear on your goals! Success means a lot of different things

I hope some of this helps open up your mind to some easy ways you can practice your mental training! Trust me, you won’t regret it!

If you would like to learn more about how to train your mind for riding, here are some resources!


  • That Winning Feeling By: Jane Savoie
  • Pressure Proof Your Riding By: Daniel Stewart


Here is my online course that also explores and get’s more in depth of what psychocybernuetics is, how to create your own pre-show mental routine, principles to help you with conquer the heck out of show nerves, and skills to prepare you well for memorizing your dressage test!

Click the link below to go to the course!

Happy Riding!

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