Ensure that riding time gets the same priority as everything else by developing the same mindset as a professional rider. Coaches Julie Brown and Gill McKay have some top tips that will give you the riding edge.

Being an ambitious amateur rider is challenging. You’re juggling work, children, pets, partner, yard duties and a whole host of other things alongside your horse.

You want to ride more and do well in competitions, but switching between that person with a zillion things to do and the rider who is totally focused on what your horse is doing is tricky.

You dive out of work, sort out the kids, pull on your riding gear and dash off to ride, still worrying about whether the pets and the kids got the right meals, your meeting tomorrow, the competition you’re not prepared for and hundreds of other things besides.

It’s no wonder that you climb into the saddle in completely the wrong mindset, or don’t even ride at all as the stresses of the day take their toll.

However, developing a pro mindset is easier than you might think, if you follow these tips:

Your compelling vision

Develop a vision of how you want your riding life to look – something so compelling that you’re drawn to it every day.

Think about the past 12 months. What held you back?

Now create your new vision – your next 12 months. What do you want to achieve? What do you need to do in order to achieve that goal?

Create a list of non-negotiable, such as finding more time to ride or competing once a month.

What does success look like? Imagine the end of the year – how it will feel to have reached your goal.

This is your vision, something to be revisited regularly to keep you on track.

Reconnect with your ‘why’

When times get tough remind yourself why you love horses and took on the commitment to own one.

When you reconnect with your ‘why’ for horses you’ll become more motivated to spend more quality time with your horse.

Without a ‘why’ it’s easy for the motivation to slip through your fingers and a previous joy can morph into a chore.

Establish boundaries

Put a plan in place for work/horse/home life involving start times and finish times. Plan your time strictly so that you don’t feel stressed and rushed at the yard.

Spending time with your horse should be the priority and highlight of your day.

This may mean you realise you need to stop doing some things and prioritise your riding.

Consider getting some help. It might cost money, but it could be cheaper than extra training or having someone else ride your horse to keep him competitive.

Be grateful

It’s natural to worry about your competition having more time to train, but comparing yourself to others can start a negative spiral of feelings that damages your mindset and relationship with your horse.

A great tool is to write down all the things in your life you’re grateful for. Create some broad categories such as work, family, health and, of course, horse.

This will help you focus on the areas of your life that bring you joy, and reframe how you look at life.

Let your horse be your therapist
Equine therapy is well researched and is used to help people with confidence issues, mental health challenges and those recovering from trauma.

They sense when you’re feeling down and mirror human body language. Just being with your horse will help you to enjoy being in the moment with him.


Visualisation is a hugely powerful tool for achieving goals, staying motivated, keeping focused and taking action.

Think it, see it, believe it and it’s more likely to happen.

Don’t miss the latest issue of Your Horse Magazine, jam-packed with training and veterinary advice, horse-care tips and the latest equestrian products available on shop shelves, on sale now.