I don’t mean to get
woo woo on you,
or bring you into
the scifi realm.
But let’s face it, there are just some
things about working with horses
that take us there.
One such Horse Training Exercise is called Visualization
Visualization is an elusive tool in great horsemanship training that often gets referred to only in passing, or when the Clinician is pressed to more deeply explain what they are doing to get a response from the horse.
My mentor would often say, “have an idea where you want to go and find out what it takes to prepare to get there”.
Terry Church, one of our featured Horsemanship Greats, always asks her students, “What do you have in mind for today?” and the rider then has to explain what their goals are. She will then ask students a series of questions to drill down to their intention and get a clearer goal before they start the lesson.
Mindy Bower, another one of our Featured Clinicians explained to a group of students how to back a horse without pulling. When further pressed by a student who didn’t understand, she answered, “I change my energy. Imagine a flow of water rolling backwards and going out your back, they feel that”.
Visualization is a Training Exercise in Intention and Discipline
Getting in the habit of visualization takes some work. Here are a few tips to get started:
- Each morning before you get out of bed, visualize yourself doing something in detail. To keep it horse related, visualize yourself walking to the barn and saddling your horse. Imagine every detail of it. It may be really hard to stay focused at first, but that is why you need to practice.
- A massive part of visualization is intention. As soon as you get on your horse, just walk on a loose rein and imagine Terry Church asking you “What do you have in mind for today?” and develop a vivid picture of what your intention is. Be clear: I am not just talking about mechanical intention. Drill down. Are you really looking for more fluidity when you ask for something? If so, what can you do step by step to get that? Break it down into small chunks for the horse.
- Before you ask something, picture where you want to go. Look at the bush across the field. Picture it in your mind with intention and see what happens with your horse. This may be a little frustrating at first if you are not accustomed to doing this. The more you do it, the more you will feel your horse begin to “read your mind”.
- Look at where you want to go and what you want to happen when you get there. For example, “when I get to that pole I want to walk”. Visualize what you would want it to feel like. Then, take note of how much preparation it takes to get the walk when you reach that pole. Keep practicing at different set points like the pole, until you can ask for the walk right before the pole and get it with just a change of intention.
Visualization is one of the tools Great Horsemanship Training Professionals use regularly.
It is one of the things that separate good from great. Keep practicing this technique and you will start to see huge shifts in the quickness and clarity of your communication with your horse!
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