The Athletic Rider: 3 Steps To Becoming a Kick-Butt Equestrian

Leah Hinnefeld of The Athletic Rider is back! She outlines three motivational steps for becoming a true bad-@$$ equestrian.



Do you want to become a totally kick-butt rider? A kick-butt riding instructor? A kick-butt riding coach? Just a bad@$$ in general?

First and foremost, you have to become a KICK-BUTT LEADER! 

Before you get all freaked out thinking you this whole kick-butt leader thing doesn’t apply to you, let me explain…

It’s quite simple — you already ARE a leader. You may just not realize what kind of leader you are, but have no doubt — you ARE a LEADER. It’s true! Equestrians are leaders. Riding instructors are leaders. Riding coaches are leaders. If you are breathing, you are in fact a leader. Sometimes people can get all caught up in the words, but all we are talking about is how you show up to a situation.

What attitude you bring to an event or task? When you think of being a leader as simply being someone who influences others with his or her presence and attitude, it starts to make more sense. 

Now that you are on the trail to accepting that you are a leader of some sort, the question only becomes: How well are you leading (influencing) yourself and those around you?  

Soak on that for a moment. How are you showing up each moment of each day? 

If you think you have a little room to improve in your self leadership and leadership of others (Hello! Don’t we all?), then check out these 3 simple (but not always easy) steps to becoming a super kick-butt version of you, the Equestrian Energy Leader!

1. Focus on mastery, not performance.

What the heck does that mean? 

When you show up with a focus on mastery, you show up with the desire to keep growing and developing so you can be the very best that you can be. You focus on gaining and honing your skills as a rider or a coach, rather than focusing on the results of your effort. Don’t get me wrong — results are valuable feedback, but focusing on the results as the goal blurs the ability to live in the moment and learn from each experience.

A mastery focus results in a better attitude and increased energy.

Remember when you focus on the outcome (the performance and its results), your sense of self worth gets all tied up in that outcome. Focus on mastery (the skills) and your sense of worth will skyrocket!

2. Connect to your spiritual influencer.

And no, no, no, I am not talking about something “religious;” rather I am talking about those intangible and immeasurable items that influence your behavior and energy. Connecting with your spiritual influencer is actually the most important ingredient in performance mastery and often the most overlooked in riders, instructors and coaches. 

Wow!  No wonder we see so many frustrated horse people out there!

So if your spiritual influencer is not some sneaky way for me to sneak God into a blog, what is it? It is your mission, your vision or purpose in life. Put another way, it answers the question: What do you want to be remembered for?

Imagine the energy you could bring to a task or event if it completely connected to your purpose in life (as YOU define it, not as someone tells you it should be)! Can you already feel a shift in your attitude and energy?

3. Align your core values.

Your values are the principles that you live by. They are the product of all the experiences that you have ever had in life. They are also influenced (but not defined) by your family, religion, community and surroundings. When you are not in alignment with your core values, the energy is literally drained from your life. Imagine if your one of your core values is family but your work keeps you away from home all week long? What if you value honesty, but you are boarding in an environment where lies are a way of communication? 

How do you know when you are in alignment with your values? It is so easy! You are in alignment when things are going well for you! If you have hit a rough patch in your riding or somewhere else in your life, chances are you are not living in alignment with one or more of your core values.

Would you like to learn more about defining and aligning with your core values and learning more specifics on becoming a kick-butt equestrian? Check out my Equestrian Energy Leadership™ Online Course 1.

Leah Hinnefeld is a lifelong equestrian who spent over a decade studying hoof health and metabolism in horses before turning her attention to rider fitness. Leah is a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Fitness and offers Virtual Fitness Training for riders and horse lovers. You can learn more about how to get fit to ride at Please contact Leah if you are interested in learning more about the Rider Fitness Boot Camps offered by The Athletic Rider.

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