Don’t Don’t Don’t!
I’m sure you’ve all been told what not to do…Don’t pull back with your left hand, don’t stick your arms out, don’t tip forward, don’t swing your feet…DON’T, DON’T, DON’T…! Whether this is your coach or a loyal helper telling you this, the problem isn’t that they are wrong in what they are saying, the problem is how they are saying it! It’s so negative and also gives you a sense of everything you are doing is wrong and gives you the feeling that you can’t ride anymore. Does this sound familiar???
I coach a lot of able bodied and para riders and instead of focusing on what ‘not to do’ I always like to focus on ‘what you should be doing’ and ‘how you should be doing it’. To be an effective rider means you should learn how to use effective aids and improve what you are doing. For example, one of my para riders doesn’t have control and full use of her legs so the last thing I would say to her is ‘more leg, more leg’.
So to ensure she is influencing the horse the best that ‘she can’ we focus on how she uses the seat aids, her hips and transference of weight in the saddle, her upper body whether it needs to come more forward or upright depending on the task at hand. Her arms whether they are held up, down, or forward, again depending on whether she is preparing for a transition, asking for the horse to stretch in walk etc.
Being able to effectively influence your horse in the right way is the art of good riding. This is what we should be aiming for as riders and this essentially is what you are being judged on when you compete. The more effective you are, the more correctly you can use the aids then you can produce the best work and partnership with your horse, creating a happy environment for horse and rider.
Now, I know this is not easy…believe me I know! But with the right direction from the right coach, the rider keeping an open and positive mindset to try something new and last but not least…a willing horse who gives you the chance to experiment with new ideas then we are all onto a winner!
Just remember that there are a few key elements here in order to achieve this. You need to discover:
- WHAT you are doing?
- WHAT the horse is doing?
- WHY you are doing it?
- WHY the horse is doing it?
- HOW to change your riding to influence the horse better?
- BE ABLE to identify the difference you feel when you make those changes and,
- HOW does your horse respond to this?
- CAN you feel a positive difference?
Now all you need to do it to recreate it! Practice, practice, practice and get the right help to get you started.
You know where I am if you need me 🙂
Many thanks Claire Marie Senior.