Tonya Johnston

Mental Skills Coach

Tonya Johnston, MA, is a Mental Skills Coach and author who works with riders all over the world. Tonya specializes in working with equestrian athletes from disciplines such as hunter/jumper, three-day eventing, reining and dressage. Tonya’s book is called “Inside Your Ride: Mental Skills for Being Happy and Successful with Your Horse.”

Tonya’s individual clients range from youngsters just starting out in the pony divisions all the way up to professionals competing at international championships. She conducts mental training clinics at private barns throughout the country and also works with high school and university equestrian teams, including the Stanford, Savannah College of Art and Design and USC Equestrian Teams. Tonya has presented mental skills workshops for the USHJA, USEF, CPHA and PCHA associations.

Tonya has a monthly podcast called “Tonya Johnston’s Inside Your Ride” that is a part of the Plaid Horse Magazine’s Plaidcast. She has presented at the U.S. Dressage Federation and the U.S. Eventing Association national conventions, as well as the national conference for the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. Tonya had regular columns in Practical Horseman and Eventing USA, which at the time was the official publication of the U.S. Eventing Association. Tonya has appeared in a variety of equestrian magazines including The Chronicle of the Horse, The Equestrian News, The Plaid Horse, Equine Journal, iJump, Horse Showbiz, Equine Wellness, Paint Horse Journal, Riding, and Hoofbeats.


As a Rider

Tonya’s passion for the mental side of sport developed through a lifetime of riding and competing. She was always intrigued by the behind-the-scenes preparation and psychological skills that helped people succeed. Tonya has many championships, wins and year-end awards in the hunter and equitation divisions to her credit.

Tonya and her horse Galactic were WCHR 3’6″ AO Hunter National Champions in 2021. The pair were also champion in the “A” 3’6″ 36 & Over Amateur-Owner Hunters for the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association in 2019. Tonya has also won the CPHA Foundation Medal Finals 22 & Over, Foxfield Medal Finals, Hudson & Co Jr/Am Medal Finals and PCHA Adult Medal Finals as well as a variety of hunter derbies. Tonya feels that competitive involvement in the sport helps her to better assist her equestrian clients; she currently shows in the Amateur-Owner Hunters and derbies with her horse Galactic/”Cosmo”.



For many years Tonya taught in the Sport Psychology Master’s program at John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA. She taught classes including Performance Enhancement A and B, Psychology of Injury, and Camp Development as well as working as a supervisor for applied sport psychology interns. In 2010 Tonya was awarded Teacher of Year in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at JFK University, and in 2013 she was awarded the Alumni of the Year.

Tonya received her BA in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz, and her Master’s in Sport Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. Tonya is a member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, and APA Division 47 – Exercise and Sport Psychology.