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#SoundOffSunday - Let's Talk Mental Game!

Updated: Apr 8, 2019

We've started a new series over on the Western Twist Media Facebook Page called #SoundOffSunday. Basically the gist of it is that we'll ask a question, respond with our own answer or thoughts and then ask our followers to respond with their answers as well. The following Sunday we'll recap some of the great responses we receive on the blog! Sometimes the questions will be serious, other times they'll be fun, scary, silly, cutting-focused, professional or personal. Either way, we want to hear what you have to say! Last week I asked "tell me about mental game. 🧠 What are your best tricks, tips, stories or advice for those that either suffer from a slump, self-doubt, fear, nerves or negative self-talk in the show pen?" For me, it was two things that helped me overcome a serious case of run-ruining nerves when I started out. 1. A solid and forgiving horse that I could trust that made taking risks more fun because of it. 2. A mindset shift - I stopped thinking I was nervous and started accepting and relishing in the feeling that I was excited and ready. Once again your responses totally blew me away!

Here's what our followers had to say: "Couple of things. I have a buzz word that came from a Chubby Turner clinic. I say it to myself every time before I walk to the herd. Also I have trained my mind to focus only on things I can control. Don't worry about anyone else and their scores. It is you against the cows. If you have confidence in your horse, simply do your job and let the horse take over. If you have a bad run, get over it. Go on to the next one. Don't dwell on negatives." ~ Ken H. "One thing I remind myself is that by the time I get into the pen, the gas has been used and the show fees have been paid, so what do we have to lose? I just go out, try my hardest and hope for the best! And I ALWAYS pat my horse on the neck after every run, no matter what." ~ Brianna C. "If I'm ever nervous or down on myself I try to stop and look around and just acknowledge my surroundings... and think "there is no where else I would rather be!" ~ Katie K. "If I feel I've done my best to prepare and am confident in my practices then I can keep any nerves in check. I have a horse who REALLY feeds off me so it's imperative I keep it together. (I don't always) I was struggling with poor runs for months and one day just before I was about to show, literally about to walk in the pen, I thought, "I am a child of God, nothing can change that, so what is the worst that can happen here?" That moment changed my entire mindset for the rest of the year and we had a great year." ~ Allysn J. "I think this stems from my reiner/cow horse days but I've always worked on envisioning how I'm going to have a good clean run! I used to always mentally go through my patterns and think about at what points I was going to be thinking about asking my horse to do something. So, I kind of carried that over to my cutting runs." ~ Kylie R. "Professional athletes (from what I have read) envision the perfect run, so I try to do that. I also think about what things I can do at each moment to ensure things go right. I also try to remember the days before I ever showed but watched people and thought how lucky they were out there, competing and doing something so cool with their horse and to remember we do this for FUN!" ~ Keri H.

"Not comparing myself to other riders and remembering my job is to let my horse show his abilities. I just set his stage so he can star on it. And to never let showing put too much pressure on me. This is what I do for fun and I never know what tomorrow may bring." ~ Brooke M. "Focus on one cow at a time. Sometimes in a slump getting through a whole run is overwhelming. I have to look at everything in segments. Prepare my horse (lope, work, etc.) do my dry work, et my first cow cut clean, quit that cow clean, turn back to the herd, stop for a minute (and breathe) and then focus on the second cow and so on. Small, attainable goals soon turn into a complete run. Enjoy it and know it's not always going to be perfect. A short memory when it comes to bad runs is the key for me and a constant battle! It's a fresh palette each time you walk to the herd." ~ Mary B. & one of my favourite personal #SoundOff's came from Nathan N, for the full quote visit my Facebook page. He quote checked the book "Mind Gym" - I have read and listened to this book many times, and would often listen to chunks of it on the road to shows last year. Highly recommend. "Personally, fixing your mind game is probably one of the hardest things to do. But I feel as though it separates the open riders from many of the non pros, with obvious exceptions. From someone who has only been in the cowhorse/cutting world for about a year and a half it's really dawned on me that your mindset and the way you approach certain outcomes/prepare for an event increases or decreases your chances of success. For me at least listening to audio books like "You Are A Bad Ass", "Mind Gym", "The Inner Game of Tennis", etc. This has helped me prepare, focus and cope with the highs and lows of riding these extraordinary animals in this amazing event. Here are some tips I have found along the way to better your chances of success: 1. Prepare - yourself and your mind before you get to the show. If you haven't put the time in before the show, not only on your horse but your mind swell, you will be riddled with stress and anxiety instead of enjoy this beautiful sport we choose to do. Running through your mental plan at this point is so important. You need to plan what you're going to work on improving and how you're going to do that in the show pen in a variety of different situations. 2. Focus - as you warmup before the show, start to focus yourself. Trust the time you have put in on your horse and your mental game. 3. Accept and Enjoy - who cares if you have a bad run? Even the open riders have bad days, don't be so hard on yourself."

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