Guest Blog post # 94: "Seeing Into the Future (A Few Strides)" by Bill Woods


Recently beyond the "how" I discussed why you should ride accurate arena figures. If you’re having a problem of execution, preplanning and visualization can help. Try to compose a mental video tape (as though shot from the saddle) of what you’re attempting to do. The tape should be at least six strides or a quarter of the circle in advance of where you actually are in the movement. As you perform what your mind has pre-rehearsed, keep advancing the video so you remain ahead of the action, not behind it.

In that blog I also suggested that you must be more than an empty vessel waiting to be filled up with information. You have to maintain your normal interaction with the horse you’re sitting on AND integrate the information your instructor is giving you into what you’re already feeling.

It can also really help when you are able to be figure out what your instructor is “up to” as he selects various exercises. Often I find that someone I’ve taught a long time seems to know what I’m going to ask for next even as I open my mouth. This is because they can visualize “the bigger picture” of what’s happening in the lesson. On the other hand, it can be can be a little disheartening when a student wanders off in a random direction during an exercise, the thread of my logic obviously eluding them.

No, you aren’t supposed to be a mind reader. But if you don’t understand what’s going on, pin him down and ask! Watch other lessons. Become familiar with the patterns he uses and in what sequence he usually employs them. During a break in the shade on a hot day or sitting in the tack room after your ride, probe your instructor’s mind and figure out the “whys,” not just the “whats.” This will make lessons far easier for both of you!

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