Photo by: Howard Schatzberg
THE MENTAL GAME
As equestrians, we spend countless hours 'learning' our horses. What are their quirks? What makes them tick? What can you do to set your horse up for success? But the horse and it's rider are a pair. So what if we took the time to understand ourselves as athletes, too? DISC profiling can help you become a better competitor, trainer, or owner.
For years, DISC personality profiling has helped business people communicate more effectively and hire workers that fit their jobs and management teams. Through testing, employees also gain insight into how they can effectively improve their performance in the workplace and find "their fit" in the company.
Now the sports world is finding the DISC system to be beneficial to athletes. Many NBA teams use this system to draft and recruit players whose test scores "fit" their team chemistry and coaching philosophies.
Sports psychologists and performance coaches also use DISC test results to help individual athletes increase their performance and develop strong mental games.
The idea is simple: champions that can repeatedly perform well, have excellent "self awareness" of their personality traits. They are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and can learn to "balance" their personality to prevent mental mistakes and ensure continued focus and motivation.
Champions who know their traits also minimize mistakes by staying true to their strengths. Just as a successful trainer stays true to whom they are with horses, clients and building on successes.
There are four distinct personality traits of which you can test low, mid, or high range in your results. These scores help an equestrian rider, trainer and owner learn the basis of their motivation in their sport, problems that arise from being too low or high in a trait, what trainer or coaching style fits them best, and much more.
To take your free DISC personality test, visit the link here and compare your results to the following:
Once you have your DISC results, self-awareness is the first step to having a stronger mental game in the ring.
If you are a professional, it is the first step in recognizing the strengths and image of your barn.
Also as a trainer, you can begin to market the strengths of your traits to attract and maintain customers that "fit" your operation.
Is your barn branded as a "Dominance" barn where winning is the main focus? Is your barn the "Influence" barn where all the food and drink are served? Maybe your barn is the "Steadiness" barn where camps provide a focus on lifelong learning and there is a tight knit group of clients. Lastly, is your operation "Compliance" driven, with clients urged to practice and perform to perfection?
Trainers can also use DISC to recognize your client's strengths and weaknesses and learn to adjust methods, training, and routines to have your riders happier and performing better. Obviously a low Dominance rider who is timid and passive, will not respond well to a high Dominance trainer screaming instructions. A successful trainer who wants to keep clients will "adjust" their teaching techniques to that personality. On the flip side, a high Dominance rider will actually focus and often perform better with screams and intense coaching.
For an amateur exhibitor, self-awareness of test results can expose the mental factors that need work.
For instance, if you scored low in Dominance as an exhibitor, simply recognizing this fact is the first step in gaining more confidence. Simple adjustments like making your next lesson have a competitive component to it, can be helpful.
"Confidence is simply the feeling you get from a series of successes," says Kregor.
So, are you practicing enough and adding a competitive component to your lesson to add some Dominance to your personality for "balance"?
Trainers can benefit from the DISC test as well.
"I see a lot of professionals that forget the FUN aspect of the business," said Kregor.
Scoring low I (Influence) can be a problem for a trainer in a "showing" sport. Sometimes just awareness that they need balance and to bring back the "fun" attracts more customers and brings more championship ribbons.
Finally, there is a fascinating aspect of the horse world and DISC, that isn't present in other sports, says Kregor. You have a 1000 pound animal that has their own DISC personality score and experienced trainers can match up riders with horses that suit their traits.
"This is a real strength of my good friend Sarah Byers," says Kregor. "She has a great gift in matching up horse and rider personalities to create great teams."
Equitation is a prime example of horses that require the Steadiness and Compliance traits to be successful. When matched up with riders who are also patient and strive for perfection, you have incredible performances.
The five gaited horse would score high D and I, bursting into the ring having fun and saying "Get out of my way and look at me!". To be a stand out team, the rider should also develop high confidence and a "look at me attitude" which is present in the Dominance and Influence traits.
The DISC personality profile test is a fun way to open up dialogue of differences between personalities and provide self-awareness to a rider of their strengths and problems without ridicule or judgement. With work and subtle changes in training, that athlete can develop a mental toughness and maximize their talent level.
Betty Baird Kregor is a LPGA Master Professional who uses DISC personality profiling to "life coach" athletes and maximize their mental game in sport.
Betty has been involved with Saddlebreds since 2001 when her daughter, Mollie began her showing career with Rob and Sarah Byers of Premier Stables in Simpsonville, Ky. Molie’s dedication to honing her skill garnered her World’s and National Championship with horses of her own, as well as many catch rides.
Betty Kregor works with all types of athletes, teams and coaches including equestrians and trainers to help them find a "balanced" mindset. Whether you are interested in gaining more confidence, communicate more effectively with customers and riders, or develop a stronger mental game DISC is an effective tool.
To take your free DISC personality test visit
If you are interested in contacting Betty regarding a consult or workshop: