5 Lessons I’ve Learned From My Equestrian Mental Coach

Hey, everyone! Do you remember that, more or less, two years ago, I shared with you that I was seeing an equestrian mental coach to overcome my anxiety on horse shows? When Gali’s colic problems started, I stopped the sessions, not because I felt I didn’t need them but mostly because I wasn’t competing and I had many vet bills to pay. Thankfully, Gali’s recovery was amazing and we have been competing consistently for a few months now. However, as soon as I started going to shows again, the anxiety came back and I felt I wasn’t handling it very well. Plus, after walking the course and while warming up, all I could think about was “I wish I had my mental coach here” so I knew it was the time to start seeing her again.

The equestrian mental coach I’m telling you about is Susana Carneiro and she runs Ride For Winning, where she helps riders (from amateurs to pros – yes, those 1.60m riders who look like they have everything under control) figuring out how they can overcome basically anything that is holding their performance back – I mean, with only two sessions she made me go from not enjoying being at a horse show to feeling confident enough to want to move up a class. If you ask me, she’s a true magician!

This week I had my fourth or fifth online session and since I always like to recap what we have been working on, I’ll share with you a few of the lessons I’ve learned so far:

  • Who are you?

At first glance, it doesn’t look like a hard question to answer. But, who are you after all? Not as a rider but as a whole. You can’t define yourself as a rider if you don’t know who you are. Until you understand who you are and the impact your values have in your equestrian life, you won’t be able to be aware of the aspects that need to be perfectioned.

  • It’s much easier to say what you don’t want to happen than reflecting on what you need to do to make the right things happen.

For instance, one of the first questions my mental coach asked me before a horse show was “what do you want to happen?” and my instant answer was “I don’t want to forget the course”. She didn’t like my answer and I couldn’t figure out why. I then learned that the human brain doesn’t process the word “no” so every time I told myself that I didn’t want to forget the course, it was like I was telling him “please forget the course”. I had to change my mindset and besides eliminating negative sentences from my life, I had to start deconstructing what “wanting to remember a course” or “wanting a clear round” mean – this is a full awareness logic which means that anything I do at a horse show or while inside the arena, must be done consciously.

  • Bubble, bubble, bubble!

According to my equestrian mental coach “Performance = Potential – Interferences” so every time you let someone or something consume your energy, you are sabotaging your own performance, especially because these are events you can’t control. Most importantly, I used to be the type of rider who thinks everyone is watching what they’re doing in the warm-up arena or while jumping the course. However, the reality is that many people may be watching but if you ask them 5 minutes later what they thought of your round, they won’t even remember if you jumped clear or not! Therefore, the best thing you can do is entering your own bubble and not letting anything get to you!

  • Get your groove on!

Your mood influences your horse more than you think. Only recently I realized that every single time I went to the barn and my mood was as great as it could be, my rides were also great. I have also been working on not letting life affect my sacred “barn time” – whenever I’m rushing at the barn to come back to work, I end up making my sessions with Gali much harder and – surprise, surprise – it also ends up taking longer.

  • If you can dream it, you can do it! 

The next time you envision yourself accomplishing something nice, perhaps winning a class, don’t let your inner monkey sabotage that vision by telling you “you wish!”. Focus on what you must do to make that dream come true and don’t let any details out!

These lessons are just the tip of the iceberg. In the sessions, everything is much more deeply analyzed according to your situation in particular. If you have ever felt you could be an even better rider “just” by improving your mindset, I think you should give equestrian mental coaches a try but keep in mind that you will only see any results coming from it if you trust the process!


Hope you enjoyed the blog post!

See you soon,

Carolina ♥