Tag Archives: Learning

How to jot down meaningful notes after lessons/rides

How many times have you gotten off a horse after your lesson or ride thinking about something that really worked well or made your horse feel great? Or perhaps vice versa, how many times have you finished the lesson or a ride thinking it didn’t go as well as you hoped? Have you told yourself “oh I must remember not to do that at this moment in the ride” or “Ahh that’s what gets his trot better”, “that’s how I can ride sitting trot in a more supple way” etc ?

Now, how easy was it to remember those thoughts until your next lesson or ride? How easy was it to constructively use your thoughts to improve in next lesson/ride?

If the answer is “not easy” you might want to start a habit of 5min-reflection-time. It really doesn’t have to be complicated and if you on’t like writing you can record yourself on your phone or even make a short video with your thoughts just for yourself after each training session. You will be amazed at the results…

When I started doing little online coaching sessions in 2010/11 I created a short print out for my long distance clients which I titled: “After Training Reflections Notes”. 

reflection notes
The 2011 version of the After Training Reflection Notes

I noticed, probably unsurprisingly, that the riders who took 5-10 minutes to sit and jot the notes down after lessons, were able to not only progress faster but they developed a thinking rider mentality which allowed them to be much more independent and efficient in their riding. I also found the simple reflection method to be invaluable for any instructor who cares about improvement of own coaching skills.

I based the 2011 notes on a very simple model of Gibb’s Reflective Cycle which can be illustrated as below:

Gibbs PDF
Image source: eportfolio.qmu.ac.uk Believed to be free to use but if you are an owner and would like me to take it down please let me know and I will remove immediately.

I have updated the Reflection Notes pdf and will be sending a downloadable 2014 version of it with 1st November Newsletter so if you would like to get your hands on it, sign up HERE for free 🙂

If you would like to learn more about the use of reflective practice check out this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflective_practice

If you are an instructor/coach you might like this tool to practice more thorough reflection: http://www.sportscoachuk.org/sites/default/files/scuk_learning_v3.swf

And if you would like to read a more comprehensive article about reflection in sports, check this article: https://www.sportscoachuk.org/sites/default/files/Reflective-Practice-Report_0.pdf

Very Quick Guide To Becoming a Better Rider

Phurtive

Riding might be an art and science married together which makes it seemingly a bottomless well of possibilities but let’s try to short list a few things an average ambitious rider can do to better their skills month after month instead of stagnating in one murky pond 😉

There is no particular order here:

1) DO the Dreaming and the Wishing

Dreams-Dont-Work-Unless-You-Do

For every dreamy, wishful thought, have 10 action thoughts. The power of dreams lies in acting upon them. Imagine yourself doing things very well. Then make a detailed plan of action for each of those things. Work backwards from the imagined outcome and educate yourself on time scales for each step. However, don’t be scared or put off by the amount of time it might all take. Working on your dreams or goals can be a dream process in itself 🙂

2) Find an instructor whose values line up with yours

Search for the best one for your current situation and best one you can afford. Why the same values? Because if you line up those, you will often be happy with the methods used too.

I hear some of you saying, I don’t need an instructor to do well, have you not seen International Velvet? Ok, let’s look at a few facts:

Even to play Sarah Brown, Tatum O’Neal went through an intensive training prior the movie with Marcia Williams, a member of USEF National Show Jumping Hall of Fame (oh and later awarded the USEF Living Legend Award). “During production in England, four British and American Olympic medallists also worked with Tatum”*. Apparently, she showed a lot of talent and could have gone on to great things if she wanted to take up riding professionally. Aaaand, it’s Ginny Leng riding in the more “riding” scenes…

I am not saying there are no riders out there with exceptional body awareness, horse sense, discipline, commitment and passion (aka talent) so if you are one of those, great. Maybe you can skip on point no 2 and just watch as many lessons as you can instead. But if you are part of an average riding crowd (and no shame in that, I consider myself an average rider too) and you want to better yourself step by step, look out for trainers who can guide you, who never stop learning and who genuinely want you to ride better (not just for your horse to go better).

