Guest blog: Petros Spiliopoulos

NOV. 30, 2020

Striving to form sound partnerships with our horses is an endeavour that takes a lot of time and an enormous amount of effort. Technically improving in our riding skills obviously helps our goal of harmony with the horse, alongside the physical demands of riding, a crucial factor impacting our experience of being with our horse is the state of mind we find ourselves in.

We, of course, don’t operate in a psychological ‘vacuum’, our internal world is situated within our social interactions. The context of relationships we find ourselves within can have a profound effect on individual and collective experience of developing our riding performance.

Yards where horses are kept can be a ‘hotbed’ of frictions and tensions when clashes of personalities occur between riders/owners/staff. Equally, at competitions you may have come across individuals that don’t demonstrate courteous behaviours towards those around them. This sort of atmosphere is not conducive to great performances or to positive experiences in the process of improving with our horses. In my view, often at the root of the issue lies a sense of insecurity by individuals, attempting to assert some kind of power control.

In contrast, there are many examples of supporting environments created in situations where acceptance of each other’s values is demonstrated by encouraging others around us to thrive. The core of effort towards success with our horse, however we may define success, needs to focus on being the best we can be on the day. Making others feel less does not make us better! Raise everyone around you and you will also be lifted. Tactfully sharing knowledge and experience, recognising progress and effort in ourselves and those around us goes a long way towards creating a positive atmosphere that enables a sense of belonging, a team spirit, even with our competitors. Striving for personal best performances can help us remain in a growth mindset, resilient to the ups and downs of performance.

One of my favourite ‘sound bites’ in coaching is: “Smile, your horse knows if you’re smiling!” This smile I’m referring to is a reflection of our inner state, is a positive regard towards the horse and those around us, and it is infectious. So, as the poem suggests, let’s start a ‘smile revolution’, you may get a smile back! Boost and encourage each other to greater individual and collective achievements.

Petros Spiliopoulos, MSc Sport & Exercise Psychology, BSc(Hons) Psych., PGCert. Phil., BHS SCCH APEC, Centre10 Advanced Coach.

Coaching Excellence || Dressage-Eventing-Showjumping

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