Today I wasn’t able to get to the barn. When I texted my trainer about my disappointment she brought up something I rarely put into action. She told me to ride mentally. Why I’ve never put this idea into effect is beyond me, it seems like the obvious way to keep your mind engaged even when you’re away from your horse.
Since my main issue with Achates is getting him to come through and forward I pictured myself riding him this way. I felt him moving balanced underneath me, and light in my hands. I went through an Intro level test and rode from point to point as accurately as I could. I imagined going into transitions as fluidly as possible and having our halts perfectly square.
I know it’s not the same as riding, but it definitely kept my mind active. Going through each of the specific aids for every part of the test was helpful. It allowed let me take stock of my aids and figure out a more efficient way to organize them. This was particularly helpful when I was envisioning my turn on the haunches. Achates and I have been working on this movement to improve his shoulder control and help him be more maneuverable when turning, and while it is much better than when we started there is still a lot of room for improvement.
I broke it down step by step and really focused on exactly how I’ve been asking him. I think the main issue I’ve been having has to do with the timing of it. The step will start off good with the shoulders moving freely and the haunches staying in place but towards the end we sometimes lose the softness and his haunches will move and push back into my leg. To correct this I usually make Achates step over and away from my leg by doing a step of turn on the forehand, and then go back to turn on the haunches. When I visualized this today I pictured myself using a supporting leg to keep the haunches in place, almost like I would in the halt when I ask him to come square and round. This way it wouldn’t be too pressuring but at the same time would remind him of where his body should be. I am really hoping to experiment with this when I go out to the barn tomorrow, and fingers crossed I’ll get some good results.
Picturing yourself doing what you want or have been working towards I think is just another great tool to add to your training arsenal. Like having a positive attitude and being confident it projects itself onto your horse through you. So the next time you and your warrior hit a bump in the road take a second to visualize what exactly it is that you want to do. It can’t hurt either way.