Enhancing Dressage Performance with Conscious

Part Two- Discover
By Michael J. Russ

In part one of this series we discussed the importance of clearly defining your goals, intentions, dreams and aspirations for participating in the sport of dressage, so you can ultimately design “self-talk” that both supports and positively influences your riding experience.

Once you have a clear understanding of what you want, be it riding for pleasure or to eventually compete, your next step is discover the kind of “self-talk” you are presently using to describe yourself in relation to the goals you have set.

For example, let’s say you are a Training/First Level rider and have intentions of moving to Second Level. But as you practice, you encounter difficulty perfecting the necessary movements required to progress and find yourself thinking and saying things like “why can’t I get this right?”, “I don’t know if I can do this”, or “Maybe I am not cut out for the next level.” When your goals and dreams encounter resistance of any kind, becoming aware of this type of “self-talk” is critical in order to nip it in the bud and instead, think and say something which is supportive and consistent with the goals you have set for yourself.

Left unchecked, unsupportive or negative “self-talk” becomes the obstacle that prevents you from moving forward. Hence, the need for discovering what you are thinking and saying about yourself.

The Mental Game of Dressage

There is a mental game in every sport and dressage is no different. In this sport, however, you have to coordinate with another living being; because of this, your thoughts must be clear so this clarity can be silently communicated to your horse. Of course, your horse might have other ideas of what he/she wants! I have been told by Jeremy Beale, an Olympic qualifier and gifted trainer, that it is possible to communicate clearly what you expect and get it, if you do so correctly and with authority.

From the standpoint of common sense, supporting yourself should be the natural thing to do. Sadly, I can say that this is usually not the case, because supporting yourself is something you have to be conscious of and most people go through life unconsciously. If you find this hard to believe, think about the last time you were going somewhere on a route you travel everyday, such as to the stable where you do your riding, and suddenly found yourself mindlessly making all the turns that take you to the stable instead of where you intended to go.

Whether you realize it or not, “self-talk” has a hand in every part of what you experience as a dressage rider. Using “self-talk” affirmations such as “I can make this ride”, “I am a great rider” and “I have what it takes to perform a great ride” influence your attitude, feelings and eventual success in ways you could never imagine. So make it a point consciously to discover any unsupportive thoughts and words you are currently using to describe yourself and your riding so you can eventually weed them out of your mind forever. In fact, if you really want to take a positive step toward discovering you’re “self-talk”, begin using a voice activated tape recorder to record what you say and a journal to document your thoughts, so you can uncover negative patterns of “self-talk.” It will come in handy as we progress to part three.

“Design Your Life: Using Self-Talk to Create Your Life One Day at a Time”

This four part series is based on my latest audio book “Design Your Life: Using Self-Talk to Create Your Life One Day at a Time”, and is designed to open your mind to consciously creating “self-talk” that fully supports you and what you are attempting to do in your sport and in your life. My ultimate goal is to help you achieve your highest potential by giving you the tools to create a mental approach to dressage that is so focused it’s bulletproof.

In Part Three we will discuss ways of defying the negative aspects of “self-talk” you’ve discovered.

Michael J. Russ is an empowering speaker and trainer who has authored several audio books on the mental side of golf, life and sales. His most recent audio book is entitled “Design Your Life: Using Self-Talk to Create Your Life One Day at a Time.” Other titles include Powerful Self-Talk, Powerful Golf, and Powerful Sales. If you have specific questions, Michael can be reached at powerfulliving@msn.com or visit powerfulliving.org for more information.

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Part One - Enhancing Your Dressage Performance with Conscious “Self-Talk”