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5 ways to stay in Control in Situations of Need!

Its not unheard of for external factors to influence our performance. This might be spectators at a competition, that judge 'that doesn't like your horse', the dog walker behind the hedge, or the tractor steaming down the road towards you. However we can only control those things that are intrinsic - what we think and what we do. How we react to things can totally impact how our horse reacts to things, and ultimately how we perform.

In moments of need try these steps out:

1) BREATHE. Before making any rash decisions, take a breath. Breath in so you fill your belly up and your ribs expand, then slowly breathe out. Humans make their best decisions when the are coherent, if you limit the amount of oxygen going to your brain, you are less likely to make the best decision at that moment in time. You can go one step further and take what is called a centring breath - breathe in for 6, hold for 2, and out for 7, this is worth practicing when you are not under stress, so that it becomes a normal practice.

2) If you are at a competition, ask yourself what CAN you control? Reality this is only what is directly linked to you. - Your warm up plan, the preparation before you get there, your emotions, your breathing etc. You CAN'T control the judge, what spectators do or even other riders, but you CAN control how you react to those things.

3) Plan, Plan, Plan. You can't have enough plans in place and still ironically you can't plan for every eventuality! However you can plan to be prepared - know your test, allow extra travelling time, hack out in the tack you feel confident in etc. Feeling prepared often gives people the confidence that they are ready for whatever might be thrown their way, and if their plan doesn't cover it, they often still react better than if they had no plan at all!

4) Visualise - Visualisation is something that is talked about quite a lot these days and can be a handy tool in practicing or preparing for something. Practice visualising the situation, controlling your breathing and how you will react. Get specific about what you want to imagine doing well, the more specific you are, the more effective this will be. Remember you have permission to visualise beyond what you have already done.

5) Set yourself up for success - small steps! Making big changes or changing more than one thing can put you under unnecessary pressure, and give you the feeling of being out of control. Make sure you set your self up for success by only changing one thing at a time. For example if you are steeping up a level the only thing you should change is the test you are riding, so go to a venue you know, in an environment you know e.g on a weekend not a weekday show. If you are working on building your confidence out hacking, do it on a day that the sun is shining, or after a schooling session so you are already in the swing a things.

These are just tools to help in situations of need and what may work for one person may not work for others, but give them a go, test them out and see what works for you!!

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