Seeing is Believing!
Vol #12 iss 3: Get A Leg UP! - Cathy Kodell, Equestrian Director

 

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

For example, if you want to improve your position while jumping, you could try visualizing yourself going over jumps.

Try this right now - shut your eyes and “see” yourself jumping. Now, let’s examine how well you did. Visualization works much, much better if you add lots and lots of details. What horse were you riding? Some of you will be surprised to say that you hadn’t even thought of that. Think about it - if you didn’t even see yourself on a specific horse, your visualization was very vague. Okay, how about you - what were you wearing? What did the jump or jumps look like? Where were you? What else was going on while you were jumping? Are you getting the idea now? If you are going to fool your body into thinking that you are really jumping, you had better make your visualization as real as possible!


What about your other senses? Did you even think to employ any of them in your visualization? For example, what sounds did you hear while you were jumping? Your coach? Other riders or horses? Birds singing? How about your horse’s hoofbeats? Did you include how it would feel? This is an important element of visualization. How does it feel when you trot or canter up to a jump? How does the actual jump feel? What parts of your body are involved the most? How do your legs feel against the saddle and the horse’s sides? Where are your seat bones? Are you turning your head or your body? How do the reins feel in your hands?


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  Visualization is imagining something in your mind’s eye. Some of us are very good at visualization and do it all of the time - perhaps without even being consciously aware of it. However, if that doesn’t sound like you, don’t worry! Visualization is a skill that anyone can learn and improve with practice.
   

Visualization is imagining something in your mind’s eye. Some of us are very good at visualization and do it all of the time - perhaps without even being consciously aware of it. However, if that doesn’t sound like you, don’t worry! Visualization is a skill that anyone can learn and improve with practice.

Why would you want to bother learning how to visualize? Because this powerful tool can improve your riding (or anything you do) by leaps and bounds. And, best of all, you can visualize anywhere. That means you do not have to be riding or even in a barn to visualize. This is a tool that you can use to improve your riding skills without having to physically be on a horse. It is a great asset for anyone who doesn’t have the means to ride as often as they’d like. Even someone who rides every day can use visualization - for them, it could be like doubling their time in the saddle.

So, how does visualization work? The idea is to imagine something so deeply that your body believes it is actually doing it. Luckily, our bodies have their own memories, and our bodies do not know the difference between imagination and reality. We can use this to our benefit if we imagine positive things.

The catch is that to make visualization work, you must employ all of your senses and make it as rich as possible.