Learning is great. As a rider or equestrian, there is a never-ending stream of knowledge out there just waiting for you to dive into and begin exploring. However, learning can sometimes be the very thing that holds riders back from making progress in their riding.
You see, learning is only really useful if you go and then implement what you learn. And it is the implementation that riders fall short. They fail to take action on what they learn. All their newly gained knowledge just remains in their heads, never to be acted upon in the arena.
I create a lot of free training for riders to use to help them make shifts and progress in their riding. Things like the 5 Days to Clarity Mini-Course or the Equestrian Fitness Challenge. What I see, over and over, is riders watching, listening or reading the training but then failing to take the next step.
The vitally important step of implementing what they have learned.
It’s a bit like the story about the dog lying on the nail; the nail is uncomfortable, but not enough for the dog to actually get up and move. He will rather lie on the nail and simply complain about how uncomfortable it is to lie there!
I also see this happening with my paid programs. People invest money and then fail to take the required action… Lunging to Riding and the Clarity & Confidence Riding Program are just two examples of this.
The What, When, How and Why of Riding…
When you are learning to ride, knowing the above will make your life easier. it will also, usually, make your horse’s life more pleasant as well! I am not saying not the learn the above. In fact, I believe that all of the above are vitally important, especially the ‘Why’ behind whatever it is you are learning to do.
Time and again, I see riders know what, when and how, but they completely miss the bit about the why. The ‘why’ is what allows you to take your knowledge and apply it to different situations.
For example, knowing what, when and how when it comes to a transition is useful. Knowing why will allow you to then dig a little deeper when you are riding the horse who is not responding. Knowing why allows you to take the knowledge and use it in other situations and scenarios.
Things Usually Get Messier Before They Get Tidier…
Think back to the last time you did a big tidy up and clean out of an area or space. Maybe it was a room or a filing cabinet. It could have been bookshelf or cupboard. Whatever it was, I can bet that things got a whole lot more chaotic and messy before they began to ‘come right’.
Riding is no different. When we are learning new things and then taking action on those things, there will be missteps along the way. A lot of missteps!
It is almost like having to break things down and then mindfully and carefully choosing what parts of your knowledge you are going to use to build things back up again.
Upgrading Can Make You Feel Nervous…
A lot of riders will turn back when things begin to ‘messy’ for them in their riding. They shy away from the uncomfortable feelings of things ‘not working’. It’s often a case of ‘leave well enough alone. And this is a huge pity as, very often, continuing on through the mess is what is needed to actually clean things up and begin seeing progress again.
There are things you are doing right now in your riding that are no longer serving you.
Take ‘stopping’ or ‘halting’ for example. I can bet you that the way you learned to stop the very first horse you ever rode looks very different from how you will ask your horse to stop today. Was the first ‘stopping’ wrong? No, it was what you needed to learn back then and it was the adequate back then for you and your riding. However, now, that way of stopping is not serving you and your horse on the journey forward.
As a rider, you will regularly have to leave beliefs, habits and specific ways of doing certain things behind. Upgrading the tools you are using is essential if you’re to move forward on your riding journey.
Mistakes are Par for the Course
So many riders fail to take action because they are afraid of making mistakes. If this is you, I have news… Mistakes are an ESSENTIAL part of becoming a better rider. Your mistakes are how you learn.
Look for mistakes. Play the game of figuring out what caused it and how you can ‘course correct’ the next time you try.
If you find that the same mistake keeps showing up over and over and over again, explore the possibility that it might be a symptom of something else, rather than the issue itself. Find the real cause and you will automatically eradicate the symptom.
The great thing about this is that usually when something is causing one symptom, there will be a few more symptoms that magically clear up when the big cause is dealt with!
Timely Corrections are What Count
Once you notice something is off or wrong, correct it. You know that consistency is key when it comes to riding. This is absolutely true when it comes to making corrections in your riding. You need to be willing to jump in and correct either yourself or your horse immediately.
Keep in mind that one correction is rarely enough. Sometimes we have to repeat the correction over and over again.
This is where it is tempting to just ‘do it myself’ and try to control everything, particularly if it is your horse that has to be corrected repeatedly. However, I am going to strongly suggest that you rather stick with the correction.
In order for your horse to make progress, he must also learn to take responsibility for his actions. Correct then allow. Then simply repeat, correct and allow. Over and over. He will soon no longer need to be corrected and will learn to do it by himself.
Take Action on What You Learn
It all boils down to being willing to try out what you are learning. Testing it in real life, when you’re in the saddle with your horse. Taking action on the things you are learning. Often riders are just not willing to take action. Sometimes they genuinely can’t, but other times they simply won’t.
If you are struggling to take action on what you are learning, begin exploring why that is…
Are you truly learning what you need right now in your riding? Is this piece of information the logical ‘next step’ for you and your horse? Or have you jumped on a bit and now the distance between where you actually are and what you have learned is simply too great?
When you do begin taking action, I suggest recording your results. Write things down. This will help you to see what works and what doesn’t for you and your horse.
Other episodes & resources to help you with your riding:-
- Free 5 Days to Clarity Mini-Course HERE
- Equestrian Fitness Challenge
- Daily Strides Podcast
- Free group for equestrians focusing on mindset and fitness
- Free group for equestrians focusing on OTTBs and riding without a trainer
- Lunging for Riding Digital Course