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Reiner Psych - The Winner’s Mindset

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

Sometimes, you must challenge your way of thinking as you strive to achieve your dreams.

Article by Gilead Friedman, with Alexis Bennett

Photos by Noam Shoshany

Courtesy of the NRHA Reiner Magazine - June 2021

To maintain a winner’s mindset, you can’t focus solely on the results you achieve in the show pen. Much more than placings go into achieving your goals.

A winner’s mindset isn’t simply about winning competitions. It’s a state of mind for how you relentlessly pursue your personal goals.

The reason your mindset cannot be about your performance at a show is simple — only one rider-and- horse duo achieves first place in each class (except for the occasional tie). Because there’s always another class or show, that achievement or winner status is finite. Next year or tomorrow, it will be someone else’s turn — or yours!

If you constantly define your success by how you place at an event, you’ve put yourself on a continual rollercoaster of emotions. While on that ride, you can lose sight of the reason you signed up for the show in the first place: your true goal.

Here, you’ll learn a unique approach to develop a winner’s mindset by taking steps to create value-based goals and develop resilience. In doing so, you’ll also understand how to challenge the perspective that only top finishers are successful.

Step 1: Set Your Sights

To have a winner’s mindset, you have to buy into the idea that success is an individual perspective that is not measured by winning. There has to be a foundation other than finishing first at events. This changes too quickly, and it’s too easy to become emotionally volatile based on the show results. Instead, make and focus on your own personal goal.

Long-term goals are dreams. When you dream, it’s your opportunity to create a far-fetched, big or scary milestone for yourself, even if it seems impossible. For some, this may mean becoming a million-dollar rider. For another, this means having a successful performance with a challenging horse or showing at a major event for the first time.

For others still, the goal may be a lifestyle. Perhaps you just want to do what you love. If you’re a trainer, this could mean having a steady client base, and a consistent training and show schedule. A non pro may simply want to be able to own and show a horse of their own as an outlet for their already full and busy life.

When you’re considering your dream, be mindful of your values. This will help keep your goal yours and not someone else’s. For example, your trainer, your peers and your friends might want something that doesn’t align with your values, such as buying a new horse so you can win more shows. This may contradict your values of hard work, perseverance and dedication if it means more to achieve that success with your current horse.

Remember, you shouldn’t focus on others’ goals for you. If you’re a trainer, you might opt to have a steady flow of income and relaxed show schedule rather than pushing for elite status, because you want to have time with your family. That’s an example of choosing to live by your own values.

While your goal should be a dream that’s not achievable right away, it should also align with the person you want to be and prioritize the things you care most about.

Gilead “Gil” Friedman

of Mental Athletics specializes in the mental game that accompanies competition. The NRHA Professional, who grew up riding performance horses, worked with NRHA Professionals Dan Huss and Bob LaPorta in the United States. Now based out of the KPH Performance Horses facility in Kfar Netter, Israel, he works in person and virtually with trainers, non pros and amateurs worldwide, sharing his fi rsthand knowledge of performance psychology to help riders step up their mental strength in a competitive environment. Learn more at

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