Mastering your Rider Mindset with Abbey Sweeney

Abbey Sweeney | APEC Gold Rider Confidence Coach

Abbey Sweeney | APEC Gold Rider Confidence Coach

Hello! For those of you that don’t know who I am, my name is Abbey Sweeney and I am one of the coaches at Ryders Farm.

As a coach, I am most passionate about helping riders to be the best that they can be. I am well aware that one of the main obstacles that gets in the way of us achieving our riding goals however big or small, is our own rider mindset!

Last year I became a Centre 10 APEC Advanced Coach. Centre 10 is an advanced training organisation led by top sports psychologists who assist coaches like myself, to help riders by using applied psychology. In 2016, I attended a talk by Charlie Unwin, one of the founders of Centre 10, called ‘Managing your Mind in Competition’ because I realised, when I was competing on my own horses, I was far from calm! This is where my real love for the psychology behind riding started. Centre 10 was founded in 2017 and I immediately applied for a position on their Equestrian coaching course. After a 3 day residential and 6 months of intense online learning I became a APEC Advanced Coach and now continue learning with their Coaching Hub Community. 

I have now started to put my training into practice and share the skills I have learned with riders to help them grow themselves. On speaking to many riders already, one of the most common issues I have heard is the pesky “what ifs” that cross our mind when we are riding…

“What if my horse bucks?” “What if it rains and the ground is slippy?” “What if my horse takes off before I expect?” “What if I fall off?”

Sound familiar?

Our job as a rider is to stay in the present moment. We cannot control what will happen in 5 strides time, FACT. However, we can control what we put into our riding right at that moment which could in turn, affect what happens in 5 strides time. We need to be pro-active as riders instead of being reactive. Ideally you don’t want to have to sit yourself back up and pull your horses head back off the floor after them tripping over their own feet. You want to focus on riding a balanced, rhythmic gait to lessen that chances of your horse tripping up, do you agree? Being 3 steps ahead of our horse is key! 

If you find your mind wandering to the “what ifs” then there is a little tool that you can use to bring you back into the present moment. Focus on something that is happening in that current moment, your breathing, listen to your horse’s rhythm in their footfalls, squeeze your hands together to feel the contact. From there, you can progress and continue your riding in a clearer headspace with a better rider mindset. 

If anything in this post has resonated with you, or you may feel like you lack confidence in a certain area of your riding, be reassured, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! It happens to us all, even top level riders. There are many tools and tips that can get you through and will allow you to ride at your best. Think of all the things you could achieve if you could get rid of what is in your way?



Abbey Sweeney is a BHS Qualified Stage 2 Coach in Complete Horsemanship and instructor at Ryders Farm. She specialises in Equestrian Performance Coaching and is a Centre 10 APEC Advanced Coach. Do you struggle with your riding confidence? Why not join our brand new workshop with Abbey, specifically designed for those who struggle with confidence when riding to improve their rider mindset;

📍Ryders Farm Equestrian Centre

💡 Unmounted Rider Confidence Workshop

🗓 Sunday 8th March 2020 | 2-4pm

Find out more on our Facebook Event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/183126529585492/

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