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Sharon White's Top 5 Tips for Mindful Riding

Alina Tang

Achieving success in the equestrian world and forming a strong bond with your equine partner requires a thoughtful approach to riding. In this episode of Ride iQ's In Stride podcast, we explore the valuable insights shared by esteemed five-star event rider Sharon White, drawing from her extensive 25-year career as a professional rider.

Sharon White jumps a grey horse over a cross country fence in the water.

Tip 1: The Power of Breath Control

a person in a white blouse wearing silver jewelry has one hand over her heart and one over her belly to indicate mindfulness

Sharon emphasizes the often-overlooked importance of mastering your breath in building a meaningful connection with your horse. It's not just about breathing; it's about effectively controlling your breath.

Before each ride, Sharon takes a moment to ground herself, leaving distractions behind and centering her focus on the present. As she enters the arena, she breathes deliberately, cultivating a profound connection with her horse.

In one anecdote, Sharon recalls her early days with Klaus, an enthusiastic yet spirited horse. Amid Klaus's energy, Sharon found solace in her breath, transforming their partnership.

"I always whisper under my breath to him, ‘Son, Champions, they breathe’ because he tries so hard and he holds his breath."

"If you're holding your breath, you're not actually performing well,” Sharon said. Embrace this practice of mindful breathing, and you'll discover its power in harmonizing your movements with your horse, creating an unspoken bond.

Tip 2: Channeling Energy

Riding is an exhilarating experience that fills you with adrenaline. Instead of fearing this surge of energy, Sharon advises riders to embrace it with intention. By intentionally channeling adrenaline, both you and your horse can achieve peak performance.

If you'd like to learn more about channeling your energy and emotions, check out Natalie Hummel's Sports Psychology Sessions in the Ride iQ app. Natalie helps riders understand how the nervous system works, why learning to regulate it is a superpower, and what exercises are effective in developing skills for regulation.

Tip 3: Understanding Horses as Mirrors

A close up on a bay horse's eye; you can see the photographer's reflection in the horse's eye

Sharon's unique perspective on horses as mirrors adds depth to her approach. She believes that horses are highly attuned to our emotions, energy, and intentions.

By honing her awareness and using breathing to center herself and support her horses around nervous energy, Sharon creates an environment of trust and synergy.

“[Horses] know the energy around them so well. You have to really be able to know how your horse is going to perform their best and respond accordingly.”

Embracing this mirroring effect enables riders to gain profound insights into their emotional landscape, cultivating a stronger, more harmonious connection with their equine partners.

Tip 4: Embracing Patterns

Every rider's journey is filled with patterns—cycles of challenges and triumphs. Sharon encourages riders to keenly observe these patterns, both in themselves and their horses.

"Mindfulness and meditation allow you to see patterns and make improvements. Recognizing patterns is a valuable skill," she shares.

Through keen observation, riders gain awareness of habits and tendencies, fostering growth and adaptation.

Tip 5: Positive Self-Talk and Learning from Mistakes

Sharon's inspiring belief in positive self-talk serves as a powerful tool to overcome obstacles.

"Failure – that is your greatest source of information," she reminds us.

Like many of us, Sharon sometimes struggles with being overly critical of herself. To counter this, she encourages us to personify our inner voice as a person sitting next to us and imagine them speaking to us – would you want to be next to that person?

Sharon reminds us that by practicing positive self-talk, riders bolster their courage and resilience, turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones towards greatness.

black stones lay in a serpentine to indicate stepping stones

In Conclusion

As you embark on your equestrian adventure, let Sharon White's transformative tips guide you. Embrace the art of mindful breathing to forge a deep connection with your horse. Harness your energy. Recognize the reflections your horse offers. Embrace patterns, fuel your journey with positive self-talk, and view mistakes as stepping stones towards mastery.

Want More Tips Like These?

Ride iQ is the first audio-focused training platform for equestrians, allowing riders to receive on-demand, listen-while-you-ride instruction from some of the best equestrian coaches in the world. This equestrian app offers coaching for all levels and a range of disciplines, from beginner dressage exercises to advanced coaching. 

Wanting a full on-demand lesson for your next schooling session? Try Ride iQ, free for 14 days, available on both iPhone and Android. 

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