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A Change in Conversation: Equestrian Performance Coaching and How I Got Here.

Have you come to motivate me? Thats the question most people ask me when they awkwardly attempt to gauge what I’m up to at a horse show. It’s not overly surprising since what I do is a completely new concept, especially in the horse community in rural Ireland, on a Saturday afternoon. It’s a new type of conversation we haven’t had before, it’s one many people have never had the opportunity to have. You may have seen me around watching, lots of watching and then talking to people, tucked away from the public eye. This is not a motivational exercise, this is a new conversation, one I’m absolutely focused on.   I began my career qualifying as a Occupational Therapist from Trinity College in Dublin, working placements in Cancer, Stroke Rehabilitation and finally moving into the area of Adolescent Mental Health where I worked to improve the physical, psychological & social well being of teenagers. I spent four years flitting between parallel universes. In my holidays I travelled
Recent posts

Professional Riders. Asking for Help.

Asking for help Firstly, it is important to recognise that ‘asking for help’ is not a negative concept. In fact many famous athletes or coaches would tell you that asking for help is the single most useful thing you can do in your career. It is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of intelligence, with the ability to recognise areas that could support you better.  The Reality of being  Successful Believe it or not, being a successful professional in any sphere can be a solitary place. You are expected to perform well, to handle the pressure and to remain cool while doing so. Life as a professional equestrian is no different. You may be surround by a great team and have a brilliant network of friends but it’s very rare we actually share the solitary inner workings of our minds with any body else. The doubts, the question of ability, the frustration, the emotional rollercoaster, the tiredness or the niggling negatives. It’s easy to be positive and likeable when things are go

Two years of research; A look at the mental requirements of Show Jumpers in Training Part One

With the Nations Cup finals taking place in Barcelona this week, it seems like a good time to share my research findings on showjumping athletes mental requirements at the top of the sport. Earlier this year I submitted two years of research to UCC documenting my findings from interviewing and observing the athletes competing at 1.50m level and above. I examined the role of a Performance Psychology Coach within the sport highlighting four key areas, training quality, competitive success, personal well being and future generations. Over the coming fortnight, I will be sharing snippets from  this project and providing an insight into the mental requirements demanded by our modern sport. Improving Training Quality  The importance of improving training quality was acknowledged as a common theme during this research, ‘ if you are not willing to try new ways of making yourself train better, forget it. We spend 99% of our time training horses, we cannot just concentrate on bein

The Art of Being Pro-Active

‘’I know of no more encouraging fact that the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavour. ‘’ I recently talked at a Marketing event in Dublin and was surprised by the level of engagement with my talk. In our fast past corporate environments, self management and self reflection seem more relevant than ever.  I aimed to inspire an understanding of how the resource of self can be the solution.  SECTION 1:  Its time to start thinking about what you are actually doing and where you are actually going. We spend a lot of time running on the corporate treadmill and sometimes we are running so fast that personally we have no idea where we are trying to end up. Its important to occasionally step off the machine and reassess if 1) you are going in a direction you actually want to go and 2) if you are feeling in control of your progress.  The Social Paradigm - Understanding the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, our character and  abilit

Training to Perform?

This week I partnered with The Irish Field to take a look how we train for Pressure. An interesting look at the difference between USA and Irish training culture and some useful tips to practice at home. The full Article can be read below. ​ ​ S M L XL Training to perform or just training? I’m writing this time from the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida, a place like no other to immerse yourself in all forms of equestrian sport and a place like no other to learn as much at the ring side as on a horse. In fact, many riders like Darragh Kenny or Conor Swail mention they enjoy basing here for a few months to have the chance to watch and learn from other riders at home and at competition. What makes this show so unique is the visibility of the rider’s routines and preparations for competition over an extended time period. It’s an insight we rarely catch a sight of at other five star venues and it’s here we can learn more about our own systems, training approaches and atti

The Power of Mindset on Performance

  This week I worked together with the Ireland's dedicated equine newspaper, 'The Irish Field' to take a look at how our mind set can affect our future. http://www.theirishfield.ie/horse-sense-the-power-of-mindset-on-performance-226341/  Equine Sport is a very dynamic and changeable industry and it can become easy to focus on what's wrong instead of what we can make right. I've posted the article below in case you cant access the online version. Are we looking in the right place? Now that the excitement of the Olympics has well and truly passed there's a sense of familiar normality restored to our days. We shift our hopes to our young horses in Lanaken while our pony and young riders return back to school longing for more days, more chances, day dreaming of their own gold medal.  For those of us living the daily equestrian life we revert back to our old frustrations of poor facilities and bad weather, slipping easily back to our routines of

Performance Coaching in Equestrian Sport- What is it?

When McLain Ward left the arena after winning the World Cup Final of Showjumping and exclaimed that learning to conquer his mind through mental coaching was key to his performance, it hit the head lines. The world of sports is changing, competitions are becoming more technical and pressures are becoming greater. The taboo of ‘mental coaching’ has slowly started to dwindle and athletes, including equestrians are starting to reap the rewards of mastering their minds. So where does mental coaching fit with equestrian sport and what is it? Mental Performance Coaching is recognized as an effective method of increasing human performance and optimizing personal effectiveness.  Coaching psychology, as opposed to a sports Coaching, is based in scientifically valid theory.  The concept was started by a famous tennis player, Tim Gallwey who began to revolutionize the term ‘Coaching’ by coming to realize that for many athletes, it was not that they didn’t know what to do in comp