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Why a $5 notebook was a brilliant investment in my riding

Written by Andrea Parker

I recently purchased a small, rather unassuming notebook for just $5 and I can honestly say, its been a fantastic investment in my riding. I’ve been using it on a regular basis to reflect upon my riding sessions and it has changed the way I approach my training with Nonie.

I can’t claim coming up with this wonderful concept on my own. After discovering Tonya Johnston Mental Skills Coach via the Plaidcast. I purchased myself a copy of her book ‘Inside your Ride‘ on Amazon Kindle. Without completely finishing this book, I’ve already discovered a number of brilliant strategies. Among these was an exercise for evaluating your ride, which I now use most days.

As someone who trains alone for the vast majority of time, this has had significant benefits.

What does it involve?

After your ride reflect upon the following factors:

  • What preparation did you do prior to the ride?
  • What goals did you achieve during your ride?
  • What were the highlights of that ride?
  • What area’s of your riding or exercises do you need work more on?

For me the act of writing down my thoughts under each of these topics enables me to more fully evaluate them.

Seems simple enough right?

Why reflect upon your riding?

  • Increased focus within my training. Because I now need to write down what my preparation was for each ride, I have developed a new habit. Prior to each ride I take a few moments to consider what exercises I would like to focus on for that day. We’ve all heard the saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. In contrast by having a plan for each ride, I have a clear focus and a plan. Does this mean that I follow this plan to the letter each ride, no matter what? No! There are of course times where for instance I am struggling to get into the swing of things, or Nonie and I have trouble with a basic exercise. In these times we do of course go right back to basics.
  • Goal focused riding. I’ve always been big on setting goals. However, in the past I’ve typed them up, saved the document and then forgotten about them. Thinking about what I have achieved on a daily basis has assisted me in having a greater connection to my goals within my everyday riding. In her book Tonya also discusses how to create focused goals and develop strategies to help you to achieve them.
  • Finding something positive in each and every ride. The format of this particular ride evaluation or reflection asks you to pin point the highlights of your ride. For me this has meant that I now look for something positive in each ride. As riders we are often our own worst critics. It is easy to identify problems or aspects which need to be improved upon, but there is an understated power in needing to find a positive.

Although I have not finished ‘Inside your ride’, I have learnt volumes from it already. I would highly recommend this book to all riders.

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About the author


Andrea Parker

Andrea is an Adult Amateur dressage rider who competes at medium level on her 13-year-old mare Mon Ami. Andrea shares her journey through the equestrian world on her blog The Sand Arena Ballerina and is working on an equestrian podcast called Equestrian Pulse.

1 Comment

  • I did this for about a year when I first had Vallu and it REALLY helped me mentally to deal with him during the first difficult few months!