Feelings are an incredibly complex subject – the way we experience them, how they affect our body and help us form our reactions are all unique to us. While your mind and body are seamlessly interdependent, they’ll work together to influence how you perform. But how can this connection make a difference to your riding?
A good connection
Recognising and nurturing the mind-body connection is essential for anyone wanting to reach their full potential in the saddle. Your horse’s performance relies on clear communication and, as we know, this is influenced by both your mind and your body. Your ability to control your emotions will improve the clarity of instruction to your horse and, in return, boost his confidence in your aids.
We’ll begin by integrating simple psychological strategies and Pilates exercises that can work together to help structure your mind and body connections, prioritise and reinforce those that are important to you and, with perseverance and practice, develop and improve both your physical and mental health.
Top tip – Physical activity is the key to a healthy lifestyle but if you’re in any doubt about your capabilities in undertaking any of the following exercises, it’s best to speak with your doctor first.
Your physical and mental wellbeing requires your basic needs to be met. This involves everything you eat and drink, the quality and quantity of sleep, time you allow yourself to relax, your relationships with others and, of course, keeping physically active. These aspects of life are essential if we want to perform at our best, mentally and physically.
However, busy lives can get in the way of looking after yourself. Grabbing something quick to eat a little too often, staying up an extra couple of hours to finish some work, skipping that ride or putting off a meet-up with friends because there’s something else that needs to be done – sound familiar?
Similarly, what might appear to be a quick and easy way of coping with stress and emotions – another beer, an extra glass of wine or a chocolate bar – allows you to disconnect from a situation or the stress of the day. While this is something we can all relate to and these techniques may feel effective in moderation, they’re not necessarily healthy or helpful in the long run and can lead to negative coping strategies.
Over time, difficulties for both mind – such as struggling to think clearly, memory difficulties, feeling guilty, low or anxious – and body – feeling sluggish, tense or experiencing headaches – can be detrimental to both your health and performance in and out of the saddle.
For more help on improving your connection, pick up a copy of December Horse&Rider now!