3) Live in a moment but ask what’s around the corner

Do your best to do the best you can in your lessons but ask questions…you want to know if your instructor has any sort of plan for your learning (if you ride with them regularly that is). What skill is leading to what outcome. What’s the plan to work on this or that. You want your instructor to have an idea for you (and for your horse), an individual plan of action for your particular riding adventures (and/or your horse’s development).

4) Push yourself before you push your horse

Like in every sport, we need to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones to progress and that includes the horses too. It’s never easy to go through that push so if you tend to get negatively emotionally involved with your horse’s difficulties, put yourself through similar experience first…Ask around and find a trainer who is impatient, easily frustrated with his/her pupil and takes your physical inability to follow his/her instructions personally. Go for someone who gets easily annoyed when your struggle when you try and fail. You want to truly experience that feel of emotionally draining training that’s on the verge of bullying. Then, next time when you are tempted to do the same to your horse, think how effective it was…

match demands

If you are planning to push your horse to their limits in terms of physical performance, get yourself a session with a positive personal trainer who will make you work like no tomorrow. Be it running, cycling, weight lifting or extreme yoga – try out the total body workout. Make some notes. Adjust your horse training accordingly…

5) Demand only what you can keep up with

Being a good rider means being in harmony with your horse, supporting them with your own body action and matching their effort. Be prepared to do the work with your horse. If they need to be more supple, work on your own suppleness too, if they need to be stronger through their abdominal muscles, get on that workout too, if they need to be mentally calmer, you might need too…You know this saying “show me your horse I will tell you who you are”?  

It’s supposed to be a very quick guide so I will stop here 🙂 What would you add to this list if we were to make it into a Full Guide? Add your own suggestions 🙂 

*Source: http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/78138%7C0/International-Velvet.html

 

Video Day Friday Christmas Countdown Day 4: Difficult Questions about Horse’s Soundness

The yards, tack rooms and forums are full of heated conversations on whether to shoe or not to shoe one’s horse and in today’s video countdown I would ask you to have a little think with me 🙂
My question to myself as a trainer/instructor/horse carer is “am I asking the right question”…

einstein-quote1

What if the questions were:

“How important is it for my horse to be able to expand his hoof capsule“?
“How degenerative and long term pathology inducing the rigid hoof capsule is for my horse?”
“How rigid hoof capsule affects the mental state of my horse?”
“Is the hoof’s inability to function without restriction connected to my horse’s back pain/shoulder pain/bridle lameness?”

Forget Shoe or Not to Shoe..Who cares…What if we ask better questions, ones yielding educational answers not just the “yes/no” answers…

Short Video for today…;) Please share your thoughts whether you agree with me or not!

Video Day Thursday Christmas Countdown Day 5: The Funny Side of Fun…

Aaannd today’s video is all about the importance of fun…I tend to think back to this particular experiment whenever I have a rider who just “can’t get something” or a horse that finds something difficult…It makes me think more creatively and less in terms of “this must be done like so”… Hope you enjoy this short little video 🙂

Continue reading Video Day Thursday Christmas Countdown Day 5: The Funny Side of Fun…

Those Rider’s Feelings…Dealing with rider’s euphoria and down moments

You know that euphoric feeling when your riding session goes great, you did everything (or most things!) right and your horse went fantastically well? Do you feel on top of the world? Like you are finally getting somewhere with your riding? Finally feeling improvement?

Oh I do remember those sessions myself!

IMG_5783
TABULA RASA…BEGINNING OF TRAINING SESSION. WHO WILL I BE AT THE END OF IT…(photo from my time working at Hippikos, Portugal)

What about those sessions when you got off and before your feet even touched the ground you were browsing the possibilities to commence breeding hamsters, collecting lady bird figurines or something equally bizarre, anything but to ride again. You felt useless and like you were not doing right by your horse (he would do so much better with my trainer! I am holding him back!). Your brain frantically considered sale of the horse and perhaps even giving up riding all together.

I do remember those training sessions too :-/

Continue reading Those Rider’s Feelings…Dealing with rider’s euphoria and down moments