Motivation 

Here’s another ITT subject up for discussion. Motivation. What motivates you?

Motivation is the desire to succeed, and it can be either intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within, i.e. you are the driving force. Extrinsic motivation comes from other sources; instructors, friends, parents, competition results.

A lot of highly successful and ambitious people are very intrinsically motivated. They have a strong inner desire to succeed; perhaps to prove others wrong, or to just be the best. This feeling is how they get up in the morning, how they strive to improve their performance, and how they plan their lives around success.

Extrinsic motivation comes from other people. If your coach or instructor tells you they’re pleased with your performance, you will feel more confident and want to continue to put effort into your work so that you receive more praise. 

You can also be motivated by the expectations of other people. If your parents expect you to do well, then likelihood is that you will strive to please them. Friends and other family will motivate you with their support too.

In the equestrian world, competition can also be an extrinsic motivator. Entering a competition gives you a goal, so you become motivated to learn that dressage test, or practice your jump technique. Your placings, the fact you went clear or not, or the judge’s comments on your score sheet all help motivate you. If you had a refusal then you will work harder to get a clear round. If you scored an eight for a transition, you will be motivated to maintain this standard or to improve every transition so it is worthy of an eight. Sometimes friendly competition within lessons can motivate you, or seeing your friends jump a particular height makes you want to do so too.

With everything, it’s important that motivation comes from a variety of places. If someone relies wholly on the extrinsic motivators of coach, parents or friends, then their heart isn’t really in it and they will never give one hundred percent to the task. I see this a lot with kids. Parents want them to ride; perhaps so they have a shared interest, perhaps the parent wants to give them opportunities that weren’t available to them. Whatever the reason, a child who is pushed into riding when they aren’t totally committed is at risk of hurting themselves. Anyway, I’m dipping my toes into pushy parent waters so will tiptoe away and dry my toes. I think what I’m trying to say is that the most important form of motivation is intrinsic. You have to want to partake in an activity and succeed. It’s the job of extrinsic motivators to supplement your internal drive; perhaps when you’ve had a knock of confidence, or a general bad day, or weren’t as successful in a competition as you had expected to be. 

These extrinsic motivators are important, so it’s best to surround yourself with supportive family, friends, coaches, but ultimately remember that you yourself must want to achieve.

Let’s open it up. What motivates you to ride your horse? What about if it’s a freezing cold Sunday morning? What makes you get up at silly o’clock to go competing?

Is the motivator …

  • your fitness, 
  • spending time with your horse, 
  • your competitive drive, 
  • a break from the kids and family, 
  • the fact your coach expects you to have done your homework,
  • the fact your friends expect you to ride,
  • or it’s the only opportunity you’ll have this week to ride in the daylight?

It could be anything, or a combination of several, but let me know where your main motivation comes from.

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