Sport Psychology Seminars 

“Improve your riding motion by learning to improve your riding emotion”

Printable PDF:  RPH Sport Psychology Seminars and Pressure Proof Clinics handout

Karen’s sport psychology seminars and clinics improve your riding performance by refining your “frame of mind”.  Sport psychology has been proven to play an important role in achieving peak performance riding.  Former USET coach Daniel Stewart writes in his book Ride Right that “Your ability to adapt to the stress and tension of riding, and the way you mentally approach your lessons or shows dictates how successful you’ll be at achieving your riding goals.”  One can picture the posture of a worried rider … her shoulders are rounded forward, muscles are stiff and tense, and hands, head, fingers, and eyes are fidgety.  In contrast, the picture of a confident rider would present… open shoulders, head and eyes looking forward with confidence, and supple muscles and create the feeling that her reflexes are ready for action.  Together, let’s develop your positive riding attitude and posture!

Karen’s seminars based on the Ride Right Sports Psychology program use widely accepted techniques and tools to help riders control their emotions so that their emotions cannot control them.  In the seminars and clinics, Karen will provide clear and easy positive mental techniques and handouts so that riders can approach their sport with confidence and fun.

In Pressure Proof clinics, riders will learn how to how to control pressure in their riding practices so they’ll know how to control them on competition day or out on the trail, or at an new facility.  By creating pressure in normal and non-stressful conditions, the rider can feel and work through mental challenges in a safe environment.  The riders are pushed outside their comfort zone with the idea “to get comfortable at being uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable”.  Riders grow and get stronger by pushing themselves outside their comfort zone, and learn to run towards challenges instead of running away from them.

These mental attitude changes can be achieved through the utilization of a variety of simple sports psychology techniques that can help you to attain a heightened sense of mental focus, confidence, self-control, positive thinking, and patience.  These techniques can also help with overcoming doubt, fear, stress, tension, and performance anxiety that can be experienced while riding.

Following are a few widely used sports psychology techniques that are used in Karen’s seminars and clinics.

Brain Babble

Brain babble, the words you use to speak to yourself, has a major effect on a rider’s ability to remain confident in the saddle.  “Positive emotions (brain babble) create positive motions”.  When feeling uncertain or nervous, by kindly encouraging oneself with positive words, riders can convince themselves that they are confident and in control.  In other words, “fake it until you make it”.  Over time you will start to feel more confident and feel like you are in total control. Many examples of positive brain babble are discussed during the seminars and clinics.

Visualization and Mental Imagery

Through imagery the mind can solve problems that the body has been trying to solve for years. Imagery is simply riding with pictures in your mind.  The human brain is made up of two separate halves.  The left side is considered the analytical side and concerns itself with such tasks as language, sequential planning, logic, and computations.  Creative thinking, effortless movement, special orientation, and the use of mental images arise from the right side of the brain. The right side is considered the artistic integrator side.  The right side integrates the left side components into simple flowing images.  The left side is usually concerned with the past or the future and the right side exists in the present.

In order for images to be successful, the images must be vivid and lifelike.  By utilizing all of the senses – touch, smell, hearing, taste, seeing – the image can take on a sense that it is real.  Mental images can be either internal or external. External imagery is used when you visualize yourself or another as if you had a video camera.  This technique gives you the “big picture”.  Internal imagery is used to develop the feeling inside the body to help the rider perfect their riding movement.  Many visual examples are explored during the seminars and clinics.

Goal Setting

To prevent disappointment, frustration, and loss of motivation, it is important to set realistic goals. Realistic goal setting can be broken down into three main categories: behavioral goals, performance goals, and outcome goals. Setting up each of these types of goals can be overwhelming unless there is a clear map to follow.  If we remember to set goals we will remember to feel good about our riding.  Goal setting guidelines and handouts are essential for setting up a clear path to success.  Guidelines are discussed and handouts are available at the seminars and clinics.

Stress Management

Fear, stress, anxiety, tension and nervousness are all caused by the same thing – a perceived loss or lack of control.  To overcome riding and performance anxiety one must first identify the situations that cause the stress.  Once identified, stress management techniques can help rider’s overcome their fear or stress symptoms.  The stress reduction techniques used in the clinics and workshops include: Riding rehearsals, simulation training, systematic desensitization, memory motivation, imagery relaxation, positive brain babble, and deep breathing.  Lots of examples and easy to learn techniques are included in the seminars and clinics.

Concentration Cues

Stress management techniques are only effective when we are able to focus.  The only way to overcome our fears is to block out everything else that is happening in our lives and concentrate completely on our riding.  One technique that can help us to concentrate is called a concentration cue.  The most effective concentration cues are those that use a physical movement of the body.  A common example of a concentration cue would be to use a few deep breaths to relax and think confidently.  By establishing concentration cues we can bring our focus back to our riding.  Lots of examples and easy to learn techniques are included in the seminars and clinics.


Pressure Proof Riding Clinics

Pressure Proof clinics teach riders how to control pressure without increasing the risk of de-training their horse.  The pressure is created by using the following principles:

  • Overload Principle – We increase the pressure on the rider by rushing them and asking them to remember increasingly complicated jumping courses or dressage tests.
  • Simulation Training – Recreate in our lessons what could potentially happen to us in our shows, in the arena, or on the trail (e.g. pressure, distractions)
  • Score the jumping course or trail course or dressage test by a fault point system that creates pressure.
  • Positive Punishment – Pressure is added to the rider by telling them they’ll need to do unmounted riding fitness activities if they score too many faults.
  • The tests have been designed to include additional challenges that help them make mistakes and proving to them that they can stay focused and finish strong regardless.
  • Team camaraderie is encouraged by allowing riders with few faults to take a double or nothing challenge to save other riders on their teams from the fate of many sit-ups.  All or nothing – save everyone or everyone has to do the sit-ups.


The seminars and clinics are filled with lots of easy, simple, and effective techniques.  Riders have a lot of fun and have afterwards have written that the techniques really have made a difference in their performances and everyday riding. Karen looks forward to working with your or your riders to help them on their journey to riding excellence (not perfection !).