Guest columnist of this week is Dave Thind, a noted equestrian biomechanics authority with several published articles and appearances as an expert guest or lecturer to his credit. He received his German 'Trainer A' license in 2007 and holds an International Trainer Passport Level III. After a four year long education and certification, Dave is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner.
Picture Yourself Being a Better Rider
Picture yourself being a better rider than you think you are, towards where you wish to be. Then ride there.
It is the trainer’s role to see and help tap into the potential in each horse and rider. To move beyond the faults and limitations that may lie within your own self-doubt and make the "impossible" possible.
This role is not limited to just trainers but can be applied to amateur riders as well. Not only do you need to see the potential in yourself, you need to do this by being the trainer you can be while you ride your own horse!
Ideally, the horse should never feel or sense insecurity or low self-confidence from its leader. By keeping positive images in your mind (and therefore body), a “I can” attitude keeps you alert and committed to a plan.
To improve your own self-image, know your own body and understand how your body moves with the horse in a way you can recreate when you are in the saddle. The more curious you are, the better you can create your own self-image. You can also learn about your horse and his movement for a more complete picture of how you move together.
Self-image and self-esteem go together. Many of us have experienced being praised in a lesson, and the boost in self-esteem improved how we thought of ourselves and therefore enhanced how we rode. You can do this for yourself. Realize that your body has the potential to move like anyone else’s body. Look at your favorite Olympic rider, for example. Allow yourself the freedom to think that your body and brain are as capable as his. Tell yourself that you can do it. There may be differences in your goals, how often you ride or how symmetrical you are, but you have the same body parts. Learning to truly believe in yourself can improve your self-esteem and then your self-image has the chance to perform at higher levels.
Body awareness is when you can influence the parts of your body that you mapped in your self-image and develop positive patterns that help you ride better. This will enhance communication with the horse and lead to better performance while avoiding negative tension in the body.
I often tell new riders that I meet in clinics that they should stop riding the horse they used to have. As Dr Feldenkrais says, “Nothing is permanent about our behaviour patterns except our belief that they are so."
- by Dave Thind