Perfectionism is one of the many ways our minds can both help and harm our riding. It’s fascinating to know that perfectionism can both promote and damage our competitive spirit and motivation to become better and stronger in our mental and physical abilities. While it’s up to philosophers to hash out the nature of perfectionism, psychologists tell us that too much perfectionism is not good for us, and coaches and trainers advise that this trait is not beneficial to our riding ability or healthy for our horses.
With that being said, perfectionist traits are often sought after and brought to our attention as a way to praise our efforts. Things like attention to detail, diligence, and persistence are applauded behaviors. Usually, over time, our best somehow stops being good enough and the drive to be perfect is overwhelming, resulting in a vicious cycle.
Mental training expert Patrick Cohn earned his master’s degree in sports psychology at California State University Fullerton and went on to The University of Virginia to earn a Ph.D. in Applied Sports Psychology. He is President and Founder of Peak Performance Sports, LLC in Orlando, Florida, where he provides mental toughness training to all types of athletes. Dr. Cohn discusses what constitutes perfectionism and why it can sometimes have a negative impact on your riding, training, and ability to compete.
No horse is perfect