Visualization is a tool that is often recommended to riders in order to improve their performance. Let’s make sure you’re doing it correctly, shall we?
Focus on effectiveness by generating the specific details about your horse and the challenges you may face together, then use all of your senses to imagine yourself riding a successful course/test/exercise.
It’s helpful to have an energy level, posture and focus similar to what you want to have when riding (not likely when you are tucked in and drifting off to sleep).
Your visualization is simply practice, nothing more and nothing less. The more you do something the better you get. Visualizing allows your body to thoroughly understand the demands of the course/test/exercise while developing appropriate reactions and solutions.
Be careful, visualization is mentally taxing. If you are at home you can do several if you have the time, but make sure to protect your energy on game day. One or two high-quality visualizations at the barn or horse show before a ride is plenty. Be mindful not to wear yourself out.
You will build confidence by imagining several dress rehearsals; strengthen your ability to focus appropriately; acclimate to the environment ahead of time; and practice adjusting your energy up or down as needed.
You will get the most benefit when you are able to concentrate 100% on your imagery, ideally on foot or sitting in a position as if you are riding.
Though you would never imagine significant mistakes on purpose, when they crop up in your visualization they are actually giving you useful information. They are showing you where a bad habit might cause a problem, what you are doubting within your plan, or where your focus might lapse.
You’ll get a much bigger payoff for your effort!
About the Author
Tonya Johnston, MA is an equestrian mental skills coach and an A-circuit competitor with a master’s degree in sport psychology. Her book, Inside Your Ride: Mental Skills for Being Happy and Successful with Your Horse is available on Amazon.com. Tonya can be reached at TonyaJohnston.com or on Facebook.