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Read the next issue of
Get a Leg UP! for more of Cathy's coaching tips!

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Seeing is Believing!

What if he had fallen under the horse? Or had broken his leg? Etc., etc., etc. His mind starts to run wild with possibilities - and each time he has these thoughts, he is unwittingly visualizing them happening to him. By the time he comes back for his next ride, he may have literally visualized traumatic falls hundreds or even thousands of times. Now, if the body does not know the difference between reality and strong visualization, his body may believe it has fallen off thousands of times since his last ride! It’s no wonder he finds himself nervous or even terrified! By the way, this is why it is so important to get right back on a horse when you fall off. You do not want your last memory to be falling off - you want it to be a positive one of you riding happily. Whether you realize it or not, you tend to remember your last memory the most strongly.

Okay - enough said! It’s time to try out this potentially powerful technique. Try it when you can get some quiet time so that you can shut your eyes and really immerse yourself in your visualization. The more you play your positive tape in your head, the faster and more obvious your results will be. Just be extra sure that everything you see is positive! We play enough negative tapes in our heads as it is - it’s time to replace those with ones of you riding at your very best!



Slow your visualization way down and fill in as many details as you can. Dissect the jump into the approach, the take-off, the flight, the landing, and the departure. How does each part of it feel? What does your horse feel like? Strong? Lazy? Crooked? Start with how your horse would typically feel, and then see you fixing it to be better! For example, your typically lazy horse would gain impulsion as you feel yourself correctly applying your seat and leg aids.
Don’t forget your other senses - smell and taste. Do you smell dust? Leather? Fly spray? Your visualization may not involve taste very much. However, if your goal is to learn to enjoy salads more, you could visualize them. In this case, you would definately imagine tastes - good ones!

The key to all of this is to make your visualization positive. The goal is to improve your riding, so you must see yourself getting better and better. Your body will believe whatever messages you are sending it, so only send it the very best! Make sure that your position is perfect, your riding is perfect - everything is perfect. Remember, practice does not make perfect . . . perfect practice makes perfect.

This is why falling off can have such a negative impact sometimes. The fall itself may be totally inconsequential. So why is it that a fall like that can terrify a rider into wanting to quit? Chances are, that rider has relived the fall over and over in this mind. Unfortunately, he has probably been playing a very negative tape! Each time this rider “sees” himself falling off, his imaginary movie gets scarier and scarier.