How to use the power of visualization with horseback riding
The power of visualization is incredible and can be easily used in horseback riding. The mind – body connection is undisputed.
First, decide what you want to work on. It could be learning, improving, perfecting and/or becoming consistant on a manuever or group of manuevers (such as a sidepass, flying lead change, reining pattern, jumping position…) or being in perfect harmony and cadence with your horse, or whatever you are working on. For simplicity purposes, we’ll call what your are working on an “action”.
If you’re working on importing things like harmony, balance, cadence, using lighter cues, using clearer cues, relaxation issues, etc, you’ll obtain immediately positive results. BUT, keep in mind that when it comes to certain maneuvers you can’t completely know how your horse will react if he hasn’t perfected the action himself.
Here are the basic steps to follow to use the power of visualization:
1. Visualize how it felt when you were certain that you were doing the action perfectly. Or, if you don’t know how to do the action yet then visualize yourself doing it based upon knowing the mechanics of how to do the action – this could be from watching a teaching video or a clinician, reading instructions, a recalled lesson from your riding teacher…
2. Write a script that details the elements of what your body and mind need to do. As you write this script make it very vivid.
3. Repeatedly read your script and then think about what your body will feel like during the action you are working on.
4. As soon as you can, know the script including the feelings/sensations well enough that you don’t need to read it…it needs to become like a movie in your mind so that you can recall all the details wherever you are at any time.
5. Visualize yourself doing the action without being on your horse at least two dozen or more times.
6. When you actually ride, visualize the action and your muscle memory will perform the action perfectly because your mind and body think you’ve done it perfectly many times.