Monday, 23 January 2017
Book Review: Perfect Mind: Perfect Ride
Instead of one giant book review post for the entire year, in 2017 I'm opting to only review the books I have purchased and enjoyed. 'Perfect Mind: Perfect Ride' is one of them.
Here's the summary from Amazon.ca:
"Possessing the right mind-set and relevant mental skills has long been considered vital in achieving top performances in all sports. And yet, to many riders, mental fitness still remains something of an afterthought. In Perfect Mind: Perfect Ride, the author demonstrates how to develop and achieve the right kind of attitude, motivation and mental skills to make the most of the rider's abilities whether it be riding as a recreation or as a competitive sport. Horses are highly sensitive flight animals - they will react first and ask questions, well, never...! In essence, this means that every time riders get on their horse, they need to be fully committed, aware and in control of their body, their thoughts and their emotions, in order to communicate with their horse in precisely the right kind of manner."
My short review:
Book: Perfect Mind: Perfect Ride - Sport Psychology For Successful Riding
T's Synopsis: My mind is unorganized, therefore my riding is.
T's Thoughts: I really liked this book. Concise, easy to read, super encouraging and positive. Covers all the big mind traps we all fall into as riders and gives you numerous tips towards being stronger mentally. The chapters progress from identifying your strengths and weaknesses, through to planning your goals, and finishing with some super relevant chapters surrounding your 'big' goals or competition. I enjoyed the quotes from the big name riders, but enjoyed equally that this is a book for all levels of riders, with tips that are useful in all parts of life.
T's rating*: 4.5/5
Would Recommend?: Yes. If you're remotely interested in the subject, this is an excellent, easy to read intro.
I have enough anxiety that riding in shows can actually be a fairly miserable experience for me. Particularly if things don't go to plan! I can get into panic mode and pretty much sabotage myself. I've of course done multiple google searches and read numerous articles on handling your nervousness, but I've only been partially successful in fixing things. My last show of the season was a real low point, so I picked up this book hoping I would find some further insight.
And...I did! I'm going to refer back to this book and follow the chapters step by step. As mentioned, this is a very readable book. The author writes like she's in a conversation with you, so it's not overly dry or serious at any point. I enjoyed how well edited and laid out this book was - there even some useful tables for planning and examining your goals and strengths/weaknesses that I'll probably fill in at the start and end of the season.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a bit of an edge, and also anyone looking to make their riding experience healthier mentally. I found the sections on anxiety quite useful, but there is also a lot of useful information on strategy, goals, planning, and generally being strong mentally.
Some useful take homes off the top of my head:
- Never set a goal 'to win'. You can't control everyone else's day, including the other riders and the judge. Instead set goals you can potentially control, like your dressage test having a specific feel, or trying to not have any stops cross country. Essentially, have a goal of improving your best, and don't worry about how that compares to others. Control what you can, don't waste energy worrying, assigning blame or being resentful of what you can't.
- Be realistic about your (and your horses) strengths and weaknesses. No one is perfect, and you're not going to magically put in that perfect ride on show day without acknowledging and working on your weaknesses. On the same note, be quick to recognize your strengths and don't focus too hard on all the things that are 'wrong'
- Prioritize. Visualize. Have a plan. If something goes wrong in the moment, acknowledge it, but quickly assess, prioritize, and move on. (Lots of tools provided in the book to help you get good at this) Focus on problem solving mistakes after the actual ride, instead of letting them distract you in the moment!
- After a fall, getting back on immediately may not always be the best thing. If you're legitimately fearful or hurt while you're riding, there's evidence that's only going to make matters worse...now your brain remembers and associates those feelings even more with being in the saddle! Instead, take the time to think on things, make a plan, and do whatever your comfortable with. Build up those positive associations again!
-Anxiety is a good thing! (Within reason - there's some useful exercises to pinpoint what level of anxiety can work in your favour - it varies for everyone) Anxiety doesn't differ in any big way from excitement, and it shouldn't have negative connotations. It can give you an edge by giving you extra energy and focus.