Show season is in full swing! So for July we are reviewing Perfect MIND: Perfect RIDE, Sport Psychology for Successful Riding by Inga Wolframm. This is the second book of Dr. Wolframm's that we have read, her first was The Science of Equestrian Sports, and we felt this was even better. It gives a rider the right tools (in an easy to read outline) on where to start in order to increase performance through mental toughness.
The American Psychology Association (APA) says sport psychology "uses psychological knowledge and skills to address optimal performance and well-being of athletes, developmental and social aspects of sports participation, and systemic issues associated with sports settings and organizations." If you think training and showing are one dimensional then you're missing out on essentially helping yourself (and your horse) excel.
Do you have a dream with your horse? Do you have a game plan with specific goals on how to accomplish that dream? Have you laid out a step by step strategy for yourself on how to handle the pressures of training and competition? Do you know your weaknesses? Will you admit those weaknesses to yourself so you can improve, or at least mitigate them? If you don't know where to begin with those questions, then Perfect MIND: Perfect RIDE is the perfect place to start.
Dreams without goals, and goals without planning and follow through, are just wishful thinking and wasted energy.
Perfect MIND: Perfect RIDE shows the competitive rider how to create an edge for their training and performance. Mental training can certainly be a much overlooked element, but the mental component -- or ability to deal with stress and environmental diversity -- is what separates a successful (great, awesome, rock star) rider from one that buckles under pressures. You know the rider, the one that does fantastic at home but everything falls apart at the show? Is it really the horse that acts differently, or the rider who acts differently thus creating her own problems? As the book states, "training the mind becomes as important as training your horse." But how many of us take the time to do it?
This book is broken down into three main parts with several more in-depth sub-chapters. It even has a small section in the back for more suggested books of inspirational reading.
- Part I: Attitudes that keep you going
- Part II: Mental skills to train your mind
- Part III: Preparing for competition
We simply cannot just train, train, train physically; either in the saddle or outside it. While those are very important factors, the mental training is what rounds it all out, connecting the hard work and allows riders to bring it all together. Equestrians have to know what we're training for and how to best do it.
I don't know where I'm going, but I'm making good time!
Don't be that person! Perfect practice does not make perfect performance. In reality "deliberate practice is the key to achieving high levels of performance in any field" according to Dr. Anders Ericsson who is a Swedish-born psychology professor -- and expert on experts -- at University of Florida. His research further states:
Deliberate practice involves stepping outside your comfort zone and trying activities beyond your current abilities. While repeating a skill you've already mastered might be satisfying, it's not enough to help you get better. Moreover, simply wanting to improve isn't enough — people also need well-defined goals and the help of a teacher who makes a plan for achieving them.
Dare to feel and nurture your own potential, your horse's potential. This book helps you arm yourself with simple strategies to get you there. Packed with research but also examples and excerpts from world and Olympic equestrian champions, it helps you develop your "rider persona". If you don't have one, then that's probably why you don't get better. If you cannot constructively look at yourself and identify your positive and negative attributes, then it is going to be hard to assemble your own strengths and weaknesses into a powerful competitor.
We could really go on about this book! If you picked up our copy, you'd see we highlighted many of the pages and scribbled notes everywhere. It is not only a book for our monthly book review, it has become a book we added to our personal library to get us to the next level of competition. We don't want to spoil the contents of this highly recommended gem, so go read a copy today!
Live. Love. Horses.