“My visualization was imagining myself and my horse in a protective white light, and that we were protected over the jumps, the whole course. The next competition, I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know if this is going to work, but we’ll give it a try.’ We went in and that fear started to come up, I could feel it. I just closed my eyes for a minute and envisioned this white light and rode really well.”
For years, Hannah Selleck—like most athletes—believed the key to success was pushing her body to the max. But in 2018, the professional equestrian show jumper fell, got her foot caught in a magnetic stirrup, and sustained severe fractures to her tibia and fibula.
Recovery from that setback taught her that sometimes, patience and rest pay off more than strain and effort. New treatment and performance techniques helped her cope with the unexpected emotional impact of her fall. And a friend and fellow rider kept her horses in competition when she couldn’t, which gave her a taste of the owner role—something she realized could also be fulfilling for her later on.
Now, she’s fine-tuned the parts of her mental training that complement the physical, including visualization and restorative yoga. She works them into her routine regularly, recognizing they’re just as critical to success as her time in the ring or the gym. All this has made her not only a stronger, better athlete, but also a more self-aware, kind, and balanced person, she says.
A huge thank you to our sponsors for this episode: Fluid Running and ProStretch. Fluid Running makes it possible to maintain your peak physical fitness even when you’re injured through the power of deep water running. And ProStretch offers uniquely designed products to stretch and massage muscles easier and more effectively than conventional methods. Listen for special discount codes in the episode!
In this episode, we discuss:
- How injury is viewed in equestrian sports (4:48)
- Some of her earliest experiences with injury (6:26)
- Her big fall—the one that kept her out for seven months (8:36)
- How the emotional connection the thousand-plus-pound fellow athlete she works with influences her experience (15:32)
- When and why she had a panic attack in the ring, and how she handled it, including the white-light visualization technique (17:58)
- The unexpected setbacks that occurred when she got her hardware out post-surgery (23:00)
- How she made the shift to incorporating rest and psychological techniques into her training (26:04)
- How she shifted her role in the industry when she couldn’t ride, and the advantages that offered her (32:32)
- Other ways she refocused, rebalance, and prevented burnout (36:08)
- How injury prepared her to cope with COVID cancellations (39:26)
- Her biggest advice to other injured athletes (41:58)
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