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A smarter way to compete

This article first appeared in the May 2023 digital edition of Equestrian Life. To see what's in the current issue, click here. 

 Happy dressage rider. Image by Shannon Brinkman for the FEI.

Image by Shannon Brinkman for the FEI.


A smarter way to compete

By Dr Kerry Mack

Not all of us want to compete with our horses, but for many of us competing is a natural extension of our training. Setting a competition goal gives a sense of purpose and a timeline for our training.

Competitions are usually very social events. Some of us ride to compete, the competitions being the main focus of our riding, but some of us use competitions to ride, giving us another way to enjoy our horses and our friends. Competitions offer the opportunity to build personal skills as well as equestrian skills. Working consistently towards goals, regulating our feelings and managing stress, dealing with the highs and the lows of winning and not winning, are some of the personal skills we can build with competitive riding in any discipline.

I think that equestrian sports both require and build capacity for us to regulate our feelings. We need to be able to achieve equanimity, to be calm in the face of all kinds of stress, in order to be able to train and manage our horses most effectively and enjoy our competitions.

If you’re going to compete you should set a SMART goal for the competition. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely. For example, at the recent Sydney CDI my goals were to do an error-free Grand Prix and hopefully qualify for the Freestyle, which is my favourite class. This goal meets all the SMART criteria, although I knew it would be difficult given how tense Limelight was in the arena at SIEC last year... 

Read the full article in the May 2023 issue of Equestrian Life magazine here.




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