NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is a booming practice used for training the mind to overcome mental and emotional hurdles to succeed in life, but here are some ways that equestrians can use these same techniques leap to new heights in their riding.
Have you ever had a bad experience on the horse or a complete catastrophe in the arena? If so, you’re not alone. Take these feelings of embarrassment, humiliation, fear, or anxiety, and feel them in your body. Then close your eyes and imagine yourself out of your body and out of these deeply rooted emotions. In this process, you are acknowledging while mentally disassociating with the negative feelings about your past riding experience. You should start to feel the emotion becoming less and less important and present as you do this exercise.
Reframing is the process by which one consciously chooses to observe a situation differently or transmute a negative thought or thinking pattern into a positive one. For example, your natural inclination may be to consider your negative past riding experience as a failure, when instead you can reframe and think of it as a lesson on how you can improve for future clinics. For example, equestrian, Estefanía Godoy Campell, reflects, “I changed my mindset when it comes to riding, there are no bad rides, or bad days. Just keep in mind every ride is a lesson for your horse too.”
Anchoring, similarly, creates positive emotional associations by utilising physical stimuli with a recollection of a positive memory which evokes pleasant emotions. Every time you start an event, you can connect a physical movement with a positive emotion. For example, you can mount your horse and intentionally conjure up the emotions related to peace, stability, togetherness, and confidence. Meanwhile, you can do a small physical action like squeezing your index finger and thumb together, or press your tongue to the top of your mouth. Then in the future, when you do this little gesture, you will feel the same positive emotions automatically. You have anchored the emotion to the physical stimuli.
In NLP, it is common to aim to build rapport with others, but equestrians understand the importance of doing the same with their horses. After all, these thinking, feeling, beings hold the power to make or break your riding experience. To build rapport with your horse, practise communicating with kindness to your horse.
5. Future Pacing
When aiming for any types of goals and dreams, future pacing can be a powerful tool to wire your brain to focus on success. This is the process by which one thinks of their goals as if they have already manifested in reality. The technique can involve you writing a journal entry from the perspective of you in the future where your goal has already happened successfully. You might write something like, “Today, I absolutely smashed the competition in the arena! I rode with confidence, did my best, and was rewarded with a winning title!” Try to be as specific as possible when doing this exercise.
Alex Strobel of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom specialists in life coaching for equestrian women. She attributes her own inner wellbeing and success to coaching and NLP techniques, “I enrolled in a coaching programme that turned my life around. It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders to have a personal life coach to listen, question and support me on the journey to overcome my limiting beliefs, shift my mindset, educate me in the science of NLP and sports psychology and ultimately help me achieve my personal, business and Equestrian goals.”
For more information on utilising NLP and general mindfulness techniques to thrive in your equestrian endeavours, visit https://equestrianlifecoaching.co.uk/