When you're striving to become better. Whether that's with riding or something else. It's great to have people to look up to. People that will inspire you to keep going. People that will encourage you to push yourself further.
They could be riders at your stable or riders you see on TV. Maybe they're horsemen who have opened your eyes to new techniques that you can apply to your own horsemanship. Maybe they are people who inspire your own career path. They could also be people who you admire for their calm confidence in the saddle.
Whoever they are, it's good to have people to look up to. Mentors if you will. I wouldn't go as far as to say idols because you aren't idolizing them. Instead, you're inspired by their journey and success. Which can then enhance or encourage your own unique experiences.
Take Kent Farrington for example. Maybe you're in awe at how easily he can cover ground and make those sharp turns all while keeping the jumps up during a jump off. I mean, there's a reason he's number 1 right? He can encourage his peers to push their own limits and get them to want to work harder to take his title away from him. But he can also encourage us as fans of show jumping to improve our own skills. As you watch more YouTube videos of him in the jump off, you're able to focus on what his aids are doing and how that will affect the horse. Because you're able to rewind as many times as you like, you can study and learn from him without ever taking a clinic.
Try to imagine what the movement of the horse would feel like. How would the large stride feel? How would your contact feel? How about the position of your legs? Or the amount of pressure needed to get over the fence or to turn that corner?
Visualization is a huge asset to athletes.
The internet is littered with different studies showing how visualization actually enhances your performance. The trick though, is that you need to do a little bit more than just imagine it in your head for it to actually work properly. It's much more than just picturing yourself approaching a jump that's taller than you are.
It's like I mentioned above, you need to imagine how it would feel not just what it would look like. Though you may not jump that high or gallop that fast or make those tight turns, you do have an idea of what it might feel like. You know what the canter feels like or what a jump feels like. You can imagine then what the feeling might be while you're watching the impulsion and rhythm of the horse's stride on your screen. You can almost feel the extra push off the ground as the horse takes off to cover the height and width of the jump. Sure, the feeling might not be exactly what it would actually feel like, but it'll give you an idea. It's all about taking your riding experiences and then visualizing what it might be like at a higher level.
Now visualizing doesn't have to just be for riding either. Maybe it’s visualizing yourself joining up with your horse just like you've seen Monty Roberts do. You can see your horse circling you in the round pen as you use the pressure and release techniques to get your horse's attention and respect. You can envision him lowering his head, making smaller circles and licking and chewing as he continues to trot around you. When you turn around, you can feel him approach you and stand by your shoulder.
You could also visualize yourself running your own business. Sitting with representatives of different companies, negotiating deals and creating your own brand. How would you represent yourself? How would you talk to those representatives? How successful do you want to be and how do you want your company to grow? Can you see yourself sitting in a taxi on the phone trying to solve a problem while you're heading to a promising lunch meeting? Or maybe you can see yourself in your barn office billing all of the participants who signed up for the latest clinic. Maybe you can visualize yourself working like Noelle Floyd travelling from horse show to horse show documenting and interviewing the top riders of the sport.
Anything is possible and being able to visualize yourself doing something in the future will not only encourage you to keep working towards your goal but will also prepare you mentally and physically when you do get there. There's nothing wrong with learning from people who are already at a point where you hope to be someday.
It's not that you idolize them or want to copy their decisions or careers.
It is, however, learning from them so that you can gain the tools needed to get to where you want to be.
I'd love to know if there's anyone that inspires you. Who do you look up to as a mentor? Who encourages you to keep bettering yourself? I'd love to know!
Until next time, happy riding!