Ditch the Distractions

Do distractions derail your ride? Here are four tips to minimize outside interference when you’re horseback.

Have you heard top-level athletes talk about performing in a bubble? While “living in a bubble” might have some negative connotations, in this case, it’s the ability to focus solely on your own world and what’s happening immediately around you instead of dividing your attention between many distractions.

Thinking about riding in a bubble might be just what you need the next time you have a big show or rodeo or even when you have a specific goal to reach during a riding session. When you ride in a bubble, you effectively only think about yourself and your horse.

Focus distraction
Become a more focused rider by avoiding distractions. Photo by Nichole Chirico.

Name Your Bubble

It sounds silly, but PeakSports.com says naming your bubble can help you recenter yourself back to total focus. Let’s say you name your bubble “Ted Time” (named after your trusty gelding). When you feel your thoughts and focus start to drift, say “Ted Time” to yourself to bring you back to your bubble and zone in on what matters in that moment.

Choose Where the Bubble Works

You might only need your bubble in the immediate area surrounding the in-gate at a show or when you’re practicing a certain maneuver at home. Or you might find that your bubble needs to consume you more often—at the stalls, walking to the arena, warming up. It should be whatever works for you, so take time to explore what works best for your mindset.

Read More: 3 Tips for a Focused Horse

Decide What to Let In…

Certain things have to be able to penetrate your bubble, but there aren’t many. The biggest are positive feedback and encouragement, which should be fully welcome in the bubble. This can come from family, barn mates, riding buddies, and your trainer. Letting in these positive vibes helps elevate your confidence.

If your coach sits ringside and gives you pointers, think of ways to distinguish his or her voice from other unnecessary chatter. You could start at home by using Bluetooth headphones that transmit your trainer’s instructions.

…And What to Keep Out

The list of things to keep out of your bubble could go on forever. But there are a few key items and concepts to banish from your bubble so you have a better chance at success.

The biggest thing to avoid is negativity. You might have a friend who tends to wallow. Devise your bubble to keep their negative energy away when you need to focus. Negative chatter of all kinds can drown out your concentration, from complaining about the ground and judges to fellow competitors gossiping. Keep it out of your bubble.

Read More: Tips to Beat Horse Show Nerves

One easy thing to eliminate is your phone. That pocket device can break your bubble, crash your confidence, and ruin your ride. Just leave it at the tack stall or in your truck. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to focus without ringtones dinging at you nonstop.

Finally, when you’re in your bubble, ditch past mistakes. You’ve probably already overanalyzed them, learned from them, and are ready to move on, so let yourself. Focus on your potential, the ride ahead of you, and the enjoyment you’ll get from your horse.

Distractions focus

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