The changing of the seasons always turns the focus from this year to next. What have we learned in the past few months? What can we do to reach the next level of achievement, whether that is a training goal or one in the show ring? How can we improve ourselves? Improve our horses?

Pro-athlete performance coach John Haime knows all about these mental gymnastics as we leave one season behind and turn our attention to what’s ahead. He established his Ride Big program with just such transitions in mind, with a special focus on what he calls a “crisis of confidence” in the equestrian world. His book, RIDE BIG, has helped riders identify their riding purpose and achieve clarity in the saddle, enabling success of all different measures–from bonding with new horses to conquering bigger courses.

John recognizes there are more riders who could benefit from the methods that have helped professional soccer players, golfers, tennis players, and hockey players, so he is offering exclusive Ride Big Barn Sessions Live in 2023. We caught up with John and asked him about the program and how he hoped to help equestrian competitors.

TSB: This season you will be in Wellington and Ocala on your Ride Big Barn Session Tour. What are the dates you are available to clients in those areas?

JH: We have committed to the entire month of February 2023 and then will return to Wellington and Ocala in late March to run some Barn Sessions to help barns transition out of the winter and prepare for the spring/summer 2023 show season. We have found that February is a great time to break up the winter season and get the riders excited for the remaining show weeks.

TSB: What is a “Barn Session” and what inspired the program?

JH: A Barn Session is a fun, live opportunity for equestrian performance and wellness development. We’ve created a half-day program for riders and coaches to learn how to enhance areas like confidence, resilience, and maximizing a rider’s abilities. The content is a further explanation and extension of what I teach in my RIDE BIG book. In a half-day (morning or afternoon) I typically spend two hours with the riders and one hour with the coaches. The content is customized for each barn based on discussions with the coaches prior to the session. Each Barn Session Live participant receives a copy of my book and a Ride Big cap.

TSB: How can a Barn Session Live help me and my barnmates with our daily lessons and competitive outings?

JH: The Barn Session Live lessons encourage practical actions that both riders and coaches can use to be confident. I help riders understand how to leverage their training for more confidence and success in the ring and how to “Ride Big” in their competitive outings. I help train your “performance muscles” like a world-class athlete.

John Haime with Stacia Madden and her students.

TSB: What is the best thing about working in person with equestrian clients in a Barn Session environment?

JH: Definitely the live connection, interaction, and Q&A sessions. It’s just so valuable for me to see the body language of the riders, directly learn what interests each of them, and get insights from the coaches on what is most important for the riders. You just don’t have this connection and ability to have the “extra” conversations without being live.

TSB: What can clients expect to learn in a Barn Session?

JH: They will generally learn what confidence really is, how to develop it, and what the potential traps are that can take it away. They will learn the steps to Ride Big and how to maximize their abilities. Probably most importantly, they learn to not only understand how to successfully achieve their targets but really enjoy and love the sport.  

TSB: I’ve had sport psychology sessions before and they rarely help on the day of a show. What makes Ride Big different and how does it “stick” so I see real improvement?

JH: The idea of Ride Big is to create sustainable confidence and a defined plan moving forward. I agree, one sport psychology session will rarely generate any long-term results. Our Barn Sessions Live sets up a plan moving forward for both riders and coaches, as well as explaining how to create the foundation and build on it during their time in the sport. In a Barn Session, riders and coaches learn some steps on how to build their mental and emotional performance capabilities.

TSB: I don’t live in Florida but I’m interested in hosting a Barn Session. Are there other areas you will be teaching in or are you open to travel?

JH: Yes, I will be speaking at Equine Affaire in West Springfield, Massachusetts, and be in New England from November 11-13 and happy to connect with barns in the area and arrange a Barn Session. Depending on scheduling, I am open to travel to run a session.

TSB: How do we book a session or discuss the possibilities?

JH: You can find information about Barn Sessions Live and my contact details online at Connect with us to talk about your needs, challenges, and booking a date.


RIDE BIG: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BUILDING EQUESTRIAN CONFIDENCE is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free chapter or order now.


Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.