There are a few key characteristics that mentally strong riders have in common: things they do—and things they don’t to stay in control of their own mental game.

Here are ten things that these riders don’t do and how you can follow suit:

1. They don’t feel the need to win.

Successful riders don’t have to win; they want to win—and they know they can win! But they understand the difference and the importance of detaching themselves from the outcome in order to stay focused on the process and to trust that they can do it.

2. They don’t fear pressure.

Mentally strong riders don’t fear pressure. They know they excel under pressure and need a healthy amount of pressure to stay focused and in their zone.

3. They don’t doubt their plans.

Once mentally strong riders have walked their courses and decided on their course plans, they don’t doubt whether those plans will work or not. They know the plans they’ve made are the best for themselves and their horse, and they fully commit to them in the ring.

4. They don’t get distracted.

Mentally strong riders will do whatever is necessary to get into their “zone” the moment they get on the horse. They make sure they find some quiet space to focus and prepare themselves in order to ride their best round.

5. They don’t lose faith.

Mentally strong riders know that the equestrian sport is not a 100m race; it’s more like a marathon and they understand that success takes time. They believe in themselves and their unique journeys.

6. They don’t push others down.

Successful riders know they don’t have to push others down in order to do better themselves. Instead, they encourage and support others to learn from their mistakes and to celebrate the wins.

7. They don’t get frustrated when things don’t go their way.

Mentally strong riders know they only lose unnecessary energy when they focus on things they can’t change anymore. Instead they learn from their mistakes and move on in order to do it better next time.

8. They don’t worry about the future.

Successful riders don’t fixate on the final destination. They know where they want to go and they trust they will get there. They set many sub goals and create a clear plan to stay focused on what they can change now.

9. They don’t listen to the critics.

Mentally strong riders have learned to not listen to the critics or to people that think they know better. Because these riders have clearly established their individual plans, they can stay focused on that. They create a strong team around them of people who have their best interests at heart.

10. They don’t forget about what matters most.

Successful riders don’t let success distract them from what ultimately matters most: their connections with their horses. Investing in the horse is the best way to expand the chance of success.

annetteWith a background in the show jumping sport, Annette Paterakis is a performance coach, specialized in mental coaching equestrians. She is passionate about working with riders to help them better understand the mind and to provide the framework for creating the right conditions to reach peak performance.

For more information on Paterakis, please visit her website at

-Photo credit: Bret St. Clair.