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Visualize Yourself to Become a Better Rider

As a rider, one must be able to use arms, legs, hands, and seat independently of each other. It can be easier said than done to have control over one's body and make what one theoretically understands work in practice. Some riders have a greater natural talent than others – and it can obviously be frustrating if you yourself find it difficult. The good news is that you can train yourself to get better. By practicing your coordination ability through visualization, there is a good chance that you can actually make what your trainer tells you work in the saddle.

Visualize your riding

The key to being able to coordinate your movements is first and foremost to be able to imagine how each part of your body should work. In other words, you should first train your body awareness without sitting on the horse.


When you visualize, you should not imagine how your riding will look to others. Instead, try to recall the feelings you feel in your body when you ride. Start, for example, with the back: Where should it be positioned so that the center of gravity is correct in relation to the horse's? Which muscles should you be able to feel that you are using? Then you can try to imagine what you should do with your hands, then your legs, and perhaps finally your feet. Once you have focused on yourself, you can try to shift your thoughts to the horse. Recall as far as possible how it feels when the horse moves (more or less) perfectly under you. That feeling is important to be able to bring out, as it should be your fundamental goal.

To transfer the feelings to the saddle, you can advantageously try to visualize concrete situations or exercises. For example, you can imagine how you should use your body when the horse needs to perform a halt, when it needs to make a transition, or when it needs to jump a particular obstacle. You can also try to imagine what you should do if you and the horse lose balance. What can you then do with your body to get back on track? If you find it difficult – perhaps because you don't know how it should feel – you can benefit from practicing it on a horse that can perform the exercise correctly. Maybe you have a trainer or a friend who will let you try their horse once or twice?


Turn thought into action

Once you can imagine the feelings, they will also be easier to find when you are sitting in the saddle. However, having visualized an exercise does not mean that you can get on the horse and perform it perfectly right away. You still have to start where you left off the last time you were on the horse. By having visualized the feeling, you now know what you should ride for – and not least, what you should do with your body to achieve it. It will also make it easier to keep a cool head when things don't go as expected. In this way, visualization is a valuable tool for getting ahead of your challenges in the saddle.

By imagining how your various body parts should work just before you get on the horse, it will be easier to anchor the feelings in the body when you are in the saddle. The more you visualize and then test it, the easier it will become to control your movements – and in this way, you can turn thought into action."


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