Have you noticed how, for many people, the longer they spend in the saddle, the less curious they become about a lot of things ‘riding related’? Now, other riders are the exact opposite, they want to go deeper and further in all aspects of riding. Which is fantastic.
If you have found yourself doing something for the sake of just doing something with your horse, I want to challenge you today.
I want to give you a simple, extremely powerful way to both gain clarity, and assess yourself while you ride.
Becoming Self Aware
I believe that improving as a rider starts with becoming more self-aware. Being present with all of the things that contribute to your conversation with your horse. Your thoughts, your beliefs, your weight, your aids, your energy, attitude, mood… All of the things.
One of the best ways to really assess your level of self-awareness while riding is to ask yourself ‘Why’…
When you begin to develop this habit for yourself, you will start seeing patterns, actions, habits, and beliefs that are no longer serving you. In fact, many of these things will be actively holding you back from reaching the next level in your riding.
Ask “Why?” and then Ask “Why?” Again…
So, let’s pretend you are mounted up and about to ask your horse to step forward into the walk. If you start by asking yourself ‘why’, you will force your mind to become a little clearer on the purpose or intention of the transition.
Once you are clear on why you want the transition to take place, think about how you will ask for the walk. Again, ask yourself ‘why?’. Why those aids in that sequence? Why that amount of pressure? And why do you assume your horse will respond the way that you hope he will?
There are no right or wrong answers to the questions; the purpose of the exercise is to simply help you to become more self-aware as a rider.
Problem Solving with “Why?”
One of the most powerful ways you can use the question ‘why’ is to help overcome a challenge or issue while riding. When you are asking your horse for something and getting something very different from what you wanted in reply, it can feel frustrating.
By asking ‘why’ your horse is responding like he is, you can begin to see things from a different perspective – his.
Often we can become so fixated on the outcome we want that we fail to see it from the other person’s point of view. Maybe your horse doesn’t understand. Perhaps he is fearful or doubtful and needs more time to develop emotionally and mentally. It could be that there is something physically holding him back. You will often unmask these things by asking ‘why’.
I will also usually follow this up by asking ‘why’ to how I am actually doing the asking. This often allows me to see where the lines are becoming crossed inside of the communication itself.
“Why?” when Learning New Things
Probably the most obvious place to ask ‘why?’ is when you’re learning something new. Maybe it’s how to ride a flying change. Or how to transition into the canter. Following instructions is all well and good to get you going and to get initial wins when in the saddle.
Becoming a responsible, intuitive, and effective rider demands that you know ‘why’ you are doing anything you’re doing in the saddle.
And this is only possible if you approach riding with a curious mind. And be open to all sorts of possibilities occurring.
So, next time you’re in the saddle, remember to ask yourself ‘why?’ and keep asking it. You’ll be amazed at what you will potentially discover about yourself and your horse.
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