If you have ever thought that riding success is only for the ‘professionals’ and not you, this is for you!
So many times when I’m working with ‘amateurs’ the thing that separates them from the results they desire is their mindset around how they approach their riding, training and daily habits. In contrast, those riders who do the work as a ‘professional’ ( I think we classify professional riders as those who have made it their career), approach their riding with a very different set of priorities.
Now, before you get too excited, yes I know they have all day to ride, yes they likely have a sponsor or two who provides them with gear, yes they probably have better facilities than you and yes, you are not necessarily aiming for the Olympics. BUT, I would imagine that the riding goals you have set for yourself provide you with every bit as much struggle, challenge, desire, growth and joy as those of a ‘pro’, and that means your riding journey deserves the same approach.
It is my belief that if you want to be competitive (at whatever level), you can benefit from thinking more like a pro, and through my work with elite riders I have identified 6 strategies they implement that don’t necessarily feature in an amateurs armoury.
These 6 strategies are:
- They get up and do the work even when they don’t feel like it.
Pro’s know that it’s not about feeling motivated in order to be able to get the work done, but that action leads to momentum. Stop waiting to feel motivated; it might never happen!
- They know resistance is going to show up
Resistance comes at us all the time. Maybe it’s the weather, the horse, the feelings of self-doubt, the confusion. There is a niggly little pest in our minds that pushes back against the goal we say we want. Pro’s know resistance is going to come, but they carry on and push through it.
- They know they are going to need help
This riding gig takes a village, it really does, and professional riders are not afraid to ask for help when they need it. Gather the right people around you; it can be your health team (if you own a horse you have a health team), peers or trusted advisors. Ask questions, ask them to check things out, ask them what resources they have used or are using, ask someone to watch the kids for an hour, set up an exchange of helping others out so that you get the hour that you need for your riding.
Asking for help is one of the strongest things you can do, and if it doesn’t come naturally, provide something you can do in return.
- They make learning and informing themselves a priority
Professional riders are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to learn more. They will spend time with the farrier, physio, saddle fitter, nutritionist etc and ask questions about what is going on with the horse, what could be improved, what is working. They watch others, attend trainings and ask other riders for advice. If you see something you like, don’t be afraid to ask who they train with or who they have in their team. Watch, read, listen and ask.
- They are intentional with their training
Pro’s have a plan, which is borne from having a clear training system. Top performer’s are also able to be agile and adapt on their feet when plans go awry (as with horses they will). The intention must be to know what you are aiming for each time you ride, with the ability to adjust if you need to. Training is only beneficial when you know why you are doing something and what you are aiming to achieve.
- They are Consistent
Consistency is King when it comes to performance. This applies to how often you ride, as well as HOW you ride. Are your aids the same? Have you changed the rules since yesterday? Did you get bored with the basics before you had them established? Consistency is everything. If you want to reach your goals, you have to keep showing up, in an intentional way.
So, there you have it. The 6 key strategies that high performers implement, and that you can too to achieve the riding goals you desire. It is time to change your mindset from believing that these things don’t apply to you because you are playing at a small level. It doesn’t matter what level you are at, you have goals and ambitions that hopefully require you to grow, learn and be stretched. If that sounds like you, it’s time to start thinking like a pro.