Appeared on ProEquest.com, January 2016 By Tonya Johnston, MA
Your potential buyers just called from the airport to say they are on their way. You may be at a horse show or at your barn at home, but either way you have everything lined up and in tip-top shape. Though you never know exactly how it will go, you are excited for them to arrive. Oh wait, there it was again—was that actually excitement? Or did you just tighten your stomach and clench your teeth? You have a lot at stake with this deal, so there is a good chance your optimistic outlook is accidentally morphing into negative feelings of pressure as you wait for them to arrive.
There is an aspect of performance in selling horses that can create an underlying (and understandable) sense of anxiety. For example, unlike at a new-car dealership, your horse may not start up or perform exactly the same way on any given day. In addition, when you are competing your sale horse at a show with buyers watching the color of the ribbon you win (or do not win) can potentially influence the process.
Appeared in iJump Magazine, January 2013 By Tonya Johnston, MA
Going to horse shows with your friends can be a fantastic, fun experience. You get to root for each other, be silly together between classes, clap and whoop after each other’s great rides, and help one another through the occasional rough patch. Some days, however, having to compete against your friends can feel like a distracting challenge. Who will have to go first? Who will ride well? Who will get more attention from the trainers? Who will be champion? It can catch you off-guard to feel competitive with people you consider good friends, and you may feel strange, vulnerable or disloyal in those instances. If this sounds familiar, and you have occasionally felt off-kilter when competing with your friends, here are some ideas that can help you stay focused and composed.
The Waiting Game: Handling Down Time at Fall Shows
Appeared in The Plaid Horse, October 2015
By Tonya Johnston, MA ~ Mental Skills Coach
The fall season’s important classes, medal finals, indoor venues, and special shows often have unique schedules that may cause you to have more down time in your show day than normal. The added free time is not necessarily bad or good, what is potentially difficult is being thrown off of your regular routine when it matters most. This can lead to things like over-thinking, butterflies and (strangely enough) mental and physical fatigue. Here are some strategies for handling this added down time with composure and confidence, as well as great personal examples from some top riders and trainers.
Using Video to Improve Your Ride by Kristen Spinning
Featured on EquineChronicle.com, June 2015
The human eye is slow and, on top of that, it often conveys only the data the brain thinks it wants to see. It can’t resolve the details of fast motion, like the motion of a horse and rider.
Have you ever seen a painting of a horse from the 18th century? Majestic galloping steeds were often depicted with both front and hind legs fully extended at the same time. People believed that was a correct gait, because that’s what they thought they saw, and all those paintings reinforced their false belief. It wasn’t until 1876 when Eadweard Muybridge captured the first moving shots of a racehorse that the gait debate was settled. That mere three seconds of motion picture changed how horse trainers and owners understood the sequence of a horse’s legs in motion.
Sport Psychology for Riders: Benefits of the Small, Unrated Horse Show Featured on ProEquest.com, July 2015
By Tonya Johnston, MA
Competing at a friendly, well run, practice horse show can be wonderful for so many reasons. I was recently reminded of these positives when I attended a lovely practice derby and horse show put on by the barn where I ride, Sonoma Valley Stables, in Petaluma, CA.
In any competitive sport it is easy to get caught up in winning and a “bigger is better” perspective. However, it is valuable to remember what small competitions can do for you. Usually people focus on the benefits of small shows for horses and riders who are young or learning—they get quality miles, the atmosphere is low key, entries are less expensive, etc., but in fact riders of varying backgrounds can use a practice horse show as a fun experience where real growth can occur.
Preparing for a New Horse Show The Plaid Horse, April 2015
By Tonya Johnston, MA
It doesn’t matter how long you have been riding and competing, arriving at a new horse show venue is always exciting! Recently I had the good fortune of traveling for the first time to the fantastic Pin Oak Charity Horse Show for one day, to ride in one class, in Katy, Texas. Since I help riders become mentally prepared to show, it was also a great opportunity to practice what I teach—specifically how to support yourself when you are heading into a completely new setting.
How do you keep yourself calm, cool and collected while you are trying Mr. or Ms. Maybe-Right? Let’s face it, trying new horses can be a lot like going on a bunch of highly recommended blind dates. You hear about each new prospect with a hope that maybe this will be “the one”. When it comes time to ride the horse you want it to go well, try to put your best foot forward, have heard great things about him or her, and you often meet in an unfamiliar location. It’s understandable that you might have some butterflies, feel some self-induced pressure to be “good”, or be distracted by a lot of choices and opinions. (more…)
Mind over matter, as the saying goes. It’s no secret that mental strategies play a key role in performing at one’s best. But it’s a lot harder to tell yourself, “Be positive,” and affect a change than it is to say to yourself, “Push your heels down,” and do it.
The author of Inside Your Ride, Tonya Johnston, is a mental skills coach who also competes in the adult equitation at AA-rated shows. She’s worked with riders of various disciplines, and her advice can be applied to any type of riding. (more…)