Psychology

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Beliefs shape us. They are an essential part of the framework we use to understand ourselves and how the world works. They shape our perspectives and choices, and influence the very realities we create for ourselves. In short, they are an extremely important element of performance. And yet, because they exist at a subconscious level, we are rarely aware of their influence on our outcomes and success.

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The mammalian nervous system is an incredible thing, with its complex functionality, and all the ways it regulates our systems, adapts to change, restores itself, and even mirrors the nervous systems of those around us. If any year was going to introduce us to the limits and resourcefulness of our unique nervous system, 2020 would be it. In this one year, every one of us has found out exactly how we cope with global uncertainty, massive change, potential scarcity of resources, and possible threats to the health of ourselves and our family and friends. Our nervous system is an integral part of how we cope with stress and change, working behind the scenes to recalibrate, reorganize and bring us into new ways of being in a healthy or not-so-healthy state.

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It had been three months since Laura, a junior rider, had sustained a simple concussion during a fall from her horse. Her parents were becoming increasingly concerned that she was not progressing in her recovery. Laura was having difficulty focusing at school, disrupted sleep patterns, and intermittent headaches. Fearful of creating any further escalation in her symptoms, she had not returned to riding or any activity.

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The 21st Century Rider - Many Canadian riders are throwing their leg over horses well beyond the age when others are pursuing more sedentary activities. For example, about 19 percent of Alberta Equestrian Federation members were over the age of 56 from 2015 to 2018. In British Columbia, approximately 19 percent of active Horse Council BC members were over age 60 in 2018. Meanwhile, in Quebec last year, about 12 percent of Cheval Quebec members were age 60 and over. Nationally, approximately 22 percent of Equestrian Canada sport licence holders were older than 50 in 2018, and 10 percent were older than 60.

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Fall fairs, circuit championships, and club awards banquets signal the end of another horse show season. So how did it go? Did your shows, rodeos, or competitive trail rides meet your expectations? For the majority of horse owners, the answer to this question will likely be no. Stuff happens. And so we look toward the next year. But with chilly fall and winter weather looming, we all need some goals to motivate us to get off the couch and out to the arena on those cold nights!

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Every equestrian knows the magic of our unique bond with our horses. It is a relationship that sits at the centre of our lives, supporting us and challenging us in equal measure. Every minute spent with our horses has a big impact on our well-being, which is an individual’s personal experience of good mental health and satisfaction with life. Research now supports what horsey folks have known for years: spending time with horses is good for us, so much so that horses are increasingly being used as a source of therapy. Studies have demonstrated that time spent interacting with horses increases positive emotions, decreasing depression and increasing social connection skills in children and adults alike.

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Finding and Owning the Equestrian Athlete Identity - At its core, equestrian sport is a partnership between horse and human. This relationship is unique, and it affects both the culture of the sport and our identity as athletes. Today, we are going to look closely at our equestrian athlete identity.

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