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Controlling the controllables with Equestrian
11 July 2017


Equestrian WA Psychology Workshop

11th July 2017, State Equestrian Centre
Story by Luke Zaccaria, WAIS Sprint Cyclist


I once again joined the Equestrian West athletes for their second installment of the Developing Champions program. This time I was accompanied by 2012 London Olympian Jesse Phillips. As I had already introduced myself to them the previous week we played a little fun game for Jesse and I to learn more about them. They had to come up with three stories about themselves; two of them true and one a lie.Jesse and I then had to try and guess the lie, turns out they were very good at fooling us.

Equestrian is a unique sport where there are essentially two athletes competing; one being the horse, and the other being the rider. This can lead the athletes to focus more of their time into their horse (which is still vital). However, the purpose of this workshop is to focus on the athlete’s psychology and their internal locus of control where as their horse is an external locus of control.


The athletes also learned about the developing brain and how it is emotionally driven during their adolescent years. We discussed the Reticular Activating System (RAS) and how our brain creates filters of how we perceive ourselves being able to execute tasks. I believe this has a strong correlation with the next topic we covered, growth vs. fixed mindsets.This is a topic that I always tend to put particular emphasis on, as I believe this is what separates the successful elite athletes from the rest.

We then finished up the day with an image visualization exercise, where Jesse ran the athletes through a competition day and they had to imagine themselves going through each step as mental preparation.


It’s always rewarding when athletes approach you at the end of a session and say how much they appreciate the work we do and how it relates to them in particular points during their sporting life. It was an enjoyable day working with the Equestrian athletes and sharing my experiences. I wish them all the best for the future.

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